Quick: what're the crucial elements of naked-bike greatness, the factors that define the class? Can I get some answers from the MO Crew? "Minimal bodywork, of course," sez peppy Alphonse. "An upright riding position and dirtbike-style bars," Ms. Ashley coos while painting her nails. "Loads of torque all around, the better for wheelie-ing," states D-Lo. Good, good. "A shiny bald head and a huge throbbing attitude!" Ebass shouts from the back corner. Wrong! We're talking bikes here, not your fashion sense, thilly. Go to the principal's orifice immediately! Kids these days, I tell ya. No respect.
Ahem. Riding this lovely new Ducati S4R, on the other hand, will earn you truckloads of respect from everyone save that highway patrol officer hiding down the road. Armed with the famous Desmoquattro L-twin engine from the 996 sportbike (one generation removed from Ducati's latest lump in the 999), the Duc is chock-full of torque and throbbing attitude indeed - 111hp and 67ft.lbs worth. Feels more like 120hp to my Derri
The variable-section aluminum handlebar, in the obligatory Streetfighter flat motocross bend, is perfect most of the time...good width with a drop angle, which positions the rider in a slight forward cant. However it's thin and rigid and while this is good for ultimate road feel at the front end, it transmits every little jolt right to the hands, which can quickly get tiring on a bumpy freeway.
But, what the hell was Ducati thinking when they mounted the emissions canister right out in the open, under the left side of the radiator?? Absolutely fugly. They should go ahead and put a "Remove and Discard" sticker on it because I predict that will be one of the first mods S4R owners will make. And what's up with all those rubber hoses in the engine bay? I know folks who like naked bikes like to see the engine in all its complex mechanical glory, but a snakepit? C'mon Ducati, take the lead...cover those ugly tubes with some braided steel, fer chrissakes. No one who spends the $13,500 asking price of the S4R is gonna mind the extra $100 or so....
Riding the Duc on MO's tight `n twisty top-secret mountain road, I found it an absolute flickable joy...light and powerful and totally in control. This is unusual for Ducati sporty bikes, which usually thrive in the big sweepers and suffer in the tight stuff due to heavy steering and limited steering lock. No need to use more than two gears in most situations as the 996 engine's healthy torque and precise fuel injection kept the power perfect; just point and shoot.
The Michelin Pilot Sport skins gave excellent feel and stickiness too, and the Brembo binders were, well, monstrous in their whoa-power. Shifting action is quick-snick sweet, with a short lever throw that pretty much eliminates false neutrals. Clonking into first from neutral, however, makes a solid "thunk" which takes a bit of getting used to after riding Japanese machines.
So, can you tell I'm pretty much smitten by the S4R? It's true. The Ducati combines drop-dead gorgeous looks with a solid, kick-ass engine and suspension package. Who needs a 999 (which sells for like $4000 more) when you can go fast AND be reasonably comfortable in the real world? Go naked, young rider...and be happy.
ummmmm as cool as the S4R is it doesn't come with magnesium wheels... those wheels are just aluminum. and contrary to their opinions why mofo's don't subscribe... if they expected us to pay to read through their journalistic license then they should at least be a bit more proficient in their editing and printing information that is correct.
I think they're usually pretty accurate. I read stuff all the time in other mags thats incorrect. I subscribe to MO.com and actually enjoy it. Lots of good pics... video... and fresh content every couple days. They did a good review on the M800 vs. SV650 vs. Buell a while back that I really liked. They also seem to have pretty good things to say about Monsters in general..... so they cant be all that bad. I dont see why you would "refuse" to pay them.... its only like $12 a YEAR!
Thanks for posting the article. Definetely wasn't worth 12 bucks. I really wish I would get rid of my Honda so I could get one of those S4Rs. Way do such great bikes have to come out the year after you purchase? I feel robbed.