2022 Ducati Streetfighter V2 review: Can it tick as many boxes as its big brother?

2022 Ducati Streetfighter V2 review: Can it tick as many boxes as its big brother?
PHOTO: CarBuyer

Borgo Panigale, Italy / Singapore - Ducati’s new-gen Streetfighter V4 has shown that Borgo Panigale now knows to bring the knuckle-dusters to the performance naked arena when it comes to the unlimited, litre-plus class, but can the middleweight Streetfighter V2 replicate that success?

Owing to healthy demand for the Panigale V2 in markets like the USA, Ducati has applied the same Streetfighter formula to that mid-weight sportsbike, resulting in the Streetfighter V2 (SFV2).

Why? Why not!

While the market for supersport/mid-weight sportsbikes has almost completely dropped off, more versatile mid-weight nakeds have continued to flourish with almost every brand now boasting one, from the BMW F 900 R to Triumph’s ever-present Street Triple, Yamaha’s MT-09, and many more. Even Honda is making a return to this segment with a rumoured new Hornet.

Mid-weight nakeds are less intimidating to ride than balls-out supernakeds, they’re lighter, easier to ride in a wider range of contexts, and perhaps most importantly, are cheaper. In the case of Streetfighter line, the cost of the Streetfighter V4 at S$71,900*, V4S at S$81,900*, and V4 SP at S$119,900* really puts the appeal of the S$61,900* V2 into obvious contrast. 

While the SFV4 is undoubtedly great machine – the question here is to see if the SFV2 can tick as many boxes as its big brother for significantly less money.

*OTR price including road tax, COE, without insurance. 

About the face…

At face value, the SFV2 and SFV4 both look extremely similar, though the SFV2 obviously has more of the Panigale V2 mixed into its appearance. Common parts include the headlight/cowl section, as well as the tail section, while the tank and shrouds also look extremely similar. 

Unlike the V4, the SFV2 has no aero wings on its flanks, while sharp-eyed readers will also notice the silver fork uppers, and silver Brembo callipers that lack red lettering. While the SFV2 has the same 43mm Showa BPF forks and Sachs rear shock as the SFV4 (and Panigale V2), it has lower spec Brembo M4.32 ‘non Stylema’ callipers gripping smaller 320mm (vs 330mm) dual discs.

It’s actually quite hard to differentiate the various Streetfighter models if they whizz by, but the lower section of the V2 is a giveaway : An exposed exhaust pipe with side-exit exhaust, and the fully red belly-pan section lacking the silver radiator element of the V4 models. 

Naturally, the SFV2’s riding position is significantly more comfortable than the Panigale V2 it’s derived from, with a wide, tall handlebar and wider seat. Like the previous gen Streetfighter 848 and 1098, we found that the SFV2’s riding position is less aggressive than the V4, even though both have the same seat height (845mm).

The SFV2 also inherits the same electronics package of the Panigale V2 – which is to say, it’s very comprehensive. Served by a six-axis IMU, it has traction control, wheelie control, up/down quickshift, engine brake control, cornering ABS, and three riding modes (Sport, Road, Wet). 

Half the cylinders…half the fun?

But the literal heart of things is that the Streetfighter V2, compared to the V4, goes from the arm-rippingly powerful 208hp 1,103cc V4, to a relatively modest 153hp 955cc V2. This is the Panigale V2’s oversquare Superquadro engine, not the more relaxed 100+ horsepower 937cc unit from the DesertX and Multistrada V2.  

Like our test of the Ducati DesertX ‘Dakar Lite’ adventure bike, we rode the SFV2 on the same roads Ducati uses for bike development, approximately 85km starting from the factory in Borgo Panigale to the renowned biker haven Chalet Raticosa. This encompasses all types of tricky – and enjoyable – tarmac, but we also had the opportunity to test the bike back home on Singapore’s far more humdrum roads. All in, we had a great opportunity to see how the SFV2 responds to a variety of conditions.

The most obvious difference is the switch from four cylinders to two, with the classic L-twin characteristics of a narrower powerband, chugging and clutchwork needed below 4500rpm, with power/ torque tapering off after 10,000rpm. When the going gets slow, your left hand and foot become more busy, which is not so pleasant in Singapore, but out on Italy’s winding tarmac it spells for more involvement. 

With 50-plus horses less, SFV2 was less intimidating to ride on wide open throttle, the better to enjoy the sound. The V2 echoes Ducati’s famous L-twins with its slightly hollow, flat baritone that is unmistakable. The V4, ironically, has been tuned to sound like the Ducati L-twin, so in that respect, it’s a bit of a let down, say compared to the sonic-wonder of Aprilia’s Tuono V4. 

Street sprightly

Despite losing two cylinders, there’s only a two kilo weight difference, and in fact the handling characteristics of both bikes is quite similar, which is to say, it’s an enjoyable blend of versatility and sportiness. 

The SFV2 was impressively pliant and composed over the roughest stretches of the riding route, and over the fast constant radius sweepers, the suspension was very communicative and confidence inspiring.

We dare say that given the same stretch of road and conditions, the SFV2 could easily match the middleweight king of handling, the Triumph Street Triple RS. We thoroughly enjoyed riding the 153hp SFV2, confidently applying WOT on several occasions. What’s memorable is how it tackles the worst tarmac with aplomb, and egged us on.

Italy isn’t that bad, even in the summer, but Singapore’s urban heck is a different story. Like many powerful naked bikes, don’t expect to get more than 200km on a tankful, but at least the ergonomics of the SFV2 are relatively comfy our humdrum roads. There is no major heat to cook your limbs or nether regions, and as noted, commuting on it requires more clutchwork than the V4, or an inline four.  

Less isn’t that much less

The SFV2 feels very much like its big brother, though it’s less breathtaking on power delivery, that’s entirely the point.

We think that the SFV2 is positioned for riders who reminisce Ducati L-twins, and enjoy the involvement required to  keep the engine on the boil, and un-intimidating power that they can fully deploy once in awhile. 

If it sounds like the SFV2 is slow, it certainly isn’t – keep in mind that it’s only 12hp away from BMW’s S 1000 R. Having said that, the price for something Italian, red, and fast is never small and the Beemer isn’t that far off in price, ditto the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, while Yamaha’s MT-10 is a lot cheaper than the Ducati, even in SP trim.

While the seating position is more relaxed, the SFV2’s nature means the V4 takes the edge in flexibility and performance too – the V4 is just that good a powerplant. And we think the main thing here is that the V2 is ‘only’ S$10k away from the V4. It’s a 16 percent premium on an already expensive motorcycle, but if you’re looking for Italian speed, logic is not the prime motivator here.

It’s not a case of less is more for the V2, rather that less isn’t really missing out on much. But it’s close enough to the V4 that you’d always wonder what you’re missing out on.

22022 Ducati Streetfighter V2

Drivetrain type Petrol only
Engine 955cc, L-twin
Power 153hp at 10750rpm
Torque 101.4Nm at 9000rpm
Gearbox Six-speed manual with up/down quickshifter
0-100km/h Not revealed
Top speed Not revealed
Wet Weight 200kg
Seat Height  845mm
Agent Ducati Singapore
Price  S$61,900 inclusive of COE 4-year warranty
Availability Now
Verdict Modern Streetfighter experience with the less powerful/more involving/tiresome V2 – the choice for Ducatisti purists who want to spend a bit less

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This article was first published in CarBuyer.

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