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Searching for the perfect bike - Ducati Super Sport vs. R1200RS

Discussion in 'R1200RS Versus The Competition' started by Roy Wirthlin, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. Roy Wirthlin

    Roy Wirthlin New Member

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    As a background I have been searching for the perfect bike for that last 4 years. The search started in 2013 when I was looking for a sport bike that I could do some serious miles on. I was naturally drawn to the K1300S but when I tried it but it was cumbersome, slow to turn and only felt good going 90-120mph down the interstate - Boy, but what a motor. When I returned the bike the dealer suggested I try a Ducati Multistrada ... unfortunately I am inseam challenged (29") and could barely get my tippy toes on the ground. Then he suggested I try a Diavel. "What's a Diavel?", I asked. He showed me and I said, "That's the ugliest bike I have ever seen." "I know, he replied but they grow on you." I tried it and was smitten, same amazing power of the K1300S but so much lighter and SO MUCH more maneuverable.

    Since the Diavel purchase I have tried and S1000rr (license/life taker), S1000r (Great fun but, not as much as the Ducati - too clinical/sterile), Ducati Panagale 959 (i found its ridiculous trying to ride that on the road in any kind of traffic ... you could tour on it if you could your average speed up around 100 mph, otherwise its too painful).

    Fast forward to today after 12,000 miles on the Diavel. I have been considering the R1200RS and the the amazing folks at Erico Motorsports in Denver suggested I try out a Ducati SuperSport S for the weekend! I was able to do a 300+ mile test ride. I road it up in the mountains up to the top of Mt Evans (14,200 ft). I road it about 150 miles on the interstate (I-70 and I-25) and I road it a good 160 miles in the "twisties" of the Colorado mountains. then for fun and comparison I did a quick (15 mile test ride on an R1200RS...I could only get it for 15 miles ... Dang.)

    So is my take on the two bikes and how they fit with the rest of the world:

    The SuperSport is the best handling bike for the road (roads not track) period. It is the most confidence inspiring bike I have ever ridden. It is a sport bike that you can sort-of comfortably tour on.

    Engine: Ducati engines are hard to beat for the thrill and the passion they convey the acceleration of the two bikes was about the same with a slight edge to the Ducati.

    Transmission: No contest here the RS kills it. Super smooth. Ducati transmission are brutish in comparison.

    Suspension: The Supersport keeps you inexorably connected to the road in a way that is hard to convey in words. I has to be experienced. There are no surprises, think turn and your are turning, no skips, surprises it makes you feel like Valentio Rossi. You know exactly what is going on beneath your tires down to each pebble underneath them. The RS was very well planted and seemed firm but it did not feel as well connected ... I guess you have to trust the ESA ...

    Wind: the RS had more buffeting around the helmet at 70-85 mph. I was surprised by this. The Ducati air was clean and the windscreen did a good job of keeping the wind off your chest.

    At Speed: The RS is more comfortable above 80 mph. The connectedness of the Ducati would get old after a couple of hours and the vibrations increase above 90 ... fast interstate travel - handsdown the RS.

    In the turns: Hands down the Ducati, but the RS was not far behind and that is saying something. The Ducati is lighter/thinner and is more nimble.

    Ridding Position: Ducati is slightly more aggressive but not much I am 5'8".

    Seats: Ducati not bad the RS better more plush but I only spent 15 miles in it.

    Fun Factor: The Ducati was more fun but that fun and connection with the road comes at a price. I admit I smiled big when I got on the RS and whooshed down the highway at 90 mph.

    It all boils down to your mission statement:

    Going to carry a pillion?: Go RS
    Going to do longer trips (say more than 3-400 miles/day)?: Go RS
    Have to ride hundred of miles on the interstate: Go RS
    Don't want to mess with a chain: Go RS
    Need heated grips: Go RS

    But if you have some amazing mountain roads like I do with in a half hour and you do mostly weekend trips (300 mile/day or less) buy the Ducati. Both will make you smile. The Ducati will Make you smile more until you hit about 300 miles then the RS will make you smile.
     
