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Discussion Starter #1
What is the difference between SuperSPORT and SuperBIKE?

Aside from the obvious model designation from the gods in Bologna. What do they DO differently, or have as DNA difference?
 

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A supersport is a 2 valve air cooled sportster. Relatively low powered and more reminiscent of the older Dukes. The engines derived from tha Pantah engines.
The superbike is liquid cooled and 4 valved. Much more power and derived from the 851.

Both have high quality running gear, so its pretty much up to whether you want 'power' or 'character'
 

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I'd go a little further with the definitions.

Supersport, in Ducati speak, has always meant street-focused sport bikes that favor design simplicity over complication and torque production over outright horsepower. They have always been relatively lightweight, have great cornering capabilities and feature air-cooled, 2V engines. Rider accommodations have ranged from very good (early series) to track-focused (most recent series).

Superbikes, on the other hand, have been bikes just one step removed from the racetrack, favoring the latest technologies, both engine and chassis, for maximum performance. Typical features include 4V, water-cooled engines, very adjustable/capable chassis, powerful brakes and a track-ready rider positioning on the machine.

I've owned both, so choosing one over the other comes down to what you expect to do with the bike - if its street usage, I'd go with the SS, but if its track days, the Superbikes are preferred.
 

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I'd go a little further with the definitions.

Supersport, in Ducati speak, has always meant street-focused sport bikes

Not to nitpick, but you should replace "has always" with "since 1991" in that statement. Before the four valve bikes were introduced, a Super Sport was Ducati's top of the line sportbike. (And yes, I know the 851 has been around since before 1991 but it wasn't what I'd call a production bike before then)

The Super Sport did not evolve from the Pantah, quite the opposite. The Super Sport introduced (production) desmo twins to the world, the Pantah came along at least three generations after.

I realize no one gives a shit what happened before the 916 came out, but still... Ducati existed before the term "superbike" was applied to anything, and the 1974 750 Super Sport is one hell of a significant bike. It certainly deserves mention in this sort of thread, and anyone who dismisses the bevel Super Sports as anything less than full-on sporting machines of the day probably hasn't been around many bikes from that era.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Many thanks to all of you for thoughtful and helpful replies.

I am not a new Ducati appreciator, but I am a new owner.

My first motorcycle days began in the late 1950's and on into the early '60's. One of the guys in our loosely formed group had an early Ducati and I loved it then and I guess I can still look at those early models and fall in love again.

I wish there was a good history somewhere of the Super Sport and the design, manufacturing and theory details. I have have read the brief write up in Wikipedia but it only leave me wanting more.

Thanks again.
 

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Ian Falloon has written the supersport book,
ISBN 3-89365-781-9
 

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Not to nitpick, but you should replace "has always" with "since 1991" in that statement. Before the four valve bikes were introduced, a Super Sport was Ducati's top of the line sportbike. (And yes, I know the 851 has been around since before 1991 but it wasn't what I'd call a production bike before then)

The Super Sport did not evolve from the Pantah, quite the opposite. The Super Sport introduced (production) desmo twins to the world, the Pantah came along at least three generations after.

I realize no one gives a shit what happened before the 916 came out, but still... Ducati existed before the term "superbike" was applied to anything, and the 1974 750 Super Sport is one hell of a significant bike. It certainly deserves mention in this sort of thread, and anyone who dismisses the bevel Super Sports as anything less than full-on sporting machines of the day probably hasn't been around many bikes from that era.

We do give a shit what was before the 916, I just took the meaning of the more modern bikes as the term 'superbike' wasn't around in the days of the bevel twins, and therefore a comparison could not be made prior to 1991.
What you say is factually correct but the supersport of the modern era (and therefore ones to compare with the superbike) ARE derived from the Pantah engine, and they are all at least 2 valve aircooled twins.
Sorry if I offended you not mentioning the older (and original) supersport, but I did not deem it necessary to mention in the context of the original post.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Since we have come this far... lets educate me a little more...

I see the word Bevel a good bit... ?

