Since Ducati announced the Panigale V4 in 2018, sportbike enthusiasts have been licking their chops at the prospect of a naked version of the venerable Italian superbike. Now, the wait is over with the 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 and V4 S.After a five-year hiatus from the super-naked segment, the Streetfighter V4 returns to deliver superbike performance with street civility—two things that are diametrically opposed. Yet, it’s a feat that Ducati has achieved.With only two short days on the clock, I pointed the 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S towards the canyons to hit you with the Fast Facts.
1. The Desmosedici Stradale 1103cc 90-degree V4 is breathtakingly powerful. With a claimed 208 peak horsepower and 90 ft-lbs of torque at the crank, when the V4 is opened up, it will transform the world around you into a menagerie of abstract shapes and colors reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting. A ferocious MotoGP-esque roar from the twin-pulse firing order is heard, a tasteful bit of rumbling is felt through the chassis, and all of that happens before 11,000 rpm—leaving plenty of revs on the table with a stratospheric 14,500 rpm redline.2. Top-end performance isn’t its only trait, as the V4 makes roughly 70 percent of its peak torque at 4000 rpm. This gives the V4 loads of low-end and mid-range power that can be exploited at more reasonable speeds—whether that be trolling the city streets or going for a quick rip in the canyons.3. Subtle changes have made the V4 powerplant suitable for road riding. One of the many departures the Streetfighter V4 makes when compared to its predecessor is its welcoming mannerisms, save for a bit lumpiness that clutch feathering takes care of at extremely low rpm, it is friendly at casual speeds. Engineers opted for a map that prioritizes torque over outright horsepower. When compared to the Panigale V4, the SF is sacrificing eight unmissed ponies up top and 1.5 ft-lbs of torque, while delivering 70 percent of its torque between 4000 and 9000 rpm and percent or better of peak torque from 900 to 13,000 rpm. That change, combined with 10-percent shorter final-drive gearing (16/41 to 15/42), gives the SF loads of useable power virtually anywhere in the rev-range. You can carry a gear, two, or three too tall, and you’ll still exit strong.4. All that power has its benefits, but it’s controlled. The SF’s V4 powerplant is versatile, despite its impressive spec sheet claims. Of course, another factor in the V4 rideability is that torque is curtailed and optimized in gears 1-4, making it much more rider-friendly. The SF isn’t a wanton wheelie machine, unless you want it to be. Beyond that, curbing power at certain rpm helps make the engine far more linear and predictable. While this motorcycle has more performance than can ever be tapped on the street, riders don’t have to push it to the ends of its potential to have fun—it can play at both ends of the spectrum.5. Heat management has improved. It shouldn’t come as a shock that a high-performance engine such as this is capable of producing a noticeable amount of radiant heat. After all, it’s a gigantic V4 boasting a silly amount of power. The SF does have a clear advantage over its fully faired brother in that it is naked, allowing it to disperse radiant heat much more effectively. Ducati took things a step further by deactivating the rear cylinder banks when at a standstill, and the engine is above 167 degrees, offering a further reprieve. Riding around in the balmy Southern California weather, there is a perfectly tolerable amount of heat primarily near my right boot, as the rear header is nearby. A bit of heat is expected, but importantly, it’s nowhere near the scorching temperatures the now-defunct twin-engine superbikes produced.6. Desmo service intervals are at 15,000 miles. Those desmodromic valve clearances won’t measure themselves, so be sure to have a professional take a peek when you hit your mileage milestone. 7. The 4.2-gallon fuel tank feeds the V4 beast. Fuel tanks generally don’t make for the most compelling cocktail party conversation, but this one does in that it improves mass centralization by locating some of its fuel load under the tank. When racking up the highway miles, I’d often see around 43 mpg, giving riders a more than decent range. However, when you are on a good one, the Streetfighter V4 can become mighty thirsty, seeing mpg dip in the high 20s. To illustrate how your riding can impact range, I saw the fuel light come on at 67, 89, and 120 miles—I bet you can guess which rides were the most fun.8. A 4-2-1-2 exhaust system belts out a desmo tune that needs to be heard in person. When I first fired up the Streetfighter V4 S, my immediate thought was, “Oh, it’s angry.” The unique twin-pulse firing order is reminiscent of Ducati twin engines from the days of yore. However, as the revs pick up, it alters, evoking Dovi’s MotoGP Desmosedici GP14 that the V4 engine is based on.9. The slick six-speed gearbox and up/down quickshifter is the business. Featuring the Ducati Quick Shift up/down EVO 2 system, riders will never need to touch the hearty hydraulic clutch once in motion. Kill times are excellent, letting you shift at high or low rpm, without upsetting the chassis. The