2010 Streetfighter Review
’10 Ducati Streetfighter road notes… Throttle too sensitive at small openings, or low speed! Difficult to modulate brakes in tight twisties. Too much vibration at low rpm. No fun under 50 mph.
And that’s why I’m in love with the 2010 Ducati Streetfighter. Making the legacy Ducati Monster range of motorcycles seem comparatively tame and well mannered, it seems somewhat strange to me that Ducati has taken such a long time to create such an animal. With the Streetfighter movement beginning in Europe around the time I was cutting my motorcycle riding teeth, it’s a style and culture that is going on three decades since its inception.
Triumph has been very successful with its Speed Triple, which capitalizes on the idea of a stripped down sportbike left with just the bare essentials for ripping around town and tearing up the night. Aprilia has also jumped on the bandwagon by taking the bodywork of the RSV Mille sportbike to deliver the very badly behaved Tuono, and MV Agusta has the Brutale. But, while the venerable Speed Triple and the wild-mannered Tuono have enjoyed the top billing over the years, they pale into insignificance under the shadow cast by Ducati’s new Streetfighter.
With a fighting weight of 368 pounds and packing a 155 horsepower punch from the 1098-derived engine, the 2010 Ducati Streetfighter simply leaves any previous motorcycle in this genre, except perhaps the Brutale, sucking exhaust fumes. And, looking closely at the new Streetfighter spec sheet, it’s obvious Ducati didn’t just peel the bodywork from a bunch of left over 1098s.
Starting with the black steel-trellis frame, the steering head angle has been relaxed to 25.6 degrees, compared to it’s more race orientated sibling’s 24.5 degrees. The rear swing arm has been lengthened to give an overall wheelbase of 58.1 inches, compared to the 1098’s 56.3 inches. With the wider bars this makes a lot of sense, as the motorcycle would be way too hyper on the Ducati Superbike’s original geometry.
The Ducati Streetfighter is also a uniquely styled, and sturdier, lower triple clamp holding the inverted 43m Showa fork in place—Öhlins if you opt for the higher priced Streetfigher S—and the motorcycle rolls on its own unique Marchesini wheels. These are a pair of beautiful 10-spoke 17-inch aluminum alloy rims and wear regulation sportbike Pirelli rubber: 190/55 rear, 120/70 front.
Responsible for the deceleration process, two Brembo four-piston monoblock calipers attack massive 330mm discs. With braided steel lines taking the fluid from the radial pump master cylinder with the lightest two-finger squeeze, the Ducati Streetfighter’s brakes are easily amongst the strongest in the two-wheeled world. Requiring a deft use of the digits to avert tragedy at lower speed on Mulholland Highway heading to the Pacific Coast, I had a lot of trouble finding the right pressure to allow me to make smooth progress. On a more open piece of highway, when you need to lose a lot of speed quickly, they instantly become your best friend. And, as related by my peers, they are faultless on a racetrack.
The Showa equipped suspension on the 2010 Ducati Streetfighter is multi-adjustable at both ends, as you would expect, and was mostly compliant over the variety of surfaces I rode on. Chasing my buddy Chris on a BMW R1200 GS along some bumpy back roads, I had to give up after nearly being tossed out of the seat a couple of times. No one needs to travel that fast on these sorts of roads, though, so it’s not a major complaint; I just wanted to see how it fared.
Tucked in tightly and very neatly, if you consider how much plumbing and wiring must have needed to be hidden, the Ducati 1099cc engine is a riot. Making mind-blowing amounts of power for the street, it is quoted as delivering 155 horsepower at 9500 rpm, with the rev limiter shutting things down at 10,200 rpm. This is actually about five horsepower less than the Superbike, due to the shorter air intakes that are inevitable without the full fairing, although the Streetfighter’s engine is actually seven pounds lighter thanks to the cast-aluminum crankcases. Having recently ridden a 1098R, there is no way from the seat of the pants you can notice the minor power loss.
Dealing with the burned gases from the two large combustion chambers, a 2-into-1-into-2 steel exhaust exits into two canisters on the right-hand side of the motorcycle. These emit a healthy throb and will no doubt be responsible for losing a lot of weight from the Ducati Streetfighter when they are eventually replaced with an aftermarket system. A pair of sensors located inside these pipes reads exhaust gases for precise fuel mapping, and an electronically controlled valve boosts mid-range power.
One thing I immediately noticed when I jumped on the Ducati Streetfighter was that the pegs are nice and low, giving me a lot of legroom. This is due to a thicker seat pad, which gives a 33.1-inch seat height, compared to the 1098’s 32.2-inch perch. In contrast to the comfortable footpeg position, the tapered aluminum handlebars felt small and quite far forward, putting the rider into a semi race crouch. Personally, I would have like them wider and closer to me for extended road duties.
Parking the Ducati for beauty shots, it’s all Ducati. Beautiful, exotic and unique all at the same time, the 1098 derived headlight gives the motorcycle an unmistakable look. Complete with the tiny color matched headlight shroud and belly pan, there are enough splashes of red on the standard model to keep things balanced. And the wheels are just plain sex appeal. Mirrors are interesting, but might be a love them or hate them item, and the gas tank looks identical to the Superbikes. Although apparently it is one inch shorter to help get the rider closer to the bars.
The view from the Ducati hot seat is all-road ahead, and it feels weird at first to have this feeling of nothing in front of you. You can’t see the headlight and have to look down a tad to see the instrument panel. With a digital bar running up the numbers on top and a set of small digital numbers calculating your speeding fines on the bottom right, all the regular information is easy to find. The warning lights, turn signal lights, and neutral indicator are on top of the pod, and there is a temperature gauge on the bottom in the middle.
Jumping off the 2010 Streetfighter and boarding a plane home it took me a while to process my feelings about the new Ducati. It’s definitely for the experienced rider only, and it’s only going to work well in a limited number of situations. The motorcycle is so visceral, so insanely fast, and just so incredibly raw, that none of that matters, and by the time I landed I was humming Italian opera and speaking the language.
Photography by Neale Bayly