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Well, after our recent two-part Superbike Shootout – road and track – there was little doubt who had to win this category. The Aprilia RSV4 RR cleaned up in both venues. We hate to be so predictable, but that 180-horsepower V-Four in a chassis of the gods is just too much for the competition to overcome, again. Not that Aprilia didn’t make it better for 2017.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF Review – First Ride

The vanilla RSV4 RR that won our test(s) got an up-and-down quickshifter and Brembo M50 calipers gripping larger 330mm discs for ’17. The upscale RSV4 RF adds the latest generation Öhlins NIX fork and TTX shock to the parts manifest, along with lighter forged wheels – but sort of blows through most budgets by jacking the price tag from $16,999 to $23k. If you can swing it, go ahead and swing, but the RR was fine by us. Both bikes received a huge electronics upgrade, including a swell new TFT instrument panel, and wait for it – cruise control.

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“It’s phenomenal that you can get a magical piece of Italian exotica like this for less than the price Honda charges for its CBR with the optional auto-blipping quickshifter,” said EiC Duke after ripping around Auto Club Speedway in our shootout. “Not only is the ’Priller far more exotic, it also boasts Cornering ABS, independent wheelie control and on-the-fly-adjustable traction control by dedicated finger/thumb toggles. Oh, and let’s not forget that mellifluous V-Four soundtrack that Honda probably wishes it could match like it could back in the glorious VFR days.”

These Italian V-Fours are bigly winning, and so is anybody fortunate enough to wrap their giblets around one. Bellissima!

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Former editor Troy Siahaan came back from the Supersport’s intro full of praise for Ducati’s new sportbike, and the rest of the MO staff is in favor of picking this one for what it represents as much as for how well it works: In a sportbike world gone full-race mode, with this one Ducati takes a step back, building a sportbike for people who like to ride on the road. That would be, of course, about 98% of us.

2017 Ducati Supersport Review

Ducati’s guiltier than most: The Panigales are magical on a race track, but you wouldn’t want to ride around on one much in a Miami summer. With the new Supersport, they say, they’re filling a niche between the Panigales and Multistradas – a regular old-fashioned sportbike you can actually ride out for a long weekend on the road. Heck, you can even get saddlebags.

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Not that it’s not still a serious roadburner. They couldn’t call it Supersport if it wasn’t. Its 937 cc Testastretta 11º delivered 101 horsepower and 67 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel of our 2017 Ducati Hypermotard, and Ducati says this one’s producing 80% of peak torque at just 3000 rpm. A new steel-trellis frame contains it, and if you want to go all Trump Tower, the upscale S model comes with an Öhlins shock, 48mm TiN-treated fork, and a quickshifter for both up and downshifts.

The big news, though, is more upright, more relaxed ergonomics. Clip-ons clip on above the top triple clamp, footpegs are less rearset, and the Supersport thankfully does not use its rider’s circulatory system as a radiator. Though it sports modern tech such as full ride-by-wire, ride modes, TC and ABS, the new SS is a throwback to the pre-sportbike-as-crackpipe era.

Trizzle summed it up thusly: “Whether you lean more towards sport or touring, the Supersport offers something to like for almost everyone. Touring riders looking for something smaller and lighter than a Multistrada will be pleased, as will sport riders looking for a less hardcore kind of middleweight. The beauty of the Supersport is the ability to modify and accessorize it to better accomplish either.

“As for me, I think I’ve found my new favorite Ducati. I’d even ride it to a trackday, burn laps, and ride home.”

Strong words! Yours for a mere $12,995, or $14,995 for the S model.

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  • Sayyed Bashir

    Well the Suzuki GSX-R1000 didn’t make it. I was hoping … It looks so good in that blue livery. Plus the VVT which no other bike has in this class. And the really reasonable price. And great performance. Oh well.

