Since '02 xBhp is different things to different people. From a close knit national community of bikers to India's only motorcycling lifestyle magazine and a place to make like-minded biker friends. Join us
xBhp was born more than 16 years ago and since then we've had a chance to ride or drive hundreds of machines running on two wheels or four wheels, and sometimes even three wheels. We are not done yet, and this list is still growing. In these pages, we take a deep dive in the treasure trove of our ride experiences and bring you all that we have ridden or driven.
There are not a lot of things more thrilling than riding a motorcycle after a hiatus. And there probably isn’t anything better than riding on a racetrack after a hiatus. My last stint on a racetrack was when I rode my Suzuki Hayabusa, Ninja H2, and Triumph Rocket 3 R on the Buddh International Circuit. Post that enthralling experience, I found myself at home nursing an injury and trying to recuperate. Now that I am better, though still far from 100% fitness, I just could not wait to hit the racetrack again and even more so, because, for this stint, I had a much more focused weapon.
I suffered an ACL injury not too long after my previous run at the racetrack. It was rather serious. So much so that I had to undergo surgery. More than anything though, it was the recovery period that had me in dire straits. I have spent my life riding motorcycles and not being able to even sit on one for weeks had me in a place of bother. But then again, I have xBhp to take care of and I am a workaholic. So I had myself drowned in work and this break also gave me some time to think and act upon the idea of adding another machine to my dream garage. Elsewhere in this issue, you will find the story of how and why I got that particular motorcycle. For this one though, I’ll just tell you the name- Ducati Streetfighter V4 S.
I have always been an admirer of naked motorcycles for the practicality they bring with almost superbike-like power and specs, almost being the keyword. The Ducati Streetfighter V4 S removes that ‘almost’. It is a superbike! It is a Panigale V4 sans the fairing. More than 200 horses and less than 200 kg weight… Ducati has something called Fight Formula that they use to describe the concept of this motorcycle. I disagree. There is no fight. There’s just absolute and brutal domination. The Streetfighter V4 S is unlike any street naked I have ever ridden.
But I did not get it simply because it is a naked motorcycle. I did it because it comes with nearly everything that the Panigale V4 has and so, I fully intended to use it on a racetrack as well. That was a decision I had made even before the motorcycle made it to the xBhp Garage. Yes, it does have some limitations still, but it is still far better on the racetrack than most naked motorcycles out there.
This outing on the racetrack was more of a test run. It was to see how the motorcycle would fare on the racetrack in its stock form. This was to gauge what sort of upgrades and changes I should make to it. But this outing also served as a test for my own fitness and abilities. After my time on the track, I can say that it went rather well. When it comes to myself, I’d say I am at about 70% fitness for riding at a racetrack. There’s some weakness and some ring rust, so to speak, but it’ll be back to normal quite soon. How did the bike fare? Well, that will take more than two lines to explain. So, let us begin.
The very first thing that comes to most people’s minds is the aero. And it is a genuine concern/question considering it is a naked motorcycle. Yes, aero is a factor on the racetrack. I felt that on both the front and back straights of BIC. Without the fairing and a windscreen to hide behind, the windblast is considerable. But the Streetfighter V4 S fares better than most nakeds in this regard anyway. More importantly, the winglets are a boon. If you have ridden hypernakeds, you may be well aware of their tendency of not being able to keep the front wheel on the ground. It may look cool but on the racetrack, it costs you crucial drive coming out of the corners.
In simple terms, if a wheelie occurs, power is wasted in the rear wheel trying to rotate the motorcycle and not pushing it forward. Especially when you have a grippy 200-section rear tyre and more than 200 bhp on tap. With numbers like that, full throttle coming out of the slower corners on BIC would result in the front wheel staying airborne for a considerable amount of time. In addition to the winglets, another factor that helps the Streetfighter keep its front wheel on the ground is the longer wheelbase. The Streetfighter is longer than the already long Panigale V4. V4 powered motorcycles tend to be because of the engine layout. But the Streetfighter V4’s even longer wheelbase is to mitigate wheelies.
That comes with another problem though. The Long wheelbase tends to make the motorcycle more stable in a straight line but a little sluggish in directional changes. I was rock-steady on the straights even with the throttle pinned but guess what, the Streetfighter V4 S felt quite agile in the corners too. The credit for that goes to the wide handlebars that provided ample leverage. The best thing about the Streetfighter V4 S though is the engine. And in a motorcycle this good, it is a big deal if something stands out and yet, the engine does. Desmosedici Stradale V4 is a thing of beauty. Almighty powerful but smooth, the engine revs like a bat out of hell. The Streetfighter V4 S is mighty grunty in the mid-range but it is a different beast at the top of the rev range.
The Streetfighter V4 also features a shorter final drive to give it a bit more grunt. And it shows. The Streetfighter V4 S, bone stock, can keep up with superbikes up to around 100 to 150 kays an hour before the aerodynamics start to play a bigger role than sheer grunt. Even then, I can confidently say that this motorcycle has earned its right to be called the most powerful and the fastest street naked available today.
Regardless of all that though, I still think that there’s much more that this motorcycle can offer. The Streetfighter V4 S is loaded with electronics. This time around, I just put it in Sport and went around the track. I am sure that dialling down the electronics a bit more will lift the restraints further. Moreover, there’s more to be had in other places too. The first thing that I plan to do is to add a flyscreen to have at least some sort of protection against the windblast. A full-system racing exhaust is another thing that can be done for more power and even lesser weight.
Then there are the tyres; they were grippy, but they were still road tyres. With proper slicks, I may be able to extract a bit more performance out of the Streetfighter V4. Finally, suspension tuning. Being able to set up the suspension to your body and your liking can make worlds of difference on the racetrack. So that is also something that I need to work on. Around 2.21 on the Buddh International Circuit with a stock bike and ‘less than stock’ rider is not too bad, I reckon. As I said earlier, this was more of a test run to see how the bike goes and what can be done to make that better. Now that I know, I am going to get back to making it better. The next time I hit the track, you’re surely going to see some seconds shaved off. Till then, ride hard and ride safe.