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2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 First Ride

Friday, September 30, 2011

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2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 First Ride
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Watch as MotoUSA rides the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 in the hills above Modena, Italy and on the track in the 2012 Streetfighter 848 First Ride Video.
In the motorcycle world we thrive on excess, damn the consequences if it’s not in our best interests. We crave the fastest, nastiest and sexiest machines we can get our mitts on. The trouble is that this approach in life usually ends in some sort of pain, be it buyer’s remorse or even worse, getting in over your head. Ducati’s Streetfighter is a perfect example. It’s sexy as hell, goes like a scalded cat and is razor sharp. The only thing is you need to be just as sharp to use it to its full potential. Thankfully Ducati has recognized this and brought forth a Streetfighter for us mere mortals in the form of the 2012 Streetfighter 848.

During the marketing and technical presentation the Ducati team stressed the focus on the concept of a friendlier, easier to ride Streetfighter. The target consumer for the 848 is a rider that is not as extreme and is looking for more usability, someone who needs a more confidence inspiring ride. Ducati set out to make that happen with an all new, smaller displacement Streetfighter that would satisfy these criteria and still be a high-performing naked bike.

A 849.4cc Testastretta 11 mill powers the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848.
Ducatis DTC system come standard on the 2012 Streetfighter 848  however ABS is not available.
The 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848s Brembo brakes are equipped with soft-feel sintered pads.
A 849.4cc version of the Testastretta engine powers the Streetfighter 848. Ducati's DTC system and non-ABS Brembo brakes keep things under control.
The cornerstone of this new Streetfighter is of course the 849.4cc L-Twin Testastretta 11 powerplant. Sharing the same basic configuration with the 848 EVO Superbike, the 11 degrees of valve overlap is designed to give a smoother engine character which is more suited to the street duty the Streetfighter 848 will most often be used for. The most notable difference between the Superbike and Streetfighter’s engine is the camshaft profiles tuned to deliver a more street-friendly punch. The bore, stroke and compression ratio are identical, with a service interval of 15,000 miles.

A new superbike-derived frame is similar to the 1098 Steetfighter, but has less rake and trail for more stable and confidence inspiring steering traits. The wheelbase is the same as the 1098 at 58.07 inches, but longer than the 848 EVO’s 56.3-inch wheelbase. Attached to the rear of the trellis frame is a new one piece cast aluminum swingarm sprung by a fully adjustable Sachs shock set up for a comfortable ride. Up front 43mm Marzocchi forks with full adjustability handle the imperfect road surfaces that the Streetfighter 848 is expected to see. Both the front and rear are set up softer in spring rate and damping than its 1098 sibling.

As with every Ducati as of late, the Streetfighter 848 comes standard with the Ducati Traction Control system, offering eight levels of adjustment. A full Brembo brake system sans ABS slows the whole kit down with 320mm discs squeezed by radial mounted 4-piston calipers with soft-feel pads in the front. Braking duties in the rear are handled by a single 245mm disc and a 2-piston caliper. We find it a bit interesting that the bike that is aimed at being more usable on the roads doesn’t have ABS as standard equipment.

Ducati set us up just down the road from its headquarters and a stones throw from Ferrari’s factory and testing facilities at the newly constructed Autodromo di Modena. Consisting of 11 turns, the track is ultra-tight with more than its fair share of decreasing-radius second-gear corners that would challenge and even frustrate during the short track sessions. We also rode through the hills above Modena so we could gauge the Streetfighter 848’s performance in the real world. If you can call the picturesque landscape painted with an ever undulating and curving ribbon of asphalt the real world. To me it was more like a dream.

A fully adjustable Sachs rear shock handles the suspension duties on the rear of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848. As expected the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tires offered tons of grip and worked well with the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848s chassis.
A fully adjustable Sachs shock handles the suspension duties at the rear of the streefighter. Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tires provide grip suitable for street and track usage.
Immediately I found the cockpit to be very comfortable, especially the reach to the 20mm higher handlebars. The tapered aluminum unit allowed for a slightly more upright stance than the 1098, and kept the pressure off the wrists. Seat to footpeg height was also roomy, however my right heel was cramped by the exhaust shroud when I placed the balls of my feet on the pegs. The word is that Ducati spaced the peg mounts out 10mm from the frame to allow more clearance, but for me it still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t a huge concern on the street, and I adjusted my foot position accordingly. It was a different story on the track however. Moving the footpegs outward decreases the cornering clearance slightly and when combined with the interference from shroud, the toe slider on my new Dainese boots paid the price.

