Friday, November 16, 2012

Test Riding the MV Augusta F4 and Ducati Streetfighter

A special thanks to <a href="" target="_new">Duc Pond Motorsports</a> of Winchester, VA for setting up the awesome demo day. It is rare to get a factory demo ride and even rarer for an event to be run this well. Although our time was short, I was able to sneak in test rides of two really different, but amazing bikes. The demo route was about 20 miles long, but a good mix of back country roads and high speed bursts on highways giving a good impression of the capabilities and comfort of the bikes.

My impressions will be split over two posts. With the Ducati below, and the MV Augusta impressions arriving later in the week.

<b><i>Ducati Streetfighter First Impressions</i></b>

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<tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href=""><img border="0" height="125" src="" width="200" /></a></td></tr>
<tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><a href="">Photo Courtesy of Ducati Blog</a></td></tr>
First up, the Ducati Streetfighter, which I actually rode second that day. The riding position is upright enough to be comfortable for a long ride, and the power, from the 1099cc Ducati L-twin motor, was excellent, with impressive torque in the low rpm range below 5000 rpm and strong pull to the power peak at 9500 rpm. Swaddled in Ducati's traditional red, the bike is stunning to look at in all of its mechanical glory.

But besides the bad-ass transformer look, the greatest thing about this bike was the sound. The desmosedici valve-train rattling away, punctuating the deep, guttural note generated by the factory option Termignoni dual exhaust, creates just the right balance of tones and truly backs up the bike's menacing appearance with a sound to match. Rev up the motor and the exhaust bellows a note that stirs even the most downtrodden of souls. As the RPMs rise, so does the pitch of the exhaust, terminating in a wail that stabs at the air as though screaming at it to make way. Few bikes sound this good straight from the factory.

Seat height is surprisingly manageable, even given my 31-inseam. With my boots on, I could comfortably flat foot the bike and the pegs were closer to a standard position under the rider as opposed to set back as on the Ducati sport bikes. Bars were high enough to make the reach easy with only a some lean, although the rake of the front fork coupled with the position of the bar gave the odd sensation of feeling like you were riding out in front of the bike, but with no fairing to provide wind protection. It was one of the weirdest sensations I had felt before and took a little getting used to, but once the sensation passed, the bike was fun and comfortable.

As I mentioned before, power is good and tractable, even without all of the fancy electronics. Handling is light and tossable, in part due to the fully wet weight of just over 400 lbs with a half tank of fuel. Mix that 155 bhp and 85 lb-ft of torque with the light weight, tossable chassis, and you have a truly fun bike to ride on the back roads but still have super power for running all day on the freeways. However, I could not really see anyone using this bike for extremely long rides given the lack of wind protection.

Overall, I enjoyed this bike a great deal, but I this is not a bike that I would opt to purchase for my own riding, which is made up of mostly longer touring rides and this bike lacks the wind protection for that sort of riding. But if you are looking for a powerful, capable, and nimble street bike for backroads strafing and can afford the cost, this is a fantastic bike. As a second bike, I would love to own one.

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