Also in the ads and on the forum I see 900SSie... whats the "i"... fuel injected? and the "e"... (certainly not the bedeviled "eta" engine of the '80 BMWs...) but what?
 

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????????

Bevel refers to the type of gears which in conjunction with tower shafts drove the camshafts prior to using belts. IE if I'm not mistaken is intelligenza electronica which translates roughly in to computer controlled fuel injection. Somebody rip me up if I'm wrong please.
 

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I see the word Bevel a good bit... ?
"Bevel" as in bevel gear driven cams. You can kind of see them here;


A better shot of the cam drive


and the "timing chest". 5 bevel gears here, 4 more to turn the cams... though the term refers to singles too, and they have fewer gears. (Obviously the first pics are of the teardown, and this is of the rebuild!)



No "offense" taken in neglecting the pre-91 bikes, I just thought the answers were at best incomplete. While I wasn't completely serious about the pre-916 comment, there is some truth to it. This thread seemed to be drifting that direction and anyone who asks about a superbike vs supersport should hear the whole story.

And for whatever it's worth, I've got a '97 900ss/sp as my main ride, it's the second mid 90s 900ss I've owned. I like them a lot. I've also got a bevel twin (1974 750 GT) and a Superbike (996) so I'm not playing favorites here.

EDIT: Ok, so while walking the dogs (and yes, the one in my avatar shot is named Desmo) I figured I should have added to the posts instead of disagreeing with them, so...

Go back to 1972. After decades of building single cylinder bikes, Ducati debuts the 750cc twin. It wins in it's first outing, at Imola, ridden by Paul Smart. (Flash forward to the Paul Smart Edition Sport Classic...). This bike creates quite a stir as you might imagine.

The production twins consist of the 750 GT, and then the 750 Sport. The GT is what we'd consider a "standard" today, while the Sport had rearsets, clip ons , and a little hotter engine than the GT. Neither one of them uses a desmo valvetrain. (Ducati was still building non-desmo bikes up until... 1980?)

1974. The GT and Sport are joined by... wait for it... the Super Sport. The Super Sport had desmo heads, huge carbs (40mm vs the Sport's 32) triple disk brakes, and was painted up to resemble the Imola winning bike. The fiberglass gas tank even has an unpainted stripe up the middle so you can see how much gas is in it. (Flash forward to the gold stripe on the tank of the 1098 Tri color...) These days the '74 750SS referred to as a "greenframe" and a nice example can cost upwards of 100k.

In '75 the engine design changed a little, including being enlarged to 860cc (Hmm... racebikes were running 860cc before this... sound familiar?). The Super Sport designation remained, signifying the top end bike of the sporting line. In '75 there was still a 750 Super Sport, along with a 900SS. Limited production, very special, unlike anything the Japanese were offering at that point. The 900SS continued into the 80s when finally the Mike Hailwood Replica become the flagship.

Enter belt driven cams and tough times for Ducati. The Super Sport line went away for a while.

Around 1990 there is another 900ss but not many were made. I don't think I've ever seen one in the flesh... and a 750 Sport which is similar to the F1, perhaps a cross between the F1 and the Paso? (F1 fans are likely forming the lynch mob now...)

Cagiva owns Ducati and sets them back on their feet. (The cynics/purists say the F1 is the last "true" Ducati.) In 1991 Ducati puts the 4-valve, fuel injected, water-cooled 851 into production (yes, examples existed before then but let's keep it simple here) along with the 907ie, a fuel injected, water-cooled version of the Paso - more or less a Sport Touring bike of the time. Then a few months later comes the 900 Super Sport. Two valves, air cooled, carb'd - a simple sporting bike. Ducati is getting noticed again (but having bought a 907 back in '91 I can tell you a LOT of people thought they had gone out of business). Superbike racing is getting big, the Japanese have been building fully faired sportbikes for a few years. "Everyone" knows what a Superbike is - and Ducati is doing very well in the series with their version.

