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2022 Ducati Streetfighter V4 SP First Ride Review

There is no getting around the SP’s price; at almost $36K, it’s a staggering amount of money for a naked bike.

There is no getting around the SP’s price; at almost $36K, it’s a staggering amount of money for a naked bike. (Alex Photo/)

They say that too much is never enough. Never has this been more true than with Ducati’s mighty Streetfighter V4. Not content to have in its stable two variants of the wildest and fastest super-naked ever conceived, the Bologna factory has now added a third: the limited-edition Ducati Streetfighter V4 SP, which has even more too much.

Its upgrades over the S include lightweight carbon wheels, Stylema Brembo R brakes, and track-ready semi-active suspension focusing it even harder on going like a bat out of hell sans fairing.

We put the new SP to the test on the Cremona racetrack in Italy. Back-to-back sessions against Ducati’s Streetfighter V4 S meant ample opportunity to spot the important differences.

Ducati has left the Desmosedici Stradale engine and mapping alone, meaning it’s exactly the same unit found in the V4 and V4 S variants. The 1,103cc Desmo Stradale produces a staggering 208 hp at 13,000 rpm in standard form, with a whopping 90.4 pound-feet torque at 9,500 rpm. As with the SP version of the Panigale, Ducati has added a dry clutch, invoking old Ducati racebikes.

If you can remember the first Bush presidency, the rattle of the dry clutch will rekindle fond memories. There’s a distinctive Ducati bark from the standard exhaust too, amplified by the almost effortless quickshifter.

Ducati granted me three sessions on the standard Streetfighter V4 S before I jumped on the SP. We already know both machines share the same engine and produce the same quoted power, but after half a lap I’d have bet my house that the SP has more. Even at a relatively slow pace, it feels livelier, sharper, and once up to speed, seems to churn out more grunt.

On the 900-meter-long back straightaway, with the throttle pinned and rider aids busy controlling power, slide, and front-wheel lift, the SP drives ridiculously hard and feels even faster than the category-leading V4 S. But it’s not the engine making the difference; it’s the wheels. The lightweight carbon rims save 3.1 pounds, meaning significantly less inertia, and help the SP accelerate with even more crazed aggression than the V4 S.

You can take the SP to the redline in each gear, and it loves it. The acceleration doesn’t tail off but just keeps driving and surging forward, the limiting factor being not the bike but how much the rider can physically endure. At the end of the straight, the SP is indicating 173 mph and still accelerating.

Yes, you can ride the SP conventionally by short-shifting through V4′s liquid midrange and still go ridiculously quick. But for the best results, take a deep breath, trust in Ducati’s excellent rider aids, and hammer it.

The Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is suspended on Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension, a setup exclusively designed for the V4 S to work primarily on the road. The SP uses a similar system, but one transferred from the Panigale of 2020-21, with a slight change to the spring preload and much more track focus than the Streetfighter V4 S.

The wheels are 3.1 pounds lighter, and overall the SP weighs in 6.6 pounds under the S. There’s a grippier, track-focused seat and the adjustable pegs are set slightly higher, but the gearing, power, chassis geometry, and wheelbase are as before.

On the same track, in the same weather conditions, and on the same Pirelli slick tires, I was two seconds a lap faster on the SP. Perhaps there was an element of getting used to the circuit on the S, but I had three 20-minute sessions on that bike, and it only took me three laps on the SP to be a whole second quicker—and it was easier to ride too.

Those carbon wheels make the SP accelerate faster, certainly, but the biggest difference between the two models is in the handling. The SP is easier to manage and turns with noticeably less effort, and once into the turn, the suspension holds the chassis immaculately. There’s less squat and, thanks to the repositioned pegs, more ground clearance. With a stiffer chassis and more ground clearance, I was able to let off the brakes a fraction earlier, carry more corner speed, and allow the bike to flow with more lean and more speed.

The SP was also faster to change direction, taking less input to lever from left to right; it was arguably more accurate too, as it darted from apex to apex with race-bred precision.

The updated Brembo Stylema R stoppers, as used on the Superleggera, are immensely strong but not overwhelming. On test, the SP went again and again from 173 mph to second gear at the end of each lap, and even after a few sessions I was still braking too early. The lightness of the wheels reduces the stopping distance further while increasing stability, which is also aided by those huge carbon wings, which now feature a small Italian Tricolore on the side.

Pushing for a fast lap on the more road-oriented V4 S was rewarding but relatively hard work. Achieving the same lap time on the SP seemed easier and was less fatiguing, and trackday riders will feel more relaxed and less drained by the SP in the final sessions of the day. Yes, it’s still enormously physical; clinging to a 208 hp beast while getting smashed by a 175 mph wind can’t be anything else. But the SP’s lightness of feeling combined with its handling accuracy make it a superior track prospect, one that accelerates even faster, spins up even faster, and brakes even later.

The list of rider aids is extensive: three riding modes, Bosch cornering ABS EVO, traction control, wheelie control, slide control, launch control, and engine-brake control, all of them lean sensitive and incredibly effective. I rode in Race mode on track and found them faultless. The Pirelli slicks provided excellent mechanical grip, giving the TC and slide control an easy time, but the wheelie control was working tirelessly.

