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Why are streetfighters so much fun? Why is the segment one of the most popular all around the world? Why are super nakeds getting more popular than ever? In simpler terms, it is all because they walk a fine line- between being mad and being useful, between being radical and being practical. More than anything, they’re just too bloody exhilarating! Now, what about a motorcycle that is named Streetfighter? If it is named that, it sort of defines the class and therefore, it must be terrific. Well, it is. Ducati Streetfighter V4 is all that multiplied by a billion!
A little blast from the past, the Ducati Streetfighter is neither a new name nor a new idea. They used to make one. We even rode it alongside a Ducati Monster for 8,000 in Italy. It was called the Ducati Streetfighter 1099 and because of that motorcycle alone, this roadtrip was one of our most memorable ones. Here are a couple of photos of the Streetfighter from then.
It was not a massive seller despite the radical looks and mental performance. It was a bit ahead of its time and we say that because it was a bit much to deal with for everyone who did not have a decade of experience in handling uber-powerful motorcycles. Even with the basic aids it had, it was extreme to ride. The production ended in 2015 but it was by no means a failure. It still caught people’s fancy because regardless of anything else, it was a Ducati.
Now, when there are loads of hyper nakeds in the market, Ducati knew exactly what to do. The Streetfighter V4 was announced and it did not take long for enthusiasts to lose their minds seeing the Panigale stripped off of all its bodywork. Before some of you start clamouring, the Streetfighter V4 is more than just a stripped Panigale V4. It has a different… formula.
The folks at Ducati call it The Fight Formula- A quirky name but what it entails is pure, raw, and visceral just like the Ducati Streetfighter V4. Here’s how it goes; Desmosedici Stradale + Biplane Wings + Panigale V4 Electronic Suite + 178 Kg + High Handlebar – Fairing + 208 hp = The Fight Formula. We have come across a lot of creative ways in which manufacturers depict their motorcycles but this, by far, is one of the best. And the biggest reason for that is it is… true.
At any rate, all of that is hearsay until you get your hands on it. In our case, it took a little while but we did. The very first thing you’ll notice when you see it in flesh is how compact it is. It is almost impossible to believe that this motorcycle is a derivative of the Panigale V4. And it is not that the latter is too big but the former is just too lithe.
This relatively compact footprint also goes a long way in enhancing the looks of the motorcycle. It is Italian so it was bound to look scintillating but we did not expect it to be this good. After all, it is not about simply stripping off the fairing. A streetfighter is a whole different beast and it has to be worked upon in that manner. In a nutshell, it looks sharp, aggressive, lithe, and premium. The winglets can be a topic of debate but the biplane ones on this one look pretty darn cool… almost like holstered weapons.
Now, the real deal is how it rides. The very first thing that makes one fall in love with the bike is the startup. Apart from the gizmos and the brilliant screen, the engine comes to life with a bark that settles into a thrum that is not loud but not muted either. It is nearly a telltale sign of what lies in the store for those willing to wring this beast of a motorcycle.
It gets its powerplant from the Panigale V4 on which it is based- a 1,103cc Desmosedici Stradale 90-degree V4. But for the Streetfighter V4, the engine gets a dedicated tune and a shorter final drive. The result is 208 bhp of power and 123 Nm of torque. Those are serious numbers but a legitimate concern, if there is any, is that the engine is meant for a track monster so how does it fare in a Streetfighter V4?
Fan-bleeding-tastic would be the answer. The different tune and the light weight mean that it is an engine that is an absolute joy regardless of the pace. At low revs, you can potter around the city relatively quietly and use the ever-present grunt for quick overtakes and then come back to pottering around. When we say relatively quiet we mean it- do not expect to arrive at a signal expecting to be stealthy… even if the colour scheme on the Streetfighter V4 S is called Dark Stealth.
Up to about 7,000 rpm, the Streetfighter V4 feels like a machine that feels tame and at the same time, tells you that it has the power whenever you need it. The catch is, it does not tell you how much. After 7,000 rpm the motorcycle is utter savagery. With the wings and the electronics, the front wheel is kept firmly on the ground but it won’t hesitate to send it skywards if you so wish.
