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This Is What Happens When You Spare No Expense On A Ducati Streetfighter V4

Admit it. You’ve shopped for a motorcycle before and have probably thought to yourself, “what if I checked every option off the list and put it on this bike?” It would be something, wouldn’t it? To have the ultimate version of a motorcycle is the kind of thing dreams are made of. Imagine a world where you spared no expense on your bike and slapped on only the best parts money could buy. Some of us are lucky enough to see that dream become reality. Others, meanwhile, think more modestly and are just happy with the bike we have.

This story isn’t about modesty. Nor is it about frugality. Not even close. This is a story about excess bordering on opulence. The subject? Ducati’s beastly Streetfighter V4. A wild bike to begin with, we’re obviously no stranger to the Streetfighter, having ridden the stock version before. But Ducati North America have taken a Streetfighter V4, opened up the accessories catalog, and basically said “One of each, please.” Behold the fruits of their labor. 

The Devil’s In The Details

I think I’m drawn to this bike because this Streetfighter doesn’t look much different from the standard bike. While some of the changes are more apparent than others, you have to look closely to notice everything. Then, of course, once you thumb the starter and bring this beast to life, it’s pretty clear this isn’t your standard ‘ol Streetfighter. Simply put, this is a Panigale V4R minus the bodywork and with a bigger engine.

It doesn’t look much different than the stock Streetfighter, until you look closer.

Let’s start with the easy stuff. The gold wheels are easy to spot with the naked eye. But these are not forged aluminum hoops, oh no – Marchesini came through with forged magnesium, resulting in a 33% weight savings over the standard Streetfighter’s wheels and a 10% reduction to the S model’s forged aluminum wheels. Not to mention, the gold accent to the black bike simply looks stunning.

Another obvious difference is the exhaust. Like the wheels, the full Akrapovic titanium racing exhaust is a visually stunning piece, made better by the fact it serves a functional purpose: to add power and lose weight. To that end, the exhaust combined with the supplied ECU map reportedly adds 6% more power to the already monstrous V4, all while losing 12 lbs (5.5 kg) from the stock exhaust system. When run on the JETT Tuning dyno, the Streetfighter laid down 189 horses to the back tire on pump gas. 

It’s a bit absurd to think a motorcycle can make nearly 200 hp and still be legal on the streets. Also, check out the squiggles near the top of the curve – that’s the tire slipping on the drum.

While this is no doubt an impressive number, it’s actually doing itself a disservice. Look closer to the upper regions of the run and you’ll see some wavy lines. This isn’t some weird fueling anomaly, this is the tire spinning on the dyno drum. Effectively, this bike should make even more power than we see here! Not that 189 horses are anything to sneeze at. We have to imagine a switch to race gas could see our trusty Streetfighter knock on the door of 200 horses!

Of course, getting that power to the ground requires as efficient a gearbox as possible. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Streetfighter’s standard wet clutch, but a high-performance Ducati without a dry clutch would simply be wrong, amirite? The folks at Ducati agree, and now one is fitted to this bike.

Dry clutch, anyone? If you peek beside the clutch, you’ll see the adjustable rearsets.

These three things alone are enough to completely transform the Streetfighter, but when we say the devil’s in the details, we’re talking about carbon fiber. Lots of carbon fiber. It’s basically everywhere, from the fuel tank insert to the gauge display cover, you’ll find the exotic material all over. The heel guards are carbon (but not the adjustable rearsets, thankfully. Those are aluminum), and the frame cover is carbon. Heck, even the accessory brake ducts are carbon. Oh, and the winglets? Those aren’t the standard winglets. They’ve been replaced by, you guessed it, carbon replacements. The list of add-ons extends even farther than this, but you get the picture. Add it all up and you’ve got a $40,000 Streetfighter V4 S – in just the wheels, exhaust, and dry clutch conversion alone!

Worth Every Penny

The sheer exhilaration of twisting the throttle wide open coming onto the NASCAR straight at Auto Club Speedway is what I imagine the emotion is like being a jet pilot. The sheer speed is one thing, but it’s the blast to your senses that makes it a whole-body experience. Pavement is rushing past at an insane clip, and the V4 roaring its ferocious bark through the Akrapovic exhaust is enough to get the heart pounding. The echoes as the sound bounces off the wall and back towards the pits even gets some innocent bystanders excited, too.

