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2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is a naked 208-hp firebreather

Ducati has gone to a lot of trouble to make the Streetfighter more usable than its Panigale cousin, but it seems to have lost little of the V4's insanity in translation.

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This is Ducati's idea of a "more usable" superbike, but maybe that means something different in Italian?

Ducati

Well, the proverbial cat is out of the bag, and now we know just how wild Ducati's Streetfighter V4 S will be when it eventually hits the streets. As we suspected, it shares a lot with its fully faired cousin, but it's different in a few meaningful ways.

To start, we have to talk about the angry beating heart of the Streetfighter: the Desmosedici engine. In this trim, it will make a stonking 208 horsepower and 90.4 pound-feet of torque. For reference, the Streetfighter's closest competitor is the Aprilia Tuono 1100 V4, which produces 175 hp and 89 lb.-ft. 

In addition to the headline power figures, there's some neat engineering going on inside the Ducati V4 that very much affect the bike's riding dynamics. First, the Desmosedici engine has a counter-rotating crankshaft. This has the effect of reducing the gyroscopic effect of the bike's wheels at speed and makes it more willing to lean over and turn. It also features a total of eight fuel injectors (two per cylinder, duh) and has a spark event for every 90 degrees of crankshaft rotation. This helps smooth power delivery and makes it a little more manageable than it otherwise might be.

The most significant changes from the Panigale V4 (barring bodywork) come in the form of geometry. When most manufacturers go from a fully faired sport bike where the rider is scrunched up in a tuck to a more upright naked bike, they relax the bike's steering head angle and stretch out the swingarm to increase stability. Ducati did this too with the Streetfighter, but to a lesser degree than it might have previously. This is because it opted to use winglets (a la MotoGP) to help reduce the impact that an upright rider has on bike stability at speed. In total, the folks from Bologna only stretched the swingarm by 15 millimeters and changed the steering rake by a degree or so.

As we predicted, Ducati is slapping the latest and greatest version of its "Ducati Safety Pack" onto the Streetfighter, and that means a few things. The most significant is that the bike gets the new predictive traction control system that we first saw on the Panigale. This lets the bike react more quickly to the loss of traction and intervene in a less intrusive way. The bike also gets wheelie control, launch control, ABS and a slew of other systems that are prefaced with the word "dynamic." The net result of all these should be a bike that doesn't feel murderous on the street but is still ultracapable on track.

Another relatively new thing is the way Ducati is handling its ride-by-wire throttle mapping. It's getting deep into electronic torque management -- kind of like the boost-by-gear tech we see in Ferrari's turbocharged cars -- where it adjust the bike's torque response to suit individual gears and throttle position. This will effectively smooth the throttle out and make it less herky-jerky on the road, especially when transitioning from a steady state.

Another exceedingly important thing to talk about when you talk about a naked bike is ergonomics. Because a naked bike is primarily designed to be ridden on the road, things like rider comfort and seat height matter a lot more than they would on a bike designed to live mostly at the track. To that end, Ducati lowered the seat height on the Streetfighter to a more reasonable (for the class, anyway) 33.3 inches. For comparison's sake, the Tuono has a seat height of 32.4 inches. The Streetfighter also gets its footpegs mounted much lower than the Panigale's to help stretch the rider's legs a bit and make it more comfortable for longer rides.

So now you may be wondering just what'll it cost to put a Streetfighter in your garage, and when you might be able to do that? Well, I have good news for you on that front -- mostly. The "mostly" part stems from the fact that Ducati is asking $19,999 for the Streetfighter V4 S, and that's not exactly couch change for most of us. The better news is that the bikes are slated to hit US showrooms in April -- which is to say, next month.