2023 Ducati SuperSport 950

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A sportbike for the real world. Ducati’s SuperSport 950 combines Panigale-esque looks with comfortable ergonomics.

A sportbike for the real world. Ducati’s SuperSport 950 combines Panigale-esque looks with comfortable ergonomics. (Ducati/)

Ups

  • A Ducati sportbike you can ride comfortably all day
  • Trackday capability and everyday practicality
  • S model has Öhlins suspension

Downs

  • It’s unlikely to be as classic as the ‘90s Supersport
  • Heated grips and panniers cost extra
  • Cruise control is unavailable

Verdict

The Ducati SuperSport 950 is proof that not every sportbike has to be uncompromising. This bike treads the path set by its famous forebears, bringing contemporary technology, a tried-and-true desmo V-twin, and rational ergonomics to a twisty road near you.

SuperSport S models add Öhlins suspension front and rear, and a passenger seat cover.

SuperSport S models add Öhlins suspension front and rear, and a passenger seat cover. (Ducati/)

Overview

From the original production bevel-drive 750 Super Sport to Miguel Galluzzi’s iconic 900 Supersport, the Super Sport/Supersport designation evokes the legends of Borgo Panigale more than any other name. Revived in 2017 after a 10-year hiatus, the (now) SuperSport 950—with another spelling change to its name—is Ducati’s effort to continue the legacy.

With the advent of the belt-drive Pantah, the Super Sport concluded its duties as Ducati’s superbike platform, but the name lived on and was henceforth applied to a family of road-going models; no mere spectors of former racing glory, the Supersport became its own expression of the Borgo Panigale speed gene.

“If the 1980s was the age of Disco,” Peter Egan says, “then you might say the 1990s was the age of Ducati—at least for those of us who like the music of big-bore desmo V-twins from Italy. Ducati, of course, turned out an unbroken string of charismatic street- and racebikes in that era, but the one that really took the world by storm was the 900SS, introduced in 1991.

“The moderately high clip-ons, good seat, and dropped rearsets made this a Ducati you could ride all day,” Egan says.

The same can be said of the latest SuperSport 950. Updated in 2021 with more advanced electronic rider aids and a Panigale-esque fairing, the SuperSport is less nefarious than Ducati’s superbikes and arguably more proficient as a sportbike for the real world.

There was a time not long ago when there were plenty of sportbikes that were neither hard-edged race-reps nor borderline stodgy sport-tourers. RIP, Honda VFR750F. These days, the SuperSport practically carries the torch—at least if you want it to be Italian, red, and play the music of a big-bore desmo V-twin.

The SuperSport 950’s fairings were updated for the 2021 model year and feature subtle nods to Ducati’s Panigale V4.

The SuperSport 950’s fairings were updated for the 2021 model year and feature subtle nods to Ducati’s Panigale V4. (Ducati/)

Updates for 2023

The SuperSport 950 and 950 S are unchanged for 2023. The last major update was in 2021.

Pricing and Variants

The SuperSport 950 has an MSRP of $15,195 and is only available in Ducati Red. The S version starts at $17,695 for Ducati Red and increases to $18,095 for Arctic White Silk. The S model distinguishes itself from the base model by using a 48mm Öhlins fork and Öhlins shock. The base model uses a 43mm Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock.

Competition

A sportbike unconcerned with ultimate performance is a bit of a rarity in 2023. Backing off a few tenths from performance single-mindedness means riders expect the SuperSport 950 to compensate with a modicum of versatility. Indeed, the SuperSport is more comfortable than a purebred sportbike, and is even available with semi-rigid luggage for light-duty touring. But it’s in no way a full-on sport-tourer.

That puts it in roughly the same category as the brand-new Moto Guzzi V100 (starting at $15,490), the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR ($20,950), and the BMW R 1250 RS (starting at $15,695), all of which are very different motorcycles. The Speed Triple RR is the most powerful and most performance oriented of the lot, while the Beemer veers toward the sport-touring side. Like the SuperSport, all would be tremendous fun on a canyon road.

One might also consider Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000 SX ($13,199) and Suzuki’s GSX-S1000GT ($13,149)—bikes that are sporty, but put equal emphasis on long-range comfort.

The SuperSport 950 is one of five models to use Ducati’s latest Testastretta 11º V-twin. In SuperSport trim, the engine is claimed to make 110 hp and 68.6 lb.-ft. of torque.

The SuperSport 950 is one of five models to use Ducati’s latest Testastretta 11º V-twin. In SuperSport trim, the engine is claimed to make 110 hp and 68.6 lb.-ft. of torque. (Ducati/)

Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The 2023 Ducati SuperSport 950 is powered by the 937cc Testastretta 11º V-twin. Ducati uses the engine (in various tunes) in the Monster, Hypermotard 950, Multistrada V2, and DesertX, making it the workhorse V-twin in Borgo Panigale’s lineup. While the Panigale V2′s oversquare Superquadro engine offers more performance, the 937cc Testastretta feels more classically Ducati.

With perfect primary balance, abundant low- and midrange torque, and a happy-to-rev nature, the SuperSport makes desmo twins feel amazingly rational.