quickshifter is standard.10. All-day ergonomics are part and parcel for the 2020 Streetfighter V4. It’s no secret that superbikes are hard work on long-distance road rides. Luckily, the Streetfighter offers one of the roomiest, most comfortable cockpits in its class. A civilized, yet sporty rider triangle is accented by a nicely sized adjustable handlebar, giving you plenty of leverage over this beast. Meanwhile, significantly lowered rearsets reduce knee-bend while still letting you assume an athletic position. The grippy, textured seat also plays a role in comfort, as it’s exquisitely plush and has an additional 2.5 inches of foam, increasing the distance between the seat and rearsets, further reducing knee-bend. The seat height is a lofty 33.3 inches, but thanks to the narrow chassis, my 32-inch inseam had no trouble getting boots on the ground. Also, a new steel trellis subframe accommodates a revised passenger seat promises more legroom.11. There are some tradeoffs when it comes to a narrow chassis. The V4 engine boasts relatively svelte dimensions, allowing Ducati to keep a trim figure on the Panigale and Streetfighter motorcycles, as the brand has traditionally done. However, even when riding aggressively on the road, that rounded, elegantly sculpted fuel tank requires the rider to exert more energy through your core and legs to squeeze the slim tank. It isn’t something that owners won’t be able to get used to, but it is a big jump if you’re coming from some of the girthier competitors. Employing tank grips certainly wouldn’t hurt. They will offer more traction when braking or leaned over, and a marginal bit of width.12. Three ride modes let you tailor the SF to your liking. At the touch of a button, one can switch between Race, Sport, and Street riding modes. These have a dramatic effect on the experience as they not only change the throttle map and all other rider aids, but also each respective mode is tied to the electronic suspension settings on the Streetfighter V4 S, as well. We’ll dive into the suspension in detail later. Race mode offers the most direct throttle response—perfectly suited for the aggressive throttle openings that come with track riding. When in the canyons, I enjoyed Sport mode, as it is still crisp, but has some smoothing that is more applicable to road use. Street tamps things peak output to 112.6 hp for casual cruising.13. A full suite of electronics is standard fare on the Streetfighter V4. Ripped directly from the Panigale V4 superbike, the Streetfighter features the same Bosch IMU supported cornering ABS, lean-angle-detecting traction control, wheelie control, slide control, launch control, and engine brake management suite. Importantly, all of these settings can be adjusted on the fly (save for ABS). Race, Sport, and Street have default settings respective of their intentions, but each rider aid is fully customizable. During a street test, I didn’t have the opportunity to put the traction control EVO 2, cornering ABS, and slide control to a real test, as that should always be done at the track. With those aids at their maximum, they would quietly intrude as expected. When lowered, I wasn’t riding aggressively enough on the street to see them step in. In short, they behaved as they should.14. I can talk about are wheelie control and engine braking management. The Streetfighter naturally keeps the front end down and ensures that you get the best drive possible. Still, when you want to point it skyward, those 208 ponies will have their say. WC in upper levels will keep the front end from lifting and doesn’t earnestly begin letting go until you’re in level 3. Level 2 allows for nice lofting over risers or on hard-driving exits. Turn WC off, give the throttle a healthy whack, and you’d better be covering the rear brake. Engine braking management also factors in lean angle and is offered in three levels—1 is the heaviest, 3 is the lightest. I ran with level 2, as it provided a little bit of engine braking to help scrub off speed, without getting too carried away.15. The 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S features semi-active Öhlins electronic suspension. Featuring the Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 system, the NIX30 fork (with TiN treatment) and TTX36 shock automatically adjust damping rates by the millisecond as you cruise down the road, aiming to provide the best ride possible. Spring preload must be adjusted manually in the front and rear. Again, the suspension setting is tied to your ride mode; Race mode is taut and would be celebrated at the track, while Sport offers a decent amount of plushness and plenty of support for hard riding on canyon roads. Street mode is downright luxurious and grand for long highway slogs.16. All suspension settings can be further altered to your liking with The Objective Based tuning interface. Riders choose things like “braking support,” and adjust on a sliding scale between “performance” and “comfort.” Overall, the Streetfighter doesn’t flinch over bumps and bruises in the road and makes it incredibly compliant. With a few clicks, you’ll be able to dial in the suspension to your liking.17. Even the Öhlins steering stabilizer is electronically controlled. Yep, you can also tinker with the settings for that from the dash—what a time