Bike India

Ducati Streetfigh­ter V4 [Streetfigh­ter V4 S]


which of the three engine modes (street, sport or race) is selected and can also be manually fine-tuned.

the good news is that, unlike its slightly uncouth streetfigh­ter v-twin forebear, the nasty-looking v4 s feels refined and pleasant to ride whichever mode it’s in. its classy look and feel continued when i stepped aboard to be confronted by a Panigale-derived, five-inch tFt screen and transverse Öhlins steering damper alongside the wide, slightly raised black handlebar. the seat is better padded than the Panigale’s and 15 mm higher, but, at 845 mm, low enough for most riders.

Foot-rests are lower and fairly rear-set, giving a slightly leant-forward riding position that felt very natural and adequately roomy, with scope to shift forward or back on the seat. But any notions that this ducati is some modest, remotely ordinary 199-kg naked motorbike disappeare­d the moment its engine came to life, its low-mounted silencer emitting an offbeat bark that was neither typical smooth-burbling v4 nor the lumpy note of a v-twin, but somewhere in between.

after a week with the streetfigh­ter i’m still not sure what’s most remarkable about its engine performanc­e: the sheer, eyeball-rotating force of its accelerati­on; the subtlety of how that power is electronic­ally controlled; or the ease with which a machine of such power and potential can be ridden at any speed, by almost anyone. the streetfigh­ter be wild, if you want it to be, but it’s also very easily tamed.

Fuelling is to ducati’s normal high standard, with even the most aggressive race map giving fine throttle control with minimal snatchines­s.the v4 s is


Price: £17,595 (or Rs 17.2 lakh) [£19,795, or Rs 19.4 lakh]

Configurat­ion: Liquid-cooled 90° V4

Valve-train: DOHC, 16 valves, desmodromi­c Displaceme­nt: 1,103 cc

Bore x Stroke: 81 x 53.5 mms

Compressio­n Ratio: 14:1

Fuelling: Electronic injection system, elliptical throttle bodies Maximum Power: 208 hp @ 12,750rpm

Maximum Torque: 123 Nm @ 11,500rpm

Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper

Transmissi­on: Six-speed

Type: All-aluminium “front frame”

Front Suspension: 43-mm Showa BPF USD [43-mm Öhlins NIX30], 120-mm travel, adjustment­s for preload, compressio­n, and rebound damping [Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active]

Rear Suspension: One Sachs [Öhlins TTX36] shock, 130-mm wheel travel, adjustment­s for preload, compressio­n, and rebound damping [Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active]

Front Brake: Two, four-piston Brembo Monobloc Stylema radial calipers, 330-mm discs with cornering ABS

Rear Brake: Twin-piston Brembo caliper, 245-mm disc with cornering ABS

Front Wheel: 3.50 x 17”; cast [Marchesini forged] aluminium Rear wheel: 6.00 x 17”; cast [Marchesini forged] aluminium Front Tyre: 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2

Rear Tyre: 200/55 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2 Rake/Trail: 24.5°/100 mm

Wheelbase: 1,488 mm

Seat Height: 845 mm

Ground Clearance: NA

Tank Capacity: 16 litres

Weight: 201 kg [199 kg] kerb; 180 kg [178 kg] dry

docile around town and sufficient­ly polite to turn off its rear cylinders at the traffic lights. As usual with Ducatis, the alternativ­e rider modes are most useful as a way of instantly varying all the controls and levels, from traction control to ABs and, in the case of the V4 s, even the suspension damping.

Whichever mode you’re in, the straight-line performanc­e is phenomenal; probably the best of the hyper-naked breed. The numbers are part of the reason: the 208hp output and kerb weight of 199 kg give a power-to-weight ratio of over a horsepower per kilo. There’s serious urge from 4,000 rpm or below in every gear and, by 10,000 rpm, the smoothrevv­ing V4 is making over 160 hp, still with another 4,000 rpm and 40-plus stampeding horses to come.

Not that there was much opportunit­y or need to use all that top-end power, given that the motor was so strong lower down and that short-shifting through the quickshift­er-enhanced box was so addictivel­y enjoyable. The gear-change was usually very slick but I caught a couple of false neutrals between fifth and top early in the test; perhaps, partly because the bike was not yet fully run-in.

The accelerati­on was outstandin­gly controllab­le, too, partly due to the streetfigh­ter’s surprising tendency to keep its front wheel on the ground, even with the Ducati Wheelie Control turned off. Ducati say the wings provide four kilos of downforce at 100 km/h, 14 kg at 200 km/h, and 34 kg at 300 km/h. And there’s more to it than that, because the torque output in the lower four gears is varied to give what Ducati call a “perfect match between thrust and the bike’s wheelie limit”.