    Scott, Marek, slowpoke and 5 others like this.
  2. Grumpy Goat

    Grumpy Goat Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Nice review of the two bikes, and welcome to the forum.

    I guess by now you will have realised that there is not such thing as a perfect bike. All have their strengths and weaknesses, and our tastes can change with our moods. :)
     
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  3. Roy Wirthlin

    Roy Wirthlin New Member

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    Yes Grumpy,

    The perfect bike does not really exist but its sure fun trying to find it. I imagine in a perfect world we would all have at least 4 different bikes in the garage and all autos, busses and trucks would be banned from the roads on Saturday and Sunday ...
     
  4. Grumpy Goat

    Grumpy Goat Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Wish I had the funds to try to find this motorcycle holy grail. :) As for cars, trucks and such off the road ... I commute so every day would suit me just fine.
     
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  5. SD-Biker

    SD-Biker Member

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    I think u also need to add ease to work on. By far boxer engines are the easiest to service.

    You'll also notice a performance improvement with the full straight thru exhaust...although that can be said for just about every bike. Got to love getting rid of the cat and butterfly valve
     
  6. Bug Dr.

    Bug Dr. Member

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    I'm not looking for the perfect bike, I'm looking for the perfect combination of bikes. The two I have now tick off a whole bunch of boxes (Tenere ES and the RS). Of course three or four bikes would check some of those outlier boxes but I'd be a single man.
    Mike
     
  7. DaveSkinner

    DaveSkinner New Member

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    Roy - great write up. My 2.5c worth: I have an Aprilia Tuono Factory and RS. I think the Tuono has similar characteristics to the Ducati sport. Its very light, very powerful, very easy to ride fast, and all around Ohlins has great feel. I used to have a Multistrada and loved it but the ride height was an issue for me (5'7" 29" inseam) and the adventure ergs always had me feeling challenged for front end feel after 30 odd years of sports bikes so I replaced it with the Tuono. I initially hoped that I could use the Tuono for touring as well as sports riding but after many hours of trying I found the Tuono tiring for long distance riding with no wind protection and the short wheelbase requiring constant brain-on attention. While the fun factor with the Tuono is hard to beat I do feel that the RS is a better multi-purpose bike. There is enough power to be fun in the twisties. While its a heavier package the longer wheelbase makes it more stable, and of course you get the creature comforts of a good screen, seat, grips, luggage, and if you're into it (I'm not), range and economy. I don't think it is the perfect bike but I do think it is a very good all-rounder.
     
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  8. Grumpy Goat

    Grumpy Goat Well-Known Member Contributor

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    I think that I have the same mindset as you. If I were to get another bike, it would have to be a dual sport and the Tenere is a decent option to a GS. More than that I'd also likely be a single man also.
     
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  9. Leon.P.

    Leon.P. Well-Known Member

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    I would not mind having the R1200R parked beside the RS for those hotter days and nights down under.:)
     
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  10. Michael

    Michael Well-Known Member

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  11. Leon.P.

    Leon.P. Well-Known Member

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    Coming from Boris that's a huge compliment for our 1200RS.:):)
     
  12. Bub

    Bub Active Member

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    My first of many Ducatis was a '93 900SS and I've thought hard about adding a new SS. I have no doubt I'd really enjoy one, but it's mission is just a little too close to the RS. Yes it's a more basic and sporty machine than the RS, but I think I need more contrast. If I had a GS now, I'd probably buy the new SS. I really appreciate just how capable and fun the RS is. As it is, I have my Monster S2R1000 for sale and am thinking about a Hypermotard, a tremendously fun bike as well I've ridden a couple times. I do have a line on a low mileage '08 1098 that I think can be bought at a good price though...hmm. ;)
     
  13. ray2

    ray2 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Want to throw on some gravel tires, engine protection, and do some fire roads?: Go RS.

    There's no bike that is perfect for all occasions, but if you only get one bike, from track to gravel, the RS seems to be one of the more capable all-round bikes available....
     
