The engine was running and sounding so sweet but I wasn’t really hearing it. I was balancing on tiptoes and concentrating hard on finding the clutch grip, opening the throttle slowly to move forwards. My thighs were gripping hard at the £18k machine as I pulled away gingerly from the forecourt at Ducati Manchester. Only a few hundred meters down the road I stopped at the petrol station to fuel up. I was forcing myself to breathe slowly as I dismounted the fierce-looking brand new Ducati Streetfighter V4 on patches of spilt fuel all over the ground.
Finally, I was riding free on a motorway and getting used to the bike. My breathing had settled and my mind no longer screamed at me to be careful. I’d started to settle into the bike, keeping it in ‘street mode’ as it was raining and paying attention to the average speed cameras and 50 mph speed limit. Eventually, I got bored and felt comfortable enough with the bike to travel home on the A Roads.
The first thing I noticed about the Streetfighter was how incredibly comfortable it is. The seat is so soft, with a fair bit of padding on it. The seating position is so natural and comfortable, upright with no stress on the knees or hips and definitely none on the wrists. The footpegs are positioned lower and slightly more forward than a typical sports bike which adds to the comfort. Over the next few days of riding the bike, I never felt any aches or pains which I often get, especially in my lower back. The seating position is very powerful, too! You are literally sitting on top of the bike with not much in front of you giving you the feeling of control. It definitely appealed to my inner hooligan!
The second thing I noticed was how good the mirrors are. No vibrating or shaking, which I am used to on my Supersport. They are big enough to see what is behind you and that gave me extra confidence that I was really aware of my surroundings.
This being a naked bike, you do feel it when you open the throttle, especially on the motorway. Granted, it is not the bike for motorway riding (is there one anyway?) and I have seen a couple of people fitting a small screen to the front so there is always an option to do that and save your chest from suffering too much.
It has a clever feature of the self-cancelling indicators that took me a while to ‘get’. Instinctively I cancelled them each time I took a turn then remembered I didn’t have to. After a few days of using the bike I got used to it and I must say, it’s a great feature. Never carry on riding down the road with the indicator still flashing and confusing the other road users.
The model I rode had the standard seat with room for a (very small) pillion. You can, of course, add the pillion seat cover in matching paintwork, which I think looks much better. You can remove the pillion seat with a key where you will find one allen key and a strap to go over the seat and acts as a pillion grab handle. Not much storage so don’t count on keeping your tools there. There is the trickle charger point built in under the seat, though.
The S version of the Streetfighter V4 costs around £2,000 more and for that, you get the Öhlins suspension and forged aluminium Marchesini wheels. Is it worth it? My dad always taught me when it comes to cars to always buy the top of the range if you can afford it for its resale value. It stuck with me so if I was on the market for one, I would have bought the S version.
I found the bike surprisingly high. Being 5’6” and a regular leg inseam of 30” I was on my tiptoes. There isn’t a ‘lowering kit’ available but you could change the rear shock with a shorter one if this is an issue.
The wings are a bit of a talking point amongst the bike enthusiasts and I must admit, they look better ‘in flesh’ than they do in the photos. They can’t be removed but trust me, once you see the bike you will grow to love them.
It is instantly apparent that the bike has bucketloads of power and to be honest, that frightened me a little in the beginning. With brand new tyres, 100 miles on the clock and a wet road surface I was taking my time until I reached Wales. By then the rain had stopped and I was on my familiar territory which meant I was ready for a bit of a play. The power delivery is almost instant and so fast that I literally got dizzy when I opened the throttle properly for the first time. Wow! It doesn’t feel aggressive until the revs pick up and the dash lights up orange. With 205 bhp it is almost double of my Supersport, and the power delivery at 4,000 rpm is only 70%, not that you’d really notice that on a normal road ride as it is plenty quick and torquey even at this level.
At the same time the Streetfighter is very smooth and in no rush at slow speed, bumbling along in slow traffic effortlessly. Although this is not its happy place!
Take it to a well maintained A road with smooth bends and the Streetfighter awakens the inner hooligan to match its fierce looks. It is unbelievable nimble and agile, so easy to guide around the corners. It almost guides itself around the bends, as if it doesn’t even need the rider! There is practically nothing to do for the rider but to lean in and enjoy the ride. The front wheel feels planted on the road and so stable even in wet. In fact, when my back wheel got caught on the mud that a tractor in front of me was happily depositing all over the road, I didn’t even flinch because the front wheel felt like it was glued to the road and carried on unperturbed, passing the tractor in super quick time, effortlessly without having to drop a gear.
I spent a couple of days riding different roads in Wales and each time I had a huge grin on my face. It doesn’t matter what surface or type of road I took the Streetfighter on, the ride always delivered fun, effortless riding and that feeling of confidence whilst at the same time making you very aware that if you get too cocky it’ll bite you in the arse.
The Streetfighter made me feel like I was Lispeth, the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the non-conformist, hacker and a badass woman, riding her motorcycle with the attitude, skill and speed to be reckoned with. In reality, I am more like her very distant cousin with contrasting blond hair, a tattoo of cherry blossom on my back, filing my taxes on time and a riding style that resembles that of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. None of that matters because the Streetfighter V4 delivered the dream I never knew I had. In fact, I am grinning now just remembering the fun I’ve had riding it.
Is it as good an allrounder as my Supersport? Close! If you travel light you can absolutely go on longer journeys if you don’t mind the regular fuel stops and you travel light. There is no petrol gauge more of a ‘panic light’ because when it comes on, you need the fuel pronto. It seems a bit extravagant to use it for commuting and whilst I haven’t tried it on a track, I suspect this is where it excels in ‘race mode’ and freedom to really use all of its power. For me? I would really, really, really like to have one for days out in Wales on those smooth roads, hugging the sweeping bends, flicking through the twisties and explore the ‘sport mode’ on the settings.
Reviewed for Superbike News on 25th March 2021 – https://superbike-news.co.uk/ducati-streetfighter-v4-review/