It's fun to reach back into the archives at Ducati to learn more about the bikes that have come and gone and left their mark on the world. The Ducati 750 SS is a good example. The 750 Super Sport (SS) was produced from 1991 to 2002 before paying its final respects and joining the host of retirees that left their impressions on the world. Before we get into the reasons for its retirement, we pay homage to the bike that evolved from being a savior on the track to a street-legal road warrior.
To fully appreciate the 750 SS, one must look back at the beginning of the family line. Fabio Taglioni kicked off the pure sport line in the 1970s with the Ducati 750 GT. It wasn't sporty, yet, the bike's DNA would serve as the basis for the SS line to follow a few decades later. Paul Smart rode Ducati's 750GT for a win at the Imola 200 in 1972. He accomplished the feat on the 750 V-twin converted into a sportbike. Bennetts. Taglioni's dream of building a V-twin in the sport class was realized in 1971 when a prototype designed with drop bars and a single seat emerged. With the Japanese bikes taking center-stage, it was time to roll up the sleeves and enter the fray. By 1974, he finished work on the sporty and light 750 SuperSport. The 750 SS was the first Super Sport model made by the brand. Ducati kept the production numbers to just 401 through 1979. The entry of the 900 Super Sport in 1975 took the limelight. Demand for the 750 SS dropped off. It wouldn't re-emerge until the 1990s.
1990 Ducati 750 SS
According to Auto Evolution, the original Ducati 750 SS entered the scene in 1990 with a 748cc 90-degree V-twin air-cooled engine. The engine mated to a five-speed chain final drive manual transmission with a max power output of 66 horses and 72 Nm of torque. The frame was a steel trellis-style with a 40 mm Marocchi upside-down telescopic fork. The rear suspension featured an adjustable Showa monoshock. The bike was equipped with disc brakes in the front and rear with Brembo calipers, a dual seat with passenger grab handle, a full fairing and small windshield, and blacked-out wheels made of cast aluminum, and analog instrumentation dials. The bike was agile yet powerful and suitable for the track or the road. It was a nice dual-purpose bike.
Updates for the 750 SS
The first update came in 1992 with a larger 41 mm Showa upside-down telescopic fork. The Half-Fairing edition was released for 1991-1992 and continued through the life of the production run. This bike represented an evolution in the 750 SS line by offering better wind protection for riders while maintaining the integrity of the naked styling that contributed to its agility on the road or track. The bike kept its low weight of 386 lbs with a fuel tank that held 4.6 gallons. The new variant was the hybrid version that met in the middle between the traditional supersport and a naked bike, giving riders the best of both worlds.
Advertisement strategies changed for the 1994 model that remained virtually unchanged. Comparisons to the 900 SS sibling that pointed out the advantages of the 750 SS attempted to steal back some of the limelight it was losing. The new bike was beginning to overshadow the 750 SS. The selling points for the 750 version were its lightness and greater agility, but the power output was an area that the 750 could not address. Ducati introduced its 750 Sport IE model in 2000. Although billed as a "light" sportbike, it was heavier at 399 lbs. The fuel capacity was just 4.2 gallons versus the 4.6 capability we saw in the 750 SS. The Marzocchi upside-down fork for the succeeding model increased to 43 mm, adn the bike featured clip-on handlebars with the upgrade of a digital instrumentation panel.
The Ducati 750 SS in review
Motor Cycle News offers a bit of insight into the reasons for the retirement of the 750 SS. The bike fell in popularity after the 900SS became available. The ratings were down to an overall score of 3 out of 5. This score is the equivalent of a C grade on a test at school. For Ducati, average just didn't cut it. While the model ranked as a "good all-around bike with improvements such as fuel injection," it didn't measure up as a value for the cost. A few weaknesses pointed out by riders include the non-adjustable "hard" front suspension, too much vibe at low revs, and the uncomfortable seat that made long rides miserable. The engine took a few knocks from riders who preferred a little more than it was able to give. Midrange torque was acceptable. The kicker expressed is that it topped out at 9,000 rpm with little fanfare and a lack of get up and go.
The highest scores earned by the Ducati 750 SS were in the 4 out of 5 range. These were granted for reliability and build quality, value when stacked up against the competition, and for the equipment. Maintenance costs were high. Although it was well-built, the electronics did fail from time to time. Some riders migrated to BMW and Suzuki's comparable offerings because of the lower prices for what the bikes deliver. Although not a perfect 5, the large dash got high ratings that might have been higher if Ducati had opted to include a fuel gauge.
The Ducati 750 SS was inspired by a line of Taglioni designed bikes with an impressive history. The model evolved from the first Taglioni sportbikes in the 1970s and made a few re-emergence periods until hitting hard in the early 1990s through 2001. Consumer demand was the driver that compelled Ducati to turn its sights elsewhere as the more powerful bikes offered a little more of what riders were looking for in a SuperSport model bike. It had a good run, but when it was time to retire the bike, Ducati didn't hesitate.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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