2011 Ducati Streetfighter: MMA Motorcycle

2011 Ducati Streetfighter

It sits there quietly, intimidating, but alluring. With its chin slightly tucked, it glares at you, sizing you up. Like a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters with their shirts off, it is stripped of an exterior cover. Its brutal power is visible and surrounded by a forged steel skeletal frame. Raw and aggressive with streamlined functionality, it desires to tear past others on the road. No wonder they call it the Streetfighter.

In the late 1970s, early 1980s on the remote winding roads of Northern Europe, motorcycle enthusiasts were creating slick, covered, aerodynamic bikes. Bu the “purists” creatively went in the opposite direction. They stripped their rides of fairings creating a “naked” look and continued to tweak parts until the bikes were full of performance. Embodying the DNA of a superbike, the naked bike was born.

2011 Ducati StreetfighterTwist the key in the bike’s ignition and watch the simple electronic dash come alive. Red, green, blue and orange lights flicker while letters spelling out STREETFIGHTER scroll across the screen. Flicking up a red cover exposes the black ignition button, and a simple press makes all 1099cc’s of this brute come alive. A combination of small bi-xenon and one regular headlight illuminate the path before you, while the engine rumbles with its signature low bravado. Its distinct sound alerts everyone in the vicinity that a masterpiece of Italian engineering is in their presence. It’s like hearing the pitched tune of an F1 car. Everyone looks because the sound is different, exotic, and they want to see what it is.

2011 Ducati StreetfighterOrchestrating the clutch and throttle in unison, an impressive 85 pound-feet of torque and 155 horsepower (at 9500 rpm) begin to emerge from the powerful, liquid cooled, aluminum, 4 cylinder L-Twin engine. Off the line, the torque launches you forward with instant power. If you aren’t careful, the front wheel of the 373 pound (dry) bike will come up without even trying. Cruising for days all over Los Angeles, Ducati’s infamous dry, multiplate clutch smoothly shifted the gears up and down. However it did give my left hand and forearm a workout on city streets. Even though the clutch is hydraulically controlled, it took some time getting used to. Ironically, I was impressed with how quiet the engine was when cruising on the highway. Several times I shifted through gears on the highway, passing traffic, feeling comfortable, only to realize I was in 5th not 6th gear. I shifted up, rolled the throttle back and seconds later I ended up well into the triple digits. I didn’t have to downshift to get a burst of speed unless I wanted to launch myself like a fighter jet off the end of an aircraft carrier. Just a roll on the throttle engaged the engine’s torque and instantaneously put me out front.

2011 Ducati StreetfighterStopping power is not an issue for this Italiano Combatante either since it is fitted with Brembo brakes on both wheels. Up front 2 large 330mm semi-floating discs spin through a 4-piston, 2 pad brake caliper, while a 245mm disc rotates through a 2 piston caliper on the rear. The bike’s front fork and rear fully adjustable monoshock suspension, by Showa, took uneven and potholed pavement remarkably well, giving a smooth ride. Set in a delicate balance between street and tour riding, the Streetfighter’s suspension tightened up at high speeds, staying rigid as if it were flexing its muscles. When just cruising, a relaxed, more flexible bike was underneath me and it didn’t wear me out when I cruised for hours.

Aggressively maneuvering through Hollywood’s famous Mulholland Drive, the combination of the bike’s suspension and weight distribution enabled me to nimbly carve through the hillside like an aerobatic stunt plane. I was impressed how easily I could throw this motorcycle from side to side and how it wanted to just dive into the turns!

2011 Ducati StreetfighterInstead of having the rider all stretched out across the gas tank like a typical crotch rocket, the Streetfighter’s seating position has the rider more upright while the legs are still in the same superbike position. This does help reduce the strain on the riders lower back and shoulders, but my 34” inseam began to cramp up sooner than I remember it doing so on other bikes. This slight change in body position does have to be accounted for when leaning into turns too. The bike fought against my usual lean when I counter-steered and shifted my weight to the inside. I had to slow down, feel out the bike to find its “sweet spot,” then get back on the gas and lean the bike over. On the highway, this upright sitting position made my chest catch all the air forcing me to lean forward into the wind. It really gave me an appreciation for how much the small amount of plastic on superbikes really does help deflect wind. At high speeds I had to squeeze my legs together really hard on either side of the bike to prevent the wind from blowing them open.

2011 Ducati StreetfighterThe Streetfighter is not an overt and flashy motorcycle. However, there is an “S” model that is a bit more fit and trim. It is 5 pounds lighter, fitted with Ohlins front and rear suspension, and has a 5 spoke wheel package instead of 10 spokes. The Streetfighter is understated, a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing. It is for those that want to separate themselves from others, but not draw too much attention. Those who don’t know what an aggressive machine this is will underestimate its capabilities — a fatal flaw that true fighters never to do with their opponent. As President Theodore Roosevelt said “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Now get in the ring.

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