Naked middleweights have enticed the market to the extent that many marques have broadened their lineups. But, we have Ducati with the Streetfighter V4, the Kawasaki Z H2, and the KTM Super Duke that takes care of the 'extreme' two-wheeled category with absolute ease.
However, naked motorbikes appeal to a broader spectrum than their faired counterparts. Thus, these uber-powerful machines need to bring in a sense of duality with trackable performance and docile city commutes. While that’s easier said than done, engineers have spent a lot of time and resources to get the formula right.
In today’s discussion, the focus is on two special hyper nakeds that offer a thrill of a lifetime if, one; you can afford them, and two; if they’re available for purchase. One of our contenders is yet to be officially sold in the United States.
We’re pitting the insanely capable Ducati Streetfighter V4 S against the new kid on the block—the KTM 1290 Super Duke RR. Can the mighty Austrian take on the Italian savant? Let’s find out.
Ducati Streetfighter V4 S: A Panigale Without The Fairing
Remember the Panigale V4 that roasted all if not most liter-class bikes? Yeah the Streetfighter V4 is a Panigale without the fairing. There are two versions for the Streetfighter - V4 and V4S. Both of them sport the same ergonomics and tractability but the V4 S gets a lot more tech.
Aesthetically, Ducati has nailed the design, as per usual. With gorgeous curves adorning the length of its body, calling it stunning is an understatement. Being a streetfighter, out goes the clip-ons in favor of an upright handlebar. The headlights look like a miniature version of the Panigale’s twin unit, which further complements the aggressive stance.
The Streetfighter gets the same 1,103-cc Desmosedici V4 engine as the Panigale V4. Ducati claims 208 horsepower in the Streetfighter V4 instead of the 214 horsepower seen in the Panigale V4. The Desmosedici is good for 90.4 lb-ft of torque which is almost on par with the 91 lb-ft of the Panigale. Paired to a 6-speed wet-clutch gearbox, this translates to a blistering under 3-second sprint to 60 MPH.
Ducati has stated that the Streetfighter V4 can be had with an Akrapovic race exhaust that bumps up the power figures to 220 horsepower and 95.8 lb-ft of torque. This slight modification would result in the Streetfighter V4 having a power-to-weight ratio of 1.28 over the standard 1.17.
KTM 1290 Super Duke RR: A 1290 On Steroids
If you KTM, they’re never short of power or aggression. The Super Duke was a handful even for the experienced riders. The 180 horsepower machine is now around 20 lbs lighter thanks to the “RR” treatment. Engineers at KTM haven’t bothered with giving it any extra oomph considering its 396 lbs dry weight. That said, the KTM 1290 Super Duke RR fits right at the top with its 1:1 power to weight ratio that is, if the weight’s in kilograms.
Alterations to the Super Duke R are significant only to the trained eye. Obvious changes are the pillion seat delete and a host of carbon composites in the bodywork. Also, the subframe has given way to a lighter carbon fiber unit. Total weight shedding amounts to 19.84 lbs to be precise and gives the Super Duke RR an extra edge.
Part of the weight-saving measures is a set of lightweight forged wheels, a lighter Akrapovic exhaust system, and a lithium-ion battery pack replacing the old lead-acid unit. Apart from these, the Super Duke RR is largely the same from a visual perspective. Dynamically though, it’s a different exercise. Thanks in part to the top-spec WP Apex Pro 7548 front forks and 7746 rear shock with Brembo Stylema brakes paired with next-level electronic wizardry.
KTM 1290 Super Duke RR Vs Ducati Streetfighter V4 S: Our Take
This isn’t a difficult decision at all. Whilst we admire KTM’s brawny characteristics with impressive track performance, it’s still a limited-run model with 500 production units worldwide. Also, at ￡21,500 (roughly $30,500), it’s far more expensive than the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S’ $23,995 MSRP. Moreover, the Super Duke RR isn’t available for purchase in the United States, which is a bummer for many KTM fanatics.
Plus, if performance metrics are taken into account, the Ducati thrashes the KTM left and right. Even in terms of daily use, the Ducati Streetfighter V4 seems more rider-friendly than the Super Duke RR. Yes, you might miss out on the fancy carbon-fiber bits but in reality, having a piece of fiberglass replaced is a lighter expense than replacing carbon composites.
At the end of the day, it boils down to your preference. While the naked Supersports segment is blooming, it’s crucial that you pick according to your needs. The KTM Super Duke RR is undoubtedly a weapon in the right hands as is the Ducati. It’s guaranteed that as an owner you won’t be disappointed in picking either. Since the RR is already booked, the $18,699 Super Duke R should satisfy the KTM fanatic in you.
Sources: Bennetts, Cycle World