Twisting the throttle on the small Streetfighter produces a spread of very linear power from around 2500 rpm to redline. Just like a good streetfigher should the 848 wheelies easily in first and second gear, although once the limiter kicks in on a fast one, the front end will drop like a sack of potatoes. Tire twisting grunt coming out of the corner is what makes
The power from the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848s Testastretta 11 engine is punchy yet controllable.
The Streetfighter 848's Testastretta 11 powerplant had plenty of grunt with a linear power delivery.
twins a blast to ride, and this bike is no different. Throttle response was instantaneous yet not abrupt, which was perfectly suited to the tight hairpins that we encountered above Modena.The boost is just enough to be fun without getting out of hand. It really is easy to control the power, but just in case the DTC can be dialed in to help out the ham-fisted. I personally like setting Number Two for street duty. On the track I kept the same setting and never really had any problems with a loss of traction or too much interference. In fact it wasn’t really even noticeable.

The small two-lane, sometime one-lane roads in the hills had everything from billiard table smooth sections to potholes to bumps that could become jumps at the right speed. With such diverse road surfaces, the 848’s suspension would be put to the test. On the less chewed up sections the yellow Ducati handled well, with a balanced feel, but when things began to get bumpy the suspension began to show its weaknesses. Any moderate sized heave in the pavement would induce some squirm. It was most apparent when on the gas coming out of the corner, but really it was more of an annoyance than anything else. With some time to fine tune the Sachs shock and Marzocchi fork setting, mainly spring preload, I think that the squirm could be lessened if not eliminated. On the track the suspension was firmed up considerably and created a rock solid chassis, confirming my thoughts on increasing the preload.

The 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 is a capable handler on the track and the street.
Keeping your right toe off the deck is difficult on the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 due to an exhaust shroud that crowds your heel.
Riding the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter on the track is a blast but the street is where it really shines.
On the street, cornering on the Streetfighter 848 was a blast. Effort on the taller bars is light, and flicking into a corner at the appropriate speed is cake. Mid-corner changes were as easy as thinking about it, and even an unexpected decreasing radius turn was not a problem. On the track I struggled with getting the bike to completely drop into the corner, especially in the tight, second-gear corners that required trail-braking all the way into the apex before squirting to the next corner. It seemed that the super-comfortable bars on the street were fighting me for that last bit of lean. The straight bars coaxed me into holding my elbows up like I was on motocross bike. Once I made an effort to drop my elbows the resistance lessened and the track began to flow. I was able to pick up the pace considerably, and the phenomenal grip from the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tire helped the bike stick like glue. When our track session came to an end, I found myself wanting more time as each lap the bond between me and the Streetfighter improved.

As expected the Brembo brakes performed with poise. The soft-feel sintered pads on the front didn’t have as much initial bite as we’ve become accustomed to, but the power and feel was stellar. Even as the laps counted down on the track, there was zero fade which was surprising on such a tight layout. The rear brake was not as powerful as I would like, and the feel was not on the same level as the front.

