The Ducati Streetfighter 1100 was an odd addition to Ducati’s naked bike range, the power of its 155 bhp engine arguably being way over the top. Essentially it was a stripped-down 1098 sportsbike – though there were numerous subtle differences between the two bikes – it replaced the 130 bhp Monster S4RS, a machine most considered more than speedy enough. More importantly, almost everyone lamented the loss of the iconic Monster styling from what had been until then Ducati’s strongest performing naked bike.
But the powerful Ducati Streetfighter 1100 still has the chance to become a bit of a collector’s model. Its production run only lasted from 2009 to 2012, and as its sales weren’t great (at £11,500 its price was quite salty), it’s rarely seen on British roads. The standard model we’re looking at here was actually preceded by the higher-spec S version; equipped with Öhlins suspension, forged wheels, and a traction control system, it’s easily identified by its bronze coloured frame. It was dropped from the Ducati line-up after just four years.
A bike that’s outlasted the two Ducati Streetfighter 1100s is the smaller 848 version introduced in 2012. With very similar styling, a less powerful 130bhp engine, tamer chassis geometry, and less ferocious brakes, the 848 is more of a real-world package. It remains in the Ducati range.
Ducati Streetfighter 1100 – What’s It Like To Ride ?
It’s clear Ducati’s strikingly-styled Streetfighter 1100 is a sportsbike minus the fairing. What takes quite a bit longer to realise is just how accomplished the Italian bike is; the more you ride it, the more impressed you’ll be.
The Duke’s handling is the main issue that requires time and mileage to fully understand and appreciate – just taking it off its stand instantly tells you the Ducati Streetfighter 1100 is a very light motorcycle. Ducati claims it tips the scales with just a 169kg dry weight And though fuel, oil and water will add to that, the toy-like feel of the bike even in ready-to-go trim suggests the Italian factory’s declaration is about right.
It’s arguably this very fact that dictates why you need time before you’ll feel completely together with the Ducati Streetfighter 1100. I know my initial opinions of the chassis performance weren’t anywhere near as fully complimentary as they’d become later.
At first the bike just feels over-reactive, with any conscious rider input often bringing too much of an effect. This is especially true of the steering, and it’s all too easy to get the bike to oversteer. All body movements have to be light, smooth and consistent – this is quite a sensitive motorcycle. But even when you’ve learned to be smoother and more delicate, and got the chance to make more progress, you’re then given new challenges to face. Thanks to the sporty geometry of the chassis – designed to create the agile response – there’s a hint of instability in the front end.
This is magnified whenever you’re accelerating harder over rougher roads thanks to the stiff fork action and very responsive V-twin engine removing weight from the front wheel. Again, time helps, and once you realise that the steering damper will calm any friskiness completely you can then start riding with greater confidence. Once fully used to the chassis’ manners, you can look forward to some exceptional handling from the taut and rigid Ducati.
There’s no doubt that some compromises have been made to achieve the sort of handling performance the Duke is capable of; as well as the previously mentioned issues, the firm ride of the suspension won’t suit everyone. It gives plenty of support and control but it’s definitely more suited to smoother roads, especially if you prefer more comfortable ride quality. In fairness, you can dial some of the stiffness out of the forks and shock thanks to their fully-adjustable specification, but it’s probably better just to accept the Ducati Streetfighter 1100 for what it actually is – a fairly uncompromising, high performance sportsbike without the bodywork.
Other parts of the machine remind you of its speedy design focus too, and you’ll be impressed by a couple of them whenever you want to raise or lower the pace. The brakes probably deserve the most praise – they are nothing short of phenomenal, with huge power to haul up the Ducati, but because of their superb feedback it’s possible to bring the bike down to a halt from very high speed with just a single finger, and do so in complete control and safety. No doubt the quality of support offered by the forks, the fantastic grip of the front tyre, and the fact that there’s not much weight to pull up in the first place all influence the astounding braking ability.
Unsurprisingly, the engine warrants a complimentary word or two as well. Given that it’s based on the big V-twin that powered the 1098 sportsbike, though with quite a few parts from the later 1198 version, you’d expect plenty of drive for little effort from the throttle, and that’s pretty much what you get. One thing that I didn’t expect though was just how usable it is. Looking at the spec sheet that reveals a claimed 155bhp at first had me thinking the Ducati Streetfighter 1100 could be an aggressive animal needing an expert’s taming hand. The reality was far different, and if I’m honest I was actually a little disappointed with the engine until, just as was the case with the chassis, I’d learned how to get the best out of it.
