Ducati introduced the Streetfighter 848 back in 2012 to plug a hole in its lineup. You see, Ducati had found itself in the enviable position of having created a naked streetbike — Streetfighter 1098 — that was really too powerful for most riders’ comfort and safety envelope, and they needed to tame the beast a little bit for polite company.

Enter the 848, a Testastretta-powered Streetfighter that retains much of the performance of its predecessor with even better side-to-side response from the frame-geometry changes that make it more appropriate for the streets, but still far from family-friendly. This bike enjoyed a short run, and was phased out after the 2015 model year as other models from Ducati’s lineup provided a bit of overlap that covered this particular niche. Join me whilst I dig into this ride, and discover what the factory did to move forward from the too-powerful Streetfighter 1098.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Streetfighter 848.

Design

2014 - 2015 Ducati Streetfighter 848 High Resolution Exterior
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The Streetfighter family has always been a meeting between aggression and elegance, and this newest family member is one acorn that didn’t fall far from the tree. To be fair, the 848 isn’t quite as aggressive as its immediate predecessor — the rider triangle allows for a slightly more upright position — but it’s still a naked sub-superbike with a one-track mind that is obvious to even the most casual of glances.

Minimalist almost to a fault, the 848 carries only what it needs to accomplish its mission, with nothing in the way of fat to be found. A rather abrupt top line starts at a teensy flyscreen, then travels uphill across the 4.4-gallon fuel tank before a precipitous drop to the saddle and then back uphill to the tail, leaving the 848 looking much like a sprinter crouched at the blocks.

Exposed frame members accentuate the lack of body panels, and the narrow, L-twin engine keeps the frame compact with a well-defined waist. Not only does this make for a comfortable riding position for your legs, it also gives you a fairly direct route from hip to ground when you go to put your feet down and canyon carvers will find plenty of room for shifting body positions in the curves.

Molded lights and a small instrument display keep the bike looking clean and well-planned, though the display is almost too small, and its position relative to rider head position makes it less-than-immediately visible. I hate having to move my head very much to see my gauges, and this is definitely a bit off-putting for me. Not really a deal breaker, just something that would take a lot of getting used to.

Chassis

Exposed Trellis frames always add a lot to the looks — and the street-cred — of naked bikes, and the factory makes sure you don’t overlook the Streetfighter’s bones with a coat of what I would call Ducati Red paint. After all, one should never be too subtle for one’s audience. The frame is comprised of tubular members extruded from ALS 450, a stainless-steel alloy known for its elasticity, durability and resistance to corrosion.

An aluminum, single-side swingarm completes the bones and keeps unsprung weight low at the rear wheel. The rolling chassis leaves us with a 24.5-degree rake, and 4.05 inches of trail in a 58.1-inch wheelbase, numbers that give us much better handling than the somewhat wooden cornering behavior we had from the 1098 version. All-in-all, a nice compromise between roll rate and straight-line stability.

A set of 43 mm, usd Marzocchi forks come fully adjustable with variable preload as well as compression and rebound damping, just like the Sachs monoshock in back, and suspension components at both ends provide 5 inches of travel at the axle. The factory took further steps to keep unsprung weight low by going with light, alloy rims to mount the 17-inch, Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa, race-rated tires.

At 120/70 up front and 180/60 in back, the rubbers come sized similarly to those used in the Superbike World Championship, and they come with some high-tech features I really like. The center third or so is a firm rubber that is meant to wear well while bearing the brunt of the workload, while the shoulders are made of softer, grippier stock, and offer better traction once leaned over into a turn. In other worlds, you get the best of both worlds in one tire; what’s not to love?

