I traded my BMW R1200RS in to the Ducati dealer last November against a Supersport. So it's been a long wait, and of course while size, make, power, appearance etc. were all great it's the ride that defines it. I often thought "what if I don't like it?" It wouldn't be the first time.
My bike is on the way and until today I hadn't ridden one. But today I put that right. I was the first person to take the dealers demo bike out for a couple of hours. It only had 30 miles on the clock so I was always going to treat it with respect. The bike was a Supersport S in Red.....
Whilst you're sitting on a static bike the riding position (to me) was almost identical to the R1200RS once you get on the move however it is subtly different. The bars feel more narrow and a little lower than the BM. So more sport than sport touring, but not uncomfortably so even for an old fart!
But lets start at the beginning, before setting off I set the riding mode on touring to start with. Whilst the power is still maximum the delivery is quite soft, ideal for town riding and ideal for a first feel of the bike. The clutch is quite light, being cable operated not as light as an hydraulic system though. As the cable leaves the lever it goes through a sharp ninety degree bend and disappears into the centre of the bike, so the cable must be quite special, I hope it lasts.
It's the first Ducati L twin I've ridden for some time, the only other one being a DVT Multistrada S. It's very rumbly (if that makes sense) not as smooth or refined as BMW's horizontally opposed twin. But it doesn't spoil the feel of the bike, in fact it has quite a character to it. Bland it isn't. Any one going from an in line four to a supersport is in for a complete culture shock and really ought to try before you buy..
In traffic you cant ride along at low revs or even tickover like you can on some multi cylinder bikes. 2,600 to 2,800 is an absolute minimum, 3,000 rpm probably better. Once out on the open road the bike is just great, the engine pulls strongly in any gear, no need to keep the engine on the red line on this bike. The gear change is light, easy and slick using the clutch, but the clutch-less changes are a delight. Better than my BMW and that was good. There have been a few comments about the engine cut out time being a tad too long on upshifts, perhaps it is for a circuit but it's not noticeable on the road. The auto blipper works a treat on downshifts. For those that have never used either it's worth remembering up shift only when accelerating (the harder the better), do not back off at all and for down shifts do it on a closed throttle. You're in for a treat.
After a few miles I stopped and changed the engine mode to sport, what a difference, much more sensitive but not like a Tracer, MT10 or the Suzuki GSX1000F which can be difficult to modulate. Fuelling is faultless, I used this mode for the rest of my ride, it's sport I'll use all the time when mine turns up (other than rain). The bike seems quick enough, it really accelerates very quickly, another benefit of light weight, and for me it's more than quick enough for public roads.
The bike feels so light and manoeuvrable , it reacts quickly and predictably to every movement of the rider, The Ohlins on factory setting give a plush ride but not soft, with hardly any dive on the front when braking hard. As the bike is so light (compared to many others in this class) the Brembo brakes are tremendous, plenty of feel and good modulation. Pull the lever hard and the effect is outstanding. The stability of the bike and the feel of the brakes are just so confidence inspiring. As for handling, I found I was turning into bends just a little early, you only have to think about a corner and the bike just turns in, sweetly, lightly and rock solid it hols a dead steady line around bemds. I shall have to get used to this, but I doubt that'll take long! I can understand why there's no steering damper fitted as standard.
I did eighty miles without a break and found the riding position comfortable, as was the seat. It needs a long ride to really know what the seat will be like but there is a comfort seat available as an accessory should it be needed.
The screen is too small and on it's low setting there's lots of wind blast to your head and upper chest. Pulling the screen up to its highest setting improves this a little; but I'll probably look at the touring screen, yet another accessory from Ducati, it's tinted so should look good. There's a little weight on your wrists which you feel at slow speeds or in traffic, but once you get moving the weight lifts off.
I purposely didn't wear ear plugs for my ride and I was very surprised just how fruity the exhaust note was, It really is quite loud particularly under acceleration, I wouldn't have believed that it was Euro 4 compliant. I can't imagine what the race system will sound like, I have to think perhaps annoyingly loud both for the rider and others. If you're getting one I do hope you're on good terms with your neighbours.
Overall I got back with a smile on my face, It's not a smooth as cream characterless in line four, it has oodles of character, that you see hear and more importantly feel.
And............ when you park it up it's so difficult to not stop, turn around look at it and smile... It'll do for me.
These are all my ramblings, I'm not a riding god or a bike tester, I'm sure there'll be as many opinions as there are Supersports made, these are my opinions and I hope they help?