Ducati have had a string of hits recently with the new – generation Monster, the Multistrada and Diavel. But the original Streetfighter didn't match those models popularity despite the rave reviews that followed its unveiling at the Milan Motorshow three years ago. Its style and performance were unquestioned, but the 1099cc 157 horsepower eight-valve engine was too extreme and expensive for many potential buyers.
Enter the Ducati Streetfighter 848, designed to give the Italian boutique motorcycle manufacturer's naked eight-valve family a model that is more friendly to both rider and wallet. As the name suggests, this motorcycle essentially comprises the eight-valve engine from the Ducati 848 EVO in a Streetfighter chassis. It has the same style and level of technology as the original 'Fighter, but comes with a softer engine and suspension, more comfortable ergonomics and a lower price. That 849cc, DOHC, desmo engine is heavily based on the Ducati 848 EVO's powerplant, but incorporates some notable changes. New camshafts give less lift and duration; and this engine uses the narrower 11-degree valve angle (compared to 41 degrees of the Ducati 848 EVO), introduced with the Multistrada 1200, which is claimed to be smoother and more economical. The engine's internal layout is otherwise unchanged. The peak output is 134 horsepower at 10,000rpm, eight horsepower down of the Ducati 848 EVOś maximum, but with a corresponding gain in the mid-range.
Chassis changes start with the tubular steel frame, which has 24.5 degrees of rake, a degree steeper than the original model. Suspension is new, with Marzocchi forks and a Sachs shock replacing the original Showa units. Damping rates are lighter at both ends and the Ducati Streetfighter 848's shock spring is roughly 10 percent softer. This motorcycle also gets standard radial Brembo front calipers in place of the original Monoblocs.
Styling is essentially unchanged, although the Ducati Streetfighter 848 comes in yellow as well as red or black, and the shotgun exhaust silencers' brushed aluminum finish is also new.
One important difference was is clear, the Ducati Streetfighter 848, with the motorcycle's one-piece handlebar, is bent to put the grips 20mm higher.
The more upright riding position immediately felt good. With a bit less weight on the wrists, the Streetfighter felt nicely relaxed and natural. Its dry weight of 169kg equates to just under 200kg with fuel. Combined with the steeper geometry, that made it very manoeuvrable whether slicing through traffic of flicking into bends.