As approachable as the Panigale V4 S is (for a superbike anyway), Ducati’s latest Streetfighter might be even more so. But the Italian marque doesn’t have a monopoly on the high-performance naked bike segment. So how does the Ducati Streetfighter V4 stack up against the competition?
Naked bikes vs. streetfighters
The term ‘naked bike’ actually covers a somewhat-wide category of motorcycles, RideApart reports. And the 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S’ name harkens back to the segment’s early beginnings.
Originally, ‘streetfighters’ were sportbikes that had been damaged in crashes during races. Rather than replace the expensive fairings and clip-on bars, the riders just removed the former and replaced the latter with cheaper flat handlebars. And to help the bikes cope better with wheelies and other stunts, their frames were often strengthened, Autowise reports. Combined with the fairing loss, that left the frames fully on display.
Motorcycle companies started cashing in on the trend in the early 90s. The first was the original Triumph Speed Triple, followed closely by the Ducati Monster M900. And today, it’s possible to find naked bikes in beginner-friendly capacities, such as the KTM 200 Duke and Honda CB300R.
So, what separates the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S from a naked bike like the Monster? Essentially, their origin points. While the Monster delivers sporty handling, it’s ultimately a standard, RideApart explains. The Streetfighter, though, is based on the high-performance Panigale sportbike. It’s still a naked bike, just an inherently-sportier and more powerful one.
And there are a few other such motorcycles on sale today.
The 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S’ closest naked bike rivals
MV Agusta already has a Panigale competitor, the Superveloce 800. And it’s also competing with the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S with the Brutale 1000 RR. And for 2021, its 998cc four-cylinder is rated at 208 hp and 86 lb-ft, Cycle World reports. Plus, it has Brembo brakes, ABS, traction control, and multiple riding modes. However, it also comes with wheelie control, launch control, semi-active Ohlins suspension, and an Ohlins steering damper.
The Ducati Streetfighter V4 S’ other Italian rival is the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100. Both the Factory and RR trims have a 1077cc V4 rated at 175 hp and 89 lb-ft. They also both have Brembo brakes, ABS, a quick-shifter, cruise control, launch control, traction control, and wheelie control, Cycle World reports. The Factory model, though, adds carbon-fiber bodywork, lighter wheels, and a performance exhaust. It also swaps the RR’s Sachs suspension with semi-active Ohlins components.
The Kawasaki Z H2 also has a four-cylinder engine. However, as the ‘H2’ signifies, it’s the supercharged 998cc four-cylinder from the Ninja H2 sportbike. With it, the Z H2 makes 200 hp and 101 lb-ft, Cycle World reports. That power is corralled via a slipper clutch, a quick-shifter, launch control, traction control, ABS, and multiple riding modes. It also has adjustable Showa suspension and Brembo brakes.
Finally, there’s the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. It’s got the fewest cylinders but one of the largest engines. It’s a 1301cc V-twin, Cycle World reports, rated at 180 hp and 103 lb-ft. Like the other Ducati Streetfighter V4 S rivals, it has a 6-speed transmission. But, while a slipper clutch is standard, the quick-shifter is optional. The Brembo brakes, fully-adjustable WP Apex suspension, ABS, multiple riding modes, traction and launch control, wheelie control, and engine-braking control, though, are all standard, Motorcyclist reports.
What about the 2020 Triumph Speed Triple RS?
Triumph helped start the modern naked bike segment with the 1994 Speed Triple. And over the years, it’s expanded its offerings to include the Street Triple and upcoming Trident as well as the Speed Triple. And currently, the sportiest model is the Speed Triple RS, Cycle World reports.
In terms of its performance features, it fits right in with the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S and its naked bike rivals. The base S model has Brembo brakes, ABS, a slipper clutch, multiple riding modes, and a TFT display. The RS adds carbon-fiber bodywork, traction control, keyless ignition, an additional riding mode, and adjustable Ohlins suspension to that.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit out-gunned in this competition. With a wet weight of 417 pounds, it’s one of the lightest naked bikes listed here. But its 1050cc three-cylinder ‘only’ makes 148 hp and 68 lb-ft. It offers a great blend of sporty handling and on-road comfort, Revzilla reports, but it’s more of a Ducati Monster rival than a Streetfighter competitor. Though, with a $16,500 starting price, it’s one of the cheapest bikes listed here.
How does the Ducati compare to the rest?
Equipment- and powertrain-wise, the 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S fits right in with the other naked bikes. Its 1103cc V4 makes 208 hp and 90 lb-ft, Cycle World reports, and comes with all the equipment found on the Panigale V4 S. That means Brembo brakes, a slipper clutch, and a quick-shifter, Motorcyclist reports. It also comes with ABS, traction control, launch control, and wheelie control, Revzilla reports; they’re all adjustable. Plus, it has semi-active Ohlins suspension.
The Ducati Streetfighter V4 S falls on the lighter side in terms of weight. With fluids, it weighs 439 pounds. The Kawasaki Z H2, meanwhile, is the heaviest, with a curb weight of 527 pounds. The Aprilia Tuono models fall somewhere in the middle; with fluids, they weigh 461 pounds.
Unfortunately, MV Agusta has only released the Brutale 1000 RR’s dry weight, which is 410 pounds. But it will likely fall somewhere between the Aprilia and Ducati. Finally, Rider reports the KTM 1290 Duke R is slightly heavier than the Aprilias, at 463 pounds.
However, the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is the second most expensive bike here, with a starting price of $23,995. The Brutale 1000 RR, though, costs about $11,000 more. In contrast, the Z H2 is one of the cheapest; it starts at $17,000. The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR starts at $15,499; the Factory is $3500 more. And the KTM starts at $18,699.
Because it’s relatively new, there aren’t many head-to-head comparisons with the Streetfighter. But Bennetts reports that, based on its equipment and performance, it’s better to ignore the Brutale 1000 RR. Meanwhile, VisorDown reports that the Z H2 and KTM 1290 Super Duke offer similar performance to the Ducati at more-affordable prices. And, like the Panigale V4, the Aprilia Tuono V4 has won multiple Cycle World 10 Best awards. The Speed Triple has as well.
Which naked bike should you buy?
Ultimately, as with any motorcycle purchase, ride before you buy. The Drive reports that the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is more comfortable in day-to-day riding than the Panigale. But you may not like the riding position. And the same thing applies to all the naked bikes listed here.
In terms of value, the KTM 1290, Kawasaki Z H2 and Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 models have most of the Streetfighter’s features at lower prices. However, Roadshow reports the V4 S’ semi-active suspension is worth the $4000 upcharge over the standard Streetfighter. And apart from the wheels, suspension, and front-mounted winglets, the latter is identical to the S model, Cycle World reports. At which point, it’s arguably the better value, due to the extra features over the other naked bikes.
Still, there are worse things than to be spoiled for choice.
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