0-60 in 2.8 seconds

 

I mostly photograph people – fashion, style, fine art…  Once in a while, I focus on other subjects.

This is my 2002 Ducati 900 Supersport in Senna Grey, the successor to the bike that so enraptured Hunter S. Thompson.

Race bred, with fully adjustable parts all around – from the fully-adjustable front forks to the Ohlins nitrogen-filled rear shock (by itself, the Ohlins is worth 1/10th the value of the bike), the 2002 model year was (for whatever reason) the last year that Ducati took this bike seriously.  Lightweight rims and light alloy swingarm.  Signature warrior-dragging-mace-and-chain dry clutch.  Multi-position clipons.  Sport rearset.

And that STYLE!  This was a product of Ducati collaborating with Guigaro, famous for their work with motorsport icons such as Maserati.

This era of the model was positioned above the high-end Monsters and just below the MotoGP Superbike line.  Borrowing technology developed from Ducati’s MotoGP research with Troy Bayliss and Ben Bostrom but lacking the “99x” designation, many people who were buying motorcycles on brochure specs opted to spend another ~thousand dollars for the 998 Superbike, or save a ~thousand and go for the less adjustable / performant Monster 900.  Accordingly, the 900 Supersport wasn’t a huge commercial success.  It’s hard to quantify handling and verve via numbers in specs; there were a number of 4-cylinder bikes that made more horsepower and 2-cylinder bikes that made more torque available at the time for less money.

I think this is one of the most gorgeous machines ever made. Svelte, shapely, and more than fast enough for any of us mere morals.  I’ve gone faster on this machine than in any other terrestrial vehicle, with the possible exception of the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train).

2002 was unique.  In 2001, this motorcycle had a carbureted  engine.  2002 added fuel injection – the “ie” in SS ie – along with numerous mechanical improvements.  Edit – an astute reader pointed out that the 2001 SuperSport was indeed fuel-injected as well!  In 2003, this model line was, in technical terms, “Nerfed“.  The engine went down to 800cc; the adjustable forks went away; the rear shock was downgraded to Showa, the clutch got an oil bath, the swingarm became heavy steel, etc.  The 900 SSie has therefore become something of a collector’s item; unique Guigaro design with the full potential of Ducati performance engineering behind it.

I believe that there were about 200 of these motorcycles made in 2002, with about 1/4 being Senna Grey and 1/4 of those coming to the United States.