(Then in 1992 Ducati sells the Super Light here in the US and I stand in the dealership dumbfounded, staring at it, wondering how I can afford payments on both it and my 907... but I digress)

Then... what was it, late 1994? spring of 1995? The 916 comes out. Ducati's popularity skyrockets. The Super Sport is now known as a yestertech bike for, well, I don't know who people thought it was for. But I'd be willing to say that within a few years, very few people, even those who were infatuated by the 916/996/998 could tell you the Super Sport wasn't always the low-tech throwback, akin to Harley's Sportster. Old technology, underpowered, overpriced, yadda yadda yadda. I bought a 900ss in 1995. We all heard it

The Sportster was a kick ass bike when it came out. People have forgotten that (including Harley). The Super Sport was kick ass when it came out too. Let's not forget that when newbies ask "why the two designations?"

FWIW - I couldn't tell you a thing about the SS after 1998... For various reasons I lost all interest in bikes right around then. But it's back now. ;-)
 

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A supersport is a 2 valve air cooled sportster. Relatively low powered and more reminiscent of the older Dukes. The engines derived from tha Pantah engines.
The superbike is liquid cooled and 4 valved. Much more power and derived from the 851.
Its not quite that simple ... of the modern Supersports the 600/620/750 Supersport engines are Pantah derived while the 800/900/1000 use 851 crank cases with Pantah style heads.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
OK, computer controlled... which begs the questions... are there 1999 and beyond 900SS that are not ie designated or are they all ie's?

I love this historical detail please keep it coming.
 

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ie = iniezione elettronica ("electronic fuel injection")

One of the major differences between pre- and post-1999 Supersports was the latter's use of electronic fuel injection, hence the "ie" suffix to the model name.

Cheers

d.
 

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OK, computer controlled... which begs the questions... are there 1999 and beyond 900SS that are not ie designated or are they all ie's?

I love this historical detail please keep it coming.
All fuel injection from then on I'm afraid and mostly styled by Pierre Terrablanche. A matter of taste is whether you like Terrablanche bikes. IMO the only one he designed that I like is the supermono.

Desmodog pretty much summed up modern Ducati history for you there.
There are some really good books out there if you are interested in this
**** Walker and Ian Falloon seem to be the main authors on the subject.

in terms of designers it goes something like this

Fabio Taglioni 1954-1982 Ducati god and responsible for desmodromics (within Ducati before anybody nitpicks) and the V-twin engine (and some singles). Designed all bikes within this period including the original sport supersport and GT. Whilst held in God-like status we shoudln't forget he designed some real pigs too!

Massimo Bordi the 1989-1998 supersport range, 851

Massimo Tamburini 916, 996, 998, 748 Paso. Went on to MV Augusta

Pierre Terrablanche , supermono, SS ie's, 999, multistrada, ST2, ST3 Hypermotard, MH900e and more some. good uns and some bad ones in there.

It is true that some of these were co designed between Bordi, Terrablanche and Tamburini
 

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"Bevel" as in bevel gear driven cams. You can kind of see them here;


A better shot of the cam drive


and the "timing chest". 5 bevel gears here, 4 more to turn the cams... though the term refers to singles too, and they have fewer gears. (Obviously the first pics are of the teardown, and this is of the rebuild!)

wow ! a lot more elegant than a stupid rubber belt.
 

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Bevel refers to the type of gears which in conjunction with tower shafts drove the camshafts prior to using belts. IE if I'm not mistaken is intelligenza electronica which translates roughly in to computer controlled fuel injection. Somebody rip me up if I'm wrong please.
i.e. = iniezione elettronica (= electronc fuel injection), though in theory it could be any Italian word (or words) beginning with the letter 'i' and containing the letter 'e'. The '.' means that a number of letters have been eliminate, for example the first word of the name of the town I live in is normally abbreviated 'P.te', but is actually 'Ponte'.

Tom
 

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Massimo Tamburini 916, 996, 998, 748 Paso. Went on to MV Augusta
Not exactly. Actually, he stayed on at Cagiva when they sold off Ducati to TPG, and Cagiva eventually bought the rights to MV Agusta and renamed themselves.

Also, he was the 'TA' in BIMOTA.

Tom
 
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