While there’s no denying that the Panigale is an awesome thing it’s fair to say that Ducati’s range-topper is rather extreme. That’s where next year’s 939 Supersport comes into its own.
Originally revealed in a ‘closed room’ preview at World Ducati Weekend, the Supersport has now been spotted on test, albeit under this distracting camouflage disguise.
Think of it as Ducati’s take on the classic all-rounder sports bike theme – that category once dominated by the likes of the Honda CBR600F – combining enough performance and handling to stick with your superbike-riding mates while offering a whole extra level of comfort and convenience.
Ducati is doing all that without delving too deeply into its R&D resources, too, since the majority of the parts of the 939 Supersport come straight from bikes in its existing range.
As the name suggests, the 939 Supersport is powered by the same engine as the Hypermotard 939. A version of the Testatretta 11° V-twin, it’s confusingly got an actual capacity of 937cc – sharing the 67.5mm stroke of the Monster 821 engine but gaining an extra 6mm on the bore, taking it to 94mm. The result is similar power to the Monster 821 at 113bhp (112bhp for the Monster) but more torque (72.2lbft vs 65.8lbft).
However straight line performance has never been key to the appeal of a Ducati Supersport. The last of the old-generation Supersports – it ended production as the Pierre Terblanche-styled 1000SS a decade ago – offered lovely handling but had a mere 80bhp on tap.
Chassis-wise, the new 939 Supersport borrows from the Monster range, sharing the same part-steel-trellis, part aluminium frame and nicking its single-sided swingarm from the Monster 1200. It might be a bitsa, but those are some good bits to use.The suspension seen here is a combination of Marzocchi forks and an Ohlins rear shock, which suggests this is the ‘base’ version of the 939 Supersport. The model previewed at WDW earlier this year was badged as the Supersport S and featured gold-coloured Ohlins forks and a matching shock. It also had red wheels to match the frame, rather than the black ones seen in these spy shots. You get radial-mounted Brembos on both versions, so it’s not like the entry-level Supersport is a poverty-spec machine.
Although we don’t get a glimpse of the bike’s exhaust end can, it seems that the majority of the system is packaged into a large collector box below the front of the swingarm. It’s possible that despite the need to meet tough Euro4 emissions regulations including more stringent noise level limits that Ducati has managed to keep the visible end can down to little more than a stub.
The Supersport’s relatively high bars, mounted above the top yoke rather than clipped on below, explain the rather cut-off appearance of the front upper bodywork. It’s designed to allow the high and wide bars to turn, giving plenty of steering lock, while also offering eind protection that a Monster couldn’t hope to achieve. The expansive pillion seat and relatively low passenger pegs also show that the Supersport will be more than happy being ridden two-up.
Although initially the Supersport will be only offered with the 939 engine, it’s hard to imagine that Ducati won’t eventually transplant the Monster 1200’s 135bhp motor into the bike. After all it will be a straight swap offering an instant performance hike.
As with the rest of Ducati’s 2017 range, the bike is expected to make its debut in November at the EICMA show in Milan.