Ducati confirms a lurid 208 horsepower for the 2020 Streetfighter V4
At 208 horsepower and 178 kg (392 lb), next year's Ducati Streetfighter V4 is right up there with MV Agusta's Brutale Serie Oro as one of the most powerful nakedbikes ever built. That is, until the covers come off whatever Kawasaki's been cooking up.
The super-naked class seems to be getting more super and more naked each year, in a satisfying contrast to the flaccid, milquetoast tone that permeated unfaired bikes of the noughties. Back then, it was assumed that nakedbike riders wanted their rides tame and civilized for road use. Perhaps that was true for some; but others liked the ergonomics and tough, engine-centric look of a nudie bike but wanted all the wild, wheelie-happy performance we could get.
One must be careful what one wishes for where crazy-eyed motorcycle manufacturers are concerned, because one tends to get it, and then not know exactly what to do with it. Well, that's not exactly true, we all know exactly what we want to do with 208-horsepower V4 Ducati nakedbikes. We want to take them to long, fast, sweepy places and hold the throttles open as long as we dare, until our eyes bulge out and our necks strain weakly against brick-wall wind. And afterwards we want to stand and shake our heads and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, because life is for the living, and living is sometimes best done on the edge of a knife.
MV Agusta says its 208-horsepower Brutale Serie Oro will do 302 km/h (187 mph) without a fairing. This Ducati is a bit lighter and just as punchy, so we don't see why it wouldn't break the triple century as well. That's a figure I've never managed to reach, on road or track, even on fully faired superbikes, and it remains an item on my bucket list. It's very, very fast, and getting there on a naked machine will require nothing short of a herculean muscular effort just to hang onto the bars.
The Streetfighter V4 will rock miniature biplane winglets to add downforce. It'll receive the full electronics suite afforded to the magnificent Panigale superbike. And if you're wondering if it'll handle, let's not forget that a pre-production version of this machine looked set to smash the all-time motorcycle record up Pikes Peak before it hit a nasty bump within sight of the finish line, sending superstar rider Carlin Dunne over the cliff and to a tragic death. Dunne knew more than most about life on the knife's edge, and in his hands, the Streetfighter was faster than anything else on the mountain all through qualifying and right through the race, right up until that fateful loss of grip. It may have had a heartbreaking and inauspicious first public outing, but this will be a magnificent motorcycle.
It may not, however, keep one hand on the "world's most powerful production nakedbike" trophy for long. That's because Kawasaki has been cooking up a stablemate for its fully unhinged, supercharged H2, which will probably drop at EICMA, a couple of weeks after Ducati's full Streetfighter reveal on October 23. And it looks like the new Kwaka will be a nakedbike. And it'll easily beat that 208 horsepower figure if Kawasaki wants it to, because that engine's good for 300 horses in the H2R.
These things matter little on a fast road ride, where forward vision, skill and big, brassy cojones will always beat horsepower. But there are those among us for whom too much is never quite enough, and it seems this year's EICMA show will be a feast of naked excess that Caligula himself could be proud of. "Let them hate me," he's quoted as saying, "so long as they fear me." And that's exactly the attitude I'd be trying to pull off, rolling up to a group ride on a Streetfighter V4.
Here's Ducati's teaser tweet: