It's all Trevitt's fault. You see, it was his idea to take a track-focused literbike (in this case, a '07 Yamaha YZF-R1) and soften it up a bit for the ultimate street ride ("Strip Search," Sept. '08). After clamoring about how the FZ1 (and most other naked bikes for that matter) would be far better off if the engines weren't neutered versions of their racing brethren, Trevitt took it upon himself to build his iteration of a true naked bike. He stripped an R1 to the bones, yanked off the clip-ons, slapped on some handlebars, lowered the rearsets and placed them forward slightly. This gave the ideal riding position for attacking the streets. But it didn't stop there; steel-braided brake lines were added to help tame the hooliganism that would ensue following the Micron slip-on exhaust and the one-tooth-smaller countershaft sprocket install. When all was said and done, Andrew's Franken-bike creation was an absolute riot that we were hoping would start a trend among the OEM's.
And So It Was Born
Apparently Ducati heard our pleas and responded accordingly with the Streetfighter. Okay, so maybe the folks at Borgo Panigale were hard at work designing the bike long before our project even started, but the end result is exactly what we've been asking for all this time—a naked bike sharing the same engine as its superbike cousin without any of the "re-tuned for torque" nonsense littering the press materials. No, what we have here is an all-new bike for Ducati that takes cues from—but isn't a stripped-down version of—the 1098/1198 family.
Leverage from the handlebars...
Leverage from the handlebars was helpful, but the overall high placement of the bars (that we’d normally praise for street use) was a bit of a hindrance on the track. Hands were at an uncomfortable position, causing inadvertent throttle inputs at times.
Visually, the Streetfighter appears to be a bare-bones 1098, but in reality it's an all-new motorcycle for the company. For a naked bike the Streetfighter posed a design challenge, as it was supposed to loosely mimic the lines of its fully-faired cousin. With the uncluttered and shortened front section, the rest of the bike had to be similarly altered to maintain proportions and still keep the look. To do this, the fuel tank was shortened 2.5cm and the tail section received a similar nip/tuck. And despite the similarities, the Streetfighter frame is not identical to that of the 1198—though it is derived from it. Looking at a side view, it clearly looks longer than its superbike derivative. And it is; swingarm length is 35mm longer than the 1098, while the swingarm pivot is also relocated. The front is slightly less twitchy at 25.6 degrees of rake (compared to 24.5 degrees on the 1098). This, no doubt, can only help in the taming of wheelies, because the bike is ready and willing to do a number of them. In spades.
It would have been easy for Ducati to keep pumping out 1098 engines to put in the Streetfighter, even after the switch to the 1198, but between the introduction of the 1098 to today, the factory has made some big strides in production and metallurgy and it was only fair for the new model to be included in these advances. Power comes from a 1099cc mill, though crankcases are shared with the 1198 using the 1098 crank, rods, pistons and cylinder heads. The new engine also benefits from the vacuural casting process also seen on the 1198 and 1098R. We've covered the process in detail before, but to sum; each casting of the crankcase is done in a vacuum to reduce cavitation and weight. It also ensures each piece meets exacting tolerances.
Fully stripped, this base...
Fully stripped, this base model gives a clear view of the 90-degree L-twin engine. Dual split radiators handle cooling duties and allow the front suspension to compress fully. Magnesium crankcase covers and valve covers (not shown) weigh next to nothing. A modest savings, but a savings all the same. Note also the huge exhaust system utilizing 63.5mm diameter piping, the largest ever on a production Ducati.
To achieve the clean, naked look at the front of the bike, some subtle re-plumbing of the ram-air inlets had to be done. The new tubes are now shorter than on the 1098, and if you believe the Ducati propaganda machine, also results in the five-horsepower disadvantage, as well as a five ft-lb torque deficit from the superbike. But that's about all that the Streetfighter lacks compared to its sportier sibling—the same updated version of Ducati Traction Control, (DTC) available on the 1198 makes its way onto the Streetfighter, as does the Ducati Data Analysis, the on-board computer that records throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine speed, engine temperature, mileage, laps and lap times. It can also record gear selection and monitors the DTC, giving a graphic display of when intervention took place. Oh, right, one little caveat: the DTC and DDA are optional on the base model—standard, of course, on the upgraded S model. By now you should know what to expect with S model upgrades, and the Streetfighter is no different: an Öhlins 43mm inverted fork and shock, both fully adjustable, replace the Showa variants on the base model. Interestingly, the same shock linkage from the 1198 makes its way here. But because the swingarm is slightly longer, shock progression is slightly softer. Both the base and S models are adjustable for ride height separate from rear preload. Other than that, the only way to tell the base and S models apart is by the bronze frame and wheels on the S (black/grey on the base), and exclusive paint jobs. Base model comes in Pearl White, S model in Midnight Black. Both models are also available in Ducati red, of course.
Swingarm length on the Streetfighter...
Swingarm length on the Streetfighter is extended 35mm compared that of the 1098 for increased stability. Note also the standard Showa shock, complete with ride-height adjustable linkage.