The acceleration is simply maddening and it threatens to blow you off the motorcycle as you hold on to the motorcycle for your life. And then when you come back down to saner speeds, it feels so tractable and easy to deal with that you forget the brutality it unleashed upon the tarmac and the tyres just a few minutes ago. It is magic!
Then there is the bi-directional quickshifter (Ducati Quick Shift or DQS EVO 2) along with the hydraulic slipper clutch. In the city, the clutch action is light so it does not get on your nerves in stop-go traffic. On open winding roads, you say no to the clutch and just tap dance your heart away on the shifter and the motorcycle rewards you with glorious sound or instant acceleration. The only thing that may bother one a bit is the heat. It is much better on the Streetfighter V4, but do not expect to be comfy on a 40-degree celsius day. Part and parcel of big-bike-life, we say.
Let us now talk about the wings. They are not there just to put up a good show. They serve a serious function. See this is a motorcycle that weighs 178 kg dry and 199 kg road-ready. And it makes 208 bhp of power. That power-to-weight ratio, if unchecked, will ensure that the front wheel is perpetually in the air. Electronic intervention would work but cutting power from the engine feels a bit intrusive and unsettling. So, it makes use of aerodynamics.
The biplane wings featured on the Ducati Streetfighter V4 are purported to generate 28 kg of downforce at 270 kph. Many people are not big fans of these abominations but even they would agree that it is better than having electronics baby you throughout your ride. And in a motorcycle this extreme, the interventions would be a tad too frequent. Even if not, the zero-gravity feeling that you get when you accelerate a motorcycle like this is fun till you reach the cusp of a corner. We’d rather keep ourselves and this motorcycle grounded.
We had already guessed that this motorcycle handles like a dream considering we have ridden the Panigale V4 on a racetrack. But is that the case? It is a naked motorcycle but the chassis, the geometry, and the suspension are so on point that it would not feel out of place on a racetrack. Since we rode the S variant, we found top-shelf equipment everywhere. From the semi-active Öhlins NIX 30 fork and TTX 36 rear shock and the Öhlins steering damper to the forged Marchesini wheels and Brembo Stylema callipers.
The streetfighter feels incredibly planted in a corner but even better is the entry in the corner and transitions. The leverage you have from the wide handlebars helps you let you simply throw it in a corner, slay it, sit up and throw it on the other side for the next one. All of that with supreme confidence and not one spot of bother.
While the suspension may need a whole day to talk about, in simple terms- keep it in Sport all the time. It will serve you the best during spirited rides and quickly compensate for any changes in the surface. On a racetrack, keep the damping non-active for consistent feedback. Everywhere else, the semi-active suspension works wonders and what really surprises you is how quickly and unnoticeably it changes the damping to cope with changing surfaces.
Being a naked motorcycle, the Streetfighter V4 had to strike a balance between sporty and comfortable riding stance. So the footpeg placement was revised and so was the seat thickness. Finally, a motocross-style handlebar results in an ergonomics package that lets you ride the motorcycle hard when you want to and be extremely comfortable when you just want to enjoy the weather.
In the name of electronics and equipment you have; Riding Modes, Power Modes, EVO Bosch Cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO 2, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) Evo, Ducati Slide Control (DSC) and Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO. Phew. Oh wait, there’s more. Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO 2 and Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) EVO. Along with all of that, a 6-axis IMU to feed the binaries to the system and a 5” high-res TFT screen with controls on the handlebars. That’s a lot. More than what is the norm nowadays.
Do the electronics make the bike safer? Yes. Does that equipment list make the bike more enjoyable? Yes. Is the motorcycle dependent on those? Nope. Will we still call it fan-bleeding-tastic without all of that? If alive, YES! See, for us, these things matter because, in the end, they are for the betterment of motorcycling. But in a motorcycle that does not have a soul, they won’t mean merda. And that is where the Streetfighter V4 excels the most. It is simply a merda-load of fun to ride!