Ridden: Ducati Streefighter 848 – grab it while you can

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews' started by Simon, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. Simon

    Simon Professional storyteller
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    Mar 25, 2015
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    The news coming from Ducati is that one of their most capable road bikes is living on borrowed time.

    The Streetfighter 848 has never been a massive seller and Ducati sources have indicated that it won’t be getting the 899cc Superquadro engine found on the baby Panigale – which means that this year is likely to be its last in the Ducati line-up.

    And that’s a shame, as the Streetfighter’s combination of high-performance 849cc V-twin and sportsbike chassis make this a real weapon on everyday roads.

    The Testastretta engine feels punchy – it punts out 132bhp and 69 lb.ft of torque, and uses an 11-degree camshaft, the same as used on the Diavel, to help the engine make plenty of accessible torque in the lower rev range, thus making the bike easier to ride, especially in town.

    The bike also features an eight-stage traction control system, a single-sided swingarm, Brembo radial calipers, fully adjustable Marzocchi USD front forks and Sachs rear shock, and it comes wired up ready to play with a basic data-acquisition (DDA) system to read throttle position, revs, speed, gear selection etc. It also comes with the plumbing in place to accept a Ducati Performance accessory quickshifter.

    Despite its lack of fairings, the Streetfighter 848 feels very much like a sportsbike, and it shines on twisty B-roads. Handling and steering are accurate and predictable, quickly inspiring confidence, and the fuelling is perfect. There’s no lumpiness, and the torque really stands out – there’s no lag at all.

    Ducati have given the Streetfighter 848 a 180/60 section rear tyre to create a larger contact patch, and it gives plenty of feedback, flicking into corners with ease and feeling planted and well-mannered. And all that torque delivers impressive drive through and out of the corners. This is a bike that guarantees big grins while letting you push harder and harder without ever feeling out of control.

    It’s comfortable too. The flattish, wide single-piece bars have been raised by 20mm over the previous model, and that’s made a huge difference; the riding position feels much more upright meaning arms no longer feel stretched – I took the bike on a 500-plus round trip to Wales and there were no aches or pains or tired wrists – even when cruising on the motorway. The suspension also feels a lot more real-world usable, especially compared with the 848 Evo’s – yes it’s still on the firm side, but it’s not so firm as to be uncomfortable, only feeling flustered on really bumpy surfaces.

    And should things ever threaten to get out of hand the Brembo radial calipers quickly bring things to a standstill without the slightest hint of grab. Yes, they have plenty of bite, but they lack the viscousness associated with the Mono Bloc brakes fitted to Ducati’s superbikes.

    So it’s entertaining enough on the road, but the Streetfighter 848 also gets under your skin when you’re off the bike. The styling looks mean without looking menacing, purposeful while still looking exotic. It’s nicely finished too and the attention to detail is exquisite.

    The only downsides to the bike are the 16.5-litre tank, which means you’ll be hunting for a petrol station all too soon, and the lack of ABS, which isn’t available even as an option.

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