The lighter feeling on track should also be present on the road, while low-speed fueling should also be excellent in everyday environments. The dry clutch has a heavier action than the V4 S’ wet clutch, but this is only needed to select first gear and then becomes redundant.

Verdict

Ducati hasn’t increased power or torque or tweaked the SP’s Desmo Stradale in any way. Yet in a back-to-back test against the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S, I managed to lap two seconds a lap quicker. It is arguably the fastest, most exotic, and most desirable naked bike on the market.

Lap times notwithstanding, the SP is easier to ride fast thanks to improved handling, stopping, and acceleration, and it retains the V4 S’ excellent rider aids. The only downside to owning an SP will be slightly less on-road comfort and a slightly heavier clutch. But who cares about comfort when you’re cutting lap times so easily? And who doesn’t love the rattle of a dry clutch?

If only they weren’t already all but sold out.

2022 Ducati Streetfighter V4 SP Technical Specifications and Price

PRICE $35,500
ENGINE 1,103cc, liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-4; 4 desmo valves/cyl.
BORE x STROKE 81.0 x 53.5mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 14.0:1
FUEL DELIVERY Fuel injection w/ ride-by-wire
CLUTCH STM-EVO SBK dry slipper; hydraulically actuated
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FRAME Alloy front frame
FRONT SUSPENSION 43mm Öhlins NIX 30, fully adjustable; 4.7 in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Öhlins TTX 36, fully adjustable; 5.1 in. travel
FRONT BRAKES 4-piston Brembo Stylema R calipers, dual 330mm discs w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE 2-piston Brembo caliper, 245mm disc w/ ABS
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Carbon; 17 x 3.5 in. / 17 x 6.0 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II; 120/70-17 / 200/60-17
RAKE/TRAIL 24.5°/3.9 in.
WHEELBASE 58.6 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 33.3 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 4.2 gal. (US)
DRY WEIGHT 390 lb.
WARRANTY 24 months, unlimited mileage
CONTACT ducati.com

Ducati’s standard Streetfighter V4, with manually adjusted suspension, is under $20K at $19,995. The V4 S, with an Öhlins semi-active suspension similar to the SP’s, is $25,495.

Ducati’s standard Streetfighter V4, with manually adjusted suspension, is under $20K at $19,995. The V4 S, with an Öhlins semi-active suspension similar to the SP’s, is $25,495. (Alex Photo/)

The SP has the same braking software, running new algorithms, but now the brakes have been upgraded to the Stylema R items, first featured on the Superleggera.

The SP has the same braking software, running new algorithms, but now the brakes have been upgraded to the Stylema R items, first featured on the Superleggera. (Alex Photo/)

Ducati has all but sold out of SPs already, so if you want one, you’re going to have to be lucky as well as quick.

Ducati has all but sold out of SPs already, so if you want one, you’re going to have to be lucky as well as quick. (Alex Photo/)

The 1,103cc V-4 produces a staggering 208 hp at 13,000 rpm in standard form, with a whopping 90.4 pound-feet of torque at 9,500 rpm.

The 1,103cc V-4 produces a staggering 208 hp at 13,000 rpm in standard form, with a whopping 90.4 pound-feet of torque at 9,500 rpm. (Alex Photo/)

Trundling down pit lane, clutch rattle reverberating off the garages, and a few sharp blips of the throttle to add to the occasion: paradise.

Trundling down pit lane, clutch rattle reverberating off the garages, and a few sharp blips of the throttle to add to the occasion: paradise. (Alex Photo/)

The SP has the same suspension travel, but stiffer front springs, more oil, and different shim compared to the V4S.

The SP has the same suspension travel, but stiffer front springs, more oil, and different shim compared to the V4S. (Alex Photo/)

The wheels are 3.1 pounds lighter; the SP is 6.6 pounds lighter overall.

The wheels are 3.1 pounds lighter; the SP is 6.6 pounds lighter overall. (Alex Photo/)

There’s a grippier track-focused seat, and the adjustable aluminum pegs are set slightly higher.

There’s a grippier track-focused seat, and the adjustable aluminum pegs are set slightly higher. (Alex Photo/)

Three riding modes, Bosch cornering ABS EVO, traction control, wheelie control, slide control, launch control, and engine-brake control, not to mention the standard up-and-down quickshifter and Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension.

Three riding modes, Bosch cornering ABS EVO, traction control, wheelie control, slide control, launch control, and engine-brake control, not to mention the standard up-and-down quickshifter and Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension. (Alex Photo/)

This was a track-only test performed on Pirelli slicks. Ducati even removed the number plate and mirrors.

This was a track-only test performed on Pirelli slicks. Ducati even removed the number plate and mirrors. (Alex Photo/)

Ducati has changed the seat to a grippier perch for track use and solo use only. The adjustable pegs are a fraction higher than the V4 S’, but only a fraction.

Ducati has changed the seat to a grippier perch for track use and solo use only. The adjustable pegs are a fraction higher than the V4 S’, but only a fraction. (Alex Photo/)

Fuel economy should be on par with the V4 S, which was frankly never excellent. Ducati quotes 7.6 liters/100km or 31 mpg.

Fuel economy should be on par with the V4 S, which was frankly never excellent. Ducati quotes 7.6 liters/100km or 31 mpg. (Alex Photo/)

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