The SuperSport name is an important part of Ducati’s history. As a tribute to the 750cc prototype that won the 1972 Imola 200, Ducati unveiled the 750 SuperSport Desmo at the Milan motorcycle show in November 1973, and the model went into production the following year. It was the first Ducati production motorcycle powered by an L-twin with the desmodromic valve system, the engine configuration and valvetrain that have become synonymous with the Ducati brand. In 1977, Cook Neilson won the Daytona 200 on a Ducati 750 SS known as the “California Hot Rod.”
Though early SuperSports were race-oriented, barely-street-legal machines, starting in the late ‘80s that role was taken over by Superbikes such as the 851, 916, 996, etc. while SuperSports became more street-focused. Many different versions of the SS were built over the years, but weak sales led the series to be dropped from Ducati’s lineup after 2007.
With today’s Superbike duties fulfilled by the 959 Panigale and 1299 Panigale, Ducati is bringing back the legendary SuperSport for 2017. Though styling is strongly influenced by the Panigale series, with a similar headlight and front fairing shape and a sporty profile, the SuperSport’s distinctive bodywork flows from the upper fairing to the tank and reveals more of the engine and signature tubular-steel trellis frame.
The new SuperSport is powered by the same liquid-cooled, 937cc Testastretta 11° L-twin found in the Hypermotard 939, which makes 113 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 72 lb-ft of torque 6,500 rpm (claimed) and is Euro4 compliant. Three Riding Modes (Sport, Touring and Urban) automatically adjust engine output, throttle response, ABS mode and traction control sensitivity, and each mode can be customized.
With rider and passenger ergonomics that are more relaxed than its Superbikes, Ducati says the new SuperSport is user-friendly and comfortable enough for everything from city riding to weekend touring. It has a height-adjustable windscreen, a 4.2-gallon fuel tank, a 463-pound curb weight (claimed) and a 31.9-inch seat height.
The standard SuperSport model has a fully adjustable Marzocchi fork and a Sachs rear shock that’s adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping. The up-spec SuperSport S model has fully adjustable Öhlins suspension front and rear, as well as Ducati Quick Shift (allowing clutchless up- and downshifts; it’s optional on standard model) and a color-matched rear seat cowl. Both models are equipped with Brembo M4.32 Monobloc radial front calipers and a Brembo PR18/19 radial master cylinder, and three-spoke cast aluminum wheels are shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires.
Above the headlight is an LED Daytime Running Light, the taillight and turn signals are LEDs, instrumentation is fully LCD, there’s a waterproof USB port under the seat and the bikes are compatible with the Ducati Multimedia System, which allows a smartphone to be paired via Bluetooth. Special accessory packages personalize the bike for Sport, Touring and Urban riding.
The 2017 Ducati SuperSport ($12,995) is available with two-tone Ducati Red and Saturn Grey bodywork, a Ducati Red frame and Matt Black wheels. Two color options are available for the SuperSport S ($14,795): Ducati Red fairing with Ducati Red frame and Matt Black wheels, or Star White Silk fairing with Ducati Red frame and Glossy Red wheels. Both arrive in dealerships in April 2017.