MCN Fleet: The Scenic Way Down on the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S
When I had to go to Scotland recently to undertake the very difficult task of testing three Ducati Superleggeras and a Desmosedici RR (yes, I know…) it was a good excuse to take my Streetfighter V4 S on its first long run.
I had to abandon any thoughts of riding to European over the summer, but I love a big trip, so I sling on my rucksack, pack my Ducati Performance tank bag (actually from my old 2018 Panigale V4 S long termer) and head north. I have to be at Knockhill to meet Ducati Glasgow by 3pm, so it’s a motorway slog all the way.
More long-term tests
- Ducati Streetfighter V4 S heads to Scotland
- KTM 1290 Super Duke GT gets luggage
- Honda Fireblade SP hits Silverstone
The journey becomes less pleasant as warm September sunshine evaporates into February-esque gloom the further north I go and after eight hours of sustained wind and cold on an exposed naked, I wish the Ducati at least had heated grips and cruise control.
I’m knackered by the time I get to the track, but like a trouper I steal a few laps to figure out which way the circuit goes before riding the 'special ones (check out the Oct 21 issue of MCN and the video on our YouTube channel below). Suddenly 205bhp, a superbike chassis and Pirelli Super Corsa SPs has become the best thing in the world.
First road trip in a while. Stopping off to take in the sights and a sandwich at a disused Travelodge car Park in Edinburgh. pic.twitter.com/HgOr3VTkqu— Michael Neeves (@Neevesy33) September 10, 2020
With our test done and no rush to be anywhere there’s no way I’m going to endure the motorway all the way home, so I head south via a favourite road-testing route: the A72 and A701 between Edinburgh and Moffat.
Flowing through the blustery, open picture postcard valleys and scratching through the twiddly bits, it’s actually nicer to be on a comfy super naked after cramped, stiff, wrist-crunching exotica. Life is so good I nearly turn back to do it again, but it’s too cold and I’m a wuss.
After a pitstop in Moffat it’s back on the motorway where the temperature gradually creeps back up from its 11-degree low. At the next services I realise I’ve lost my wallet, but a very kind lady called Sarah has found it back in Moffat and figured out my phone number to contact me.
A 120-mile round trip later to retrieve it (a good job the Ducati has such a mean fuel range, or I’d have got even further away) and I’m back on track, getting warmer as the miles tick by - faith restored in humanity.
Update four: It's a Streetfighting Chameleon
Being able to change the way you bike rides and feels at the touch of a button is pretty common nowadays, thanks to the onset of modern electronics. But it really hit home just how many bikes in one my Streetfighter V4 S can be when I rode back from a Ducati trackday at Donington Park recently.
Hours earlier the suspension was stiff, the power razor sharp and the rider aids wound down. For six glorious sessions (and two tanks of fuel) the Streetfighter was a full-on superbike, albeit a naked one that was trying to separate my head from my shoulders every time we ripped down back straight at 160mph.
More long-term tests
- Riding to Scotland on the BMW F900XR TE
- Posh pipe dreamin' for the Royal Enfield Interceptor
- KTM 1290 Super Duke GT - the story so far
But for that slow, serene journey home you always have when you’ve blown your trackday beans the Ducati is now soft, cuddly and easy.
It wasn’t that long ago that If you wanted to alter your mapping, you’d have to visit a dyno and to adjust the suspension you’d need spanners, a screwdriver and half an idea of what you’re doing. But on the multi-adjustable Streetfigther all it takes is to scroll through the dash menus to transform it from everyday roadster to ludicrously fast superbike. It even has an on-board lap timer, so you don’t have to buy one of those, either.
From Redgate to Coppice the Streetfighter V4 S is sublime, but it lives up to its name trying to hang on to the damn thing down the back straight. Wings keep the front pinned, though. pic.twitter.com/cfjiT1zoRY— Michael Neeves (@Neevesy33) August 11, 2020
Then there’s the tyres. It comes on Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa IIs from the dealer, which are faultless, but I’ve gone even stickier with Super Corsa SPs. Again, all it takes is the simple act of letting air out of them and suddenly they’re road tyres that think they’re race rubber. 2000 miles later they’re still going strong.
I started my Donington day in Race mode. The way the power is delivered and how the suspension and electronics work is a marked difference to the more gentile Street and Sport, but the suspension is still a little bit soft for this track on grippy rubber.
