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2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848: MD First Ride

When we attended the launch of the new 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848, we got something we did not entirely expect. This bike is much more than a smaller displacement version of the big 1100. That original Streetfighter is simply too much motorcycle for most enthusiasts. A very aggressive steering geometry and that huge, powerful superbike motor, together with wide handlebars make for quite a handful. Ducati has done more than stick a smaller engine in that chassis with the new 848.

If you wanted more performance than you could find from a Monster or a Hypermotard, perhaps a jump to the Streetfighter 1100 was too big. The Streetfighter 848 might be your answer, as it starts with the smaller, but still powerful 848 EVO engine, which has been tuned for broader, smoother power delivery and reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Don’t worry, Ducati says the bike still puts out 132 hp at 10,000 RPM, more than enough for most naked bike enthusiasts.

In addition to the smaller engine, Ducati has gone to a less radical steering geometry. The 1100 was almost nervous feeling, but the new chassis, based on the frame used on the 848 EVO sportbike, calms things down, and even provides better feedback and confidence.

Changes continue with revised suspension. The Marzocchi fork, new to the 848, has a more compliant, street-friendly feel, and the Sachs rear shock is also a bit softer and friendlier on the road. The ergonomics compliment this, as the 848 has handlebars that are a bit higher, contributing to more comfort.

We began by sampling the Streetfighter 848 on the road. A beautiful route that passes by the Ferrari factory in Maranello and the Fiorano test track.

As soon as you begin to ride the Streetfighter 848, you sense the smoother, friendlier power delivery in comparison with the 848 superbike. From as low as 2000 RPM, the engine responds predictably and with a linear increase in power. Power is nevertheless plentiful, but flexible enough that you rarely have to worry about where the tachometer needle is pointing. The engine response is almost as surprising, and pleasing, as the feel from the new front-end geometry and fork.

The Marzocchi fork works wonderfully on the street, compliant but firm enough to provide excellent feedback from the asphalt. The new handlebar position is taller, but is still a bit aggressive compared with some other nakeds that are more upright. Nevertheless, it is not a radical position by any means, and reasonably comfortable for street travel.

After 60 miles or so on the road, it was time to test the Streetfighter 848 on the race track. The venue was Modena with pristine, new asphalt. It serves more as a test track than a racing circuit, and still lacks some rubber to make it as grippy as one might like. To counter this, Pirelli was there with a new version of the Diablo Supercorsa SC, including a new rear profile that came directly from the World Supersport championship series (a 180 section).

After just two short, 15 minute sessions, it was clear that the Streetfighter 848 is a viable track weapon. Due to its light weight, it is easy to change directions on, but still very stable through fast sweeping corners. Part of that stability comes from a swingarm that is 35 mm longer than the one found on the Streetfighter 1100. This gave me the confidence to exit corners more aggressively without worrying about a loss of traction.

Like several recent Ducati models, the Streetfighter 848 features traction control. Eight different settings are available and the thorough instrumentation tells you what setting you have chosen, along with providing lap times and plenty of other information.

The radial-mounted front Brembo calipers are very effective. Plenty of feel and feedback when hard on the brakes, and they work well both on the track and on the road.

For a naked bike, high-speed travel on the road is relatively comfortable as the design, including a very narrow fuel tank, allows you to keep parts of your body out of the wind. The mirrors are rigidly mounted, allowing you to adjust the glass section only, but they work surprisingly well … breaking the trend towards good looking, but poor functioning mirrors found on some other models. The twin exhausts look good and sound good, without being so loud that you end a long ride with a headache.

The new Streetfighter 848 has learned some lessons from its older bigger brother. It is still a fast, aggressive naked, but something more reasonable and comfortable to use in the real world. The Streetfighter 848 is available in three color schemes, including yellow with black frame, all-black, and red with red frame. U.S. MSRP is $12,995.00. For further details and specifications, visit Ducati’s web site.

39 Comments

  1. Big willie says:

    Nice bike. Beautiful Ducati sound and performance. Wish in had one.

  2. Alain says:

    I like it (Streetfighter 848)… but with a MSRP of $12,995.00, I think there are many more interesting bikes for the same $$$ or less

  3. falcodoug says:

    Nice bike.

  4. Just Joe says:

    Judging from this crowd, every motorcycle, including bikes you have not seen in person much less ridden, sucks and they should have done everything different. My guess is that a bike designed here would be “the Homer” as designed by Homer Simpson.

    I would love to give this one an all-day test ride.

