Allow me to say it before you do: this is cheating. I know. The Ducati Streetfighter V4 SP is bonkers. And while it technically meets our rules of being available for purchase by the time of posting, it also kinda doesn’t because each of these were spoken for within a week of its release. Sorry.
So, yes, the Streetfighter’s a bit of a joker in the deck, but hey – it meets our rules and it’s one hell of a motorcycle. Then again, it better be. I’ve written about the 1103cc V4 more times than I can count, but it seems like no amount of writing about it can express how bloody quick this thing is. With 200-ish horses (depending on how you have it configured) it’s anything but slow, and the top-shelf Öhlins suspension does a masterful job of damping all the vibes. But the icing on the cake is the inclusion of carbon fiber wheels.
In theory, we all know the benefits of reducing the amount of rotating mass underneath you, but to actually experience it in person can be a shock to the senses. Every aspect of performance – acceleration, braking, handling – is just that Nth degree better. I know this because I was fortunate enough to ride a standard Streetfighter V4S alongside the SP. It leaps out of corners with more thrust, flicks from side to side with more ease, and scrubs off speed with more purpose. And that’s before we get into how well integrated all the electronic systems enhance the riding experience. But I think you get the point. All in all, it’s everything you expect a nearly $40,000 motorcycle to be.
Maybe this is cheating. Maybe it’s not. But we couldn’t not give the Ducati Streetfighter V4 SP some love.
By virtue of being the winner of our 2021 900cc-ish Middleweight Naked Bike test, Yamaha’s MT-09 is one of our favorite naked bikes. So when Yamaha did the world a solid and introduced an SP version with an Öhlins shock and cruise control, we had every expectation that it would be just that little bit better – and, of course, Yamaha delivered. After romping it around on the streets and at the racetrack, it was nearly impossible to wipe the smile off our (okay, my) face.
It all starts with the 890cc three-cylinder engine. With its flexible powerband and usable grunt, its flexibility and real world practicality make it super fun to exploit. It even handles track duty pretty well, too, and I’m guessing an ECU flash to let it breathe up top would make it a capable track tool as well.
Even if you never plan on taking the MT-09 SP to the track, there’s plenty to love about it. The upgrade in suspension doesn’t make a massive difference compared to the non-SP version, but having more adjustability is always better than not having enough. Combine those upgrades with the wide handlebars, and the MT-09 SP flips and flops in and out of corners with the best of them. You’ve got all-day comfort in the seating position, the requisite suite of electronic aides, and cruise control. We can’t forget the cruise control. It really is a fun bike, able to do a little bit of everything; and if you’re the type who can’t leave well enough alone, some simple mods will really wake it up. All this for a price that won’t break the bank? It’s no wonder the MT-09 SP is getting a naked bike award.
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