Volkswagen have released their 21st century Beetle. So naturally we have to have an argument about it.
Ducati is a name that is synonymous with speed, style & performance, so when the Italian firm announced a new addition to their range that would satisfy the ‘cruiser’ category there was genuine and widespread fear that they may be slightly losing the plot. After all, could even the Italians make a cruiser sexy?
Well, in short, yes. To be honest though, the Diavel is more muscle bike than cruiser and has a style is something akin to a Judge Dredd comic. No matter what angle you view it from you have to admit that for a first attempt Ducati have pulled off a really good job. The proportions are just right and there are some really lovely little details engineered in. Unlike Ducati’s of the past, this is one really well finished product.
The first thing you notice as you sit on the Diavel for the first time is the lack of ignition barrel. Like all things nowadays the Duke has a key-less ignition system. Once the key is in your pocket simply slide down the kill switch and the beast illuminates into life. The tank mounted LCD colour display looks sharp and clear while the bar mounted clocks contain the rest of the information a rider needs.
Firing up that 1,198cc Testastretta V-twin reveal a fast and eager sounding engine that even with the standard exhaust pipes fitted has a noticeable bark. Pull in the left lever and engage first and you’ll find a gearbox that feels almost Japanese-like in its smoothness. Begin to let out that slipper clutch (as standard) and the Diavel eases smoothly away. Having 127 Nm of torque on tap certainly makes this a rather grunty machine but the boffins from Bologna have engineered in a switchable engine map that can take the edge off that 162bhp down to a mere 100bhp meaning cold wet mornings needn’t be an excuse to leave the bike in the garage. Even if you do try to feel extra brave, Ducati’s traction control system is widely regarded as one of the best currently offered on the market and the few times that I managed to call on its intervention found that it did so in the most subtle of manors.
To look at the Diavel when parked up you would think that it shouldn’t really work too well. Its long-ish (1,590 mm) wheelbase, 240 section rear and single sided-swingarm all appear to add up to something that is merely a toy for posers to slowly trundle from coffee shop to coffee shop. I am pleased to report that despite doing a degree of posing on it, the Diavel is actually a much more capable bike than I expected it to be. Its 210 kg weight feels to have a low centre of gravity while its seating position is very comfortable – almost too comfortable if I was to be critical. I did think it could do with having a slightly sportier feel to it, but given that the Diavel is clearly aimed at the American cruiser market, they appear have hit the nail on the head in that respect. There is also the option to get a lower and touring seat too but most riders will find the standard seat height (770mm) more than adequate.
The mid-range power delivery from the V-twin is one of the most impressive features of the Diavel’s repertoire. The high 9,500 red line makes the Ducati race through the gears quicker than you would expect, especially when on full power mode, yet remains calm at motorways speeds and even manages to return healthy fuel consumption figures – just under 40 mpg during my time with it.
You might not be shopping in your litre sportsbike too soon for a Diavel if that’s how you normally get your kicks, but if you are in the market for something a little different and find the likes of the new V-Max not quite cool enough for you then towards Bologna is where you need to look. The bike I never would have wanted Ducati to make has made me very pleased that they went and made it.
Special thanks to Rosso Ducati – Ireland’s sole Ducati dealer.