Ride Review: Ducati Diavel

Get one thing straight… There is nothing soft about Ducati’s Diavel.
This is one serious high-tech piece of Italian exotica. The visual impact is extreme from every angle. The black anodized upside down front forks, double discs, Brembo callipers and black alloy rims with machined edges would look at home on any superbike. Riding above the wheel is a short cropped mudguard. Fat exhaust headers dominate the right side of the Testastretta 90 degree V-twin engine, curving sensually into a twin stacked stubby slash cut collectors. The back of the bike is dominated by a huge 300X rear tyre on an exquisite black and alloy highlighted rim. The sheer size of the back wheel is emphasized by the single sided swing arm and the absence of a conventional back mudguard. A BMW GS style “floating mudguard” doubles as a number plate mount. The stubby seat, with a cowl over the passenger section looks for all the world like a single seat and tailpiece. The back wheel extends rearwards of the seat, again accentuating the huge gumball. The tank, with shrouds extending past the fork stanchions, rides atop a red trellis steel frame. The hunched appearance is akin to a huge maned lion about to pounce. Raw unbridled power from every angle. The test bike was the middle of the range “Carbon” model. The fit and finish is absolutely superb. Totally beyond criticism. Magnificent!

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The Diavel has an advanced electronics package. Keyless starting, three engine modes, ABS and traction control. All these features are intuitive and easily accessed. The engine modes are, “Urban” for potting around town with 100 horse power on tap. All nice and civil. Next up is “Touring”. Here you have all 162 magnificent thoroughbred ponies on call. Lets just say these horses are “broken in” and as such respond more civilly when given their head. The third engine map, “Sport” is probably what helped in coming up with the Bolognese slang for Devil, ie Diavel. “Sport” liberates 162 spirited Arab stallions in all their feisty and furious glory with absolutely no reining them in! More on this later…

Let me take you on a quick ride. With the key in your pocket you climb on, or more accurately “into” the bike. Your butt rests reassuringly against the raised passenger portion of the seat which is low enough to get both feet flat on the ground. A slight reach to the flat bars gives you a distinctly drag racer stance. Foot pegs are slightly forward of a typical sport bike, but not anywhere near a “forward control” type position. Push the spring loaded kill switch like button on the right hand switch gear and you’ll hear the electronics come alive. The lower of the two displays etches a Diavel profile which then changes to a Ducati logo. Oh so cool! Thumb the now exposed starter button and the Testastretta motor fires up.

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The left hand switch gear allows you to select the engine map of your choice. “Sport” is the choice confirmed on the tank display as well as indicating the less intrusive traction control setting. “Touring” mode softens the initial hit and amps up the traction control. The gear lever engages first with a solid clunk and the perfect clutch action gets you rolling. The massive rear tyre and long wheelbase makes the low speed handling heavy and somewhat cumbersome. You really have to muscle the bike into the corners. As speeds rise the effort required to turn decreases and the Diavel becomes a typical sweet handling Ducati. You find yourself riding like Wes Cooley or Freddie Spencer on their AMA Superbikes. Slide off the saddle, stick your inside knee out and muscle the bike with inside thigh against the tank and a counter steering push-pull on the bars. The big Duc heels over and rails through the bend. I would love to ride this bike on the Sabi-Hazyview 22. You would have to surgically remove the grin! The brakes are absolutely brilliant! Sharp and extremely powerful. The Diavel simply stops with eyeball popping intensity.

You would have gathered by now that this is a serious motorcycle. It is a prowler rather then a cruiser. Firm, almost harsh suspension, allied to a decent chassis, and complete with a slipper clutch, this is unashamedly a high performance motorcycle. A fact which is emphatically confirmed the first time you crack the throttle in anger. Nothing, and I mean nothing, prepares you for the absolute fury of the Diavel’s response. The booming engine note instantly rises to a manic shrieking crescendo as the unfettered wild snorting stallions paw the air and hurl the bike at the horizon with a violence that defies belief! Oh my soul what an awesome experience! The low centre of gravity and long wheel base resist wheelies. The massive back tyre provides plenty of traction and the front wheel hovers off the ground as the bike simply bolts forward. Sport bikes are very difficult to launch as they are wheelie prone, light, and the gearing is often biased to a longer first, second and third ratio with closer ratios for fourth, fifth and sixth. I believe the Diavel will pretty much paralyze all comers in the quarter mile stakes.

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At the price of around 219k for the Diavel Dark and 237k for the Carbon, we are looking at significant spend, but what do you get for your money? A quality piece of true Italian exotica. The motorcycle equivalent of a Ferrari Daytona. A technological masterstroke that makes you casually dismissive of anything with sporting pretensions that stops next to you at the robot. The Diavel not only says something about itself, it says something about the rider. If you want a bike that makes you feel special every time you ride it, makes you stand out in a crowd, and is Italian drop dead gorgeous to boot, look no further.

Up to four thousand revs you feel the individual V-twin power pulses but beyond 4 grand the motor is smooth and torque rich. Overtakes are a twist of the wrist away. The top end hit is exhilarating despite the lack of fairing protection making speeds in excess of 140 hard work. Top wack is on the far side of 260. The 17l tank gives the Diavel decent touring range if you can resist jumping on the main jet too often. Good luck to you! The passenger accommodation, once you have removed the seat cowl, is reasonable. Way better than your typical sport bike. Just don’t crack the throttle without warning or you will subject your passenger to an instant case of road rash! All in all a fantastic riding experience.

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To give a final perspective on how dominant the Diavels performance is, lets look back at some numbers. Your typical “Power Cruiser” from the Victory stable produces 96hp and 149nm of torque from their 1721cc engines. Suzukis M1800, or VZR1800 as they call it now, probably ups these numbers significantly. The Triumph Rocket 111 Roadster develops 146hp and an incredible 221nm of torque, but here is the thing. These bikes weigh around 300kg, 347kg and 367kg respectively. The Diavel, with its 162hp and 131nm of torque, weighs only 210kg! You owe it to yourself to experience this motorcycle.

 

My name is Dave Cilliers. I consider cars as four wheeled shopping baskets and only worth using as a last resort! For years bikes have been my primary transport. Racing, touring, commuting or just kicking up dust on African tracks, I have owned over 270 motorcycles and ridden millions of kilometres. I am happiest when sharing my passion for motorcycles with like minded people whilst traversing Africa in search of adventure.