Brembo supplies the brakes for the 848, and seeings how it has so much go, it also gets plenty of stop. A pair of four-pot, opposed-piston calipers pinch the dual, 320 mm front discs, and a twin-piston caliper binds the 245 mm rear disc. If you’re looking for ABS, I got bad news for you; the Streetfighter comes with vanilla brakes. Not only are they simpler to maintain and repair, but they provide honest feel and feedback for a better rider-to-machine connection. The brakes have a progressive feel with a gentle initial bite, so you can ease into them with a high degree of control, a feature I think everyone can agree to like, no matter where they fall on the ABS issue.

Drivetrain

2014 - 2015 Ducati Streetfighter 848 High Resolution Exterior
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The 848 runs Duc’s Testastretta engine that comes with cams ground for optimal street smoothness and usable powerband. Valve overlap — that part of the rotation where the intake and the exhaust valves are both open — was decreased from 37-degrees to a mere 11-degrees, so incoming air-fuel charges are kept fresh with little waste-gas contamination.

Ducati’s signature Desmodromic valvetrain manages the four-valve heads, and liquid cooling deals with the waste heat. The engine is what Americans would call a 90-degree V-twin, and it runs with a 94 mm bore and 61.2 mm stroke for an actual displacement of 849 cc, and a fairly hot, 13.2-to-1 compression ratio. All this adds up to a claimed 69 pound-feet of torque at 9,500 rpm and 132 horsepower at 10 grand, on a bike that weighs in at 439 pounds soaking wet and turns in 11-second quarter-mile times. Even though this is indeed tamer than the 1098, I feel like it still definitely qualifies for the stupidfast category.

Ducati slapped on its eight-level traction control (DTC) to help riders maintain control of all that power. The system monitors wheel speeds, and intervenes by reducing engine power just enough to regain traction. Level of intervention is determined by the preset DTC rider mode, and the intervention is seamless, and nearly imperceptible through the saddle.

A six-speed transmission and chain drive make the final connection to the rear wheel, and surprisingly, the factory went with a conventional clutch. Gotta say I’m a little disappointed by the lack of slipper-clutch technology here, but I’m sure that was done to keep the price down.

Pricing

2014 - 2015 Ducati Streetfighter 848 High Resolution Exterior
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The price tag is reasonable at $13,495 MSRP, maybe a little too reasonable if you know what I mean. Frequently the sticker on higher-performance machines acts as a sort of firewall to keep inexperienced riders off them, and the Streetfighter 848 is dangerously close to the entry-level price range by my estimation. Oh well, gotta let ’em fly sometime.

Competitors

2016 - 2017 Triumph Daytona 675 / Daytona 675 R
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2014 - 2015 Ducati Streetfighter 848
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There’s only a bajillion bikes in the Japanese market I could have chosen from, but I find that only another European brand can truly match the grace and charm of the Streetfighter — maybe a Brit? What I settled on, I believe, is a close-enough match with many of the same Eurostyle features that makes the 848 so sexy. So without further ado, I give you the Daytona 675 R from Triumph.

Yeah OK, the engine size is a little off, but you have to admit they carry much the same nose-down/tail-up stance, and look to be built for the same purpose and market. They both sport similar looking frames, but the Trumpet is actually built on a twin-spar skeleton made of aluminum. The factory covers more of the Daytona with body panels that conceal part of the innards and connect up at the headlight and down at the chin spoiler for a nearly full front fairing. Due to the transverse-mount inline triple, the Daytona isn’t quite as narrow waisted as the Streetfighter, but otherwise follows a very similar layout and look.

The Daytona rides on front-and-rear Öhlins products. A set of 43 mm, usd, NIX30 forks float the front on 4.72-inches of travel, and a TTX36, twin-tube monoshock buoys the rear on 5.23 inches of travel at the axle. This kind of splits the 5-inch travel at both ends of the 848, and since both rides come with fully adjustable suspension all around, neither gain any ground here. Brakes are likewise similar, except the Daytona comes with a switchable ABS, so you can take it or leave it as you please.

