2009 Ducati Streetfighter S Review – Review of the 2009 Ducati Streetfighter S

26 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Ducati Streetfighter S Review – Review of the 2009 Ducati Streetfighter S
Ducati 999 S

Raw, Naked Superbike Seeks (Well-Heeled) Willing and Able Riders

The Ducati 1098 was a seriously focused sportbike before it was succeeded by the even more formidable 1198, but for many riders both fully-faired sportbikes (and even the smaller 848 are too extreme for daily use.

Enter the 1098-based Streetfighter. Priced at $14,995 for the base model and $18,995 for the ‘S’ version, this naked bike departs from its more aggressive counterparts in a number of crucial ways.

The Goods: Less Bodywork is More

Weight is everything with sportbikes, and both Streetfighter models are real featherweights: 373 lbs dry for the base model, and 368 lbs for the ‘S’ model. Our test bike was an ‘S’ version, and its weight savings come primarily from its 5-spoke forged and machined Marchesini wheels. Both models get massive, radially mounted dual disc 4-piston 330mm Brembo monoblocs. and the S features -hlins suspension components, front and rear.

The ‘S’ forks are 43mm Superbike-spec units with low-friction TiN coating, and the rear unit is also fully adjustable. The Streetfighter’s single-sided aluminum swingarm is longer than the 1198’s, offering more stability, less tendency to wheelie, and a longer overall length. Just above the rear wheel is a cannon-like duo of exhaust cans. which are polished black in the ‘S’ version.

The premium model also gets various carbon bits, including these engine covers. The 1099cc L-twin employs lighter cases from the 1198, and puts out 155 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque– each figure is five clicks less than the 1098, due to a different intake length.

The ‘S’ package also gets the Ducati Data Acquisition system, which can download performance info to a PC. But the most notable addition to the premium model is Ducati’s Dynamic Traction Control, which can be set to one of eight levels (or switched off entirely.) The system senses the difference between front and rear wheel speeds, using lean angle to calculate how much wheelspin is permissible before retarding engine ignition. And hooligans rest easy: DTC allows burnouts and wheelies. woo hoo!

Swing a Leg Over: Lean and Mean

Photo © Basem Wasef

Where Ducati superbikes like the 1198 or 848 have unforgiving ergonomics, the Streetfighter is more accommodating– kind of like a slightly more aggressive version of the surprisingly uprightHypermotard. The Streetfighter’s 33 inch seat height is relatively tall, but the narrow saddle actually makes it feel lower, since it enables your legs to extend further down to the pavement.

Fire up the L-twin and, after a couple seconds of cranking, the engine spits to life with a distinctly Italian chatter. The rattle of dry clutch resonates at certain rpms, and twisting the throttle amplifies the exhaust note considerably. Lift your leg up onto the pegs, and they get folded into a fairly aggressive bend. Weirdly, the bike is so slim that your legs become practically parallel when tucked against the tank.

The feeling makes you almost wonder where they hid the engine.

From the saddle, the view across the tank reveals almost nothing extraneous: a steering damper, the small digital instrument pod. fluid reservoirs, and mirrors. The Streetfighter’s cockpit view is even more sparse than that of the Hypermotard. which says a lot.

On the Road: Easy to Ride. Fast!

Though the Streetfighter’s riding posture is pitched somewhat forward, it’s comfortable enough for prolonged rides. Once you let out the hydraulic clutch, the rush of forward momentum hardly makes it feel like you’re missing out on speed. Gears engage with light left foot effort (though some false neutrals can be hit in higher cogs), and aggressive engine revving produces significantly less front wheel lift than in the 1098 .

Ducati 999 S
Ducati 999 S

But the real kicker is what happens when the road bends: the Streetfighter S turns in so willingly, it’s easy to forget you’re on a bike with a 1099cc engine. Direction changes are accurate and immediate, and adjustable with minimal effort throughout the turn-in/apex/exit process. On-road riding doesn’t present many opportunities to trigger the traction control system, but I did sense acceleration gently holding back during one particular turn.

It was nonetheless reassuring to know the system was there when I hit a stretch of wet pavement, especially with a torquey, 155 horsepower twin directing power to that tiny contact patch at the rear.

Equally impressive are the Streetfighter’s brakes; the huge Brembos have enormous bite, and feel is excellent at the lever. The ride is responsive but not punishing, aided no doubt by the ‘S’ model’s lower unsprung weight.

Though the Streetfighter feels confidence inspiring since the wide handlebars can be leveraged more easily than a low-slung superbike, the tradeoff of not having a fairing or windscreen is the constant blast of air, which is especially noticeable at higher speeds.

The Bottom Line: Loads of Fun, Tons of Performance. and Quite a Few Dollars

Photo © Basem Wasef

My week with the Ducati Streetfighter S downright spoiled me; after nearly 400 miles of enthusiastic riding, I quickly became accustomed to its ease of use, effortless speed, and incredible agility. Priced thousands less than its superbike stablemates, the Streetfighter wins on several levels. It’s lighter and easier to ride fast (though it’s got ten less horsepower than the 1198), and the entire package is far more comfortable for day to day use.

But there’s the rub: starting at 15 grand and leaping to 19 grand for the ‘S’ model, the Streetfighter is a pricey proposition that’s out of reach for many riders. Sure, it performs with a look, feel, and character that’s sexier than its Japanese competition, but sensible shoppers will find it hard to justify this premium product when so many other bikes perform so well. on paper.

If money is no object, the Streetfighter is a no brainer. But if money is a consideration– as it is for most folks– there’s consolation in the fact that these bikes will inevitably become available on the used market for significantly less dough. Until then, the Ducati Streetfighter combines incredible performance with everyday usability– and that’s enough to keep us dreaming.

Ducati 999 S
Ducati 999 S
Ducati 999 S

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