A few weeks ago I bought a Ducati Streetfighter 848. I had been looking forward to this for a long time, and after I recently ‘upgraded’ my job I felt it was time to treat myself with a new toy for summer.
I have admired Ducati for as long as I have been interested in motor bikes. One of my relatives in Germany is the editor of Europe’s largest motor bike print magazine and I still remember one day when I was a kid and there was a birthday at my grandparents, he and his partner arrived on Ducati superbikes. I can’t remember the exact model, but it must have been a 916. The unique engine sound made a lasting impression on me.
There is nothing quite like an Italian motor bike — the passion, the tradition, the attention to detail, it’s so much more fascinating than other brands. No matter if it’s Ducati, MV Agusta, Aprilia or — historically — Moto Guzzi, you can’t do much wrong with buying any of their bikes. The only other bike I even considered instead of the Ducati Streetfighter was an MV Agusta F4. I liked the bike a lot when it still had the organ pipes exhaust design, but the later models sadly don’t use that anymore. I also prefer the upright seating position on the Streetfighter.
It’s hard to describe the Streetfighter, it feels like a bike that doesn’t fit into any category. It’s not really a city bike, the clutch is so hard my wrist hurts after only half an hour in Melbourne stop-and-go traffic. And the engine doesn’t like to be treated with less than 3,000 revs and it makes me feel it every time.
It’s also not a touring bike, I had such a hard time even fitting four straps below the passenger seat to fit a 20l tail bag, which I want to try using instead of a backpack.
It’s also not really a sports bike, even though it has the engine and frame from the 848 superbike. But the upright seating position and the lack of windscreen would make it difficult to ride fast. Not really a concern here in Victoria though, with a speed limit of 110kmh. I’ve never been a speed freak anyway, and haven’t received a speeding ticket in almost 15 years. I’m more the sporty cruiser type of person.
Some people would call these points shortcomings. I call it character. I absolutely love the Streetfighter because it is a bike with character and rough edges. It’s a bike that is so perfect at not even trying to be perfect, which is probably the aim of a streetfighter-type bike anyway, not just of the Ducati Streetfighter.
It may not feel rational to spend the equivalent of a middle-class car for a fun bike that doesn’t seem to suit any particular purpose, but sometimes doing irrational things provides the most joy in life. I love every moment when I ride to work in the morning and people left and right turn their heads looking at this aggressive beast with its red steel frame, single-sided swing-arm, unique Ducati sound and the mad dual-exhaust pipes.
It’s a bike that is turning heads. When I picked it up from my dealer and then parked it in front of my office, almost immediately there was a crowd of colleagues surrounding it, admiring every detail and the shiny red finish.
It’s an irrational bike and that’s good. To me, riding a Streetfighter is like making a statement, like showing the middle finger to all the other bikes out there that try so hard to make sense and be commercial successes. Or Japanese bikes with their uninspiring designs, lack of passion and attention to detail. Why buy a Yamaha or Honda when you can buy a Ducati or an MV Agusta? This is what separates people with style from those who have none. A Ducati may not be easy to ride, it may not be cheap and despite 16l in the tank I get only 200km out of it, but who cares for all that when those 200km are the most thrilling and enjoyable I can imagine. It’s a bike with character, and that experience matters more to me in a bike than a lot of other things.