The wheelie control is also too intrusive out of the slower corners, stifling acceleration and the ABS pulses into Redgate, Goddards and the Melbourne Loop. As the sessions unwind it’s just a case of diving back into the set-up menus to fine-tune the damping and electronics to let the Streetfighter shine.
Being a naked and sat so far away from the front wheel the Ducti isn’t as sharp into corners as a race rep with clip-ons, but it still doesn’t hang about. Do the wings work? Well, the Streetfighter barely wheelies over the lump in the back straight, letting you hold full throttle, so you’d have to say yes.
And then it’s time to head home, slip it back into Street mode and pump up the tyres, like nothing ever happened.
Update three: Sorry, how much? Exploring the costs of the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S
'My' Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is a technological masterpiece with huge power and wings. but costing £19,975 there’s no way I could actually afford one. Or could I?
Buying it outright would be out of the question and unless I lived in a cardboard box and ate cheap baked beans for three years, I couldn’t find £463.81 a month on a Ducati TriOptions HP deal, either.
More long-term tests
- First impressions of the BMW F900XR
- Posh pipe dreamin' for the Royal Enfield Interceptor
- Are the Yamaha Tenere 700's extras worth the extra cash?
But just £165 a month on PCP would be easier and I could sell my current bike to cover the £4986 deposit. But those figures are based on doing less than 4000 miles a year, which I’d struggle with, as would finding the £12,013 ‘balloon’ payment at the end to keep it, although I could hand it back and start again on another new bike.
£93 tax is always laughably cheap on big bikes, but we’ll keep quiet about that and insurance isn’t too expensive, either. If I were a 52-year-old chap living in West Sussex (which I’m not) I’m looking at £520.13 fully comp.
Parts costs aren’t too scary, either. If I were to drop it off its stand (which I have) and break the Brembo clutch lever (which I did), a replacement costs £81.94. If I were to break the wings (which I haven’t) the upper and lower ones would be £27.00 each, which isn’t bad and the only time you’ll be glad they’re plastic and not carbon fibre. A set of new tyres is around £300.
Spending between £15-£20 on fuel, depending on how far you’ve gone on its six-litre reserve will only get you around 85 miles until the light comes on again (even less on track), so it’s not exactly frugal, but servicing isn’t too lumpy.
Ducati superbikes have chains instead of belts now, so the first valve check service isn’t until 15,000 miles – longer than I’d have it for on that PCP deal. All I’d need to worry about is the annual oil change, check and software updates for around £160, which isn’t frightening given the MotoGP tech whizzing around inside the big V4. That same minor service is also due at 7500 miles. (Oh, by the way, that 15k service is a fruitier £508.40).
To own a slice of exotica like the Streetfitghter V4 S isn’t cheap, whichever way you slice it and it’s not supposed to be, but it’s not as outrageous, as you’d imagine, either. Could I afford one? No.
VIDEO: How does the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S compare to its rivals?
Update three: Streetfighting out of lockdown
Riding to Morrison’s for my shopping and the local farmer’s egg vending machine, was about as exciting as it got in the depths of lockdown. It’s not exactly what my Ducati Streetfighter V4 S was designed for, but for a naked superbike with 186bhp at the rear wheel and a 15,000rpm rev limiter, it was still happy to prowl the near-empty streets at 30mph.
As restrictions slowly eased, I braved the great outdoors and spooled-up more miles - enough for its 620-mile oil change service, which costs around £145. It’ll need that same service every 7500 miles or year, whichever comes first, but the big valve-checking 'Desmo' service isn’t until 15,000 miles and costs around 500 quid. That’s a long way off for any owner.
It’s also screamed its head off on the dyno and recorded the kind of insane power figure that would have kept a noughties BSB winner happy and an MSVT track evening at Brands. It’s the first time MCN has ridden the new Streetfighter on a circuit - Ducati cancelled its Ascari launch, just as the world’s wheels fell off.
The track evening was even slicker than in pre-Covid times with the signing on and briefing done online before you arrive. You still have to queue up for a wristband and to show your licence, but socially distant queues suit me. With the formalities done the fun part is the same as before and with just two groups and 20-minute sessions stretching from 5.30 and 8pm, MSVT spoil you with quality track time.
In fact, with the Ducati’s fuel light coming on after 48 miles - halfway through the third session, there was more play time than I had fuel for. To be fair, the light always seems to come on early (around 85 miles on the road) thanks to the tank’s six-litre reserve.
