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2012 Ducati 848 Streetfighter Review

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2012 Ducati 848 Streetfighter Review: What's New, Pussycat?
2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848

The 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848, also available in red and matte black.

Photo © Brian J. Nelson
Okay, so maybe "pussycat" is a slight exaggeration, but the new 2012 Ducati 848 Streetfighter ($12,995) is a softer riding yet meaner looking spinoff of the fully-faired 848 EVO.

How much softer?

If you like going fast but don't enjoy being hunched over, the Streetfighter 848-- like its big brother, the $18,995 Streetfighter S-- offers more comfortable ergonomics, with a handlebar that's .78 inches taller, and slightly wider footpegs. One common complaint with the big-bore "S" version is that the exhaust pipe encroaches on the rider's right boot. That ergonomic qualm has been alleviated with the new, smaller bike. Thanks to narrower exhaust pipes, the 848 feels a bit more conventional in layout, and doesn't crowd your foot. That's not to say it isn't sporty, but it's certainly less committed than the stretched out posture demanded of the 848 EVO. Swing a leg over the new Streetfighter, and it feels narrow and light (thanks to a 437 pound wet weight, which is actually 9 pounds heavier than the EVO.) The 33-inch saddle is slim enough to allow my 5 foot, 11 inch frame plenty of room for flat-footed standing at stoplights.

The new Streetfighter's $1,000 price advantage over its fully-faired counterpart can mostly be attributed to its lower-spec suspension components. The EVO's 43mm Showa forks are replaced with 43mm Marzocchi units, and the Showa rear monoshock is now a Sachs piece. While the 24.5° rake figure remains the same, trail has been increased to 103mm and the single-sided aluminum swingarm has been lengthened 35mm, in order to increase stability. The EVO's monobloc brakes have also been replaced with standard 4-piston front, 2-piston rear Brembos.

Visually, the Streetfighter 848 ditches the $13,995 848 EVO's bodywork in favor of a more raw, exposed look. Cooling fans spin visibly just aft of the rider's knees, engine bits reside just behind the naked trellis frame, and various mechanical parts previously protected by body panels are now out in the open. But the Streetfighter is more than an 848 stripped bare; its engine has been revised with a milder valve overlap of 11 degrees, which smooths out power delivery while reducing output from 140 to 132 hp. Torque measures 69 lb-ft, and a standard 8-setting traction control system senses wheel speed differential and enables you to micromanage how much slip angle the computer will allow, before power is cut.

Now that we've got the basic's down, let's ride.

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