Ducati has been at the forefront of the Industry News section of our website for months now, with updates on the MotoGP team’s latest woes being posted in rapid succession. When Ducati recently leaked more information and a teaser video of its soon-to-be-released 1199 Superbike, our website was seeing red, yet again. Unfortunately, the excitement around such news had left the release of the 2012 Streetfighter 848 in the shadows. A recent trip to Italy to ride the all-new machine, however, proved that in the shadows is all but where the Streetfighter 848 belongs.
Our first opportunity to throw a leg over the Streetfighter 848 was on the roads leading out of Modena, Italy – the same roads that Ferrari uses to test drive their exotic four-wheel works of art. Our 55-mile street ride along the hillside was then followed up by two 25 minute sessions at Autodromo di Modena, an extremely tight, 1.2 mile, 11-turn track located on the outskirts of town. By day’s end we were tired and sore, but amazed at how well the Streetfighter 848 works in a myriad of environments.
For 2012, the Streetfighter 848 will be offered in Ducati red, fighter yellow and dark stealth (matte black). "
It’s not one particular thing that makes the Streetfighter 848 that much better than its big-bore sibling, rather a combination of changes. Steering geometry has been altered, ergonomics have been changed, a new swingarm has been employed and the 848 EVO-culled engine uses the latest Testastretta 11° technology. Best of all though, the bike retains that same aggressive look that the Streetfighter line has been made famous for, with minimal body panels and a diminutive instrument display.
Butt the Streetfighter 848’s spec sheet up against that of the Streetfighter 1098 and you will see that both rake and trail have been altered. The former now measures 24.5 degrees (compare this to the Streetfighter 1098’s 25.6 degrees of rake) while the latter has been reduced from 114mm to 103mm. The result is a bike that handles much differently than the larger of the two Streetfighters, with a stable yet nimble feel. Fitted to the new frame is a new cast aluminum swingarm, which is admittedly no different in length or strength. A Marzocchi 43mm fork is fitted up front and a Sachs shock handles suspension duties out back. Both feature modified damping rates and the shock additionally runs a softer spring in comparison to the Streetfighter 1098.
The Streetfighter 848’s handlebar is now 20mm taller and the footrests are mounted some 10mm further outward. As a result, around town commutes are much more palatable, especially for riders surpassing the six-foot mark. There’s ample amount of room to move about the saddle too, plus the generously shaped seat doesn’t seem to have you slammed against the tank, as you are on other various Ducati models.
The Streetfighter 848's handlebar...
The Streetfighter 848's handlebar is mounted 20mm higher and provide a much more comfortable riding position, especially for taller riders.
Both the front fork and rear...
Both the front fork and rear shock have altered damping rates, plus the rear shock features a softer spring in comparison to the Streetfighter 1098.
There is plenty of room to...
There is plenty of room to move about the saddle on the Streetfighter 848, and the bike is surprisingly comfortable around town.
In the engine department, the Streetfighter 848 isn’t much different than the 2011 848 EVO, which we tested in the January 2011 issue of Sport Rider Magazine. Bore and stroke numbers remain at 94 x 61.2mm respectively, and the bike’s compression ratio is a similar 13.2:1. As with the Ducati Multistrada 1200S and Diavel however, the Streetfighter 848 uses a Testastretta 11° engine. The 11° represents the valve overlap angle, which has been reduced from 37°. We have gone into great detail before about the pros of reducing the valve overlap angle on such models, but will recap by saying that the reduced valve overlap results in smoother combustion and increased fuel efficiency.
The Autodromo di Modena circuit, albeit tight, still gave us the opportunity to put the Streetfighter 848 through its paces, with a sweeping right-hand turn 11 that leaves you hurdling down the front straight. Multiple shifts through the six-speed gearbox proved the middleweight machine has plenty of power to keep things interesting. Side-to-side transitions are quick with the Streetfighter and there is plenty of low-end power from the 849.4cc engine to spin the rear wheel.
Ducati Traction Control comes standard, with eight levels of intervention. Off is also an option, although we ran with the system set to level 2 at the track, based on the fact that the track surface was still very green. Level 3 proved to be sufficient for our stint along the nearby canyon roads, and we rarely felt the system intervene. Additional grip comes via the large 180/60ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tire out back, which provides a larger contact patch and a more comfortable ride on the street. During our track stints, Supercorsa SC2 rubber was fitted front and rear, and provided ample amounts of grip.
The Marzocchi front fork and Sachs rear shock is set-up soft however, and rough sections of road were not very welcomed. On the track, the story read the same, with the soft settings in the rear causing some concern. The settings were likely designated for smaller European journalists though, and could surely be adjusted with ease for heavier riders as both units are fully adjustable.
For 2012, the Streetfighter 848 will be offered in Ducati red, fighter yellow and dark stealth (matte black). Both the yellow and dark stealth models come with a black frame, while the Ducati red offering comes from the factory with a red frame. An array of Ducati accessories is available, and the Streetfighter 848 is designed to work with the Ducati Data Analyser (DDA) system available as an accessory from Ducati Performance. Price is set at $12,995 and bikes will start hitting showroom floors in early 2012.
For an in-depth look at the 2012 Streetfighter 848 and a full first-ride review, be sure to pick up the January 2012 issue of Sport Rider Magazine.