For a brief period (sometime in the early 1990s) Ducati's 900SS was arguably the pinnacle of Italian two-wheel sex appeal. Soon the Monster arrived, then the 916, and over the next 15 years a handful of air-cooled versions enjoyed varied success until the last model died off. It's been 10 years now since Ducati's 1,000cc, dual-spark-powered SuperSport stopped rolling off assembly lines in Bologna.

Ducati's 2017 SuperSport is not an evolution of any previous model but rather a new take on the same concept of combining sport prowess, practicality, and Italian personality. The engine is taken from the Hypermotard 939, the frame is adapted from the Monster 1200, and the bodywork is made to emulate the Panigale's sleek design. Why these parts? Why now? SuperSport Project Engineer Giuseppe Caprara talked us through—in a perfectly heavy Italian accent—the thinking behind Ducati's newest iteration of the gentleman's express.

Timeline
Cynics may call this a parts bike, but the SuperSport wasn't built in a hurry. When asked about the timeline Caprara said, "We started with this bike about three years ago, the first idea and the first draft."

Engine
"The Hypermotard engine is the perfect balance for this kind of bike. We wanted an engine with not too much power," Caprara said, "because we didn't want to make another Panigale." Ducati and Caprara stated and restated that the SuperSport is not an outright sportbike. "We know that 113 horsepower is enough to have fun on the open road and also enough to break the ice at the racetrack."

Design
There can be more to a sleek and eye-catching object than, well, catches the eye. "We worked very hard on the design," Caprara said. "For example, the fairing, where there are no [visible] screws, in order to have a clean style and clean design."

Fusion
As anyone who's worked on a team can tell you, combining everyone's input is no easy task. Caprara admitted the same was true in building the SuperSport. "Of course, you know, there were many ideas. Our target was to make the bike comfortable but a sportbike. Sometimes these concepts are not on the same path, so you have to find the right balance."

Challenges
"The front of the bike was the biggest challenge," Caprara said. "There was this front fairing that is low in order to avoid contact with the handlebars. And, of course, there is the adjustable windscreen. The designer wanted to integrate perfectly the design of the windscreen with the fairing. But, with this adjustable system, he didn't want to see any lines or inside holes. So it was really difficult, to find the right system and the right pieces in order to respect the design of the bike."

Achievements
"My proudest piece of the bike is the fuel tank," Caprara said. "If you think, there are five pieces welded, so it's a really complex part. But we did a good job because we respected the draft of the design that the designer had in mind."