Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: Easy exotica

    A fully-faired Ducati that marries performance and rider engagement with everyday usability.

    Published on Jun 24, 2023 07:00:00 AM


    Make : Ducati
    We Like
    • Sporty yet comfortable ergonomics
    • Exciting performance
    • Balance between ride & handling
    We Don't Like
    • Dated switchgear, cumbersome to navigate menus
    • Quite expensive

    It’s a balmy Sunday noon and I find myself on a rather empty stretch of tarmac just outside the metropolis I live in. The famed 937cc Ducati L-twin under me is spinning in the middle of its rev range, prompting me to feed more revs. I do so and the rate at which the horizon comes towards me has almost doubled. The aggression and heady rush of that acceleration is something I haven’t forgotten even a couple of weeks after I’ve experienced it. And I’m still smiling thinking about that time as I pen this review.

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: engine & performance

    This Ducati L-twin lends itself quite nicely to the application of the Supersport badge that this motorcycle wears. I think accessible performance is what best describes this engine. Even in Sport mode, the power delivery is measured and predictable; keeping you entertained without completely scaring you like a Ducati Panigale could. To me, the best way to truly make the most of this engine’s performance is to keep the rev needle above 4,000rpm and indulge yourself in the responsiveness offered by its bountiful midrange.

    In fact, this strong midrange allows you to make light work of flowing past highway traffic as you aren’t occupied with shifting the gears to keep the engine running in the meat of its powerband. It’s the same story while riding in the city as well and this engine does not protest about the low speeds as much as old Ducati L-twins would.

    Characterful L-twin is the fun ingredient here.

    As a city bike, then, the Supersport is usable, but what you’ll have to contend with is the amount of heat you feel around your thighs in choc-a-bloc traffic, given the position of the rear cylinder head. That said, the bike’s cooling system is fantastic and the engine never overheated, despite snailing through a traffic jam with ambient temperatures hovering around the 40-degree Celsius mark.

    Proving its ability to handle the urban jungle was only a small part of why I like this engine. Where this L-twin truly shines is when you are caning it down an open road. Keep the throttle pinned and you’ll find yourself laughing and giggling in delight at the turn of speed; the accompanying intake and exhaust noise adding to the excitement! This sort of punchiness of a Ducati L-twin is something that I’ve always enjoyed. A screaming inline-four engine simply cannot come close to the sensations that a sporty twin offers. This may not be for everyone, but take my word when I say, there’s a certain charm to these engines that only grows on you with time.

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: electronics

    As is apparent already, Indian road conditions are far from ideal and given the slippery, undulating and downright pathetic surfaces we ride on, taming the engine’s perfoCharacterful L-twin is the fun ingredient here.rmance was never a handful. That had more to do with the bike’s vast electronic safety net and bits like multi-stage traction control, ABS and power modes, working seamlessly. Ditto for the quickshifter.

    Neat display, but navigating through the menus is a task.

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: chassis & suspension

    Complementing the engine is a chassis that strikes a nice balance between ride and handling. With adjustable Öhlins suspension at both ends, tailoring the ride as per the riding conditions is only a matter of turning a few screws – if you know what to do. With some small tweaks to the damping in setting up the suspension for Mumbai’s typically poor road surfaces, the suspension did a commendable job of soaking up the punishment. Even the low ground clearance wasn’t a bother over bad roads.

    Öhlins do a great job of absorbing bad roads.

    On the other hand, the absorbent suspension hasn’t come at the expense of handling and there’s plenty of grip, feedback and sense of involvement from the chassis that allows one to commit around corners. I’ve had no issues with the braking system as well, and as expected, the bike sheds speed quite rapidly when the anchors are dropped.

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: ergonomics, useability

    Another factor that makes the Supersport a good everyday bike is the sporty yet relaxed ergonomics.  The handlebars aren’t positioned wrist-achingly low and the reach isn’t extreme either. That said, taller riders will find the foot peg position quite high up and that the riding position doesn’t leave any room to move around. I’m not that tall though and I did find a little space to move around. At the end of the day, it’s far more sporty than your typical street naked, but not as committed as a proper sports bike.

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: problems we faced

    As great as the Supersport has been so far, it isn’t all rosy. The one issue I’ve got with the engine is the amount of vibrations you feel, especially under hard acceleration. In fact, the buzz particularly extends to the mirrors and all you see is a blurry image of what’s behind you.

    Thumb fouls with the bodywork while executing tight turns.

    The switchgear, on the other hand, feels a bit dated when compared with bikes like the new V4 Panigales and Multistradas. Also, in a classic case of form winning over function, I kept jamming my thumb between the clip-ons and the fuel tank, every time I’ve to execute a tight U-turn.

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: design

    I’m ok with overlooking these minor issues on a bike that looks this gorgeous, especially in this Artic White colour. This model gets new fairings that are inspired by the beautiful Panigale V4 and looks sharper and more aggressive than the previous Supersport. The LED eyebrow, the recessed placement of the LED headlights to the cuts and creases on the fairings, they’re all captivatingly pleasing to the eye. Ducati has also baked in some function into this gorgeous form, with the cuts in the fairing serving as vents for the hot air around the engine/radiator to exit. The bike also has a two-step adjustable windscreen that does a decent job of deflecting head-on wind. However, some members of the team did find the gap between the bottom of the windscreen and the front fairing, when it’s in the raised position, an eyesore.

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S review: verdict

    The Ducati Supersport 950 checks almost every box on the ‘everyday sportbike checklist’. It’s fun to ride, the ergonomics are nice and the design evokes that special feeling that you’d desire when you are spending a bag full of cash.

    Speaking of, the Rs 18.4 lakh price tag of this S model (Rs 15.75 lakh for the standard version), sadly, is the proverbial Achilles heel of this motorcycle. The Supersport S sits bang in Suzuki Hayabusa territory and you don’t have to be a genius to know the sort of reverence and fan following that the ‘Busa enjoys in India. Its performance, useability, brand value and sheer appeal is hard to beat. That being said, the ‘Busa also isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

    Sure the Ducati Supersport is not in the same league as the ‘Busa, but it is a rather enjoyable motorcycle to ride in its own unique way. If you want a more usable sportsbike and you also want a twin-cylinder experience with the appeal of the Ducati brand, the Supersport builds quite a case for itself – if you are willing to pay the price.

    Also See:

    Ducati SuperSport 950 S video review

    Tech Specs

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