Obviously the biggest difference is in the engine. Ducati runs its 11-degree, 849 cc Testastretta “EVO” engine in the customary L-twin configuration, while Triumph taps its 675 cc, inline triple for propulsion duties. The difference in performance is about what you would expect. Ducati naturally comes out on top with 132 ponies and 69 pounds, but Triumph gives a good account for itself with 128 ponies and 55 pounds of grunt. Given that the Streetfighter is actually overpowered for most situations, the loss of a little oomph is probably not a bad thing.

Ducati gets a minor win at the checkout as well. The $13,495 MSRP on the Streetfighter is just a hair under the $14,000 tag on the Daytona. I would point out that this is a very slim margin on a bike over 10 K, and is unlikely to change many minds one way or the other. So, it’s just a technical win here, and will come down to a test ride and personal preference.

He Said

“As always, I really like the product, but it’s a Ducati, right? There is just no substitute for that Euro-flair, and Ducs always have it in spades. Would I ride it if someone gave me one? You betcha. Am I scared of it? You betcha....but I will get over that as soon as I find the nooby mode on the traction control. Yeah, I’d ride it like I stole it. Don’t tell my wife.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Like you stole it? That would scare the crap out of me, but these stupidfast bikes always do anyway. Pretty much all the technology in this Streetfighter is right out of the 848 EVO superbike. It’s a very aggressive-looking bike and form follows function here because it is an aggressive performer as well. Very light and agile, and very aggressive brakes — lots of stopping power. How is it, when talking about this bike, the adjective that keeps coming to mind is aggressive? Even though this is a tamed version of its predecessor, this is not a bike for the faint of heart.”

Specifications

Engine:
Type: Testastretta 11° L-Twin, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled
Displacement: 849cc
Bore x Stroke: 94x61,2mm
Compression ratio: 13.2:1
Power: 97kW (132hp) @ 10.000rpm
Torque: 93.5 Nm (69 lb-ft) @ 9,500 rpm
Fuel injection: Marelli electronic fuel injection, elliptical throttle bodies
Exhaust: Lightweight 2-1-2 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes. Twin stainless steel mufflers
Transmission:
Gearbox: 6 speed
Primary drive: Straight cut gears, Ratio 1.84:1
Ratio: 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=28/20 4=26/22 5=24/23 6=23/24
Final drive: Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 42
Clutch: Wet multiplate with hydraulic control
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame in ALS 450
Front suspension: Marzocchi 43mm fully adjustable usd forks
Front wheel: 10-spoke in light alloy 3.50 x 17
Front Tyre: Pirelli Diablo Corsa 120/70 ZR17
Rear suspension: Progressive linkage with fully adjustable monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
Rear wheel: 10-spoke light alloy 5.50 x 17
Rear tyre: Pirelli Diablo Corsa 180/60 ZR17
Front wheel travel: 127mm (5in)
Rear wheel travel: 127mm (5in)
Front brake: 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo callipers 4-piston, 2-pad
Rear brake: 245mm disc, 2-piston calliper
Instrumentation: Digital unit with displays for: Speedometer, rev counter, lap times, time, air temp, coolant temp, battery voltage, A & B trips, fuel reserve trip, DTC status and level selected (if activated) scheduled maintenance. Warning lights for: Neutral, turn signals, high-beam, rev-limit, DTC intervention, oil pressure, fuel reserve. Plus: Immobilizer system and management of DTC and DDA
Dimensions and weight:
Dry weight: 169kg (373lb)
Wet weight(KERB): 199kg (439lb)
Seat height: 840mm (33in)
Wheelbase: 1475mm (58.1 in)
Rake: 24,5°
Trail: 103mm (4.05in)
Fuel tank capacity: 16.5l - 4.4 gallon (US)
Number of seats: Dual seat
Warranty:
Warranty: 2 years unlimited mileage
Maintenance service intervals: 12.000km (7.500m)
Valve clearance check: 24.000km (15,000m)
Emissions and Consumption:
Standard: Euro 3 (Europe) - USA: follows the US Federal Regulation
What do you think?
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