Saturday, November 08, 2008


Hot news from Ducati at the Milan Show was the unveiling of its Streetfighter, a conceptually innovative naked hot-rod that mixes a strong dose of 1098 Superbike power with a shot of Monster-inspired style and stance.The Streetfighter is intended to set the benchmark for a new generation of nakeds—lots of testosterone, muscle and handling. The engine is a specifically tuned version of the 1098, delivering a claimed 155 horsepower and 85 foot-pounds of torque at, oddly enough, the same 9500 rpm. Claimed dry weight is 374 pounds for the standard model; the S version, equipped with Ducati Traction Control and Öhlins suspension, tips the scales at 369 pounds.

The chassis uses the same 34mm-gauge steel-tube frame of the 1098, but the rest is new. Marking a meaningful evolution in Ducati's chassis philosophy, wheelbase was stretched more than 1.5 inches to span 58 inches. The extra length came mostly from the longer single-sided swingarm, while the rest was derived from steering angle, kicked out to 25.7 degrees from the 24.5 degrees of the 1098, to produce a 4.5-inch trail.

Technicalities aside, what sets the new Streetfighter apart from the rest of the 2009 Ducati model line (excepting the 696 and 1100 Monsters) is the refinement of the design, right down to details that in the past were regarded as marginally important. In past years, Ducati apparently believed that a "pure sporty heart" was all customers wanted from its machines. With its aggressively styled headlight assembly, stacked mufflers and slim radiator, the Streetfighter has a strong visual personality, too.

The 1198 is also new for 2009. The 1098 replacement shares its 106mm bore and 67.9mm stroke with the 1098R, now known as the 1098R Troy Bayliss Edition (limited to 500 examples worldwide). The 1198 sports 43.5mm intake and 35.3mm exhaust valves, throttle bodies that retain the previous model's elliptical configuration, now enlarged to a corresponding 63.9mm circular diameter, and a 12.7:1 compression ratio.

Performance should be impressive, with claims of 170 hp at 9750 rpm and 97 ft.-lb. of torque at 8000 rpm. This is surely the lightest of all Ducati Superbike engines since its cases are vacuum-pressure die-cast by Alcoa in Italy, using a proprietary process that ensures maximum strength while weighing 6.6 pounds less than those of the 1098.

Hopefully one day I can have one or could get a chance to drive one.

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