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Ductai Streetfighter S 2009

Future collectibles - Ducati Streetfighter series

from Motorcycle Trader mag #354 circa Nov 2019

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

Fighting Twins

Ducati’s Streetfighter obsession started way back in 2009. Are they worth buying now?

Ductai Streetfighter 2009

With the announcement in 2019 of a Ducati V4 Panigale-based Streetfighter line-up, you can expect interest in the original V-twins to be re-ignited. People who either don’t want or can’t afford the V4, but like the whole concept, will take a new interest in its predecessors.

Back in 2009, Ducati’s launch of the series made all sorts of sense. It filled in a niche between the Monsters and the pure sports models – essentially a ratbag version on steroids. Think Speed Triple out of Italy.

The designer put in charge of the project was a young chap called Damien Basset, who had worked in a more junior role on previous Ducatis, such as the Hypermotard and the Desmosedici.
It was Ducati CEO Claudio Domencali who is credited with spotting the niche for the Streetfighter, a project which was handed over to Basset.

In an interview with Faster & Faster on line, the latter revealed: “Due to time restrictions, we decided not to modify the 1098’s chassis, engine and airbox. It was clear to me from that point that the ’Fighter would be closely tied to the 1098. So, identifiable details and form language are directly drawn from the 1098, but proportions are clearly more aggressive and the lines are more directional. I also put it on steroids – more muscle. I really wanted it as the ‘pissed-off’ alternative!”

Pissed off? Yep, that kinda works – the first 1098 version had plenty of attitude. Described rather unkindly by a UK mag as looking like a crashed 1098, the whole concept was meant to be Ducati’s most powerful-ever naked bike, with a target weight of 160kg. The development team got close at a claimed dry weight of 167 for the S model (169 for the standard). However Basset declared that he would have liked to have produced a ‘director’s cut’ version with more exotic materials and hit that 160 number. It never happened, but that would have been a hell of a bike.

Okay, so what did we get? The engine was in fact a 1099cc variant of the just superseded 1098 Superbike powerplant, tuned for a claimed 155 horses (114kW) at 9500rpm. Peak torque of 115Nm chimed in at the same level, or 1000rpm short of redline. Most folk who rode with this engine variant rate it highly as a particularly user-friendly unit with super-accurate fueling.

Well, when we say user-friendly, keep in mind we’re talking a whole lot of horsepower tied to a very light and compact piece of machinery, so ‘friendly’ might be a relative term. It did in fact launch as if all kinds of hell were on its tail.

When it came to the chassis, the front end was raked out and the swingarm extended 35mm for additional stability and less twitchy turn-in. Suspension was Showa or Ohlins, depending on which variant you stumped up for, with Ohlins fitted to the more exotic S. Both sets of suspension were rated highly by users. Both had full adjustment. You also scored a steering damper.

Braking was, of course, by Brembo. Up front you got twin 330mm discs with monobloc calipers – good gear. The rear brake was a typically wooden single disc.

Where the models diverged was in wheels and electronics. The S version scored lighter wheels and, more importantly, Ducati’s sophisticated traction control system that first appeared on the exotic 1098R.

Ductai Streetfighter 2009

How much? Ah, that might be what kept sales down to just above flat-lining. As much as everyone liked the machine, the $26,000 (on the road) for the standard was a big ask, and the $32,000 for the S (pictured) was downright daunting. In both cases, it was a lot of money for a naked bike.

Price aside, there was no question these things were a head-spinning ride. They were fast and very competent, though you had to treat that throttle with a great deal of respect. The combination of good suspension and big wide handlebars was confidence inspiring.

In the end, the 1099 was produced for just four years – 2009 to 2012.

However the whole concept got a major boost with the 2011 launch of the Streetfighter 848 (actually 849). Very similar in design to its bigger brother, this bike got a very different response. It was enthusiastically described by one reviewer as being a baby Streetfighter that could “smile like your nan and punches like a pub doorman”.

This shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise. For generations of Ducati sports bikes, the mid-sized 748s, 848s and so-on have consistently been described as a sweeter ride than their bigger cousins. It’s simple physics at work – sometimes middleweights work a whole lot better.

Where the praise for the big Streetfighter was high but qualified by its potential to toss you into the weeds, the middleweight was universally loved by reviewers. Probably the most accurate comment I’ve come across is how that variant flattered your riding.

One of the big wins for this model was the stocker scored the high end traction control, then promoted as being exactly the same as what you got with the 1198SP performance flagship.

While much of the engine was lifted straight from the 848 EVO, there were some subtle tuning alterations, effectively using the same set-up as for the Multistrada and Diavel.

Now before you go away thinking the 848 was a bit of a limp-wristed thing, it did in fact claim 132 horses (97kW) at 10,000rpm and 94Nm at 9500rpm. Given it weighed the same 169 as the stock big brother, that was more than sufficient to make it a serious performer. It too had a relatively short production timeline, finishing in 2015.

Perhaps more critically, pricing pulled back significantly. On the road, you were looking a more like $20,500. That made it far better value than the big boys, since in real world terms it was just as quick – you really needed a racetrack to stretch the legs of the 1098.

So what are they like as a second-hand proposition? Servicing is everything on these things, so some evidence of regular care and feeding is important. Also, keep in mind that a big service – desmodromics etc – is going to produce a big bill.

Where you go from there will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. If your priority is nailing a future collectible, your first choice should be the 1098 Streetfighter S. I reckon all these things will, eventually, gain collectible status. Up close they reveal a lot of appealing design detail.

So, how much? Owners of good Streetfighter S models are asking mid-teens through to $20,000. Standard models and 848s (which are plentiful) start at around $10k and climb to the mid-teens.

For me, if I was going to all that trouble, I reckon it would be the S, even though the middleweight is a better ride. In any case, if the whole idea of a sharp and thoroughly entertaining naked bike appeals, and you like your ratbag to speak Italian, the Streetfighter twins are the go.

Ductai Streetfighter 2009

Likes
Great fun
Light
Feisty

Not so much
Maintenance bills

SPECS:
Ducati 1198 Streetfighter S

ENGINE:

TYPE: Liquid-cooled, four-valves-per-cylinder, 90-degree V-twin
CAPACITY: 1099cc

BORE & STROKE: 104 x 64.7mm

COMPRESSION RATIO: 12.4:1

FUEL SYSTEM: Marelli EFI
TRANSMISSION:

TYPE: Six-speed, constant-mesh, 

FINAL DRIVE: Chain
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:

FRAME TYPE: Steel trellis

FRONT SUSPENSION: USD Ohlins telescopic fork, 43mm, full adjustment
REAR SUSPENSION: Monoshock, Ohlins, full adjustment 

FRONT BRAKE: 330mm discs with four-piston Brembo monobloc

REAR BRAKE: 245mm disc with two-piston caliper
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:

WEIGHT: 167kg
dry/197kg wet
SEAT HEIGHT: 840mm

WHEELBASE: 1475mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 16.5L

TYRES:
FRONT: 130/70-18
REAR: 240/40-18

PERFORMANCE:

POWER: 98kW @ 10,000rpm

TORQUE: 100Nm @ 9000rpm

OTHER STUFF:
PRICE $18,990 on the road
WARRANTY 2 years unlimited km

 

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