    • Old MOron

      Well, let’s see. You scored with your HD and your KTM, right?
      https://youtu.be/k5hWWe-ts2s?t=1m44s

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Well the Suzuki GSX-R1000 VVT got Best Technology (honorable mention) so it is actually three out of three. Missed out on the actual bike. I guess they didn’t want to go overboard like with KTM (4 category wins and 1 honorable mention).

  • Old MOron

    “…and the Supersport thankfully does not use its rider’s circulatory system as a radiator.”

    You can’t get this MOronic stuff anywhere else, folks!

    • Alexander Pityuk

      It would be too bad if they used that awesome meme only once.

    • DickRuble

      They’re turning blue in the face from your blowing smoke up their a$$.

      • Old MOron

        Once in a while… once in a great while, your clever side slips out from behind that spiteful alter ego. That’s why I like you. I know there’s a clever person behind the facade. Let it out a little more often. C’mon.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    I don’t like the looks of Supersport in a same way I don’t like MV’s. Same problem with mediocre girls putting tonns of makeup on their faces, which does make them attractive, but not beautiful. True beauty comes naturally: from evolution and from function, just like Panigale’s.

    • Dimitry Kaplun

      Dunno, when I had my MV F3 800, it was both amazing to look at and to ride. Only bike I regret selling. Plus, only sports bike I had that did not mess up my back.

      • Alexander Pityuk

        Maybe I got too harsh about MVs. They are mighty cool exotic italian motorcycles, especially sportbike line. Only a fool would argue with that. I just say that they are a bit purposefully cute.

        • Dimitry Kaplun

          Same designer as the Ducati 916 among others. Definitely hot but as for “cute”, your call.

      • spiff

        The MV wasn’t rough on your back? That surprises me.

        • Dimitry Kaplun

          This bike only had a 29% front angle based on my height. Before that I had an 848 Superbike with a 44% angle. The MV felt positively comfy, and I did not feel like I was resting on my wrists either.

  • JMDGT

    There may be many reasons a guy might like a bike. I like both of these machines. I’d gladly add them both to my list of must haves.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Nice bikes. Im just too old, broken and fat for them though.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      LOL, I’m sliding down that slope too. I figure that’s why soft, comfy retros, cruisers, and three-wheelers exist, and, eventually, mobility scooters 🙂

      • Sayyed Bashir

        And scooters.

  • John B.

    No argument with the Aprilia, and I share your sentiments with respect to the Ducati SS.

    An entertaining South African motorcycle show called “The Bike Show” did a comparison between the Ducati SS and the Kawasaki NInja 1000 (it has a different name there), with fully equipped exemplars.

    The Ninja offers significantly more horsepower and torque for thousands less when similarly equipped. The “presenters” thought both bikes looked great, but I much prefer the Ducati’s looks. I suppose one could make the case for the Ninja 1000 as runner up in this category.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    The RSV4’s win is totally understandable, but the Ducati Supersport getting honorable mention in a category it wasn’t even competing in (by Ducati’s own insistence) is perplexing.

    • Kevin Duke

      Where has Ducati insisted the Supersport isn’t a sportbike?

      • DickRuble

        Mad4 is right. Ducati, on their official website, have it in a different category than the Panigales (959, 1299) and Superleggera, all considered superbikes, and which are no doubt direct competitors to the RSV4’s. The supersport belongs with the Interceptor, more sport than supersport.

        • Kevin Duke

          Ah, “more sport than supersport.” So it’s a sportbike…

      • Mad4TheCrest

        Kevin, in the video reviews I’ve watched from the Supersport launch the reviewers stated that Ducati was ‘worried’ the Supersport would be evaluated as a sportbike, and insisted it wasn’t in the same category as their Panigales (including the 959).

        • Kevin Duke

          No argument here that the Supersport isn’t in the same category as a Panigale. But when the manufacturer introduces its bike by bringing journalists to a racetrack to ride it on, I submit they agree that it’s a sportbike of some sort.