Ducati has a hit on its hands with the 2012 Streetfighter 848. Although it’s not the nastiest or most powerful, it is still sexy and pure Italian performance. The fact that it is more manageable for the average Joe and can still coax smiles and bench racing from the fast guys goes to show that more isn’t always better. The concept of a more controllable yet still exciting Streetfighter just makes sense, and the 2012 Streetfighter 848 is proof.
2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 Gallery
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2012 Ducati Streetfigher 848 Specs
The 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 is the latest addition to the Ducati named bike line-up.
2012 Streetfighter 848
Engine: Liquid-cooled­ 849.4cc L-Twin; 8 val. DOHC
Bore x Stroke: 94 x 61.2mm
Compression Ratio: 13.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Marelli fuel-injection
Horsepower: 132 hp @ 10,00 rpm (claimed)
Torque: 69 lb-ft @ 9500 rpm (claimed)
Clutch: Wet; Multi-plate; Hydraulic actuation
Transmission: 6-speed; Chain final drive
Frame: Steel-Trellis
Front Suspension: Marzocchi 43mm inverted fork, fully adjustable 
Rear Suspension: Sachs monoshock, fully adjustable with progressive linkage
Front Brakes: 320mm discs with radial-mount Brembo four-piston monobloc calipers
Rear Brake: 245mm disc, twin-piston caliper
Tires: Pirelli Diablo Corsa 120/70R17 180/60R17
Dry Weight: 373 lbs (claimed)
Wheelbase: 58.1 in.
Length: 83.5 in.
Rake: 24.5-deg,
Seat Height: 33.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.4 gal.
MSRP: $12,995
Warranty: Two year
Colors: Fighter Yellow, Stealth Black, Ducati Red 

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ergoetc   December 26, 2011 02:21 AM
canaduc is correct. AM, stop "thinking" about it and crack open a fork or just draw them with a piece of paper. It will all become clear.
Popssss   October 17, 2011 09:17 PM
Paul Thede from another popular motorcycle website talks about Preload and Spring Rate, and canaduc is correct. A stiffer spring would also start at zero force, but its compression rate would increase at a steeper angle, as in Figure 2. Notice that at 20mm travel, the softer spring requires only 10kg force, while the stiffer spring requires 20kg. The stiffer spring at 1.0kg/mm is both twice as steep and twice as stiff as the softer spring, which is 0.5kg/mm. Let's back up and define what spring rate and preload really are. "Spring rate" reflects the stiffness of the spring and is measured in kilograms per millimeter or pounds per inch. One of the ways to test spring rate is to first measure the spring's "free length"-the uninstalled length-and then put weights onto it, measuring the resulting compression with the addition of each weight. "Straight-rate" springs maintain a constant rate of compression throughout their travel. Now let's take the original spring and install it in the fork. As it's installed, it gets compressed, or preloaded, a small amount. "Preload" (or "preload length") is the distance the spring is compressed from its free length as it's installed with the suspension fully extended. Just a note here on the difference between preload and preload adjusters: All bikes that I am aware of have preload. Some bikes do not have external preload adjusters, but they do have preload. All forks can have preload adjusted internally by changing spring spacer length, though sometimes it takes special spacers. Forks that have external preload adjustment have preload even when set at the minimum adjustment. The "preload force" is the initial force the spring exerts on the end of the fork tube with the fork fully extended. In this case, the preload length is 35mm and the resultant preload force is 17.5kg at zero travel. In other words, with this 0.5kg/mm spring and a setting at 35mm preload, you would have to put more than 17.5kg force on the end of the fork tube to create any movement at all. For a straight-rate spring, the relationship between force, spring rate and travel is described by the equation: F = K x L (or force [F] equals spring rate [K] times length [L]). When you tighten the adjusting collar on a shock or increase the preload length by tightening the adjuster on the fork, you are indeed increasing the initial force exerted by the springs. This decreases sag, making the bike ride higher. It does not, however, increase the spring rate. For example, you can achieve a targeted sag on the fork even with a spring that is too light (or soft) if you use a lot of preload. You can also achieve that same sag with a spring that is way too heavy by using very little or no preload. Let's look at just one fork leg on paper. Let us assume the front end has 30mm of static sag. At 30mm of sag, the total spring force is 32.5kg. This means that each fork spring must push up 32.5kg to create a 30mm sag figure. Any combination of spring rate and preload that gives 32.5kg force at 30mm travel will create the same sag. Notice the stiffer, 1.0kg/mm spring has 2.5mm preload and, at 30mm travel, also creates 32.5kg force. This means they will both have the same sag; however, they will perform totally differently. The quality of the ride will suffer with a spring that is either too soft or too stiff. The spring with a rate that's too soft will dive and bottom easily because the spring doesn't provide enough additional force as it gets deeper into the travel. The spring that has a very stiff rate will feel harsh, like it's hitting a barrier or very stiff spot. A few more measurements will show if your spring rates are in the ballpark. Set the sag to standard settings (see Technicalities, August '95) and then measure the "free sag." "Free sag" is the amount the bike settles under its own weight. Use exactly the same procedure as when checking static sag, but without the rider on board. Street and roadrace bikes require 0 to 5mm of free sag on the rear, but should not "top out" hard. "Topping out" occurs when the suspension extends to its limit. It should barely have enough force to top out without the rider on board. If it takes a lot of force to compress it at all, you can bet it needs a different spring. On the front, expect to see 5 to 10mm of free sag. When the static sag is correct and the free sag is less than the minimum recommended (e.g., it tops out hard), you need a heavier spring rate with less preload. A lighter spring is recommended when the free sag is more than the maximum recommended. Most bikes, but not all, are set up with fork springs that are too soft for aggressive riding. Keep in mind that personal preference, conditions and type of riding come into play when setting up suspension. Racers generally use higher spring rates with less preload than street riders. When in doubt, consult a good suspension tuner.
TonyDee   October 4, 2011 03:42 PM
Thank God that's cleared up!
canaduc   October 4, 2011 03:25 PM
I've already done the studying - if you read some of the stuff I suggested you read, then you will have done your studying too.