Photo: Caliphotography

From where I’m sitting, I’m feeling the 200-section rear Pirelli Supercorsa SP writhe and wriggle as it searches for traction, the dance continuing with each audible pop of a gear change with the quickshifter. The rear finally settles at the top of fourth, and it’s all I can do to get as low as possible and hang on. Two more upshifts and I’m wringing the Streetfighter for all she’s got, drafting behind a buddy (ironically enough on a Panigale V4R) to the tune of 177 mph before it’s time to shed speed for Turn 1.   

Another occasion, at Buttonwillow Raceway, this time wearing Pirelli’s Superbike slicks, the Streetfighter consistently paints black lines on the ground each time it’s asked to drive hard out of tight corners and onto long straights. It just begs to be wide open whenever possible. The engine likes to roar, and feeding gasoline down its muzzle keeps it happy.

It’s really impressive how easily this Streetfighter, with its magnesium wheels, flips from one side to the other. Photo: Caliphotography

Then again, I expected the bike to be ferocious and the engine to want to scream. I was more surprised by the magnesium wheels. It is simply effortless to change direction, which is helped by the wide bars providing plenty of leverage. Without any wind protection, you’d think this bike would be a handful at track speeds. The truth is it really isn’t. Of course, the lighter wheels also help in virtually every other performance aspect as well, but the ease by which I can flop from one side to the other is impressive – the hardest part is just hanging on leaned over and at high speeds. Despite wearing all of its street accoutrement, including the headlight, mirrors, turn indicators, and license plate, we still put down times that would have been competitive had we gone racing instead. 

This is the beauty of the Streetfighter, especially in its modified form you see here. It’s absolutely raucous. But after two days of going ‘round in circles at the track I don’t feel beat up. It wasn’t long ago when literbikes would leave me feeling wrecked by day’s end. Not here. Much of the credit goes to the electronics package. Ducati is arguably leading the pack when it comes to advancing electronics and rider aids on motorcycles, and the Panigale/Streetfighter platform is all the better for it. In this case, the Akrapovic exhaust also includes a new ECU map which, we’ve been told, actually limits peak power in the first four gears. Combine that with the torque limiting in the first three gears that comes with the standard mapping, and riding a bike with nearly 200 hp feels…easy. And make no mistake – it certainly is not slow.

Obligatory wheelie shot. Interestingly, the Ducati Wheelie Control was set at its lowest setting, and yet it made sure the front wheel didn’t get any higher than this. Photo: Caliphotography

Then again, this is a street bike after all. It’s even in its name. So, it deserves a romp on the roads. This is where things take a slightly different turn. The same outrageous qualities that make this Streetfighter a blast on track are the ones that make it obnoxious on the street. When the V4 comes to life, the Akra system does nothing to tame the loud roar. In fact, it does everything it can to make me the number one target of all my neighbors. Add in the clackety-clack rattling of the dry clutch, and the cacophony of engine sounds, and I’ve basically ensured I’m the most hated person in my neighborhood. Since I actually like my neighbors, I resorted to wheeling the bike halfway down my street before starting it and riding away. Still, the constant roar gets to be a bit much. Is this a sign of age-derived wisdom? Or am I just getting old? 

Akrapovic must be Slovenian for “loud.”

Leaving from a stop, you experience one of the other downsides from the dry clutch conversion – the heavy clutch pull. Strong fingers are needed here, but luckily the clutch is used so sparingly it’s not a big deal. Cruising around town, the thick, padded Ducati accessory seat is very nicely cushioned. With the upright bars and adjustable pegs at their lowest position, this little beast is actually a very comfortable place to be. Noise aside.

Once up in the hills, the same traits that made the bike such a blast on track come through again. It absolutely eats up curvy ribbons of pavement, and the dynamic suspension – one of the few stock, untouched pieces from the original Streetfighter – adjusted the ride quality on the fly about as well as I could ask for. No easy task considering SoCal’s horrible roads. The Streetfighter leaves its mark not only by making quick work of the twisty bits, but also by roaring its signature sound off the hillsides, ensuring casual onlookers on the other side of the hill hear the bike long after they’ve seen it.

The thing with the Streetfighter is it’s baffling how comfortable it is while totally destroying a canyon road.

To sum it up, it’s pervasive, obnoxious, and yet intoxicating all at the same time. If only there were a way to dial down the noise for those times when you didn’t want it. Otherwise, Ducati’s modified Streetfighter V4 S retains those traits I’ve liked about the standard bike. When you want it to be docile, it absolutely can be. However, if you want to wake up the beast, this rocket ship turns it up to 11.

And that’s the point, I suppose. Sheer brute force combined with a civility hiding within. It’s the embodiment of excess. Just make sure you have good earplugs.

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