  14. Roy Wirthlin

    Roy Wirthlin New Member

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    I have been pondering all of your comments and the test ride(s) and have come to the conclusion that if I could only have one bike it would (will) be the RS. For me I believe that Bug Dr. has the right approach, two bikes like the Tuono or SuperSport, a bike full of passion and performance for the shorter twisty rides and the RS for everything else.

    I have tried to morph the Diavel into a Long Distance touring machine and I almost have it. I went through three different seats, and had to retrofit a Diavel Strada windscreen to the handle bars and had install Ohlins front and rear to help it feel more planted (handles similar to the RS). With some waterproof duffle bags bungeed on the back you can cover some miles; however, I installed a Termignoni exhaust which is awesome but in about half day doses. After three days strait of hearing them drone on at 90 mph you want to go 130 mph to get home quicker!

    For what its worth I found the Supersport to be very comfortable, quiet and smooth between 50-80 mph even on the straight roads. It will make a great touring bike at these speeds and you could cover some distance with this bike if you keep it in that speed range. Below 50 I started to feel a small amount of pressure on the wrists and back of the neck from the slight forward sitting position. Above 80, the noise and vibration became a nuisance and would tax even the hardest core long-distance rider.

    The bike averaged 51.7 mpg at an average speed of 57mph which was a really good pace considering the number of turns we had to negotiate on our ride. The bike is so confidence inspiring and so well balanced that it is effortless to keep up a fast pace on even the most twisty roads - more so than my Diavel, more than the Panagale 959, more than the monster 1200S. Its a great bike - so much fun. Maybe I will have to trade the Diavel in for and RS and SuperSport S/Tuono/Speed Triple R/Monster S/R ... but that is going to be expensive ... doubly so once the CFO gets involved.
     
  15. Roy Wirthlin

    Roy Wirthlin New Member

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    Oh I forgot to add that the mirrors on the Supersport are useless above 25 mph. The RS kills it on this one also.
     
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  16. Mquaedflieg

    Mquaedflieg Member

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    Dear Roy,
    Nice review.
    Agree with everything, only disagree that the transmission of the RS is smoother than the Ducati SS transmission.
    My Panigale 1299 S is supersmooth in up and downshifting. Okay It took about 1000 km to brake the gearbox in, maybe your SS was still to new.
     
  17. Number9Cloud

    Number9Cloud New Member

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    Very interesting review Roy. Ducati Supersport was one of the very few bikes I had on my shortlist 3 months ago but never tried it. I used to read a lot of reliability issues with Ducati bikes a few years ago, not sure where they are now. The other consideration for me was the reputation of the only Ducati dealer workshop in London which is even worse than the reputation of the only BMW one in London. Unlike a lot of people on this forum, I have to rely on workshops which makes the quality of the after care very important for me.
     
  18. Roy Wirthlin

    Roy Wirthlin New Member

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    As for the reliability of Ducatis I can only provide this forum one data point which is my 2013 Diavel that I purchased new in 8/2013. All the other Ducatis I have experience with were demo bikes from the dealer and pretty much brand new. I only had one issue with my bike where the coolant temp display was erratic. It turned out to be a wrong chip that was placed in the computer from the factory. It took about an hour to fix under warranty the second week I had the bike and 20,000km later not a single issue, the bike has been bulletproof. The bike has been to the dealer twice for new tires and to another shop for some upgrades. Other than that, I commute on it during the spring, summer, fall and sometimes in the winter and take short weekend trips of 2-400km. My experience with Ducati (my first and only Ducati) has been near perfect as far as reliability goes.
     
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  19. Grumpy Goat

    Grumpy Goat Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Good to hear. When I was buying my RS a salesman at the dealership, which also sells Ducatis, Yamaha, Kawasaki, etc. was cool to Ducatis saying that they have less reliability than BMW and are more expensive to fix. Not sure if that was his personal feeling or if it was based on what he saw in the shop.
     
  20. Roy Wirthlin

    Roy Wirthlin New Member

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    My guess is that it is what he saw unless he got burned personally - unlikely. There is nothing cheap about the Ducatis, parts, labor etc. But then again, I have read a lot of complaints about the price of BMW parts and service. "You pays yo money and you takes yo chances ..." Perhaps I got lucky.
     

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