The assumption you are making is that adding preload compresses the spring. I have explained to you very clearly (I thought?) why that is not true - CAN NOT be true - unless the suspension is already topped out. I even told you how to **prove it to yourself** through actual, easy, physical measurements. But you apparently can't be bothered to do either. Why not?

If you refuse to read, refuse to observe, and refuse to learn, then you will remain in the 90% of riders who do not understand preload. If you wish to join the 10% who understand, then just read one of those references I mentioned (one of which another poster quoted below for your convenience!), or do the simple experiment I described.

So yeah, our conversation is over, until you take the next step required to enlighten yourself. Just writing the same incorrect things over and over does not make them true, and I have given you several avenues for disproving them. Why not atually test your ideas, rather than just re-stating them?

AM   October 4, 2011 02:05 PM
CANADUC. ok.ok. last shot. no no nothing personal, we are just talking here. -FORGET about preload and sag. very simple here. Any spring, on any system, needs more force to compress as it compresses from it's neutral position or resting position. The more you compress a spring the more force you need. If a spring on the motorcycle suspension is compressed more from its resting position, it now WILL need more force to compress which in case will make the suspension stiffer. Buddy, it does not get any simpler than that.

YOU SAID: ...But if you do it with a rider on board so there is some sag both before and after, you will find out that the rear spring does not change in length at all as you add preload. well, it might actually EXTEND a tiny bit...

WRRRRRRRRROOOOOONG. It does not matter with rider, with helmet, with the bike on the stand, with the bike upside down. If you add preload to any spring, which is in other words TO COMPRESS the spring, the spring will change lenght. And if you COMPRESS the spring it will SHORTEN not EXTEND. How can you compress a spring and it EXTENDS?? Please. And that's where our conversation ends. Sorry. No ofense, but you got some studying to do.

canaduc   October 4, 2011 09:13 AM
Oh hey...another idea. Do what you suggested I do! Go out and make a big change in preload to your rear shock, and measure the spring length before and after. This is instrucive because you can actually physically see the spring.

Remember though, there has to be sag. If you wind in so much preload that the suspension tops out, then yes the spring will compress. But if you do it with a rider on board so there is some sag both before and after, you will find out that the rear spring does not change in length at all as you add preload (well, it might actually EXTEND a tiny bit due to the change in weight distribution and linkage ratio as the rear of the bike rises up).

canaduc   October 4, 2011 08:59 AM
Sorry AM - I am trying not to make this personal and just give you the facts. Not sure how else to explain it. Did you read the link I provided?

Here's another way to think about it. Have you even seen what is inside your forks? The cartridge is bolted to the bottom of the fork. The spring sits on top of the cartridge, and is pressed down upon by the fork cap. When you add preload, protrusions from the fork cap bear down on the top of the spring. The spring is not physically attached to either the cartridge or the fork cap - it is just sitting in there under tension, even with the fork fully extended. Draw that on a piece of paper.

