FSBK – Gregory Leblanc French Supersport champion 2010 –

Driving report Ducati 900 SS

Departure into new territory

Anyone who perceives motorcycling as a sensual event, who understands the difference between a sporty pace and racing allure, who is at peace with themselves and the world, could be ripe for the new 900 SS. The one with injection.

Positano, 15th. April 1998. Ducati presents the completely renewed 900 Supersport. On Italian soil. Where else? On the undoubtedly magnificent Amalfi Coast. In front of the Hotel Poseidon, undoubtedly with a hint of Greek, two models pose for themselves: red and yellow. Other colors are not intended for the 900 SS.
The new one breaks with its predecessor – at least externally. A little super mono here, a little 916 there and something completely different there. Nothing was left of the formerly rather classic styling. The 900 SS seduces with its lush, organic shapes. "Do you see the play of light and shadow on the cladding?" Designer Pierre Terblanche likes his new creation.
Andrea Forni, the responsible technician, also. And he makes no secret of the inadequacies of the old generation of super sports. “We know that handling, braking, suspension, damping and the response of the engine were in need of improvement. That’s why we’ve developed the 900 SS further. ”What a disarming straightforwardness.
"When the red sun sinks into the sea at Capri …" Then that doesn’t mean that it will shine in new splendor the next day.
April 16, 1998: Positano has been transformed into a laundry room. Gray in gray. Steam. Water. From all sides. Not again. We only had such rain when the Kawasaki ZX-6R was presented in Barcelona. Europe’s south is no longer what it used to be. And now this slippery, narrow coastal road. With a Ducati. Incidentally, on which one takes a more lying position than sitting. At least little people have certain problems with the long tank, which puts the relatively low-mounted handlebar stubs a long way off.
Even when it comes to the seat height, a measure of adult Central Europeans has been taken. However, the tank is kept nice and narrow, so that you can easily slide back and forth to gain contact with the ground. In addition, the 900 SS is one of those motorcycles that – thanks to its low weight – relieve any stress before tipping over.
Okay, everything will be fine: down your visor and out into the wet world. Surprise number one: the Ducati can swim. Surprise number two: the air-oil-cooled engine hangs neatly on the gas at less than 2000 rpm. No jerking, no chuckling, no swallowing, no nothing. The use of electronic injection seems to have paid off. Not to mention the five horsepower more peak power that – according to Ducati – was achieved as a result. Whether they are there or not: In any case, the revised two-cylinder revs up much more freely.
Surprise number three: the 900 SS springs and dampens and acts and acts as if it had never done anything else. Nothing of the previous stubbornness, especially on the part of the hindquarters, which was able to wedge out a lot. The new spring elements do their job flawlessly. Sensitive, comfortable and – as experienced on a short, dry section of the route – with sporty stability.
The driving behavior of the Supersport is strongly reminiscent of that of the Ducati 916: this "being sucked in" – or whatever you want to call it – that gives you the feeling that tires and asphalt are forming a magnetic bond. But very different from the Ducati flagship, the 900 SS amazes with surprise number four: its pronounced talent for movement. It takes the tightest serpentines, not uncommon on the Amalfi Coast, with an ease that is not necessarily often found among athletes with a large capacity.
Certainly the relatively narrow tires, brand Michelin, more closely named TX 15, TX 25, which harmonize pretty well with the 900 series, help here. Comfortable, handy and true to the line, they do not allow any inconsistencies to arise. Brakes in an inclined position can also cope with without riot. Which brings us to the biggest surprise: it brakes. The 900 SS brakes. And properly. The latest Brembo generation, with new four-piston calipers, a different master cylinder and modified actuation, is making an impact. Although the double target system doesn’t snap as sharply as some of these Japanese poison bites, it is much better than before. And dosable. Only in the last third the feedback is not quite right.
W.hen the 900 SS doesn’t throw at least a cylinder and a half from itself, or drink like a hole, or hit the hook like a rabbit on dry roads, its success shouldn’t be stopped.

Changes in detail – from the vertical shaft engine to the injection engine

The name 900 SS has appeared in the Ducati range since 1976. But the model from back then (with vertical shaft motor) no longer has anything in common with the younger Supersport years. The latest model 900 got its last model in 1991. However, apart from new carburettors, the modifications were limited to the chassis. This time the Supersport has been completely rejuvenated. Here are the most important changes. Engine: electronic intake manifold injection (previously: 38er Mikuni- constant pressure carburetor), electronic engine management, different valve timing (inlet and outlet open longer), more powerful alternator (520 instead of 350 watts), cooling air supply to the rear cylinder, should be 130 km / h at a speed bring to 20 degrees cooling. Chassis: shorter wheelbase (1395 instead of 1410 mm), shorter caster (100 instead of 103 mm), steeper steering head angle (66 instead of 65 degrees), new 43 mm telescopic fork from Showa (formerly 41 mm dip tube diameter), different central spring strut for longer spring travel (136 instead of 125 mm), modified front brake system, larger front axle diameter (25 instead of 20 mm).

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