to be alive.18. A fixed suspension mode is available. For road riding, the semi-active suspension is superb. However, skillful riders who are trying to set personal best laps at the track may want to use the fixed mode, as you will always experience consistent damping characteristics, lap after lap, and turn after turn. Damping settings use conventional nomenclature with 30 clicks of compression and rebound.19. The Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is supremely agile. Using the same front-frame from the first-generation Panigale V4, the Streetfighter shares the same steering geometry of 24.5 degrees of rake and four inches of trail. However, engineers sought more stability by lengthening the swingarm one inch. On the road, the SF can be gleefully chucked around; it simply doesn’t require the same effort to get it onto or off the edge of the tire. It holds its line brilliantly, thanks to the planted nature of the front and rear ends, with information being relayed to the rider as you’d like. Keep in mind, the SF has a lot going for it. Between the aggressive geometry, counter-rotating crankshaft (staving off gyroscopic forces and improving handling), an impressively light 439-pound claimed curb weight, lightweight magnesium wheels, and high-profile tires, you better believe it handles marvelously.20. Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires keep the shiny side up. Equipped with the same 120/70 and massive 200/60 tire sizes as the Panigale V4 bikes, the Streetfighter V4 and V4 S opts for the more sensible sporting rubber in the Pirelli lineup. A key thing to note is that the tall 60 profile is kept, which has undoubtedly contributed to the Streetfighter’s nimble handling. Some readers may be thinking, “What, no Supercorsas?” Let me assure you that the Diablo Rosso Corsa II is the better buy for those spending the majority of time on the street. The edge grip of the DRC II is derived from the Supercorsa, giving you maximum performance on the side of the tire. At the same time, the center compounds are harder to deliver improved mileage. The Pirelli DRC IIs won’t even shy away from a track day, if your heart desires.21. The MotoGP-inspired aero winglets are claimed to produce over 60 ft-lbs of downforce when traveling at 167 mph. Remember this fact, if only to use it as an excuse as to why you were egregiously speeding on public roads and need to explain your actions to local authorities. Surely, they’ll sympathize with your scientific pursuits. In truth, the goal of the winglets is to keep the front end from becoming squirrely at high-speed. At track paces, there is some real value—as triple-digit speeds are commonplace. On the street, the forces aren’t something I can register, but hey, I think they look rad.22. Brembo—it’s Italian for brakes. With a motorcycle such as the 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4, nothing else would do except top-tier Brembo Stylema calipers and 330mm floating rotors. Feel at the level is nothing short of stellar, and stopping power is second to none, as you might expect. In the rear, a Brembo two-piston caliper and 245mm disc offers up a good feel. Also, in ABS level 2, you can use the slide-by-brake feature and back it in like the pros.23. Marchesini Racing three-spoke forged aluminum wheels are part of the V4 S treatment. Ducati claims that these wheels offer a 14-percent reduction in weight and a 16-percent reduction in inertia when compared to the standard aluminum alloy wheels on the base model Streetfighter V4.24. The devil is in the details when it comes to fit and finish. The five-inch TFT display is easy to navigate. With the two controls at your left thumb, you can quickly flip through settings effectively. It’s an intuitive and uncluttered dash. As for the rest of the bike, I’m quite fond of nearly everything—the seat, fuel tank, tail, and even things such as engine covers, are all finely designed details. Where it does fall short for me is regarding the matte-finished front fender, rear hugger, and winglets. Given the price, I would have preferred to see some Italian chrome (carbon fiber) in the mix; they’re all available in carbon fiber as an accessory. Minor visual niggling aside, the bike is alluring as can be.25. The 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is the whole package and more At $24,000, you are paying a pretty penny—there is no way around it. Yes, I still feel the need to wag my finger at a few visual oversights. But, let’s recap on what you’re getting – a brilliant engine, incredible handling, stellar electronics, top-shelf components, provocative styling, and a practically pornographic riding experience that nearly defines the streetfighter moniker. This is a machine that is comfortable living in the extremes – as it is extreme, but it isn’t one dimensional, either as illustrated by its inherent rideability. It can be brutal, violent, excessive, and everything that a high-performance upright sportbike should be.Photography by Nathan MayRIDING STYLE
This week Teejay chats to Tyler Poppe. Tyler works on the TV show Mayans MC–and yet he doesn’t ride an American V-Twin. Wassup with that?? Also, Arthur finds out from friend Mike Cardillo about his thoughts on the full-size version of the Kawasaki KLX 140R F trail bike.