Ride Quality & Brakes
Sharing the Panigale V4 S’s Öhlins and Brembo Stylema calipers, the Streetfighter V4 S also uses the same lightweight (just 4kg) cast ali 'partial' frame that incorporates the engine as a stressed member.
The wheelbase is stretched slightly from 1469mm to 1488mm for stability, but its 24.5°/100mm rake/trail steering geometry remains. A new steel trellis subframe is used for its larger rider and pillion perches and the lower section of the fuel tank is modified to take the Streetfighter V4’s thicker seat.
Anyone who’s ridden the original Streetfighter will feel instantly at home when they hop on. With a seat 10mm taller than the superbike’s and lower pegs, you’re perched high, but slightly further back, so it isn’t as supermoto-extreme as before.
There’s lots of legroom, adjustable bars are wide, levers can be set just-so, the seat’s extra 60mm padding is a derriere’s dream and despite being canted forward, ready for action, your wrists don’t take a hammering, even after a day’s riding.
It’s the riding position Panigale V4 owners secretly dream of, but wind protection is non-existent. It’s fine up to motorway speeds, but beyond it’s hard to hang on for any length of time.
But the biggest surprise is that unlike Ducati’s super naked rivals the Streetfighter’s throttle isn’t an invisible winch-control for the front wheel. Electronics will stamp out a wheelie before its even started, but even when they’re turned off it isn’t the natural born mono-master you’d imagine.
Designed to go as fast as possible around a racetrack on two wheels, Ducati deliberately designed the Panigale V4 with a stable chassis and a counter rotating crank to prevent wheelies. With the Streetfighter V4’s wheelbase being longer still, you can even go full throttle through second gear and the front Pirelli stays pinned to the tarmac.
In fact, you almost need to trick the Streetfighter V4 S into a wheelie. You have to tease it up and dance around what almost seems like a secret layer of electronics that chime in if you clutch or pull-up too hard.
Its new wings also keep the front wheel down, produce extra stability under braking and draw heat away from the engine but only at racetrack speeds. Producing 28kg of downforce at 167mph, they’re sure to make the Ducati less flighty, flat-in-top over the hump at the end of Mugello’s start/finish straight, but on the road they do very little.
Exposed to the elements, the sensation of speed is sharper than its superbike sister, but the Streetfighter V4 S is just as well behaved in the bends. It never shakes or wallows - instead its electronic Öhlins glides over rippled road surfaces and while Brembos have the power to stop time itself, they’re never grabby or aggressive.
Sat higher and further back than a race replica, super nakeds never feel as planted at the front as a sportsbike into a corner. The Streetfighter doesn’t like being thrown hard on its side, but tease it in, loading those gold forks and Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyre and it rails through with the best.
With its rearset pegs ground clearance is never an issue and once you’ve tapped the throttle on the way out, you’d need to be doing something really silly to unstick the rear tyre on the road.
Put simply the Streetfighter V4 S is a Panigale V4 S in a short red dress and uses the same 1103cc Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, derived from the 2014 MotoGP Desmosedici GP14 racer.
Its twin-pulse firing order sounds more like a thudding V-twin than a howling V4, but the gaps between 'bangs' help the rear tyre scrabble for grip under load. It also features a counter-rotating crank that cancels out the gyro effect from its wheels, making the Streetfighter V4 S easier to turn, especially at high speed. It also keeps a lid on wheelies, stops the front pushing wide when you tap the throttle mid-corner and pulls the back wheel down under hard braking.
Mapped for more low-down shove, the Streetfighter V4 makes 70% of its torque between 4000-9000rpm and 90% from 9000-13,000rpm. Peak power is just 6bhp down on the Panigale V4’s and delivered 250rpm lower in the revs. Maximum torque is 1.5ftlb less, produced 1500rpm higher up the revs, but Ducati has shortened the overall gearing from the superbike’s 16/41 to 15/42, amounting to 10% more torque at the rear wheel.
Electronics are also the same as the superbike’s - traction control, ABS, quickshifter, suspension, anti-wheelie and engine braking control are all lean-sensitive.
It isn’t all crossed-up wheelies and skids because, like all of us the new Streetfighter V4 S has grown more mellow in its old age. Once you’re past the V-twin-like clatter at very low revs the V4 is tractable with a deliciously smooth and long spread of power. Slow speed throttle manners are a honeyed example of how ride-by-wire should be done.
Fans of the original will be pleased to hear the Streetfighter V4’s newfound civility is a mere side dish. It’s everything you’d imagine it would be with so much power pushing along 199kg of fully fuelled super naked (178kg dry, for what it’s worth).
