2009 Ducati Streetfighter S | Review

Streetfighter S Test

"Get your ‘fighters ready. Five minutes to take off!" announced the loudspeakers ahead of each session followed by heavy metal music. How suitable, and exactly the way I’d like to wake up each morning! Ducati has taken the motorcycle term "streetfighter" to a new level.

Four key areas makes the Ducati Streetfighter S stand out. The 155 horsepower Ducati Desmo Testastretta Evoluzione engine, the 368-pound claimed dry weight, DTC true traction control (a first on a naked), and the no frills styling.

So what is the Ducati Streetfighter? Quite simply, it’s a stripped down version of the 1098 Superbike. Whilst Ducati could have just added the 1098 engine as is, they didn’t. Ducati has improved it with parts from the latest 1198 superbike saving almost seven pounds from the vacuum die cast crankcase process alone. The chassis is also the same as on the Ducati Superbike, apart from a new sub frame fitting the stubby rear end on the Streetfighter.

As I’m already familiar with the DTC from the Ducati 1198 S, I started my riding on Spain’s Ascari track with a minimum of intrusion from the traction control by choosing level 2 (of 8). On brand new tires I had the chance to test the DTC straight away, as I knew it would be more difficult later on the sticky Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tyres. Even on DTC level 2, I managed to get the traction control to kick-in in a straight line, simply because the tires were shiny, new, and cold. My point is that it works in those situations, which can be replicated on the road when you are leaving your dealer after having changed tires, or when leaving home on a cold and wet morning. Use level 6 or higher and you may even get disappointed at how safe the new Ducati Streetfighter feels.

I continued to do a little ham-fisted corner exit also on my first lap on cold tires, so the rear wheel let go quite a lot before the DTC kicked in, but always controllable. After several sessions around Ascari my suspicions were right, and I struggled to loose rear tire grip that I could notice for the rest of the test session. It speaks of a very good traction control system and an important point is that you can turn DTC completely off, should you wish to do so. The standard Ducati Streetfighter does not feature the DTC, the Ducati Streetfighter S model does.

I must admit that I got bored just riding fast for too many laps in a row, so I started using the Ducati Streetfighter for what it’s meant to do–wheelie! There’s no straight long enough and no straight too short–the Streetfighter obediently lifts its front whenever my right hand tells it to. But, what’s also nice about the Ducati Streetfighter is that you can put together some very fast laps on track without it wheelying everywhere. It’s all in the 1198 derived trellis frame and the long single-sided swinging arm.

The Ducati Streetfighter has massive power available whenever you need it. At the same time, it doesn’t misbehave when you don’t need it. It’s a magic combination, and for this reason this naked motorcycle packed with TNT could even suit someone not so keen on all out ferocity. Speaking for myself, I quite like a ferocious half mad streetfighter, but Ducati’s Streetfighter turns into that exactly when I wanted it to.

The Streetfighter breath or rather barks out of two stacked silencers, which are one of the few similarities with the old Ducati Monster S4Rs. Ducati’s 1098 powered Streetfighter really sounds like it means business, and that’s from completely standard mufflers. At Ascari, Ducati showcased one Streetfighter fitted with all the aftermarket goodies, and those Termignonis are fantastic to look at and I suspect are equally amazing to hear.

Walking around the Ducati Streetfighter the designers are showcasing the muscles and evilness on the right hand side. The new big-diameter exhaust pipes really emphasize the muscular nature of this beast from Bologna. On the left hand side, it’s all about the unobscured view of the trellis frame and single sided swingarm. The tiny front fly fairing takes its inspiration from the 1198. On top of the new headlight assembly sits a tiny digital speedometer that packs the same info as the Ducati 1198. On the move it’s only the speed and revs you can see clearly. The overrev red light seems to be in the ideal position, and it was easy to register without taking my eyes off the track ahead. The rear end is a traditional Ducati design with inspiration back to the 916. The passenger seat covers fits perfectly on the bike, and are easy to remove.

Around the very long Ascari racetrack there are plenty of opportunity to test the Ducati Streetfighter’s power, suspension, brakes and gearbox. Down the straights, I easily gear up without the clutch, and downshifts are equally precise. First, second and third gears fly by very quickly. Certain places at the circuit I’d still have wanted a slightly lower second gear so that I wouldn’t have to use first that much. But, I don’t expect future Ducati Streetfighter owners to spend that much time on track so it’s fairly irrelevant. The revs pick up fast anyway and shoot the Fighter forward whilst the cannon shaped mufflers bark like mad.

The Streetfighter dry weight is a mere 368 pounds dry and, with the crème de la crop of Brembo monoblock brake calipers, the result is given. The stopping power is very impressive and I could have spent the day pushing my brake points if I didn’t have better things to do (like doing wheelies).

As always on a Ducati S model the wheels come from Marchesini and they are lightweight forged units. They are shod with Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tires–120/70-ZR17 front and 190/55-ZR17 rear. One thing that is noticeable on the Streetfighter is how easy it is to flick it from left to right compared to its faired brother the 1198. This comes from the ergonomics and lightweight, but it makes the Streetfighter very entertaining on the circuit.

At the end of the day, I found that the Ducati Streetfighter fits me very well both in concept, spirit, and ergonomics. We don’t get to ride around Ascari everyday, so I’ll have to forgive Ducati for not giving us a few road miles on this launch. In essence, the Ducati Streetfighter is as aggressive as you can expect just looking at it, but also very manageable with the number one accessory DTC. I love the 155 horsepower Ducati Desmo for the way it performs and sounds. Add to that the lightweight but super stable chassis, and you can’t go wrong.

Photography by Milagro