Put up your Dukes

Who needs an 1198 su­per­bike, asks CRAIG DUFF

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

TAK­ING a fight to the streets is gen­er­ally not a smart move. In Du­cati’s case, though, it could be a knock­out. That’s how big an im­pact the Street­fighter could have on the per­for­mance-naked bike mar­ket. It has the heart of an 1198, but more ac­ces­si­ble power and lower pric­ing.

The down­side for Du­cati is it could steal sales from the 1198 and Mon­ster ranges.

Du­cati Aus­tralia gen­eral man­ager War­ren Lee says the Street­fighter is a log­i­cal pro­gres­sion as the com­pany ex­pands its range.

‘‘We couldn’t have just put the en­gine into a Mon­ster without ma­jor work on the chas­sis,’’ Lee says (the Street­fighter has 20kW more than the Mon­ster S4RS).

‘‘From there, it fol­lowed (for Du­cati) to let the Mon­ster range re­turn to its ori­gins and cre­ate a per­for­mance-naked bike.’’

The 1099cc Tes­tas­tretta Evoluzione en­gine puts out 114kW and 115Nm in the Street- fighter. Put that in a 170kg pack­age (without bat­tery or flu­ids) and you have a se­ri­ously quick bike.

I’d hap­pily put the Street­fighter in my garage ahead of an 1198. It looks as good, doesn’t take an A-grade racer’s abil­ity to ex­tract the most from it and is as easy to ride to the shops as on the track.

Two things are ev­i­dent the first time you fire up the Street­fighter — it likes lift­ing the front wheel and the front end feels . . . dif­fer­ent. Not wrong dif­fer­ent, but heav­ier and yet more sen­si­tive than any Du­cati I’ve rid­den. It could be the upright rid­ing style, or the steer­ing ge­om­e­try, or the fact the bike only has 150km on it and noth­ing’s loos­ened up yet.

Whichever, it’s a dis­tant mem­ory a cou­ple of hun­dred kilo­me­tres later. That’s when the road loop ends and our track time starts. East­ern Creek isn’t my favourite cir­cuit, but it is a good venue to test the ’fighter’s met­tle.

The dig­i­tal speedo flashes 240km/h and the Du­cati is still pulling hard on the run into turn one. It’s as sta­ble as I am at that speed and much more com­posed than me around the tech­ni­cal back half of the track.

Mis­takes — gen­er­ally poorly timed weight shifts — pro­duce a cou­ple of front-end slides, but they’re so pro­gres­sive even I can catch them.

What isn’t as good for the con­fi­dence is re­peat­edly clip­ping the rev lim­iter. The desmo whine just doesn’t give your ears any in­di­ca­tion you’re ap­proach­ing red­line. So you watch the dash for the red warn­ing lights. Miss them and a big­ger red light flashes in the cen­tre of the con­sole to let you know the en­gine’s about to be starved.

The moral of the story is when in doubt, shift. There’s enough torque that you can af­ford to be a gear or two high.

Un­like the Du­cati Hyper­mo­tard, you can use the mir­rors without fit­ting ‘‘wide load’’ signs.

The ride po­si­tion is upright and tilted for­ward over the bars. There’s sur­pris­ingly lit­tle weight on your wrists, but your shoul­ders may feel the strain af­ter an ex­tended ride. The Street­fighter isn’t per­fect. The in­di­ca­tor switch gives no tac­tile feed­back when it’s flicked, so you have to check the dash light to en­sure you ac­tu­ally have the blink­ers on.

The Street­fighter comes in stan­dard and S guises. The S model is $6000 more ex­pen­sive, but comes with Oh­lins sus­pen­sion in place of Showas, Du­cati’s eight-stage trac­tion con­trol sys­tem and race-spec data-anal­y­sis soft­ware.

Think of it as more of a Brighton brawler than a Broad­mead­ows bruiser, but both are bru­tally ef­fec­tive.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.