Thanks to the protruding exhaust...
Thanks to the protruding exhaust shield, here you can plainly see how the right foot looses contact with the peg during left turns.
This frontal view shows the...
This frontal view shows the 1098R number plate inspired headlight. The intake ducts just below the light have been shortened to accommodate the new-look front end, resulting in modest decreases of five horsepower and five lb-ft. of torque.
Street Brawler Turned Track Bruiser
On paper the Streetfighter appears to be just the kind of naked bike this market needs; the riding position is more relaxed, power output is only slightly down and the bike just has this aggressive look that can scare little kids. It screams bravado and much like our project R1, has the recipe to put a smile on the face of anyone who throws a leg over it. So it was only natural then for the introduction of the new Streetfighter to be held at the Ascari Race Resort in southern Spain.
Wait, what? A racetrack intro for a bike that distinctly belongs on the street?
Yep. No matter; the Ascari course is one of the premier facilities in the world and surely we could replicate most any scenario on the street at the track, right?
Well, not quite. The track setting, while always enjoyable, simply doesn't suit the Streetfighter. For starters, the high bars and low pegs that make the seating position great on the road is a bit awkward on the track. While the leverage the bars provide proved helpful at times during aggressive cornering, more often than not their high placement made it difficult to find a comfortable position for track riding. More alarming still is that the high bars would occasionally cause inadvertent throttle inputs.
Due to the lack of real estate...
Due to the lack of real estate because of the new headlight, the electronics controlling the DTC and DDA had to be relocated to the rear of the bike on the rear subframe underneath the seat.
That said, in most regards the Streetfighter is a much more comfortable bike to ride than its predecessor, the Monster S4Rs—mainly in that the rider isn't splayed out over the gas tank and has a much more commanding view of the road. But like the S4Rs, finding a comfortable seating position is still a challenge. On the former, the right passenger footpeg bracket would jut out enough to place the right foot at an awkward position when banking for extreme left turns. That same trait remains with the Streetfighter, only now it's the exhaust shielding. After initiating turn-in, the exhaust shield would push the foot to the edge of the peg and at times it would slip off the peg completely. Of course, that could just be a byproduct of the disproportionately large feet of yours truly as other journalists with smaller boots didn't seem to experience this issue. Thankfully, we're fairly confident these aren't issues most street riders—the target audience—would face during normal riding.
S model Streetfighters, like...
S model Streetfighters, like the one shown here, benefit from Öhlins suspension, though the Brembo four-piston Monobloc calipers and 330mm discs are identical on both the S and base models. Here you can also see the front wheel speed sensor for the DTC.
What they'd mainly be doing is twisting the throttle and that's where the Streetfighter excels. Grunt out of corners seems on par with that of the 1098, even if it is slightly down on torque. The lack of top-end steam was noticeable, though the average rider would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Even still, the strong headwind we faced down the fast, full-throttle backstraight might have tainted those impressions. Then again, do you really need much more than 155 horses anyway? At any rate, bringing all that action to a halt has never been a Ducati weak point. Braking duties are shared with the 1098 and feature dual 330mm discs up front, clamped by four-piston monobloc calipers wearing two pads each. A single 245mm disc and twin-piston caliper handle things out back. Initial bite is actually softer than we're used to, but that's a welcome change. Stopping power is still strong as always with good feel at the lever, making modulation during trailbraking that much easier.
As was mentioned before, the handlebars do provide ample leverage to flick the bike over, but the longer wheelbase and lazy geometry do make it a tad slower to react. The Ascari circuit isn't much for bumps anyway, but the Öhlins suspenders on the S models we were piloting soaked up what little there was. We did have to stiffen the front slightly and despite the strong winds, the Streetfighter held its line and stayed composed—even with the standard Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tires. It's composure is surely helped by the DTC which, in the revised version first seen on the 1198S, now retards and/or cuts spark before cutting back on fuel. The result is a much less noticeable intervention when the system activates, and true to form it was near seamless during our track sessions—the indicator lights on the gauge cluster being the only visual cue the system was working.
Just What The Geek Ordered
As dazzling as the Ascari circuit is, one can't help but wonder what the Streetfighter's true potential would be if it were unleashed in its natural environment. Truth be told, many of the squabbles we had with the bike are only issues that arise when pushed to the extremes of the racetrack. The Streetfighter definitely has every ingredient needed to bring out the inner hooligan in us all and we can't wait to exercise those alter egos when we get a testbike stateside. If our hodge-podge creation of a proper streetfighter was any indication, this factory example should be every bit as exciting.
'09 Ducati Streetfighter
Type: Liquid-cooled, 90-degree DOHC 4-stroke V-twin
Bore x stroke: 104 x 64.7mm
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Induction: Marelli EFI, single-valve oval throttle bodies equivalent to 60.0mm dia. Single injector/cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
Rake/trail: 25.6 deg./4.5 in. (114mm)
Wheelbase: 58.1 in. (1475mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.4 gal. (16.5L)
Claimed dry weight: 368lb (167), excludes battery and lubricants