Who’s buying the Diavel?

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The Ducati Diavel is supposed to be something of a segment buster, giving Ducati access to people who can’t or won’t ride a sportsbike and giving cruiser riders a Ducati-badged alternative. Interested to see who, exactly, is placing orders for the 162bhp muscle bike, we asked Ducati North America to share demographic data gleaned from deposits so far.

Ducati doesn’t have a formal system for collecting demographics from its dealers on customers placing deposits, so instead we have anecdotal evidence related to DNA by its dealers. We’ll categorize the observations by trends most dealers observed in most customers and trends that aren’t so universal, but still appear to be widespread.

Strongest Trends:

- Most people placing Diavel orders are existing riders.

- Most Diavel customers are 50 or older.

- The Diavel is attracting more women than typical Ducatis. Dealers report these women cite the seat height as the reason. At 30.3 inches high, it’s equal to the Monster 696.

Strong Trends:

- Some Harley riders are swapping their bikes for the Diavel, mostly V-Rod owners.

- Dealers report most new faces they’re seeing are staunchly opposed to owning Japanese products.

- Some former Ducati customers are returning to the brand from Harley specifically for the Diavel.

Local Trends:

- In Southern California, most Diavel buyers are existing Ducati customers. That’s largely counter to what dealers are seeing elsewhere in the country.

- Dealers in Texas report a strong uptick in deposits after the Diavel was shown at the Dallas motorcycle show. Some even report customers who had no interest in the Diavel ended up ordering it after seeing it in person.

Additionally, Ducati reports that most major dealers have already taken 10-15 deposits since the Diavel was unveiled at EICMA a month ago. That’s an strong sign that, like the Ducati Multistrada 1200, the Diavel will be a sales success.

So what does all this tell us? Well, there’s nothing terribly unexpected here. The $16,995 Diavel is intended to translate Ducati brand values like performance, handling and technology to a demographic looking for an easier riding experience. That the Diavel is bringing customers back to the brand from Harley is perhaps the strongest indication of its intention. The performance cruiser gives Ducati a way to hang on to high end customers once they’ve aged out of an 1198 or even a Multistrada.

That most regions report customers aren’t current Ducati owners is also a strong sign of its wide appeal and that Ducati is making its range more diverse. The female customers are an indication of how they’ve done this, delivering a bike that’s at once exceptionally friendly — low seat, light weight, traction control and other rider aids — yet also seen as being high performance. That combination is something that eluded established rivals like the VMAX, B-King and even the V-Rod, which opt for intimidation over approachability.

A friendly, fast, comfortable performance cruiser looks to be a winning combination.

  • Holden

    Wes, your last two sentences seem like they should be so goddam obvious to the motorcycle industry. It’s discouraging that so few companies get it.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, writing about motorcycles involves an awful lot of unexpected head smacking.

  • Nick

    Why would one be staunchly opposed to buying something Japanese, then turn around and buy something Italian? I thought most people who refuse to buy from Japan do so because of WW2 or the idea that if you don’t buy Amurrrican, you’ll lose your job. Or are there other reasons I’m not thinking of?

    Or is it because I can’t think of a single Japanese cruiser that I’d like to own?

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

      Because no one likes hearing that they own a “Jap bike.”

    • robotribe

      Perhaps said “new faces” are looking for something less ubiquitous like so-called “Jap bikes”. I don’t see it any different than a 50 y.o. choosing a German car over a Japanese one. If it’s HD owners talking this kind of childish smack, I find it hilarious given the number of HDs I regularly see on the road.

    • Myles

      These people don’t like Asian culture/people/ideals. These people believe Italian products have some incomprehensible flair/style/flash/badassness and Japanese products have an inherent antiseptic/blandness/uber-efficiency boring existence.
      These are the people that think that an 1198 is god’s gift to sport bikes and the cbr1k is “boring” – even though it makes more power and is faster in every measurable way.

      These people are idiots.

