Back in 2016, when the original Supersport was launched at the EICMA show, it was crowned “The most beautiful bike at the show”. High praise for a bike that was essentially the love-child of a Monster and a Panigale. The Supersport attempted to strike the perfect balance between the looks of the Panigale and the comfortable riding position of the Monster. I did not particularly like the headlight design and the quick-shifter was a temperamental thing, but I did not care. I loved the bike. When I first rode the Supersport back in 2017, it blew me away! In November 2020, Ducati brought numerous upgrades to the Supersport which just made it even more attractive to anyone who is looking for a sensible sports tourer.
Just before Ducati’s fourth Mystery Ride, I was informed by Jos Matthysen (head of Ducati SA) that I was buying my own Ducati for the tour. I looked at the new Monster, but I was lured away by a very special Supersport 950. It was finished in Nardo Grey with dayglow-yellow rims. I did not need further convincing. I rode the bike off the floor one day before the Mystery Ride commenced. After 4000 km of crisscrossing the country, the Supersport impressed me immensely. Not only for its long-distance comfort but also for its supreme handling.
As far as sports tourers go, the Supersport leans more towards sport than tour. Ducati did raise the handlebars slightly and repositioned the pegs to give you a more comfortable riding position. The seat is particularly comfortable, but as a tourer, there are a few things it lacks. Cruise control and heated grips should be standard on anything in this category. Ducati does offer heated grips as an option, though. Also optional is the luggage system that requires you to attach some scaffolding to the bike. I steered clear of that, as it would detract from the gorgeous lines of the Italian.
The screen is also not particularly effective, even though it has two settings. Included in the toolkit are two cables, should you want to lock your helmets to the bike. I found the bike has two perfectly good helmet holders sticking out above the headlights. I read in the manual that they are actually rear-view mirrors, but I have to admit that they fail dismally at that task. At speed, objects in these mirrors are just a blurry mess.
Where Ducati claws back points, in my opinion, is with the styling of the bike. It now looks even more like a Panigale, and even has the two gills on the side that mirrors the styling of the Panigale V4 S. The fairing also extends further back, and the headlight now looks much sharper. Ducati paid particular attention to the airflow around the bike. Everything has been sculpted and designed to get hot air away from the rider and to let the cooler air, flow over the rider. The execution is just pure Italian class! Ducati has also sorted the quick-shifter, and on the downshifts the stock exhausts burble with joy. I can just imagine what a Termignoni or Akrapovič system will sound like.
Even though the Mystery ride was a lot of fun, I craved a more relaxed ride with frequent stops and lots of coffee. I like to stop when I see a farmstall and chat with the owners or stop at a monument that once proclaimed a significant moment in history. My usual travel partner is always up for a ride, and seeing that he recently got himself a BMW R 1250 R, we figured it would be a good thing to do a short run to Magoebaskloof and back. But to give us ample time for photos and coffee, we decided to stay over in Haenertsburg. We also decided, much like the Mystery ride, to avoid the highways.
From Pretoria, we headed North on the R101 towards Bela-Bela. There we stopped for breakfast and went further towards Modimole. That stretch of road snakes between the mountains and provided enough gentle curves for the Ducati to do some warmup exercises. Past Modimole we headed to Mookgopong, and here the road surface really improved. We stopped at one of the farmstalls where an elderly gentleman immediately told us about the bikes he rode 45 years ago. He jokingly asked if he could borrow my bike quickly to go visit his sister in Paarl!
Mookgopong, or Naboomspruit as it used to be called, holds a special place in my heart. This was the hometown of Lodie de Jager, an intrepid over-lander who rode his Kawasaki KLR 650 from here to Germany. I met Lodie when he was being treated for a brain tumour, and even with a massive bandage over his head, he still inspired me to travel. What is more, he was always willing to share and chat about his own travels.
We went further north and reached Haenertsburg just after lunch. We stopped for a quick coffee and set off towards Magoebaskloof pass. My first run was just to gauge the condition of the pass. The pass is relatively short with tight hairpins and there are frequent accidents there. We checked for anything left on the road surface and found it to be clean. As I turned and headed back up, that is when I really started to enjoy the Supersport. I am not a fast rider by any stretch of the imagination, but the 950 instilled confidence, which in turn meant the pace went up accordingly.
Getting to the top, I turned around for another run, and another. I was having so much fun that I had to head back to Heanertsburg, just to fill up again! As the sun was setting fast, I decided to do one more run and the Ducati put a huge grin on my face. We rode all the way to Magoebaskloof dam and I just marvelled at the beauty that is Magoebaskloof. The Supersport is really starting to grow on me. Even with its quirks, I love it! I still have to come up with a neat luggage solution but all in good time.
That evening, around the fire, I already started planning my next trip. On the way back home, we stopped at a sandstone monument depicting our violent past. As I stood there, I wondered what life must have been like in the time of the Voortrekkers. And then I just looked at my beautiful Ducati Supersport and I was happy about how far we have come!
Ducati 950 SuperSport
For more information on the bike that we rode in this article, click on the link below…