The Ducati SuperSport moniker has a long-standing history to it when it comes to Ducati. As the Italian giant gears up to commence the next innings of the SuperSport lineage, let us revisit the legacy of the SS brigade. Ducati was always focused on delivering a thrilling and exciting machine to its patrons and every new model that rolled out of Borgo Panigale had something exclusive to offer to the riders. So when the time came to launch a new motorcycle in 1971, with rising competition coming from Japanese manufacturers, Ducati unveiled the 750GT in 1971. It was Ducati’s first air-cooled Desmo V-twin engine on a production machine and in hands of legendary racer, Paul Smart, the 750GT clinched top honours at the Imola 200 race in 1972.
The win at Imola instantly propelled the 750GT’s reputation as a winning machine that had the performance and handling to it. Its creator, Fabio Taglioni, was quick to bring out a 750 Sport model complete with clip-on bars, reduced weight and a single seat. With the rising interest in the Sport, in 1974, Ducati unveiled its first 750 SuperSport model. It was lightweight (weighing just a little over 150kg), sportier and boasted performance that could rival any of its competition. It was the only SuperSport to feature a round case 90-degree V-twin motor and only 401 units of it were made. From 1975, Ducati developed a square-case V-twin motor that powered the Super Sport and also added another model, the 900 Super Sport to the product range.
Aesthetically, both variants looked the same and more often than not, the 900 Super Sport saw more takers over the 750. In 1978, the 900 Super Sport was once again in the news as former World Champion, Mike Hailwood, won the Isle of Man TT Formula 1 race astride a 900 SuperSport. Following year, Ducati also released a Mike Hailwood replica of the 900 Super Sport, albeit in limited numbers. During the mid-eighties, Ducati was suffering from financial losses and in 1985 it was sold to the Cagiva group headed by Claudio Castiglioni. Under his leadership, the SuperSport model got another lease of life, this time as the Ducati 900SS. One of the most iconic models from the Ducati lineup so far.
Image source: Ducati
This was largely due to the market positioning of the 900SS as an affordable, all-around performance motorcycle that was easier to own than Ducati’s new all-out superbike, the 851, which featured a liquid-cooled 4-valve Desmodromic head and was the new flagship. So the riders looking to own Ducati’s racing heritage of yesteryears were still happy to opt for the 900SS than the latest and modern full blown superbikes from the Italian company. The 900SS was enough for the streets and wasn’t too extreme to be ridden around every day either. For a considerable period of time, the 900SS was Ducati’s prime seller until the Monster came took that crown away.
Fast forward to the nineties, under the direction of Ducati’s new design chief, Pierre Terblanche, the SS-series underwent a massive styling change, with its chunky fairing and tank appeal replaced for a more fluidic design language. However, with the Monster range expanding and newer models coming to the fore from Ducati, the 900SS not only seemed underpowered in comparison to its siblings or rivals, it also needed new-age tech to match. In 2003, Ducati plonked the 1000cc engine serving the Monster into the 900SS and introduced the 1000SS complete with a dual-spark head for improved efficiency and to abide by increasing emission norms. Ducati’s ownership changed hands once again in 2005, post which the SS model range was considered archaic and the new owners decided to withdraw the SS model range entirely from the Ducati portfolio.
Image Source: Ducati
Eleven years later though, the Ducati Supersport name refuses to stay under the rock and has resurfaced once again, this time though in its most potent form and guise. Powered by a 937cc Testastretta motor, similar to the one that powers the Hyperstrada, it pumps out 110PS of power and 95Nm (70 lb-ft) of torque. Packaged inside an all-new framework, the 2017 Ducati Supersport brings back the legacy of the original 1972 model with its road-friendly nature yet packing track-racing credentials as seen on today’s top of the line Ducati superbikes. The top-off-the-line Supersport S features world-class components like single-sided aluminium swingarm, the fully adjustable Ohlins suspension on both ends, Brembo’s M4-32 monobloc callipers working two large 320mm diameter discs up front to take care of the stopping duties. Boasting a 16-litre fuel tank capacity and relaxed riding posture that can tune into highway touring or fast-paced sport-riding, the new era of Supersport links the best of both worlds in Ducati’s peculiar charismatic style.
Watch this space to know more about how the new Supersport fairs in real-world affairs.
2017 Ducati SuperSport