Its thirst is forgiven, when you discover it’s more than a match for a fully faired superbike at Brands and it’s a doddle to transform from mild-mannered naked to foaming at the mouth track weapon. Just select 'Race' mode to sharpen everything up from the power delivery to suspension and it never lacks anything in the brakes, handling or speed department.
It stays planted over front straight’s whoops at over 150mph, so the wings must be doing their bit and the standard Pirelli Rosso Corsa II rubber is impressive, too, especially with so much power on tap.
Back in 'Street' for the two hour each-way run to Brands the Streetfighter’s seat is as comfy as a tourer's and the riding position roomy, but on a long jaunt I wish it had a small screen (Ducati do one for £205.20) and cruise control.
Track pictures by MSV Photography
Update two: Your Ducati Streetfighter V4 S questions answered
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, we finally got our hands-on Ducati’s Streetfighter V4 S in mid-March and spent a day on the road, just before lockdown.
As you’d expect from a 205bhp super-naked with wild superbike blood coursing through its veins, it didn’t disappoint.
It’s proved to be our most popular review of 2020, and it’s also thrown up a number of new questions from our readers and website users. So here goes…
Related articles on MCN
Do the wings make a difference?
Ducati’s chief test rider Alessandro Valia told MCN that when they began the Streetfighter V4 project with a naked, straight-barred Panigale V4, it was unstable, bordering on unrideable.
They lengthened the swingarm, calmed the power and refined the electronics, but it was still an animal. He finally asked the engineers to try wings, so they plucked some off a V4 R: problem solved. They came up with the bi-plane design to suit its looks, which Valia says improves stability, not just flat-out but also on the road.
How can Ducati justify the price?
In ‘S’ spec, with electronic Öhlins and Marchesini forged ali wheels, it’s not cheap, especially when you compare it to BMW’s S1000R, which starts at just £11,570 in base trim. Is the Ducati worth the extra £8k? On the road all bikes with this amount of power are basically capable of covering distance at the same speed, so no.
But on track its superbike chassis and power advantage will see it creep ahead. Build quality, paint finish, attention to detail and equipment are also a class above.
Is it really more user friendly than a superbike on the road?
Yep. That’s the beauty of super nakeds like the new Streetfighter: they offer undiluted superbike performance and technology with an easier to live with riding position. The Streetfighter V4’s obvious comparison is with its Panigale V4 sister – a thing of aching beauty, aggression, immense power and presence, but its low clip-ons and hard seat turn a long journey into a feat of endurance.
The Panigale’s aerodynamics are also so effective there’s little impression of speed, even when you’re really motoring. The Streetfighter’s upright stance is far kinder to knees, wrists, back, neck and with no fairing to hide behind you there’s a more vivid sense of speed. So yes the new bike does work out to be a more rewarding experience on the roads and that’s not to say you won’t have big fun if you take it on track, too.
How does it compare to the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory?
The £17,199, 173bhp Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory has reigned supreme since its release five years ago, but the Streetfighter V4 S is up for the fight. Although pricier, the Ducati has a fresher design, is finished more luxuriously and has a clearer, more modern, easier to navigate dash.
It’s more powerful, too, so it’ll be hard to beat on track, but the Aprilia’s less spikey motor and more fluid handling should be friendlier on the road. It also has better wind protection, comes with cruise control and is blessed with one of the most evocative, wailing V4 soundtracks ever to grace a motorcycle.
Does it really not wheelie?
Unlike some rivals, the new Streetfighter V4 isn’t the natural born wheelie merchant you’d expect. It’s a deliberate ploy from Ducati to make a 205bhp naked less of a handful.
Of course, you can force it up, but even with its wheelie control disabled, you have to overcome its in-built mechanical and electronic anti-lift barriers: a long swingarm, wings, counter rotating crank and decreasing torque maps. Get it past that lot and it’s actually quite aggressive, so you’ll need to bring your wheelie A-game… and cover the back brake!
Update one: Streetfighter V4 promises marriage made in heaven
I’ve always loved the Ducati Streetfighter - crossed-up wheelies and superbike handling... What’s not to like? I also ran a Panigale V4 in 2018, which I loved but was so uncomfortable. That engine/chassis with a riding position you can live with must be a marriage made in heaven.
The rider Michael Neeves, Chief Road Tester, 50, 6ft. 34 years road riding. Racer, tester, tourer. Michael.email@example.com
Bike specs 1103cc | 205bhp | 199kg | 845mm seat