The chassis is good, letting you get into a corner hot, using the fiercest road bike brakes in production to get the front-end nailed to the track, giving it a chance to overcome the slight pogo suspension before you dial in maximum lean. Which on the track means dragging the oil/water cooler on both sides, though if you did this on the road you deserve to make friends with whatever hedge you find yourself nestled in next. But while the chassis is good, the engine is a bit of a let-down.
Say the name Streetfighter and you expect it to fight its way off a low-speed turn, wheel in the air, struggling for grip. But it’s all a bit too EU-sanitised. It’s noisy alright, with bigger bore pipes than the 1098, and it’s just 5bhp down on that bike thanks to a more restrictive air assembly, but it just hasn’t got the bottom end bite to match its name. The anti-spin traction control numbs the fun (it is adjustable), and the engine just doesn’t bite off the bottom the way you’d dream a 1098 motor would.
It’s definitely not the low-down grunt fiend we all expected, but is a very capable motorcycle that makes a Honda CB1000R look like a soft lad’s bike and would give a Speed Triple a run for its money. It hasn’t got the grunt off the bottom end to match a KTM, but at higher revs the Ducati will undoubtedly clear off.
On the throttle the fuelling is perfect. Clean delivery, no hesitations, and every millimetre of twist being dialled into the rear tyre. But it takes a bit of revving, and that’s a real surprise. Maximum torque is at 9500rpm, the same place that it makes maximum power, which means you have to rev it to really ride it. On the road, that won’t be much of a problem, but why Ducati didn’t change the power characteristics beats me. One theory is that the bike would almost be too grunty and then it would run wide in corners, the other is the cost associated with redeveloping the engine from scratch. There’s plenty of power available from 7000rpm but it’s in a much narrower window than you would expect with a bike of this kind, eventually bouncing off the limiter at 10,250rpm in a blur of LED dash.
It’s well made and uses some of the best quality components fitted to a naked bike. It’s the pimp daddy of naked bikes with stuff that wouldn’t look out of place coming out of a BSB paddock. Lashings of carbon fibre, Ohlins suspension, Marchesini wheels, full race-spec Brembo brakes and that deep red paint all look like a bike that will last the distance. What we’re not so sure about is the unfinished look with pipes and wires sticking out and a it looks like it could be a nightmare to clean.
It’s a mental road bike but perhaps just a bit too mad for most of the time. But if you want a sports bike but don’t want to feel like you’re riding everywhere at 130mph this could be the bike, as by that speed it’s tearing your lid off. If money was no object though we’d have one of these every time. But more realistically we'd buy the standard bike and go through the parts catalogue. Find a Ducati Streetfighter S for sale.
This bike is all about attitude and it has tons of it. We still can’t get away from the fact that it looks like a 1098 that has been crashed and squashed. But spend some time with it, look past the ugly black rubber pipes and see the thing as a whole and it starts to make sense. Take in the stance, the Audi-style LED headlight (a first for the motorcycle world), the bronze frame and wheels (the standard bike has a black frame), those fat twin exhausts and the most incredible brakes yet fitted to a road bike – the 1098-spec Monobloc four-piston Brembo calipers.