It’s effectively a Panigale V2 with more forgiving ergos and a brutal, yet beautiful set of clothes.
Come to think of it, one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable motorcycles I rode last year was the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S – yes, even on our roads. But let’s face it, 208hp and a near-Rs 30 lakh on-road price are both in the domain of near unobtanium for most folks, and that’s why the Streetfighter V2 comes across as so appealing. It looks nearly identical, comes with a still awesome, but far more realistically usable 150hp and it will cost a whole lot less as well. Is it in reality the baby Streetfighter that perfects the ‘Fight Formula’, then?
A DIFFERENT THING
While the SF V2 may look nearly identical to the V4, it is actually a completely different motorcycle – just as the Panigale V2 is completely different to the Panigale V4. The obvious difference is in the engine, with the name giving away the fact that this bike has the 955cc L-twin engine from the Panigale V2 instead of a V4 motor. However, the chassis is also different, with the SF V2 running a monocoque-style chassis, a radical concept that debuted in the 1199 Panigale all the way back in 2012.
Given how dramatically different it is under the skin, Ducati has done a remarkable job with making it look just like its bigger brother. Aside from the different exhaust, lack of wings (which I like) and the slimmer 180/60 rear tyre, there’s very little to tell them apart at just a glance.
We got to spend only a few hours with the Streetfighter, much of which was in the pouring rain. Having just hopped off the DesertX with its muted motor, the first reaction to the SF was, ‘Oh yes! This is what a Ducati twin is supposed to feel like!” It’s loud, brash, revs to 11,000rpm and delivers a proper kick in the pants whenever you open the throttle.
Side-slung shock design harks back to the 1199 Panigale.
Within five minutes of riding, we found ourselves on some tight, winding roads outside Bologna, and strangely enough, the Streetfighter felt like more work than the DesertX. Seemingly small bumps were kicking me out of the seat and the steering was being affected by the road imperfections as well. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this and a quick inspection of the rear shocks on our bikes revealed that the preload was wound so tight that there was absolutely no free sag in the shock – ah, that explains it.
GETTING A MOVE ON
Adjusting the suspension (fully adjustable – Showa in the front and Sachs at the rear) on our road ride wasn’t an option, so it was just a matter of getting used to the rigidity in the motorcycle and getting on with it. And boy does this motorcycle get a move on. The engine feels a little gruff and clattery at very low revs, and in typical Ducati fashion, it wants nothing to do with life below 3,000rpm, but the ferocity that comes above that is addicting. With 153hp, it is about 2hp down on the Panigale, but is still a thoroughly rapid motorcycle. And to genuinely need any more power, you’d have to be on a large racetrack.
One of the neatest Euro-5 exhaust designs out there.
Like with the Panigale V2, the braking performance from the Brembo M4.32 calipers is very good, but you’d expect newer, more top-shelf hardware at this price. Electronics wise, it’s the usual Ducati story of many rider assists, with many of them tunable by multiple levels. Just like the Panigale V2, there are three riding modes, but where the Panigale V2 gets Race, Sport and Road, the SF V2 gets Sport, Road and Wet.
Panigale inspired TFT display is compact, but sharp.
A RIGHTEOUS FIGHT?
Our brief ride experience with the SF V2 in Italy reveals that it offers a remarkably similar experience to the Panigale V2, but with more comfort. It still feels very much like a rigid, racy machine, but with a more forgiving riding position that takes away much of the pain on the road. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like once we get the chance to dial some compliance into the suspension and ride it on our roads. There’s also the question of how hot it will get with that exhaust loop under the seat – my educated guess is ‘very’.
Sculpted seats looks like Panigale’s, but better padded.
The Streetfighter V2 has just been launched in India at Rs 17.25 lakh, ex-showroom – a good deal cheaper than the Panigale V2, which currently retails at a tear-inducing Rs 19.5 lakh, ex-showroom. That means the Streetfighter V2 will be more expensive than the likes of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and only a little more affordable than the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS. It simply cannot compete with either on paper, but we’ll see how it does in terms of usability, soul and sheer desirability once we get to ride it here.