Need to inspect your front tire? Just lean forward half an inch and look down over the Streetfighter’s little instrument panel. Thar she blows. Looks fine. The Triumph Street Triple R may be 2.4 inches shorter of wheelbase and 23 pounds lighter, but I think I feel even more forward, perched atop and in control of the Streetfighter.
“Street-going dirtbike” is the cliché, and in the SFighter’s case, it fits—except I can touch the ground. This one’s really skinny between the thighs in the way only a V-Twin or Single can be, and its instant thrust and Ducati bark reinforce the off-road motif. Then there’s the tapered aluminum handlebar. And though you don’t get the Öhlins suspension with this $6K-cheaper small Streetfighter, the 848’s Marzocchi/Sachs combo feels a tad softer and longer-travel than the $18,995 Streetfighter S model’s expensive stuff. For streetfighting with potholes, bumps and assorted detritus, this seems like a reasonably good compromise, though the S-bike provides superior wheel control when the mission switches to serious high-speed sporty riding.
You also don’t get the 140.2 horsepower at 9800 rpm the Streetfighter S spat out in our July issue, but you do get 115.1 at 10,240, along with a four-tooth-bigger rear sprocket that keeps you in the meaty part of the 848’s powerband pretty much 24/7. With a stroke 3.5mm shorter than the 1099cc engine’s, the 848 is a happy little revver that also pulls smoothly from idle, thanks to it being one of Ducati’s 11-degree overlap engines. In exchange for not having your sleeves stretched from every stop, you get to sample the sonic sweetness that is the Ducati Twin midrange way more often. Riding a 418-pound bike, there are few times when the 848’s 60.3 foot-pounds of torque doesn’t feel like more than enough.
More economizing takes place in the wheel and brake departments: The S model’s forged five-spoke wheels and gold Brembo Monobloc front calipers shave a couple of pounds and provide a level of braking feel you may not appreciate on your way to Bingo night. About 99 percent of the time, though, the 848 is just as fabulous a motorcycle to ride: quick steering, light handling, bump absorbing and, yes, even comfortable and ergonomically feasible up to speeds way past legal. Everybody who rides it gets behind this one’s handlebar bend and height, and loves its steering feel compared to the S model (which has different rake and trail numbers). And though the seat is not thick, it is shaped like a human buttocks. Our only complaint is that the exhaust shield on the right still kicks your right heel out a little—not as bad as on older Monsters, but just enough to bug some people with big feet.
Speaking of Monsters, this smaller, dohc Streetfighter may have just replaced the sohc 1100 Monster EVO as our favorite streetgoing Ducati. The 848 does everything a little better and feels a little better doing it. It also looks Italo-snazzy for being a naked liquid-cooled bike (and unlike the Panigale, has its heat under control), and, ahhh, it’s only a thousand bucks more than the 1100. It even has 15,000-mile valve-adjust intervals.
In Anglo-Italian, this is one very nice-a bike.
• Sporty-yet-kind suspension
• A seat that seems to sense you like pasta, no?
• Tasty, artisinal componentry throughout
• Low pounds-of-motorcycle-per-$$$ ratio—oh, that’s an Up…
• Makes everything else you own look tasteless and cheap
• Strada Combat-tente sounds better
|Dry weight:||418 lb.|
|Seat height:||33.0 in.|
|Fuel mileage:||37 mpg|
|0-60 mph:||2.9 sec.|
|1/4-mile:||10.94 sec. @ 125.58 mph|
|Top speed:||143 mph|
|Horsepower:||115.1 hp @ 10,240 rpm|
|Torque:||60.3 ft.-lb. @ 9200 rpm|