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Ducati SuperSport S Track Review: Living up to it's Name

The Ducati SuperSport is probably the closest you will get to owning a "full-faired red sports motorcycle" from Ducati as it is their most accessible full-faired offering, which they say is meant largely for roads. But hey, it's a Ducati and it needs to be good on track too, right? So how exactly did it behave? Find out in this review.

Manav Sinha | News18.com@manav_sinha

Updated:December 27, 2018, 11:44 AM IST
Ducati SuperSport S Track Review: Living up to it's Name
The Ducati SuperSport S has been put to test at the Buddh International Circuit. (Photo: Asif Zubairi/Ducati India)
I have just done a handful of laps on the Ducati Panigale V4, which is their latest and greatest motorcycle ever made – and also in the world. It’s fast enough to put a Bullet shot out of a gun to shame and electronics that should rather be on a spaceship, maybe then they can have someone land on Mars. It’s about time! Anyway, the event is Ducati Riding Experience Racetrack Academy and the venue is the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) – an FIA Grade 1 certified racetrack which is the highest certification a track can get. It is the very track that hosted about 90,000 people during the first F1 Grand Prix that was held in 2011. And in the past 20 minutes that have went by, I was riding at the track, trying to put every ounce of skill that I could gather from all corners of my mind, riding behind Alessandro Valia who is Ducati’s official tester for production motorcycles and also the lap record holder at BIC, who could have probably finished a meal and caught up to me, and then lapped me as well.

Ducati-SuperSport-Track-Review-5The Ducati Panigale V4 is one of the most extreme motorcycles in the world and feels at home at a race track. (Photo: Surya Chaturvedi/ Ducati India)

The session has ended and I’m back in the pits, still surprised about how capable the Panigale V4 is and how it can go on to cross 300 km/h on the 1.06 km long straight section of the track. So yes, you can say that I am yet to come back to my senses and gather my thoughts as later in the day I will go back on the track on a Ducati SuperSport.

Ducati-SuperSport-Track-Review-6The Ducati Panigale V4 makes every corner of the Buddh International Circuit exciting. (Photo: Asif Zubairi/Ducati India)

Turns out that ‘later in the day’ is happening right now!

Ducati says that the SuperSport is ready, you can get your helmet on and head back out to the track. I do the same and get astride the motorcycle.

The first thought that comes to my mind is the riding position. It is not as committed as the Panigale V4 or even the 959 Panigale. It would be somewhere in between how you would sit on a Monster 797 and a 959 Panigale. And this riding posture makes all the difference, it is meant to be a motorcycle that can be ridden every day. But here’s the thing, what matters when you’re on the track, is how the motorcycle performs there. The road-friendliness comes after the track day is over. And let’s not forget, this is also a Ducati. And did I mention how awesome the V4 is?

Also Read: Ducati Panigale V4 S First Ride Review: Track-God, Anyone?

Well, what all of this meant was that the SuperSport had a steep mountain of expectations to go through. Nevertheless, it was time to hit the track.

The first corner that I came across while being on the SuperSport, the thing that came to light was just how compact everything is. You can’t move around a lot because of the shape of the seat which curves upwards quite sharply in order to give the motorcycle that high tail look while still being able to make space for a pillion rider. And the front-end of the motorcycle feels quite light because the majority of the weight lies in the middle of the motorcycle and not at the front, something that you get from track-oriented motorcycles. But the SuperSport makes up for it in several different ways. First, there’s the wide handlebar which translates to a motorcycle that requires minimal effort to change directions, something that was evident during the quick changes in direction required at corner 8-9 and corner 13-14. Then, there’s the rear-set footpegs and the handlebar which make you reach out for them, giving you the feeling of being ‘on top’ of the motorcycle. Something that you don’t usually get from road-based motorcycles.

It takes a few corners to adjust to and figure out how you should position yourself in corners so that both the rider and the motorcycle feel comfortable while leaning. Once you have that figured out, the motorcycle just feels more and more confidence inspiring, turn after turn. A big reason for that is the amazing chassis that it has.

