I was in the market for a bike that offered a different approach to riding than my current bikes have. I have a great gravel and dirt roads bike in the WR250R; and great touring capability with the Tiger 800XC. The Dakar was a middle of the road between these two. I was searching for something more street oriented.
At some point I was hopeful the Husqvarna Nuda 900 would make it to our shores. That would be one sweet bike with that modified Rotax 800 parallel twin motor bored to 900 cc and a 270 degree crank on a light body and a nice upright riding position. The Ducati Multistrada 1200 was another candidate, but it overlaps the touring use I already get from my Triumph Tiger 800XC. I thought about the Monster 1100 evo. I even thought about the Ducati Diavel.
But then came along the Streetfighter 848. This bike caught my attention, especially for the changes Ducati made to the 1098 version of this bike. They put a Testastretta version of the 848 motor on this bike, with the 11 degrees valve overlap, similar to what is found on the Multistrada and Diavel, making it a unique motor on the Ducati line-up.
What I will tell you, though, is that these changes were expected to result on a broader range for top torque figures, making this bike, although still powerful, more relaxed for all types of riding. And they accomplished this. Modifications were also made to chassis, handle bars, and brakes. All of these changes were designed purposefully to offer a tamer version of the 1098, a solid, middle of the pack naked bike, that was to be more versatile than its 1098 version. And that was accomplished as well, as I will report here.
European Motorcycles of Oregon had two of these models just taken out of the box and getting ready for the show room floor. A matte black and a fighter yellow. When I saw the yellow under the sun, I made my mind. It is gorgeous. This thing looks great from whatever angle you look. It has a pearlescent finish to the paint, which highlights with different tones of yellow the nice angles of its design, under the sunlight. Photographs do not capture this well.
I picked it up late afternoon on May 10th and I only had time to ride it home, all of three miles of distance between my house and the shop. The next day I left work earlier and took her for her maiden voyage, 120 miles through county roads, rolling hills in the area north and northwest of Junction City in Benton County.
For the first 600 miles I’m limited to up to 6,000 rpm on the motor. That means this bike can not be ridden properly. These low traffic country roads were perfect to ride at the motor break-in pace, keeping a close eye on the parameters of the bike.
My impressions on these first 120 miles, limited by what can be done below 6,000 rpm are that this bike offers a very solid line on curves. As if it is on rails, inspiring much confidence. That was something Ducati wanted to provide with the chassis changes made and it accomplished this goal, it appears.
The brakes are fantastic, offering great feel have very are solid actuation, and most importantly, they allow for gradual engagement when so requested. The acceleration, up to 6,000 is awesome. What will happen after that number?
The bottom line, this bike is plenty of fun. More than I imagined possible. And it is a beautiful machine.
The question is: will it be my favorite bike?
For a first step in answering this question, read my next report on this bike, when I took it for a 200+ miles loop. This next report will include a short helmet-cam video and more impressions on this bike, including my take on the Ducati Traction Control and fueling issues.