You will see that in the case of the fork being fully extended, adding preload decreases the amount of space for the spring (i.e., the distance between the top of the cartridge and the bottom of the fork cap), so the spring compresses. But, when you put enough weight on the fork to overcome that initial spring tension, it sags (the fork is no longer fully extended). Now what happens when you add preload? Answer: the fork extends to compensate. There is no extra weight bearing on the spring, so its length does not change. How can the fork be free to extend, yet at the same time be putting additional tension into the spring? It can't do both. Either it is topped out and so compresses the spring as you add preload, or it is not topped out and extends as you add preload. Seriously, take the time to draw it and you will see.

Another way to convince yourself is to go to your own bike, measure the sag (there has to be some sag for this to work!), then add or remove preload and see how much the sag changes. If you do a good job making the measurements (taking the average of the "stuck up" and "stuck down" measurements to account for stiction), you will find that the sag changes by exactly 1 mm for each mm of preload you add or remove. If preload were compressing the spring, sag would have to change by less than the added preload, right?

Of course this is just the basics. There are subtleties that come into play as well. I won't type them out here but they are covered in that link I provided. But the basics are correct: if the suspension has any sag, adding preload does not compress the spring, it just changes the resting position (amount of extension) of the suspension.

Chapter 5 of Andrew Trevitt's book Sportbike Suspension Tuning also explains all of this quite nicely.

Sorry for the tanget from discussing this otherwise nice article!

Glen   October 4, 2011 07:49 AM
As an older rider and not given to import twins, I'm mysteriously drawn to this company. I've gone ahead an bought a Ducati after riding one.
Mxster112   October 4, 2011 07:26 AM
"Decent article about an interesting bike...but sheesh, another moto journlalist who has no idea what a preload adjustment does" -canaduc Hmmmm.. Is this why we are reading an article from him and not you??
Desh   October 4, 2011 04:27 AM
Taken from the promecha ink below More Preload makes the spring stiffer? Preload makes the bike sit higher, or lower - it does NOT make the spring stiffer. "So if someone tells you that you should reduce your preload to make the bike feel less harsh, they probably don’t have a clue" (GB). A spring's job is to be able to compress almost fully and then return to it's free length without any changes to length or rate. When you "preload" a spring it simply means you compress the spring with a load or adjuster before any vehicle/bike load is put on the spring. So if you have a spring that has a rate of 1Nm per mm and when you assemble the forks you compress the spring (preload) 10mm with the adjuster backed right off, then that is "fitted preload". The usual preload adjuster has a further 15mm of preload range, this means the total force you have stored in the spring is 25Nm. To make the fork move you have to exceed this load, and then the rate increases by 1Nm because that's the spring rate. What makes it feel more stiff is that instead of starting at 10Nm it starts at 25Nm because the one force is higher than the other. This is what gives you the feeling of a stiffer spring." Canaduc is correct. The spring feels stiffer because it takes slightly more inital force to overcome the extra preload, but beyond that the spring will compress at exactly the same rate unless you tune the damping. For real racetrack 'stiffness' under heavy braking and so forth preload is not the answer.
motousa_adam   October 3, 2011 07:18 PM
i agree with AM here--
AM   October 3, 2011 02:05 PM
hint: increasing preload raises the bike on its suspension - (reduces sag) - CORRECT., but it doesn't affect spring tension or damping - WRONG - IT DOES, so it doesn't make the suspension "firmer".- IT DOES MAKE THE SUSPENSION FIRMER.

AT ANY POINT of the fork or shock if you add preload ( which is EXACTLY adding spring compression ) which in case will change sag front and back, the spring will become harder to compress and therefore the ride will become stiffer or firmer.

Now let's say the spring has a rate of 0.5kg/mm. It doesn't matter what you do with the suspension that rate will not change.

But any suspension, with any spring rate,if you add preload to the spring the bike will be stiffer. Because now you will need more force to compress the spring at that point.Period.

