Ducati is to motorcycles as what Ferrari is to cars. Or at least that’s what we are led to believe. But is this true? Read on and find out.
Ducati is known for their V-twin Desmodromic engines that they’ve produced since the 1980s. The 1098cc V-twin desmo engine in this streetfighter is essentially the same but with a few modern upgrades. In case you’re wondering, a desmodromic engine utilizes two different camshaft profiles to open and close a single valve whereas in a normal engine, one camshaft profile and a spring are used to open and close one valve. Without getting into too much detail, the main advantage of this system is to prevent “valve float” at higher rpms. Back to the 1098 Streetfighter, this engine produces 155hp and 85 lb-ft of torque but unlike any other Japanese or European motorcycle, the power feels instant and unending. Above 4000 rpms, the acceleration is instantaneous and the engine does not hesitate one bit. It has so much power that as the rpms climb to the rev-limit of 11,000 rpms, it gets harder to stay on the bike if you’re not bracing yourself. The downfall to the V-twin is that below approximately 4000 rpms the engine is very jerky and it makes for very difficult slow speed maneuvering. Further adding to the difficulty of slow speed maneuvering is the clutch. The dry multi-plate clutch does not allow for a lot of slippage when setting off which in turn can cause stumbling or stalling off the line.
While slow speed maneuvering is a bit tricky, high speed maneuvering is very good. The V-twin engine layout makes for a narrow frame and allows the bike to transition from left to right very quickly. The suspension is a bit on the stiff side for daily city riding but for canyon carving it is set up to inspire confidence through corners. But by far the best handling feature of this bike are the Brembo monobloc calipers. They are powerful yet also precise and delicate to allow for modulation of the brake lever during braking.
A streetfighter layout is designed to be more ergonomically comfortable for the rider on the street, as the name implies. While this 1098 is more comfortable than other Ducati sportbike models, it is still considered an aggressive seating position when compared with its Japanese counterparts. It is not a fully upright riding position but a blend between sportbike and Japanese streetfighter. The foot pegs are positioned lower than on a sportbike but the taller seat position means that shorter riders will have difficulty reaching the ground with the heels of their feet. Also the vibrations from the engine get translated into the handle bars which can make for sore hands after a long period of time riding.
Odds and Ends
As streetfighters go this is one of the most beautiful on sale today. It has just enough bodywork to continue the lines from the front to the back and just the right amount of exposed drivetrain to keep wondering eyes interested. You can say that the back of the bike is the most interesting part due to the single sided swingarm and the large dual Termignoni exhaust mufflers. Speaking of the exhaust, it is by far the loudest I’ve ever heard on a motorcycle. It’s not so bad when riding the bike because the noise is behind you but when riding behind the bike in a group, it sounds and feels like the exhaust can start earthquakes.
So back to the original question, is a Ducati like a Ferrari? In many ways it is. They’re powerful, beautiful, expensive, and exotic machines but they are not vehicles that you’d want to use on a daily basis.
Thank you to the owner of this motorcycle for the opportunity to test ride it and photograph it.