  5. proheli says:

    Ive got a 2011 sfs. And really, I love it. It took an FI chip to mellow the shite fueling, simply rolling the handle bars forward changes the wrist angle and all of the sudden you have surprising all day comfort. Oh, and the suspension must be dialed way way back unless you weigh in at 350lbs. Then the transformation is complete. And you now own a true sport bike gem. Im sure it will be the same with the 848. :-)

  6. mxs says:

    Really strange crowd … don’t like this, don’t like that.

    Well, seeing how well Ducati has done in the last few years, you all must be wrong … LOL. Is that even remotely possible?

    • Kjazz says:

      Your comment misses the possibility that they could have done much better….besides, on what basis have you established the Ducati has indeed done “well” (increase in shareholder value, units sold,…..)? I think there a lot of legitimate and potentially useful (to Ducati) comments made here. Negatism always seems so unpopular. But being unpopular doesn’t make you wrong…..necessarily.

      • MikeD says:

        Kjazz says:

        Negatism always seems so unpopular. But being unpopular doesn’t make you wrong…..necessarily.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  7. ziggy says:

    Street Triple R finally faces some real competition.

    Who will win this battle of British Hooligan Vs. Greasy Wop?

    I guess I need to own both to find out!!!

    Well done Ducati!

  8. Dave says:

    I know this piece is on the 848, which I’m sure is a really fun bike. But, I missed the big SF review, and as such, your opening comments were shocking to me.

    We spent the last 25 years yelling and carrying on about how we want a full-strength, un-neutered sportbike changed only to become more comfortable. FINALLY we got one (just the one…) and suddenly it’s a handfull, and too much motorcycle?

    Sad.

  9. Steve says:

    ‘too nuch motorcycle for enthusiasts’, what a joke. Any motorcycle is too much if you are not the one in control. Does this motorcycle all of a sudden jump up and take control? No, you actually have to lose control.

  10. donniedarko says:

    Having seen the bigger brother in person they are incredibly sexy looking bike. I was floored when I saw it. Im no fan boy either but my bike lust was boiling when I saw an all black big version streetfighter. The exhaust note they put out is sex too

  11. chris says:

    Okay, a naked, streetfighter shouldn’t have all that plastic-y crap all over it. How much of that front-quarter faux radiator looking stuff can I take off? It has to have 30 pounds of excess plastic on it, hiding the powerplant, fussying the bike up. Seriously?

  12. Norm G. says:

    i don’t know… i kinda like the look. having ridden the 1098 version, they’re definitely a hoot to ride for sure. i forget who said it (paraphrasing), but something to the effect “it looks like it’s about to transform and knock over a building”. :) one of the best descriptions i’ve ever heard. LOL

  13. MikeD says:

    BLAH…No Love from Me(both siters[848-1098])

  14. Terry Seaver says:

    I have an ’07 S4RS in perl white, IMHO the best looking motorcycle ever made. After that, Ducati lost their minds! I would love to buy a newer Duc naked with more horsepower, but the Streetfighters are butt agly (but not quite ugly enough to be cool). There while back there was a comparison of ’07 nakeds in which the jaded motorcycle reporters said the S4RS would have won except for its ‘dated styling’, these guys don’t have a clue. Ducati needs to go back to what works, I am not intersted in space shuttles and a plumber’s night mare.

  15. JR says:

    Now I will be nice in my comments. This Ducati is as ugly as sin. Why would anyone in America spend 13K to buy a motorcycle like this? I can only imagine what a pain in the butt it would be to manually adjust the valve tappets on this thing. Like I have mentioned before, why in the world was Buell production shut down and American’s put out of work, so we can import crap like this. How many of these Ducati’s could they possibly sell over here.. maybe five to the unknowing? I would take my 04 Buell XB12S any day over this monstrosity of a motorcycle. Like I said, I’m being nice.

    • Jim says:

      Buell, ended production for various reasons.. primarily, for a deficiency of profits stemming from a lack of sales. It was a proverbial sinking ship & HD just made the inevitable business decision to give it the axe. BTW, “Like I have mentioned before” usually indicates that it was mentioned in a previous statement; and, was not..

      • Kjazz says:

        Partially correct anyway. HD slit Buell’s throat before giving it the axe. Success was not really even in the cards for Buell under HD. I know this (partially) from first hand experience when walking into their Taj Mahal dealerships to inquire about the Buell line and finding 2 or 3 bikes sitting in the corner and then being redirected to the shiney new HDs. Doesn’t surprise me that Buells couldn’t sell their bikes and further the product line successfully. JR’s broader point remains a decent question, if somewhat philosophical. Why do we import these, they’ll likely not be very successful here, when production capacity exists to design, produce, sell, maintain etc. on-shore?

