The powerful Streetfighter is capable of Big Speed (Guareschi reportedly got up to an indicated 168 mph at Ascari), so it’s helpful the bike comes with the superb brakes of the 1198. Brembo radial-mount 4-piston monobloc calipers squeeze huge 330mm rotors up front and are actuated by a radial master cylinder and braided-steel brake lines. They deliver immense strength and major-league feedback. The rear brake needs a good stomp to lock the tire, which is just how we like ’em.
It was in this corner where the DTC indicator lamps regularly illuminated.
With all this high-spec, high-performance capability, it should be no surprise this bike shines when ridden hard. We’re confident there isn’t another naked that will lap a track as quick, except perhaps the MV Agusta Brutale 1078RR. MV claims 154 hp and 86.3 ft-lbs of torque for the Brutale, figures nearly identical to the Streetfighter.
On the Streetfighter S, a rider has the soothing benefit of DTC. I spent my time playing it conservative in the #6 setting, and I was surprised how often the traction control kicked in. This was especially evident in some of the banked turns at Ascari when even mild throttle application lit the gauges’ indicator lamps while leaned over. The DTC intervention is imperceptible in its initial stage of ignition timing retardation, but a rider can feel the fuel cutout when aggressively twisting the throttle that results in a lurchy response. The adjustability of the DTC system allows it to be useful for even the fastest of riders.
Style-wise, we think the Streetfighter is a hit. Ducati’s trademark trellis frame is clearly on display, and the single-sided swingarm shows off a sweet Marchesini behind the shotgun mufflers. It’s not easy to package a big liquid-cooled powerplant nearly inside an unfaired bike, and the exposed rubber hoses on the left side of the engine detract from its otherwise clean looks. The chin fairing is slightly ungainly, but it disguises awkward bits like the oil cooler and filter and the lower section of the dual radiator setup.
One area of common complaint was the bike’s too-smooth footpegs. They proved to be quite slippery, a situation made worse by the right-side heel guard that forces a rider’s foot outboard. Ducati techs filed notches into them as an improvised solution for better grip.
But this is one of our few criticisms of this exciting new expression of Italian sportbikes. We were already thrilled with the sporting balance of the new Monster 1100, and this new super-naked brings it to a higher level via a 50-horsepower surplus. The Monster, however, is nimbler and might be quicker on a really tight canyon road.
Style and performance unlike any other naked sportbike.
Ducati has created yet another lust object for sportbike pilots with a flair for Italian machinery. Well-heeled, middle-aged sportbike jockeys with bad backs are ideal candidates for Streetfighter pleasure, but there’s enough performance on tap to thrill anyone of any age.
The base Streetfighter is a relative bargain at just under $15K, although it certainly can’t be called cheap. But those with deep pockets will want to ante up for the S version. Its Ohlins suspension is exemplary, especially in conjunction with the S’s lightweight wheels, and its traction-control system is a technological leap forward in rider aids.
If you can live without wind protection from your sportbike, the Streetfighter should be at the top of your list of dream motorcycles.
Ducati Streetfighter at the Ascari Race Resort: both are worthy of your dreams.