Put up your Dukes
Who needs an 1198 superbike, asks CRAIG DUFF
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.