  16. Morris Bethoven says:

    Looks like they hired JOE THE PLUMBER to work out the finer details of the engine compartment. That is one serious rats nest where there should be an engine!

  17. BoxerFanatic says:

    The performance sounds really nice.

    But it is an eyesore, which is very unfortunate for a Ducati.

    If I were to buy a Ducati, I would probably buy an air-cooled 800 or 1100 dual-spark, or new 1100 EVO from the monster…

    And build a new Super Sport around it. Especially an SS/CR version, with a fairing that combines the 999′s stacked headlights with the 2nd-Gen 900/1000DS Supersport’s wrap-over sculpted windscreen. that covers said headlights. Sort of like a Benelli Tornado Tre.

    Either that, or a Moto Guzzi V12 8-valve Griso turned into a successor to the V11 LeMans, with it’s bullet fairing grafted on, a solo seat cowl, and 2-1-2 high-mount exhaust.

    I really like that Ducati buttoned up the performance for *real* riders on a sub-1000cc model, but it still doesn’t seem aesthetically appealing, and Monster, even with it’s recent re-design, is a bit mundane. I like half-fairings, but can’t stand the Multistrada’s looks.

  18. Steve P says:

    I would love to see Ducati give us something more practical like an 848 Multistrada.

    • Dale says:

      As fun as the 848 Streetfighter sounds you may be onto something there. That motor in a Multistrada type chassis could be, Awesome! Make mine Red, of course.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Y’all are onto what must be in the works… Triumph 800s are doing well and that’s the fastest growing segment.

        Good on’yah

  19. Kjazz says:

    It’d look great….if it weren’t so stinkin ugly. Modern Ducatis really need fairings.

    • monsterduc1000 says:

      Nope.

      • Kjazz says:

        Sorry MD1000, I should have said “IMO”. I dont mean to offend those who like em. But I think even those who like them would be hard pressed to defend the aesthetic of modern Duc engines. And again, IMO, the engine in a non-faired bike, is the central most important visual focal point. Not to mention it’s job of making the good noises!!! Which Ducati’s do VERY well indeed!

  20. Denny says:

    I would characterize this creation as of limited useability and questionable appeal. As somebody is suggesting: why to show something where is notning to show. Wrap it up! Late rash of “streetfighters” does not make lots of sense. I visited yesterday bike dealer in my area: Wow, streetfighter this, streetfighter that. All too agressive and visibly uncomfortable. Where is decent half sports, half touring bike like my Honda 919? I do not see them, maybe with exception of Yamaha 800.

    • 80-watt Hamster says:

      Triumph Sprint. Ninja 1000. GSX1250FA. In the more upright realm, the Tiger 1050/800, Multistrada, or Versys. Even more pedestrian models like the GSX650F and Ninja 650 have been reasonably pressed into touring duty, though their sporting credentials are soft.

  21. Norm G. says:

    re: “Part of that stability comes from a swingarm that is 35 mm longer than the one found on the Streetfighter 1100.”

    for the love of all that is holy fit this “swing’a” to the 1100…! btw, this could be our first clue as to the swingarm (the length anyway) being employed on the forthcoming panigale. 35 mil’s is a huge number (kit swingarm this). serious overkill for middleweight.

  22. john says:

    Competencies aside, it seems to lack prettiness. The engine area is a unresolvable mass of wierd shapes/tubes/surface/color. Jumbled large and heavy mass. Bodywork strongly suggested.

    My V-strom is not a pretty sight though.

  23. Morris Bethoven says:

    Seems cheap compared to the dull CBR1000R.

  24. Bob says:

    I think this is the first bike in a while that not only looks interesting to me but will actually get me to the showroom and maybe have one coming home with me.

  25. deltaboxii says:

    Alot of people seem to keep asking why this bike was built. To me, the real question is who is going to buy the Streetfigther 1098 with this bike in existance. Almost as much power, maybe not the ultimate in suspension or brakes but definately better than most of the competitions, including the Street R. Personally I love it, especially in matte black.

  26. fazer6 says:

    That’d be the 848 EVO.

    Although, a return of a SuperSport line would be welcome.

  27. Trent says:

    Wow, a rider’s review. That was quick! And the bike seems great, too. Maybe Ducati should offer a version of this bike with fairings.