          • Mad4TheCrest

            Ducati has a track session for most of it’s launches (Diavel cruisers aside), don’t they? Virtually everything Ducati makes can be said to be a ‘sport bike of some sort’, but that doesn’t mean they are Sportbikes (capital ‘S’).

            Oh, wait, hold the phone. I just read the Cruiser award today and I get it: the Supersport is ‘sportbike adjacent’ in the same way the Triumph Bobber is ‘cruiser adjacent’. 🙂

          • Kevin Duke

            Never a Multistrada launch at a racetrack!

          • Mad4TheCrest

            Ha, ok Kevin, you got me there … I thought for sure they had, but no, I can’t find any instance of the Multi on track at a launch. I guess it must have been all those pesky journalists and vloggers who took their long term tester Multistradas to the track. I blame Zack Courts for my confusion …

    • john phyyt

      Agreed. Sports bike = Lap times. If RSV was 2 seconds a lap slower it could not have won category.

      • Born to Ride

        False, Track bike = Lap Times.
        Sport bike = Fun to Flog
        The distinction is that a good sport bike should be fun no matter what road you point it down. You don’t need a committed Superbike in order to take part in sport riding. I clown kids on their Gixxers all the time on my Multistrada because lap time capability doesn’t mean jack if the bike doesn’t inspire confidence to ride it hard. The fastest bike is not the quickest bike for all riders at all times.

        • john phyyt

          So then Tuono should have won this category.? I’m not saying SS isn’t a good bike but Panigale is a better sports bike.

          • Born to Ride

            The Tuono could have easily won honorable mention since the RSV won the category and the Tuono is the same bike with a handlebar and 20 less hp up top in favor of more power everywhere else. T-Rod even said that they are extremely similar on track after back to back testing.

            As for the panigale vs SS, maybe it is a better bike on a racetrack, maybe it isn’t on the street. The point is that the relative greatness of a sportbike isn’t purely defined by lap times at the local track. If it were, the best sportbike in the world would constantly change as a factor of what track you were at since some tracks play to a bikes strengths where others do not. Case in point, what is the best motoGP bike? At Austin it is unequivocally Honda, at Phillip island it’s probably Ducati, and at Assen it’s Yamaha. At Mt. Palomar, it is whatever bike is most rideable for our meager amateur skillset. I think the SS embodies what a rideable sportbike can and should be. Though I’ll take mine with the M1200R engine, please and thank you.

    • Born to Ride

      Ducati as a company is far more interested in saving face than any other oem. It’s as if they believe that only the mystique of their bikes being the fastest or most exclusive is what sells. They don’t realize that they have a lot of customers that like their bikes for the characteristics they possess other than outright speed. I was talking to a guy that was riding a supersport recently, and he was legitimately quick on the bike. He said it was the most confidence inspiring bike he’d ever owned and his R1 was up for sale. A bike doesn’t need to be unyieldingly track focused to be a good sport bike.

  • Jack Meoph

    Without a doubt, if I buy another motorcycle, it will be the Ducati Supersport S.

    • Spinkick

      I own one, and its just awesome.

  • Dimitry Kaplun

    Honestly was underwhelmed with the Supersport S when I test rode it. It was far too “sport” as far as seating position and angle, and felt underpowered albeit capable. Felt underpowered as far as a dedicated sports bike and way way way too sporty as a sport touring bike. Shrug. Different strokes for different folks.

  • DAVID

    I own a SS really nice bike in my 30 + years of riding, is the true meaning of sport touring!! Sport touring is not lugging around a 600 lb bike all day. The SS is very similar in riding position as sport bikes were in the 80’s. Coming from a liter bike the only thing I agree on with these comments is maybe 10-20 more hp, because i ride regularly above 7,000+ ft.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    With all the electronics on Sportbikes these days, adding cruise control cost absolutely zero dollars to add. Not adding it would be idiotic.