It comes up quick and easy...
It comes up quick and easy on both ends due to the wild motor and even crazier brakes.
OK, so it's wicked fast, but we already knew that based on Dave's report from the track. What was most shocking was how the Streetfighter stops. I can say this with some certainty: The front brakes are probably too powerful for most people.
I had to learn the art of single-finger pressures really quickly, because not only would I immediately lift the rear wheel if I gave it a good old dual-digit tug, but I was also messing up my corner entry speeds on some very familiar backroads by simply slowing down too fast.
These will likely be the best brakes you've ever experienced if you can grasp the notion that less is more. The very idea that I found this out on the street means these binders would be all you could ever need for a trackday. Coincidentally that's where it would be a lot of fun to really use them to their potential.
On the downside was the suspension, namely the rear shock. Soft and supple is fine for a sport tourer, but when you mix the radical brakes and stonking motor to a wallowing rear it gets a little dicey-especially on bumpy roads where the Streetfighter gets upset in a hurry. The front's not immune to tank slappers either-don't let those wide bars fool you.
Another suspension gripe comes from the right-side footpeg, which is mostly useless because the big heat shield is in the way. It's hard to keep your foot where you want it, and if you're thinking about that you're not focused on the road. That could get ugly on something as mean at both ends as the Streetfighter.
It's so skinny between your legs (I have to: that's what she said-Ed.) it feels like you're riding a pedal bike, which is quite peculiar. You'd swear your knees could touch if you squeezed hard enough. And this adds to the bike's compact feel while heightening its performance perception. It seems lighter and more nimble than it really is, and that's the brilliance of its design.
Could I learn to love it? Hell yeah, but only after I shortened the bars, ditched the stock pipe/heat shield and sorted the rear suspension.
All bikes should be modded, but some need to be. The Streetfighter falls into the latter group because the overall package is hampered by some key flaws. Switching the pipes would unlock some sweet sounds, while changing the bars would also get it close to being the perfect bike.
It wheelies at will, stoppies with one finger and pulls more looks than a Lambo. It's not lust at first ride, but with time comes love. Now if only Ducati would give me one as a longtermer I could test my theory...
2009 Ducati Streetfighter
MSRP: $14,995 (base), $18,995 'S'
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1099cc four-stroke L-twin cylinder, Desmodromic valve
Horsepower: 155 HP at 9,500 PRM
Torque: 85 LB-FT at 9500 RPM
Curb Weight: 373 pounds (base), 368 pounds ('S' model)
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 Gallons