Ducati XDiavel S – The Velvet Sledgehammer

If ever there was a motorcycling dichotomy, it is this bike. We know the Diavel as a testosterone fuelling muscle bike – a kind of Dodge Viper cum AC Cobra of the bike World. So, when Ducati built the XDiavel S, they didn’t just slap on some forward controls, they virtually re-engineered the whole motorcycle. What is so dichotomous is the re-make of the Worlds most radical production muscle bike into the Worlds most insane power cruiser. If Yamaha started this craziness with their V-Max, Ducati certainly finished it with the XDiavel S! This motorcycle makes sense because it makes no sense at all!!

Instantly recognisable as a Diavel, the X takes the radical styling a step further. The massive 240mm rear wheel is mounted on the exquisite black rim with polished aluminium highlights. This theme carries over to a black motor with aluminium accents. The profile of the bike is reminiscent of a massively muscled sabre tooth tiger crouching, ready to pounce, only this tiger is a mutant black panther. “Awesome” does not even begin to describe this bikes looks. Scroll back through the articles posted on this website and look at the images and detail shown and discussed at the launch of the XDiavel. You will see that this is a totally reconfigured motorcycle. The wheelbase is slightly longer than the normal Diavel and the seat is a low 728mm, yet the bike still sports a 40′ lean angle. You got to just love Ducati!

The X is a technological and electronic tour de force. A 1262cc Testastretta engine with Desmo variable valve timing and twin spark plugs, churns out 156 potent ponies at 9500rpm. Maximum torque is 1.3 ft lbs less than the Diavel at 95, but delivered a huge 3000 revs lower in the rev range at 5000 rather than 8000 rpm.

The huge low rev torque means that you never miss the 4 horse power deficit compared to the stocker. In fact, the drag-bike power characteristics, long wheelbase and low centre of gravity, enable this beast to accelerate with a ferocity unmatched by any other motorcycle that I have ever ridden. The XDiavel S will paralyse any sport-bike between robots – period! If you are short on talent, you can engage the electronic launch control to produce starts so intense that your brain struggles to catch up!

The electronics on this bike boggle the mind. Riding modes, power modes, cruise control, Ducati power launch, keyless ignition, ride-by-wire, traction control, cornering ABS, LED lighting, daytime running lights, bluetooth, the list goes on and on. Everything you can think of and then some. Six electronic control units each with the power of your average smartphone, manage this formidable electronics package.

As you have no doubt gathered, this is not a bike for the faint hearted. Having said that, it allows you to throttle it with gay abandon. The trellis frame uses the motor as a stressed member and allied to 50mm Marzocchi forks with preload, compression and rebound adjustment and a rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound, the whole plot is kept on the road.

The ride quality is not great on bumpy roads, perhaps somewhat emphasised by the forward control riding position. Road irregularities are transferred straight up your spine. On the flip side there is nary a wiggle or a wobble. You can, like the regular Diavel, ride the X very fast down a winding road. Up-rated M50 Brembo calipers provide eye-popping braking. A first for Ducati is drive to the back wheel via a toothed belt, rather than the customary chain.

Really cool features are the full colour display on the tidy instrument panel which mounts for and aft of the handlebars on the top triple clamp. Twice as cool are the backlit handlebar switches – a brilliant idea. The switches glow red like the gauges in a jet fighter – ubercool!

The passenger accommodation is minimal – fat chicks need not apply. There is a range of accessories that transforms the bike to be a more comfortable tourer or urban tool. The thought of being a passenger on the XDiavel S, when the rider launches in full attack mode, turns my bowels to water!

So, what is it like to ride this mighty “X”? Frikkin’ unbelievable, thats what! The motor does not, like many high performance V twins, like to lug. It really hits its sweet spot over 4000rpm. Crack the fly-by-wire throttle in anger and prepare for a sensory overload. The exhaust emits a cacophonic aural assault as the bike does its absolute best to rip the bars from your white knuckled grasp. Your butt is slammed up against the stepped back of the seat as the horizon is reeled in at warp speed. There is no discernable drop in thrust as you hook the next gear and then the next. Nothing you have ever ridden would have prepared you for the sphincter clenching accelerative experience that is the Ducati XDiavel S.

Select urban mode, which kills 50 ponies and the fury is tamed. The X becomes a purring pussycat as you go about your commute. This is the wonder of electronics. At the push of a button Clark Kent becomes Superman! As I said in the beginning, it makes no sense but therein lies the appeal. The Ducati XDiavel S is a magnificent two-wheeled missile that absolutely marches to its own staccato V-twin drumbeat. If you feel your biking has become stereotyped or jaded, consider a walk on the wild side. Your life will never be the same again.

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.