Welcome our contestants in this Streetfighter comparison: The Ducati Streetfighter, Buell 1125CR, and the Aprilia Tuono 1000R.
To fairing or not to fairing? This is the biggest question a sport motorcyclist faces when choosing a new high-performance street bike. Indeed, there was a time when a rider might choose a fully faired motorcycle based on the assumption that more bodywork equals more speed. But with the performance gap virtually the same between Streetfighter motorcycles and that of their fully-covered sportbike brethren, picking your next bike is more a matter of visual preference than anything these days.
Transplanted from deep inside Europe’s dense cities, the Streetfighter motorcycle is essentially a modern sportbike stripped of its main bodywork components and fitted with a standard, upright-style handlebar. It’s the motorcycle of choice for those who want the performance of a sportbike, but the more relaxed riding position of a standard; and a style all its own. Although they haven’t truly caught on here in the States, these motorcycles are not only entertaining to ride but stand out from the norm.
Italian motorcycle marque Ducati enters the category with its all-new 2010 Ducati Streetfighter. It replaces the previous generation Ducati Monster S4R and is virtually a carbon copy of last year’s Ducati 1098 Superbike, but with slight frame and swingarm tweaks. It’s decorated in stunning eye-catching bodywork, a rerouted shotgun-style exhaust and fitted with a tapered aluminum handlebar. Besides those changes, the liquid-cooled 1099cc L-Twin engine, 6-speed transmission with racing inspired dry clutch, tunable Showa suspension parts, wheels and Brembo brakes are all the same as used on the Superbike. We tested it in Spain earlier this year and were enamored by its racetrack-bred performance, albeit with an elevated level of everyday comfort. Read more about it in the 2010 Ducati Streetfighter First Ride motorcycle review.
Leave it to your buddies at Motorcycle-USA to put the latest and greatest Streetfighter motorcycles to the test on both the streets and the racetrack all to discover which one is the best.
The other all-new contender making waves in this comparison is from what you could call the perhaps “biggest little” motorcycle manufacturer around—Buell Motorcycles. Like the Streetfighter, its 1125CR is based off the American manufacturer’s own sportbike, the 1125R. It shares its Rotax-built liquid-cooled 1125cc Helicon V-Twin engine, twin-spar aluminum frame and swingarm, adjustable Showa suspension components, wheels, brakes and tires. In fact, the only difference between it and the 1125R comes down to the bodywork, lower final-drive gearing, and the style of handlebar. Last year we tasted it on the once mean streets of Berlin, Germany. To discover what it was like when ridden in the former Iron Curtin read our 2009 Buell 1125CR First Ride motorcycle review.
Our third and final contender has long been the gold standard in this class. Originally released in 2002, Aprilia’s Tuono 1000R is currently in its second iteration after an update three years ago. It holds top honors in our 2006 Streetfighter Comparison and the 2007 Streetfighter Shootout. But since its ’06 makeover, it has literally been unchanged except for colorways and the type of tires it rolls on.
Centered on the Aprilia RSV1000R sportbike, the Tuono uses the same polished twin-spar aluminum frame and swingarm, but features different steering geometry for a more stable ride. Its suspension and tires are also changed. Furthermore, its Rotax-built 998cc liquid-cooled V-Twin engine has been re-tuned for improved street performance – i.e. more torque, less horsepower. Like the competition, other changes consist of a dirt bike-style handlebar and reworked body kit sans lower fairing. It’s the oldest, most successful platform in this comparison, but will it be enough to one again reign supreme?
To find out we did what we do best here at Motorcycle-USA – shredding the asphalt on the ‘fighters to see who’s best. First up was one of our favorite Southern California motorsports compounds, Willow Springs Raceway. We spun countless laps around the 1-mile, 11-turn Horsethief Mile circuit. Its layout simulates your dreamiest canyon roads, offering a variety of corners, including uphill/downhill, on-camber and off-camber—all taken at an equally diverse speed. From there it’s on to loads of street miles all over sunny lower Calfornia, from highway cruising to canyon roads to daily commuting, in order to discover what they are like to live with day-to-day. So, without further ado, it’s time to learn just which of these three motorcycles is right for you.