Typical of this layout, the motor is generally strong and flexible, so choosing the right gear and rpm aren’t crucial to making good progress. But if you want to sample the full strength of the V-twin, it’s better to spin it more. Do that and the Ducati Streetfighter 1100 accelerates very, very strongly, increasing revs rapidly enough to make swift and successive upward gear changes essential to avoid hitting the limiter. Under those circumstances, the claim of 155bhp seems more likely to be genuine.
You need to be aware of the tall first gear in town, and the jerkiness caused by imperfect fuelling at small throttle openings makes twist grip and clutch juggling necessary for smooth running at very low speed. And at the other end of the scale it’s important to bear in mind that using the engine more keenly in the lower gears will risk the front wheel parting with terra firma.
Mind you, with such stimulating performance and a superb aural accompaniment from the twin exhaust cans it’s nice to hear the engine breathe more freely. As more of a purist’s bike that constantly rewards speed, it’s sometimes difficult to be disciplined with the stylish Streetfighter’s throttle. In short, the Ducati Streetfighter 1100 is a real rider’s bike that’s hard to resist enjoying in the way its designers clearly intended it to be.
Ducati Streetfighter 1100 – What To Look For
The Ducati Streetfighter 1100 is a very good used buy. Owners are usually 40-50 years old with a few quid in the bank, and don’t skimp on things like servicing or repairs. The bike is very reliable if it’s cared for, and as owners only tend to use them for special occasions they usually only average a maximum of 2000 miles a year – usually clocked up in dry weather. Bear this mileage in mind as an expensive valve and cam belt service is due at 12,000 miles.
As the Ducati Streetfighter 1100 wasn’t a massive seller during its short production run, there’s not a huge number of them available on the used bike market. You may need to travel a fair distance to get one, though as the vast majority have been very well looked after it’s usually worth the trip. Normal checks are all that are really necessary on this Ducati, as it doesn’t suffer from any major issues. A full service history is important, though very few Streetfighter riders tackle maintenance themselves. Basic fluid changes can be done at home, but you need to see good evidence of this being done. More major engine work is trickier, and needs to be done by experienced mechanics with special tools to get right.
Check the clearance between the outside diameter of the rear tyre and swingarm. It was so tight on some of the earlier bikes, the combination of using higher profile rubber and a gearing change using the fitment of a larger rear sprocket could result in contact. The Ducati does benefit from lowering the overall gearing a little to solve the problem of the tall first gear, but it’s best to fit a smaller front sprocket.
Fitting a Power Commander improves fuelling, and makes the throttle response feel less abrupt in the lower gears. The Ducati Streetfghter 1100 clutch is dry, and problems are very rare, though it does pay to remove the cover and blow out dust periodically.
Some may find the suspension action too firm. Backing off the adjusters helps, but ultimately you have to have the forks reworked and fit a softer rear spring. Choosing the Ducati Streetfighter S model with its more supple set-up might be a wiser choice. The standard steering damper isn’t adjustable, but fitting one which will give more choice to how you want the steering to feel sorts this. Unfortunately the one fitted to the S model is just the same as the standard bike’s.
2011 Ducati Streetfighter 1100 – Specs and Prices
Engine : 1099cc, Liquid-cooled, Desmodromic DOHC 8-Valve, 90º V-Twin
Power : 155 bhp (116kW) @9500rpm
Torque : 85 lb-ft (115Nm) @9500rpm
Transmission : Six-speed, Chain final drive
Frame : Steel-tubed trellis
Front Suspension : 43mm Inverted telescopic forks, fully adjustable
Rear Suspension : Rising-rate monoshock, Fully adjustable
Front Brakes : Twin 330mm discs, four-piston radial calipers
Rear Brakes : 245mm disc, twin-piston caliper
Front Tyres : 120/70 – 17
Rear Tyres : 190/55 – 17
Seat Height : 840 mm
Wheelbase : 1475 mm
Kerb Weight : 189 kg
Fuel Capacity : 16.5 litres
Price : £6500- £9000
*Prices are for early models sold privately in average condition to newer, well cared for examples available at dealers. Expect to pay £1000 more for the higher-spec Ducati Streetfighter S model.