When Ducati unveiled it's 09 model lineup we knew something was in the works when the Monster line included only two models-the 696 and 1100, both of which are air-cooled. What of the liquid-cooled line? Surely there would be something to replace the aging S4Rs. The obvious next progression of the Monster was sure to be a 1098-engined model, right? Well, yes, but since the line had received a facelift Ducati decided to revamp the entire model range and do something special for the 1098 power plant. The result is the Streetfighter. In a somewhat unexpected move, Ducati has separated its liquid-cooled and air-cooled lines. Drawing inspiration from caf-racers of the past, the Streetfighter takes its superbike heritage it knows so well and given it a distinctly Italian twist-shedding the fairings, fitting some proper bars, mounting a single headlight and making the bike look genuinely sinister.
The centerpiece of the Streetfighter is the 1098cc engine from its superbike line. The engine's bore and stroke is 104 x 64.7mm, respectively, and compression ratio remains at 12.4:1. We say remains because, unlike other naked bikes using liter sized engines from its fully-faired counterpart, the 1098 in the Streetfighter retains all of its superbike performance. Nowhere in the press materials will you read "retuned for greater midrange" or anything of the like. The Marelli EFI system feeds the fuel through elliptical throttle bodies. Much of the same stuff as the old 1098 superbike. Further, the same road legal DTC, or Ducati Traction Control now seen on the 1198 is available on the Streetfighter, as is the Ducati Data Acquisition. Ducati claims the Streetfighter will put out 155 horsepower, 87.5 ft-lb and will weigh around 368 pounds, dry.
On the chassis side, the signature Ducati trellis frame immediately draws the eyes in. Wander to the front of the bike and there sits a Showa 43mm fully adjustable inverted fork and Brembo 4-piston monoblock calipers biting on 330mm discs. Visually, what's striking is how far forward the front axle sits. Your eyes aren't fooling you either, rake is set at a rather longish 25.6 degrees.
Move towards the rear and the styling largely resembles that of the 1098, though the first thing you might notice is the arrangement of the exhausts. Rather than tuck them up underneath the seat as on the superbikes and the air-cooled Monsters, the Streetfighter's 2-1-2 arrangement exits via two silencers on the side of the bike. Other than that, we've gotten used to seeing single-sided swingarms on Ducatis and this one is no different. A 17 x 6.0-inch wheel is nestled in that swingarm and also plays host to a 245mm disc and 2-piston caliper. A fully adjustable Showa shock is standard.
Taking things one notch higher is the Streetfighter S (surprise, surprise). By now you can probably guess what goodies will come with the S, but they are worth repeating. The most obvious difference is the use of Ohlins suspension front and rear, coupled to five-spoke wheels. A gold colored frame will also set it apart from the black-framed base model.
Further details are slim at press time, but expect pricing for the Streetfighter to starts around $14,995 with the S model going for $18,995. We'll bring you more information as we get it.-T.S.