In his First Ride Review, Bruno dePrato reported: “The engine is strong; 120 mph was easily reached even with the relatively short straight at my disposal. The flexibility and density of low-rpm torque made it easy to fully exploit the bike on corner exits. For a final check on the flexibility of the 937cc Testastretta 11º engine I took a full lap, including some rather tight sections, using only sixth gear. Even when the engine was down to nearly 2,000 rpm, torque was adequate to move the bike along comfortably, with no shuddering or coughing.”

It wouldn’t be a Ducati if there wasn’t some performance baked into the package.

It wouldn’t be a Ducati if there wasn’t some performance baked into the package. (Ducati/)

Chassis/Handling

The SuperSport 950 makes use of Ducati’s latest-generation trellis frame and has a single-sided swingarm. Standard models use a Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock, while S models roll on Öhlins components.

“Steering response is always precise, neat, and neutral. Lean angles can easily exceed 45 degrees even at relatively low speeds, because the bike feels secure and has plenty of torque to keep it moving through the corner,” dePrato writes. “The relatively long wheelbase helps the bike feel stable rounding full-blast 100-mph corners, yet it remains agile in very tight maneuvers at walking speed. It’s like no other Ducati I can remember.”

There’s no difference in braking package for standard and S models. Both SuperSport 950s come equipped with Brembo M4.32 calipers.

There’s no difference in braking package for standard and S models. Both SuperSport 950s come equipped with Brembo M4.32 calipers. (Ducati/)

Brakes

The SuperSport 950 base model and S version use Brembo braking components with dual 320mm discs and four-piston M4.32 calipers in the front and a 245mm disc/two-piston caliper setup in the rear. Cornering ABS is standard on both models.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Ducati claims the SuperSport receives 41.3 mpg.

The SuperSport 950 is fun to cruise around town and tear through the canyons. Available accessories include panniers, heated grips, and a taller windscreen, which open the door to longer-distance touring.

The SuperSport 950 is fun to cruise around town and tear through the canyons. Available accessories include panniers, heated grips, and a taller windscreen, which open the door to longer-distance touring. (Ducati/)

Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility

Ergonomically, the SuperSport is far less aggressive than its Panigale siblings. dePrato notes: “When a long trackday ends with no aches and pains, that is a testament to the friendly riding position. The memory-foam seat also adds to the comfort factor.”

Another nod to civility is the two-way-adjustable windshield, which can be lifted 2 inches for added wind protection. Semi-rigid bags are available from the Ducati accessory catalog, as are heated grips and a taller windscreen, as part of a “touring” package.

Curiously missing is cruise control, a feature that would be beneficial for everything from commuting to touring.

A 4.3-inch full-color TFT display was added in 2021. Notice the riser clamps for the clip-on handlebars. The windscreen is two-position adjustable.

A 4.3-inch full-color TFT display was added in 2021. Notice the riser clamps for the clip-on handlebars. The windscreen is two-position adjustable. (Ducati/)

Electronics

The SuperSport uses a Bosch six-axis IMU that works in conjunction with the rest of the electronics suite, managing cornering ABS, traction control, and wheelie control. Three ride modes (Sport, Touring, and Urban) are fully adjustable. A bidirectional quickshifter comes standard. Navigating through the settings can be done via the 4.3-inch TFT display and switches on the left handlebar. LED lighting is also standard.

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

The SuperSport comes with Ducati’s two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.

Quality

The SuperSport 950 is well-equipped and nicely finished with Ducati’s typical attention to detail and premium components.

Claimed Specs

2023 Ducati SuperSport 950 2023 Ducati SuperSport 950 S
MSRP: $15,195 $17,695 (Ducati Red)/$18,095 (Arctic White)
Engine: 937cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin; 4 valve/cyl. 937cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin; 4 valve/cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 94.0 x 67.5mm 94.0 x 67.5mm
Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain 6-speed/chain
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection w/ 53mm throttle bodies Electronic fuel injection w/ 53mm throttle bodies
Clutch: Wet, multiplate, self-servo, slipper; hydraulic actuation Wet, multiplate, self-servo, slipper; hydraulic actuation
Engine Management/Ignition: Ride-by-wire/TCI Ride-by-wire/TCI
Frame: Tubular steel trellis, engine as stressed member Tubular steel trellis, engine as stressed member
Front Suspension: 43mm Marzocchi fork, fully adjustable; 5.1 in. travel 48mm Öhlins fork, fully adjustable; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Sachs monoshock; 5.7 in. travel Öhlins monoshock, fully adjustable; 5.7 in. travel
Front Brake: Brembo M4.32 calipers, 320mm semi-floating discs w/ Bosch Cornering ABS Brembo M4.32 calipers, 320mm semi-floating discs w/ Bosch Cornering ABS
Rear Brake: 2-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ Bosch Cornering ABS 2-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ Bosch Cornering ABS
Wheels, Front/Rear: Aluminum 3-spoke; 17 x 3.50 in. / 17 x 5.50 in. Aluminum 3-spoke; 17 x 3.50 in. / 17 x 5.50 in.
Tires, Front/Rear: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III; 120/70ZR-17 / 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso III; 120/70ZR-17 / 180/55ZR-17
Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.6 in. 24.0°/3.6 in.
Wheelbase: 58.3 in. 58.3 in.
Seat Height: 31.9 in. 31.9 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gal. 4.2 gal.
Wet Weight: 463 lb. 463 lb.
Contact: ducati.com