Combine those features with the streetfigh­ter’s contra-rotating crankshaft and lengthened wheelbase and the result is a bike that is not only very stable at high speed, but one that responds to a second-gear crack of its throttle not by lifting its front wheel like a Tuono or super Duke would with its anti-wheelie disabled, but simply by scorching forward at a ferocious rate.

That’s clever engineerin­g and doubtless makes the bike quicker, but whether it’s desirable is less certain. For many riders, some of the fun of riding a super-powerful naked bike like those rivals is the way they wheelie so effortless­ly and controllab­ly on the throttle. The streetfigh­ter will misbehave in this way if you provoke it, but feels like a bit of a teacher’s pet by comparison.

one definite advantage is that the wings also put useful weight on the front wheel under braking, which, ducati say, allowed them to deliver high pad pressure immediatel­y when the front stylema calipers are activated. that certainly rang true, because if the streetfigh­ter was perhaps a touch disappoint­ing under accelerati­on, it was even better than anticipate­d when slowing.

i can’t recall a bike on which i’ve been so delighted to see a main-road roundabout sign, typically signalling yet another excuse for a quick burst of throttle then a squeeze of the right hand to set the ducati shedding speed and with utter stability while i trod down clutchless­ly through the box, accompanie­d by a series of gorgeous barks and crackles as the blipper did its stuff.

then a nudge of the wide bars had the bike carving into the turn — unless there was traffic ahead, in which it slowed near-instantly to give way — with its fat, sticky Pirelli diablo rosso corsa 2s gripping tight, near-infinite ground clearance never an issue and with its ultra-refined, MotogP-derived traction control waiting in the background to keep things calm if i ever got too enthusiast­ic with the throttle on the way out.

at such times, the ducati’s sophistica­ted chassis came into its own, of course. not just the brakes but the track-honed frame and geometry allowing rapid flicks from one direction to the other and the quality of the Öhlins semi-active suspension with its nearmagica­l ability to combine a compliant ride with a taut, immaculate­ly controlled feel when required.

the v4 s felt slightly firmer than other Öhlins smart ec kitted bikes i’ve ridden, so for normal riding on bumpy roads, i ended up tuning one of the riding modes to give almost the softest semiactive settings. any time i wanted to firm things up, a change of mode did the job almost instantly. You also have the option to turn off the semi-active and use the electronic­s to adjust convention­al compressio­n and rebound damping via button rather than screwdrive­r. on a racetrack that could be worth exploring, but for road riding i’d choose the semi-active option every time.

the v4 s’ rider-friendly quality of throttle response and suspension helped make it more usable than, for example, previous streetfigh­ters. But developing this bike so directly from the Panigale has left it a single-minded sports machine that lacks a few basic road riding features, let alone such niceties as keyless ignition.

there’s no fuel-gauge, which is inconvenie­nt — especially because the alternativ­e way of keeping an eye on remaining range, via the tripmeter, is ruined if you inadverten­tly press the mode button, zeroing the trip. (don’t ask how i know this…) as the tank holds only 16 litres, the fuel light tends to come on after less than 130 km; normally, just after you’ve just passed a petrol pump. the v4 was both thirsty and dishonest, claiming to average better than 6.0 litres/100 km (16.6 km/l), but, in fact, returning 8.0 litres/100 km (12.5 km/l) or worse.

this bike isn’t designed for long trips or motorways but on a mercifully short highwaydro­ne i would have appreciate­d cruise control, too. not to mention a modicum of wind protection, although the streetfigh­ter was fine at steady speeds on a warm day. a fly-screen is at least available as an accessory but would a quickly detachable one, plus ideally some clever way of carrying a disc lock and oversuit (if not a genuinely usable pillion seat), really be too difficult to provide?

Maybe, that’s getting too far away from the streetfigh­ter’s carefully cultivated image. if wild, wings-assisted performanc­e is what the market demands, it’s hard to blame ducati for ignoring everyday irritation­sin favour of headline-generating horsepower and stripped-down superbike purity. the v4 s certainly delivers on those and if it lacks practicali­ty, it does at least combine its prodigious performanc­e with remarkable ease of use.

and there’s no pretence with the streetfigh­ter v4 s. it’s far more rider-friendly and refined than an ultra-light, 208-hp naked motorbike has any right to be. But, at heart, it’s every bit as focused and aggressive as its name, its Panigale v4 heritage, and its outrageous power-to-weight ratio suggest.

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