Ducati-SuperSport-Track-Review-2Ducati SuperSport S at the Buddh International Circuit. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Now those with a keen eye might have seen the resemblance that it has to the frame in the Ducati Monster. Well, you’re right, it is the same chassis but for the SuperSport it has been tweaked to make the engine a stressed member. Add to that the feedback from the fully adjustable suspension both front and back, and the result is a motorcycle that feels confident not only while in leaned over but also while changing directions, accelerating out of corners and while braking hard.

Speaking of braking, Ducati has given the SuperSport Brembo M32 callipers at the front instead of the M50 callipers like the 959 which, according to them, was to give a more modular brake experience and it actually works. The front-end gives great feedback and bite even under intense braking.

But what really makes the package complete is the engine. The SuperSport gets a 937cc L-Twin liquid-cooled engine which we have seen in the Hypermotard and the Multistrada 950 as well, but the one in SuperSport gets a different state of tune for a wider power band. It makes 110 hp at 9000 RPM and 93 Nm peak torque at 6500 RPM. The wider power band makes for linear power delivery once you go past 3000 RPM and that came in very handy during the long, flowy parabolica at the BIC which connects corner 10 and corner 11. The fuelling is great and the engine is refined.

Ducati-SuperSport-Track-Review-3Ducati SuperSport S packs enough punch and the engine is refined. (Photo: Asif Zubairi/Ducati India)

The cherry on top is the electronic rider aids on offer. It gets traction control and ABS, both of which can be customised as per the rider’s liking. And of course, since we had the ‘S’ variant of the SuperSport, the bike also gets bi-directional quickshifter which lets you do upshifts and downshifts without using the clutch lever – one less thing to take care of for your mind when on the track.

But it is important to remember that you can have all the power and electronics in the world but you can only go as fast as your tyres allow. And the ones on the SuperSport allow you plenty.

It comes with Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres front and back. These are not as track-focussed as the Pirelli Rosso Corsa and makes perfect sense for a motorcycle that is meant to be on road and boasts of a sporty character, as it has all the performance you can squeeze out of from a bike like the SuperSport, is better in terms of durability and wet weather performance and is also more durable than the Corsa. And to think that Ducati offers them as stock with the SuperSport is fantastic. Just to give you an idea, the 959 Panigale gets the less performance-focussed Diablo Rosso II as stock, and the Rosso III is better in almost every aspect. They don’t take very long to warm-up and are sure-footed from the get-go.

All-in-all, the motorcycle delivers in aces in almost every manner. If we had to nitpick, the front tends to feel floaty when you are pushing hard and as a result, the bike tends to run wide duri9ng corner exits. And, while we didn’t scrape the footpegs, we wish they were a bit more rear-set which would allow for more comfort when you’re hanging off the motorcycle.

Ducati-SuperSport-Track-Review-1Ducati SuperSport S feels compact and agile through corners. (Photo: Surya Chaturvedi/ Ducati India)

To wrap up the review, well, don’t let all this praise fool you. The Ducati SuperSport is nowhere close to being as quick as the Panigale V4 as that’s probably taking you to mars if it lifts off (oh, now I know why it has so many electronics). The reality is that an amateur rider like me lacks the skills required to max out the V4. But when it comes to the SuperSport, I was riding much closer to my limit and the motorcycle’s full potential which makes the overall experience just so much fun.

Yes, the 959 Panigale is more powerful, and lighter and probably quicker around the track as well. But then, it is also more expensive than the SuperSport and comparatively stiff for riding on regular roads. And more importantly, the SuperSport is a sensible choice for those looking at getting into track riding and the fact that we could have ridden back home on the SuperSport through city roads and highways and everything in between while having had somewhat equal amounts of fun at the track as compared to the 959, reiterates our findings during the SuperSport’s road test – it is the most sensible Ducati you can buy.

Also Read: Ducati Riding Experience Racetrack Academy: Pushing the Panigale V4 at Sepang
| Edited by: Manav Sinha
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