It’s an unapologetic speed monster that won’t think twice about ripping your head off when you reach the naughty end of the tacho. Unleashing over 200bhp to the back wheel is an unrelenting assault on the body and mind, but even more impressive is the Ducati’s dark, pounding midrange.
By far the fastest and smoothest way to attack any corner is to go through a gear higher than seems right and ride the addictive wave of industrial Bologna torque, while your ears are treated to the kind of demented bumble bee bass that would make a superclub’s sub woofers sound tinny.
Riding it as Mr Domenicali intended, the Streetfighter V4 isn’t exactly frugal. We got just 27mpg during our test with the fuel light coming on around 60 miles. That’s a theoretical 95-mile range from its 16-litre tank but expect around 40mpg for more gentile riding – around our MCN250 test route the 2020 Ducati Panigale V4 returns 42mpg.
Build Quality & Reliability
As it’s basically, the same bike, minus the fairing, you have to look to the Panigale V4 S to see how the Streetfighter V4 S will stand the test of time.
Most owner reviews give five stars for reliability and build quality, but there are occasional blips with reports of minor electronics issues. The original 2018 Panigale V4 S also had its fair share of recalls in its first year of production, but that should mean that the problems have been ironed out by now.
Insurance, running costs & value
The Streetfighter is nearly five grand cheaper than a Panigale V4 S (2020 pricing), which is a relative bargain for what is a better riding experience on the road.
But it’s still a lot for a naked bike, whichever way you slice it and for the price you’d want its front mudguard, hugger, exhaust shroud and wings to be carbon fibre, not plastic and while there’s a heated grips button on the right switchgear, you have to pay extra for the actual grips themselves.
If the price of the top-spec Streetfighter V4 S is a step too far, there’s a base model costing just over two grand less. It’s 2kg heavier and has cast wheels, mechanically adjustable Showa Big Piston Forks and Sachs shock. If the Panigale V4 is anything to go by it won’t ride a million miles differently, but without semi-active damping the suspension will be a little firmer.
For that kind of money, you’re best off with a fully loaded (and slightly cheaper) Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory, or on a PCP deal (25% down, annual 4000 mileage over 36 months) the Streetfighter V4 S is only a few quid a month more than the base model.
If you’re feeling really flush you can supersize your Streetfighter V4 S with official accessories: carbon and billet ali goodies, single seat conversion, dry clutch, magnesium wheels, comfort and lower seats. Or there’s a full titanium Akrapovic race exhaust that boosts power to 217bhp and saves 5.5kg.
Insurance values will reflect its power and price, but despite its screaming, supersport-like 14,500rpm redline and 15,000rpm limiter, desmo service intervals are 15,000 miles, so it won’t cost as much to run as you think. But you’ll still need to see your Ducati dealer once a year for an oil change and check over.
In its transformation from Panigale V4 S to super naked it’s lost none of the superbike’s goodies and comes loaded with the kind of electronics the old 1099cc V-twin Streetfighter could have only dreamed of: slide, traction, wheelie, launch and engine braking control, three customisable riding modes (Street/Sport/ Race), cornering ABS, quickshifter, autoblipper and 'backing-in' control.
On top of all that, the LEDs, colour dash from the Panigale V4, fancy switchgear buttons and rear cylinders that cut at tickover to reduce heat under the seat, the S model also has semi-active Öhlins forks, steering damper and shock and Marchesini forged ali wheels.
Few machines look quite so purposeful in the flesh. It could easily be Dovi’s Desmo mid-strip and for the tiny amount of bodywork it has, it’s a riot of shiny blood red curves, creases, scoops, nips and tucks. Its stubby tail accentuates the size of its cartoon-ishly huge 200/60 rear tyre and even though you can see it with your own eyes, it’s hard or believe how they’ve squeezed that monstrous 1103cc V4 motor into such a tiny space between the wheels.
Faired-in to hide its wiring and connectors, Ducati’s second-generation 5" TFT colour dash is taken from the current Panigale V4 (and first seen on the Panigale V4 R). Crammed with functions the tacho pulses orange and red past 8000rpm.
Twin 330mm discs and Brembo four-piston Stylema monobloc radial calipers are coupled with the latest electronics. You can choose between full cornering ABS, front-only ABS, or front ABS with slide control that lets you hold a 'backing it in' drift when you hit the rear brake.
Like its superbike sister the rear Diablo Rosso Corsa II is a 200/60 x 17, the same bulbous size as Pirelli’s superbike slick. This fast road rubber works better in lower temperatures and last longer than the Panigale V4’s Super Corsa SPs.
The Öhlins NIX-30 43mm forks and TTX36 shock on the S model can be adjusted via the dash either like a virtual screwdriver to set damping control, or you can go semi-active and let the suspension change automatically depending on conditions.