      • Jason

        Frankly, I believe it can be boiled down to the simple fact that Japanese bikes are from “yellow” people and Italian bikes are from “white” people. Most of the HD Viking wanna be crowd would prefer the Italian bike.

  • robotribe

    This bike has no appeal whatsoever for me, but it’s easier now to understand who it’s targeted towards with actual info to back it up, rather than my own or other’s assumptions.

    Great subject; would love more purchasing behavior/demographic analysis like this as topics.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      If only every other bike maker was as helpful as Ducati.

  • Jeremy

    I still think that bike looks like a baby whale…

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    Wes I think you nailed it. I think it’s priced a bit too high, but this leaves opportunity to introduce a Diavel 848 which should broaden its appeal even further.

    It’s going to be a tough product for the marketing department: It must fall somewhere between performance, bad-ass, and accessible (non-threatening).

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Is the price really too high for a 55-year-old empty nester who’s bought 1198s or equivalents his whole riding lifetime? It’s a high margin product and part of the value to the buyer is scarcity.

  • Cheese302

    I would love to test ride one, this bike is pretty much up my allley being a comfortable cruiser with some power and style. I still would prefer a 796 type version purely because my budget is looking at $10k, not $17k. in a few years i might pick up a used one. I love the standard diavel in white.

  • FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

    Lots of HFL readers hated this bike when it was first leaked. I remember one complaint along the lines of “how dare Duc make a bike that has intentionally bad steering geometry” or somesuch.
    Ducati exists to make money. Selling bikes is all about image. Here’s another shockerrrr: Profit motive dictates design!
    They’ve tapped into a fat market segment that they’ve never exploited, a move which necessitated a radically (kinda) different product. It was stupid to wait so long to make something like this, really. I’m surprised it’s as true to the brand image as it is. I have friends who ride cruisers that say “that is not a cruiser–that’s weird”. We’re lucky they didn’t pump out a Victory clone, because that would have sold OUT. Ducati makes quality stuff, so why shouldn’t this model take off?

    I’m lukewarm on the Diavel’s design, but I haven’t seen one in person. Is it that much like a dumpy Streetfighter, or do pictures not do it justice?

    • slowtire

      They’ve tapped into a fat market segment that they’ve never exploited, a move which necessitated a radically (kinda) different product. It was stupid to wait so long to make something like this, really. I’m surprised it’s as true to the brand image as it is. I have friends who ride cruisers that say “that is not a cruiser–that’s weird”. We’re lucky they didn’t pump out a Victory clone, because that would have sold OUT. Ducati makes quality stuff, so why shouldn’t this model take off?

      FFFFFF……..I think you nailed it.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    I don’t like the bike, but I get it. I have more than a few customers that purchased Rocket 3′s for a lot of the reasons stated above. Not japanese. Low seat height. Can’t ride a sport bike, but wanna hang in the zone.

    • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

      Almost forgot… The rear footpeg set-up is beautiful!

  • William

    One of the smarter moves ever by a bike manufacturer, especially for a niche brand like Ducati – and yes, it looks very different in person. Pictures . . . yawn. Up close and while in the saddle very nice.

    Older riders who’ve been around the block a few times and aren’t fully at the whim of fad or fashion . . . but who value performance and a unique image/brand and who are willing/able to part with $17,000. You could find a lot worse demographic to sell too.

  • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

    “Some even report customers who had no interest in the Diavel ended up ordering it after seeing it in person”

    Interesting – I’d love to see a list of bikes that look like crap on the computer yet look great in real life. I’d add the 999 to that list…

    • robotribe

      Word. The 999 claims of “ugliness” are overblown.

  • Cheese302

    i was thinking, another of these performance niche kind of cruiser things. Anyone remember the BMW BCC concept from EICMA 2008? That would be a great bike. I like the new R1200R but that would have been a great bike with the conventional fork, granted not the same amount of power as this. COME ON BMW

  • fenigstein

    Great to see some original reporting and actual investigation done, rather than curated press releases and product launches. Nice work HFL.