Crank the preload ring 10 turns on the shock of your bike, go for a ride and tell me how it felt. Actually, no need. I am here to tell you that the suspension will be stiffer and the ride will be "firmer "

Yes, if the fork is fully extended (e.g., bike on the steering head stand, or fork uninstalled lying on a bench), adding preload compresses the spring inside the fork. But, once you have the weight of the bike on it, it compresses (sags) to whatever point produces enough spring tension to support the weight. If you have a lot of preload it will sag less, if you have not so much preload it will sag more. But once it reaches that sag the tension in the spring is the same, and the spring rate is the same, so any thing that acts on the spring (bump, whatever) CORRECT ALL ABOVE will effect the spring in the same way. WRONG. NO IT WILL NOT. A SPRING WITH MORE PRELOAD WILL ACT DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE NOW IT WILL NEED MORE FORCE TO COMPRESS. THE RIDE WILL BE STIFFER, IT WILL NOT DIVE AS MUCH WHEN BRAKING, IT WILL NOT ABSORB BUMPS AS EASIER, ETC, ETC....

canaduc   October 3, 2011 09:31 AM
Sorry AM, winding in the preload does *not* compress the spring except in the case where the suspension is topped out (fully extended), which of course it normally is not when you are on the bike, or even when you are off the bike if things are correct. This is a common misconception and a pet peeve of mine as you can tell.

The fork spring is compressed as much as it needs to be to support the weight that is on it. If you crank on the preload, all you do is lift the top of the fork up relative to the top of the spring - i.e., you extend the fork. That is why the ride height increases and the sag decreases when you add preload.

Yes, if the fork is fully extended (e.g., bike on the steering head stand, or fork uninstalled lying on a bench), adding preload compresses the spring inside the fork. But, once you have the weight of the bike on it, it compresses (sags) to whatever point produces enough spring tension to support the weight. If you have a lot of preload it will sag less, if you have not so much preload it will sag more. But once it reaches that sag the tension in the spring is the same, and the spring rate is the same, so any thing that acts on the spring (bump, whatever) will effect the spring in the same way.

That's how fork springs work. Read Trevitt's book or this website if you still don't get it.

AM   October 2, 2011 08:12 PM
Mr. Canaduc - So you compress the spring putting more preload on it and now the spring has the same rate of compression. Since when? Of course it makes the bike suspension firmer because now you'll need more force to compress the spring because it has already been compressed. Or are going to tell me that a spring has the same rate of compression as it compresses? You are completely wrong and have no idea of what preload is and its effect on the bike.
TonyDee   October 2, 2011 08:53 AM
Thanks for the preload heads up Mr Spock.
canaduc   October 1, 2011 11:35 AM
Decent article about an interesting bike...but sheesh, another moto journlalist who has no idea what a preload adjustment does.

Hint: increasing preload raises the bike on its suspension (reduces sag), but it doesn't affect spring tension or damping, so it doesn't make the suspension "firmer".

If it felt fimer on the track it is because they added more rebound damping and possibly compression damping as well. A track setup would also typically include increasing preload, but again, that is not why it feels more firm. Swapping out the springs for higher rate ones would also firm it up, but I doubt they did that.

Justin Dawes   September 30, 2011 10:17 PM
They definitely owe it to themselves. I think every returning service member should have a new Ducati (or other bike of their choice) waiting for them when they get home!
jrwaller11c   September 30, 2011 09:34 PM
I think most military types are thrill seekers and what with deployments, most have enough saved up money, more than most people in their age group (18-26), and honestly, they owe it to themselves.
Superlight   September 30, 2011 02:20 PM
I'm not sure about servicemen in particular, but people are attracted to Ducati because of its 1), style, 2), sound and 3), image compared to the competition. I think all the racing success and print ads have finally given this brand awareness with the average motorcyclist. To me, the Japanese brands are not even close.
Glen   September 30, 2011 01:44 PM
Can anyone tell me why Ducati is such a big favorate of our GI's. Living near a base I've seen more naked bikes then you could shake a stick at being riden by servicemen 10 to 1 with Ducati being the new favorite.