Here’s Why Ducati’s 208 HP Streetfighter V4 S Is the Ne Plus Ultra of Naked Bikes
Southern Spain’s Andalucía circuit is a spaghetti-like concoction of decreasing-radius turns mixed with eye-wateringly fast straights. Its 2.6 miles have been carved out of the side of a disused quarry, so it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing of racetracks, but it does provide an exceptional challenge to the rider and can instantly highlight a machine’s weaknesses. The problem is, I’m struggling to find any on the 2023 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S.
The $27,595 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is the fastest and highest-specification naked bike you can buy right now. Possessing 208 hp with a rolling chassis weighing 434 pounds (with a tank of fuel), this Streetfighter variant blew the competition into the weeds when it was released in 2020, and has only needed a few nips, tucks, grinds, and minor sharpening to ensure that any competitors wishing to take its crown are thwarted.
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Ducati’s Streetfighter and its Panigale superbike are about as closely related as you can get—in fact, it’s fair to just call the Streetfighter a naked Panigale. Barely any bodywork, a high single-piece handlebar, slightly softer front suspension springs for the Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 electronic suspension, and a twice-as-thick 60 mm seat are all that essentially separate the two top-end models. And for 2023, the Streetfighter gains the taller swingarm-pivot-height change (an increase of 4 mm) implemented on the 2022 Panigale to aid the anti-squat behavior of the chassis. This will, in turn, help reduce understeer and allow the rider to dial in more go juice.
There are subtle changes to the already-minuscule bodywork as well, namely in the fuel-tank design that takes cues from Ducati’s race bikes—where part of the fuel tank extends under the seat to aid in mass centralization. The tank is 0.6 gallons larger (a great thing when you consider the V4 motor drinks fuel like nothing else), and the design is slightly rounder at the base with larger indents to lock your knees in at the top. It’s a small change, but all in the name of progress.
The electronics have come in for a tweak as well, with new Wet and Full power modes, the former reducing output to 165 hp whereas the latter ups it to give you almost the entirety of the engine’s performance. I say “almost” as the engine is under the governance of the torque-metering algorithm that, depending on your engine mode, will give you a reduced torque delivery in first gear, a little less in second, third, and so on to sixth. It’s a good thing this is the case because, regardless of what electronics you have at your disposal (including Ducati’s traction, wheelie, suspension, and engine controls), the Streetfighter’s immense output is as stout as you’d want from any production bike.
There’s far, far too much performance for me to master, but the engine is also a bit of a pussycat at low revs, offering around-town approachability that anyone can access and enjoy. This is a tall motorcycle able to suit a large range of riders. The wide handlebar provides an ideal attack riding stance; the low-set footpegs allow for adequate blood flow to the knees and ankles, and the electronic suspension is now so good that I would have no problem racing this bike in its pure production form, which is something I could not have said two years ago.
The 2023 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is as fine a motorcycle as I’ve ridden in my 23 years as a racer and journalist. Its menacing aesthetic will stop traffic, and the grey-and-black color scheme looks absolutely sublime in the metal, and even better when in my garage.
Click here for more photos of the 2023 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S.
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