Triumph Street Triple R vs. Ducati Streetfighter 848
Last year was an exciting year for motorcycle enthusiasts. Three of the four Japanese manufacturers released updated literbikes, Kawasaki an all-new ZX-14R and Ducati its groundbreaking 1199 Panigale. In the testing that ensued, however, none of these bikes had us grinning as much as the unmentioned Triumph Daytona 675R and Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE, two bikes that were arguably less innovative, but drastically more charismatic. Was it by chance, or by design, then, that we’ve all but replicated that test this year, only this time around supplanted the supersport models for their equally entertaining naked-bike counterparts, the Triumph Street Triple R and Ducati Streetfighter 848? Hint: we don’t believe in coincidences.
The Street Triple’s and Streetfighter’s design briefs meant that this year’s twin vs. triple test would invariably differ from last year’s up-spec middleweight comparison. The track was bypassed, for example (although after testing both these models in myriad conditions, we’ll agree that they’d hold their own on any roadcourse), and instead of the usual day ride through the canyons we opted for an overnight ride to Morro Bay, CA. Both the Triumph and Ducati are intended to be versatile — to play the role of two, maybe three bikes — and what better way to find out which manufacturer designed the better naked bike than to invite both on an all-encompassing 500-mile roadtrip? Whichever bike we could still manage to enjoy by the end of the adventure would surely be the better option.
Some of you may be noting that we chose to compare the up-spec version of the Triumph Street Triple instead of the standard model. There are two reasons why we’ve decided to do this: one, the $9999 R model is just $600 more expensive than the standard model, thus we figure the majority of people interested in the Triumph will automatically opt for the R model, which is equipped with fully adjustable suspension and stronger brakes that, quite frankly, are worth in excess of $600. What’s more, the Street Triple R, even with its higher price tag, is still $3296 cheaper than the $13,295 Ducati, thus there are no reasons to exclude the R model from a cost point of view. For those of you who are more interested in the standard model, we’ve included a first-ride review on that bike, which can be found on page 44.
MV Agusta aficionados will also notice that this test is minus an MV Agusta Brutale 675, which we would have loved to include in this comparison, but were unable to procure prior to our ride. Keep your eyes peeled for a separate review on that model in the coming months.
Anyone who argues that the Ducati isn’t an absolutely gorgeous motorcycle should probably have their eyes checked. Some of our testers preferred the Streetfighter 848 for its looks alone.
The Streetfighter 848’s Marzocchi...
The Streetfighter 848’s Marzocchi fork has softer damping rates than the no-longer-available Streetfighter 1098 and is much more capable than the Triumph’s fully adjustable Kayaba unit. Brembo brakes have great power, but a stiff lever makes consistent use a practice in endurance.
2013 Ducati Streetfighter 848
|+ Unparalleled styling
|+ Composed, well-damped suspension
|– Uncomfortably firm seat
|– Frustrating dip in power around 3500 rpm
|– Clunky transmission
|x This Streetfighter is as viscerally exciting as it is stylish
|Suggested Suspension Settings
|Front: Spring preload — 2 turns in from full soft; rebound damping — 3 turns out from full stiff; compression damping — 1.5 turns out from full stiff; ride height — 2mm showing above top triple clamp
|Rear: Spring preload — 15mm thread showing; rebound damping — 2 turns out from full stiff; compression damping — 1.5 turns out from full stiff
The Ducati Streetfighter 848, which was featured in a first-ride report a little over a year ago (“A Tamed Fighter,” January ’12), is intended to be a less aggressive, more user-friendly naked bike than its brawny predecessors, the Streetfighter 1098 and Streetfighter S. Interestingly enough, for 2013 it will carry the Streetfighter flag alone, as Ducati has decided to no longer sell either of the larger-displacement models.
A longer reach to the Ducati’s...
A longer reach to the Ducati’s handlebar in addition to a .7-inch-taller seat (when compared to the Triumph’s saddle) leaves the rider splayed out over the tank. Mirrors are more adjustable than the Triumph’s but not great. The digital gauge is small, but was favored by the majority of our test riders.
Aside from its striking looks, the middleweight Streetfighter has little in common with its extinct kin. Showa suspension has been jettisoned for Marzocchi and Sachs components, for instance, and the bigger bike’s arm-stretching engine has been replaced by a less-intimidating Testastretta 11° mill. Actually, scratch the words less-intimidating, as that’s hardly a proper description for a middleweight engine that still produces 112.9 horsepower at 9900 rpm and 60.5 foot-pounds of torque at 9500 rpm. The lively twin covers the quarter mile in 10.72 seconds at 129 mph. The Street Triple R, for comparison, covers the same distance in 11.13 seconds at 124 mph.
The Ducati’s power advantages in this comparison are unfortunately curtailed by its heft; the overweight, 443-pound Fighter is an unimpressive 30 pounds heavier than the 413-pound Street Triple R. The difference isn’t well concealed either, and can be felt the second you throw a leg over the pudgy supermodel. The bike’s also got a tall six gear, either for improved fuel economy, engine longevity or reduced vibrations at highway speeds, which hurt it in our roll on tests; it went from 80-100 mph in an elongated 4.91 seconds, whereas the Triumph covered the same gap in just 3.93 seconds.