The wicked twin rumble and...
The wicked twin rumble and throaty gurgles on deceleration remind you how much the electric motor revolution is missing.
Torque in excess is a quick ticket to trouble in more ways than one. Take Ducati’s big boy 1099cc Streetfighter S; some would compare it to a bull stuck by a Matador’s spear—it kicks hard, grunts loud and would love nothing more than to throw you into a wall. Realizing that the word “streetfighter” shouldn’t infer that a bike continually hits the rider with “Oh sh*t” moments, Ducati created the tamed-down and brand new Streetfighter 848 for the mortal riders out there.
Do not get it twisted, though. The naked 848 is more than capable of whipping your helmet into your leather jacket’s speed hump above the 7,000 RPM mark. Ducati engineers raided the production line parts bin when developing a light at the bars bike that swings through the corners and punches into the straights. Street-savvy tech like the 8-level adjustable Ducati Traction Control and Brembo radial mounted 4-piston calipers inspire confidence on wet roads, and when stopped traffic jumps out and tries to tag you.
The SF 848 may share near identical looks to the dashing Streetfighter S but as the MSRP will tell you, they are not the same. The technical breakdown of what makes this new naked unique has already been covered in-depth by each moto-mag that went to last year’s Streetfighter 848 international press intro in Italy. A quick Google search for “first ride” or “review” of this bike will turn up a bevvy of facts like the millimeter differences in steering geometry that made it more agile than its bigger brother or the 20mm higher bars and 10mm wider footpegs that made it more comfortable for the street. That being said, we instead focused our time outside Palm Desert, California understanding what this bike meant for the average street rider—someone who has limited to no experience on a modern Ducati sportbike.
Big binders will haul you...
Big binders will haul you down from track speeds fast or save you from a texting motorist that swerves into your lane.
A day traversing mountainous terrain and freeway straights that led into town offered mixed emotions. Off idle, the 849.4cc Testastretta 11-degree L-Twin motor jolts forward and provides more than enough thrust for a speeding ticket especially after 7,500 RPM. For those who have ridden the faired 848 EVO, do not expect the same top end rip with the Streetfighter but instead a similar chassis that eats up curves and reacts harshly over road bumps. While the steering is light it isn’t as light as a Street Triple R for those that are familiar. Copious midrange makes darting around cars a simple toggle of the wrist. At a slower pace the power was easy to manage albeit punchy when trolling through town. When droning down the freeway expect bar vibration that we overlooked for the engine acoustics—windblast was what you’d expect without a windscreen but nothing to complain about under 80 MPH.
Helping put the ponies to the pavement is a wet clutch that feels heavy compared to Japanese supersports. It engages quickly and puts the torque to the road as fast as the DTC will allow. That brings us to the advanced traction control. At Level 8, it engages and harshly cuts acceleration on just about everything that isn’t sticky flat pavement as it’s designed for gravel or slick roads. Level 4 kept the front tire down more than we liked but was a safe bet in the twisties especially when there was road dust. The bike came alive when the system was off but you lose the safety net of torque control helpful when cracking the throttle out of a turn. We found our happy balance of control and fun factor at Level 2—wheelies are all part of the Streetfigther game and shouldn’t be restricted by a computer.
TC levels cannot be changed...
TC levels cannot be changed when rolling faster than 10 MPH for safety.
Flipping through the levels of DTC at an intersection stop was easy as the instrumentation is bright and rich with options. With the toggle switches, the rider has access to everything from air temperature readings, a lap timer, rev counter, DTC status and intervention light just to name a few.
Also helping the little fighter stay upright are extremely solid Brembo brakes and 320mm semi-floating discs up front. The bite comes on strong and does not let up until you do. They are no doubt designed for track use, which means they are awesome on the street. Completely capable for the everyday rider that has cash to spend the universal beauty of this bike is found when parked.
For many, the appeal of Ducati is the look. It’s that Hollywood factor and the Streetfighter 848 has it in spades. It strikes a balance between sophisticated lines and mechanized evil that can’t be argued with. It’s like trying to look away from a bikini-clad supermodel shoving an assault rifle into your face. Futuristic LED striped eyes floating against naked forks followed by a superbike shaped tail sum up this streetfighter. It is the combination of cutting-edge technology in a raw package that tries hard to keep the rider comfortable. The tech is there, the looks are obvious and the appeal for some is the throaty twin—in traffic it shutters for life but on the open road it is a lot of fun.
Black, red or yellow
Testastretta 11-degree, L-Twin cylinder, liquid cooled, 849.4cc
132 HP @ 69 LB-FT*