Ducati Diavel - the Devil goes to work in Bologna
Everyone, myself included, thought it was hypocrisy, in not sacrilege, when iconic Italian sportbike manufacturer Ducati introduced the new Diavel. They’d already tried and built highly successful parts bin specials like the Hypermoto and Multistrada, turning out respectively, the best in class playbike and multi-purpose touring bike we've seen. While the the recently introduced Streetfighter, which we had hoped would be an upscale version of aircooled Hypermoto, but with the kick-ass watercooled Testastretta Superbike engine, would be similar in practicality and riding comfort to the superbike based Aprilia Tuono and Triumph Street Tripple. But instead, we think the Streetfighter came out too narrowly focused as a styling exercise, more of a miss than a hit until Ducati gives the Stretfighter a more practical and comfortable riding position.
But now to take their World Championship winning 4-valve DOHC Superbike Testastretta engine and drop in in a cruiser bike chassis with a big fat 240 wide tire on the rear, was just going too damn far. The Devil had taken over in Bologna and the Pope in Rome would have to be called perform an exorcism.
Ducati wants you to own one of their bikes, and if it isn’t building what you want right now, just give them another EIMCA Show premier. The obvious and immediate assumption is the Diavel is a bike they built for the American market to entice the mass loyalists of the Milwaukee brand. But once you ride this thing you realize it would be a tragedy if it spent its life hauling rednecks on the Interstate from Tennessee to Sturgis just to drink cheap beer and look at fat chicks with naked breasts.
With motorcycle markets shrinking because of economics, and the median age of new motorcycle buyers changing dramatically from 39 to 49 years old in the past 10 years, Ducati knows they can’t keep selling just narrowly focused Superbikes to us brand loyal old timers. So they bucked tradition, got creative, and have struck gold again. Ducati has an incredible new bike in the Diavel that captures the interest of the huge cruiser market, but they’ve also designed it to appeal to the aging Ducati Superbike enthusiast who doesn't’t want to have to buy a Harley and settle for outdated 50 year old performance, safety and comfort.
The heart of the Diavel is the 1198cc Testastretta Superbike engine, but like in the new Multistrada, this is the torque monster with the shorter overlap 11-degree intake/exhaust camshafts ( compared to 41 degrees in the Superbike) This reduces peak power and RPM, but also reduces stress, allowing service checks at extended 15,000 mile intervals. The resulting peak power is 162hp, slightly higher than its application in the Multistrada, due to better exhaust tuning and a larger airbox.
On the street you’l never miss the peak power loss of the Superbike engine because the Diavel’s 11° Testastretta engine gets a huge boost in power and torque down in the RPM range, right where you ride on the street. Ducati is proud to boast the Diavel easily best the 1198 Superbike’s 0-60 mph accelertion and 60-0 stopping time. What really blows my mind is, besides all that low and mid-range power that puts a huge grin on my face, this thing is almost as smooth as a four-cylinder. I can’t believe it’s a V-Twin. But even with the stock exhuast it still has that sexy V-Twin Ducati sound.
Below, the Devil is hard at work in Bologna turning out new Diavels.
Keeping all that acceleration and braking power under control are a fly-by-wire throttle, eight levels of rear wheel traction control like on the Superbike, anti-lock brakes, and three power riding modes for rain, cruising, and kick-ass bad boy. This bike will do what you need, when you want it. You might think about leaving your wife at home, but the hidden, flip down passenger pegs (how come no one thought if this before?) leaves you open for other options.
Despite the low stance and the huge gas tank (actually airbox), it’s still obvious by the trellis tube frame this a Ducati. The wheels are Marchesini, though the rear is 8 inches wide to hold that big 240 x17 Pirelli Rosso II designed specifically for the Diavel so it can still handle and corner like a sportbike. The seat is nice and low, and really comfortable. Even if you are height challenged with a 28-inch pants inseam, the bike is easy to step over and flat foot at a stop with both feet.The passenger seat section of the 1-piece saddle is hidden under the rear seat cowling that you'll have to leave at home.
The big 50 mm fork tubes are grasp by huge triple clamps. Ducati found in testing their normal triple clamps were flexing on the Drivel, so new bridge supports were designed to keep handling sport bike sharp. Ditto for the extended single sided rear swingarm ( wheelbase 1590 mm / 62.6 ins) which looks like it came off a drag bike, but the designer wanted it to help accent the big rear tire. And surprisingly again, the long wheelbase, fat rear tire and slowed up 28° steering angle don’t affect the bike’s excellent street handling.
So, just what is it like to ride? Like no other cruiser you’Ave ever ridden, and in that regard, a whole lot better. I only spent a few hours on the bike which I picked up at the Ducati factory after my press introduction and visit to the production line. But it was in its element on the tight Bologna city streets, some stoplight drag race sections onto open roadways, cranked over into traffic circles, then a couple blasts down the Autostrada at 70 to 100 mph.
The roads were far too congested with cars and trucks for me to try anything too crazy, still I preferred to keep the bike in the Sports mode which gives the quickest throttle response and dropped the traction control to Level 1 so I could get on it hard and pass groups of cars in a blink. This is not one trick pony like most cruisers, and not a compromise. It performed and handled incredible well in every street and highway riding situation. The 240 profile rear Pirelli has been designed to offer all round performance, so you get sharp, quick turn-in like a sport bike And the ride is really comfortable and smooth, yet firmly controlled, despite the shorter travel suspension.
The expanse across the big front faux gas tank makes the bike feel bigger than it is, but once you get use to the bulky look can flick it around curves and in traffic with ease. Ride the Drivel with some conviction into 2nd and 3rd gear corners and you realize there’s a lot of performance to tap into. The foot pegs are somewhat low like a cruiser to make it more comfortable, so I tried to touch them down in round about's and turns, but only managed to touch my boot toes. Cornering clearance remains impressive. And very stable because of the longer wheelbase. Unlike a Harley-Davidson which goes bump/bounce at the front, then at the back, the Drivel sucks it up in one smoothly damped “hump” like a sport bike
Riding aggressively, once you know where the ground is, you can add a firm twist of throttle, and let the traction control deal with everything else. You won’t be able to rail around a well ridden sport biks, but it does out handle and out perform any other cruiser on the market by a huge margin. In a 4 wheel world, we'd compare the Diavel to a BMW M3 car, and the Ducati 1198 Superbike to a Corvette Z06. Tshe Drivel is equivalent to a BMW M3, the world’s best sports sedan.
The extended wheelbase and slower steering tends to let you run a little wide on the exit of a corner, but only if you’re riding like an idiot, so you’ll only have yourself to blame. Ducati wants you to enjoy the ride, soak in the admiration, buy some accessories, have a blast down the road every Sunday morning, and make this the one bike you’ll want to consolidate your riding future with into those sunset years.
The Devil's handiwork in final assembly, ready to be shipped world wide and make us all sinners.
Ducati Diavel Carbon
That Other V-Twin
One Sweet Ride
The only serious problem with this bike, though I hardly see it as that, the dynamics of this bike and its power make you want to tap into its potential at every opportunity. Find your limits and be careful. Then go out and pick off the unwary sportbike, Jap V-Max or ‘Busa like they were yesterday’s news, which they are. The Diavel changed my perception of what a cruiser is. Give one a test ride at your local Ducati dealer and it will do the same for you.
Also see our Edelweiss Ducati Imola Italy Tour:
Ducati Diavel: The new shape of power and style
DUCATI DIAVEL SPECS
Fuel tank capacity 17l - (5.3 US gal) 17l - (5.3 US gal)