Ever since these two bikes were announced, the public has been asking us to do a head-to-head comparison of what many believe to be the two kings of the hypernaked category.
Both offer absolutely out-of-this-world levels of power, torque, and performance, though they both succeed in completely different ways.
Ducati Streetfighter V4 S vs Kawasaki Z H2
The Ducati is a traditional take on the streetfighter concept: grab a high-performance sports bike, remove the fairings and ditch the clip-on bars in favor of yoke-mounted items. The Kawasaki, on the other hand, only shares its engine with Kawasaki’s supercharged sports bike, the Ninja H2. It was designed from the ground up to be a nude.
We have been lucky enough to test these two new bikes as early as 2020, here’s what we think.
One of the areas where these two machines differ the most is price, with the Ducati V4 starting at £17,595 and rising to £19,795 as tested for the Streetfighter V4 S. However, the Kawasaki starts at £15,149 and goes up to £19,795. £16,799 for the top spec performance edition.
The heart of any super-naked is, of course, the engine, and both bikes feature some of the most powerful and technologically advanced engines to ever grace a production race bike.
At 208 horsepower, the Ducati just wins the outright power struggle, although that’s not the whole story when you’re riding the road. While the Ducati has plenty of torque and produces 90 pound-feet, its engine doesn’t really come alive above 8,000 rpm. Sing like a demon choirboy up to the stratospheric red line.
With 197 horsepower and 101 lb-ft of torque, Kawasaki’s 1000cc supercharged engine is the opposite of the Ducati’s. It produces large amounts of effortless thrust at any rpm and allows the driver to be lazy with gear selection as he rides through the endless tsunami of torque. †
Riding on the track, the Ducati’s more wispy delivery would manifest, giving the bike most likely the ability to match the lap times of the Panigale V4 sportbike, but on the road, the Kawasaki’s more purposeful and growling delivery makes for a much more rewarding ride.
suspension and handling
Borrowing much of the chassis and suspension technology from the Panigale V4 S sports bike, the Streetfighter V4 S is blessed with premium suspension in the form of Öhlins EC semi-active forks and rear shock.
It is one of the best kits on the market and with it you get the highest levels of stability, support and handling. The Ducati spins at lightning speed, with a rock-solid character that fits perfectly with the sharp styling. The comfort provided by the setup is also second to none as the system continuously adapts to changing road surfaces to maximize comfort and precision.
With its fully adjustable Showa front and rear suspension, the Kawasaki seems a bit outclassed in this test, although despite its size and weight (500 lbs ready to ride), the Kawasaki is still a formidable weapon on the road.
The suspension is soft and compliant when you go slow, but it seems to get better and better. If anything limits the engine on a fast road trip, it’s the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires that find the limit before the suspension.
Both machines are blessed with quality plugs in the form of Brembo M4s on the Kawasaki and Ducati. Unsurprisingly, both bikes have fully IMU-controlled traction control and cornering ABS.
With the Ducati weighing less than 200kg ready to ride, the mighty Brembos seem to stop the engine before your brain has figured out what’s going on. The bite and feel through the lever is exceptional, with only a small amount of fading after four hectic hours of speeding on the highway.
Likewise, the Kawasaki’s brakes are also super strong, with the front tire biting the tarmac at hard stops with audible disgust.
With Panigale once again delivering the technology for Streetfighter V4, you have one of the most immersive and far-reaching engine interfaces in the world. The world is really your oyster as you can manipulate and manipulate the settings of the bikes with MotoGP geek levels.
The Kawasaki is more stripped down and simple though, some riding modes, engine power modes and traction control that also controls the wheelie is all you really need.
If you’re a fan of having your bike just the way you want it, the Ducati is a tool to be reckoned with, while fans of just getting on and riding will appreciate the Kawasaki Z H2’s simplicity.
After riding the Ducati on some of the UK’s best roads with the Ducati a day before the close, I was excited, impressed and a little hollow at the same time.
No one can deny that the Streetfighter V4 is a formidable bike, with speed, power, handling and specs to put most top sport bikes to shame, but it only felt special when the rev counter kissed the red line. Anything below brain speed felt good.
I found it hard to justify the Panigale V4 S Streetfighter, arguably more beautiful and better performing.
The Kawasaki, on the other hand, isn’t a reworked sports bike, it’s a stripped-down superbike. The engineers who built it made sure it’s completely different from the H2 sportbike, so the machine offers so much more than an H2 with the wind-in-your-face experience.
The great torque and e-bike like acceleration always puts a smile on my face, the fact that it’s not a reworked sports bike just makes it a more exciting machine.
If you have £20k to spend on a naked bike and want the best road experience money can offer, get the Kawasaki.
You can spend the money you save on some track days and new covers!