My date with the Diavel

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Back Camera

I think Mr. Editor Siler must have been feeling some guilt and worry, not unlike a WWI squadron commander ordering one of his pilots off to do battle with The Hun, thinking “How can I send a kid up in a crate like that?” I was about to saddle up and ride a Diavel, Ducati’s new muscle-bike-power-cruiser-thingie, into deepest darkest sportbike territory, the canyon roads above California’s Pacific Coast Highway, when he pinged me on the iPhone: “Watch that beach ball in corners…” Said sphere is the Ducati Diavel‘s cartoonishly wide 240mm Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, the subject of more than a little derision on these very web pages. The fact that Ducati chose the hills above Malibu as venue for the Diavel’s U.S. press ride should have been a tip-off. Thanks for the concern, Wes, but no need to worry.

Let me set the scene: Mulholland Drive, sunny day, fresh tarmac, light traffic, long fast sweepers – oh, and up ahead some distance running interference a friendly CHP motor officer. A group of us, maybe 10, are freight-training, nose-to-tail, cranked over at an indicated 85 per. No wobbles, no weaves, no decked footpegs throwing sparks; in fact, no drama whatsoever. Romp into the throttle as the straightaway opens up and the digi speedo flashes 100 just like that, thanks to 1198cc worth of V-Twin packing a healthy 162 crankshaft hp. The Ducati Diavel (say it with me, “Dee-ah-vul,” Bolognese slang for Devil) is not your typical power-cruiser.

Whatever magic allows something with this wide a rear meat to handle this well starts with good engineering. Pirelli was in on the Diavel’s development from the beginning, coming up with a dedicated design for the bike. It’s a bit of a hybrid – hard compound in the middle, softer on the sides, rounded sportbike profile but with taller sidewalls for comfort. Pirelli suggests up to 6000 miles before it will need replacing, then bring in your rim and $245. As always, your mileage may vary…especially if a BMW copbike is sweeping the road ahead.

Credit, too, please to the Diavel’s underpinnings, starting with a purpose-built frame consisting of a steel-trellis upper and aluminum lower, to which attach a 50mm Marzocchi fork and a godawful-stout single-sided swingarm controlled from beneath by a Sachs monoshock that mounts near-horizontal. Springing/damping front and rear is on the sporting side of firm but not uncomfortably so – plus both ends are fully adjustable. Travel at each end is 4.7 inches. Wheelbase at a long 62.6 inches also calms handling.

So sorry, detractors, but despite a stylishly wide rear tire that may offend your sensibilities, the Diavel is no doubt a Ducati. Bigger question? Is it in any way, shape or form a cruiser? More on that after my second date with the Diavel.

  • ike6116

    Help me out here because I want to be a good HFL Hive Mind foot soldier….

    Do we like the Diavel or not?

    • David

      heh.

      • Jason

        I would say up until the point it turned out to actually be a good rideable motorcycle the answer was no. It seemed like a ridiculous idea from the getgo. My opinion is it’s one of those ideas that is much better in reality than when someone tells you about it like a Peanut Butter and Bacon on a hamburger

    • Taco

      I’m a nay on this bike. It looks like if a Yamaha VMAX had sex with a Ducati Monster and then crapped this bike out.

  • Glenngineer

    It sounds like a shitload of fun, but I’m not totally sold on the looks.

    I wonder…everyone produces wider rear end kits for most bikes in or near the Diavel’s class. 300s for VRods, 240s for VMaxs…will someone be doing a 200 conversion for the Diavel?

    • Sean Smith

      I’d guess that all you would need to do is swap that steamroller for a 6″ wide wheel from an 1198.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        I think that’d probably sacrifice the use of DTC, which wouldn’t be calibrated for the different rolling radii.

        • Sean Smith

          Hmm… That’s a complicated problem indeed. Almost every suspension function would be changed in some small way with a 2″ narrower rim. The tire profile would be completely different, and when leaned over, the rear of the bike would be lower to the ground, the steering would feel different (more of less effort depending on the tire), and the tire would definitely work in a different way. The rolling radii probably wouldn’t change all the much though. Still, the DTC would likely be useless with a different tire and wheel.

  • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

    How’s that for a dissenting opinion!

    The positive reviews make this bike pretty compelling.

  • gregorbean

    All accounts say it’s fun to ride, but it still looks like shit to me.

    • http://hollywoodelectrics.com Harlan

      +1

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    It looks like a pregnant superstar. Definitely could use a diet!

  • GT

    I’d love to see this Duc race with the XR1200′s in US racing

    • Samuel

      This has almost double the horsepower of the XR1200′s aircooled twin. I don’t think it would be much of a race.

  • Nick

    Haha, I’m surprised Wes didn’t go to ride it himself.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Well we want to see more viewpoints, right?

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

        Yes. I value Edward’s opinion infinitely more than any other review I’ve read, and it stands all the more significant given the overall coverage this bike has received here.

        Too bad about the looks, though. Plus, as impressive a job as Pirelli did on the tire, I am a fan of variety. Being tied to one choice, barring significant modification and performance compromise, sucks.

  • Cajun58

    The WWI analogy was outstanding with Wes
    as the hapless commander attempting to salve his conscience with a simple, “Watch that beach ball in corners…”. Nice video also
    and good on ya David!

    • Kyle

      I coulda sworn it was taken from Archer this week… but a good journo never tells I guess.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Sounds good. I am still a bit skeptical of the cornering abilities, especially after their promo video rider looked to be a bit shaky and taking things slowly. But I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more about this and hopefully some videos showing the cornering ability.

  • David Edwards

    If someone led you blindfolded to the seat, took off the blindfold and told you to go for a ride, you would never guess the rear rim is 8 inches wide and the tire is a 240. At no time, from backroad sweepers to city streets, does the back feel like it’s trying to overpower the front, as is the case with many fat-rubbered rears–and, yes, just saying that last bit does get me a little tingly…

    • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

      It seems to me that the changes in handling going from 110 tires (like my old ’80 CBX, I think) to 190 was supposed to be just what what the motorcycle world was patiently waiting for, yet the jump from 190 to 240 is supposed to destroy handling – did anyone ever think of that first before predicting handling decrepitude with the 240?

  • Justin

    it looks much uglier than the earlier pictures i saw.

    • Michael

      actually looks a lot better in person

  • Beale

    That’s one ugly swingarm/hugger combo.

  • Jason

    My god that’s a lot of ugly in one place – this coming from a guy who rides and appreciates the Multistrada 1.0.

    Huge props to Ducati’s engineers for making it ride and handle (beach ball or not), but that thing looks absolutely, incredibly vile.

  • Devin

    Now that we’ve had two review saying how awesome this bike is: Money in the bank. I think the looks of this thing for the muscle–bike segment is a complete knockout.

    • Michael

      i kinda have to agree, i would buy this in the all black carbon, just will have a higher monthly payments is all, also slap on some termi’s and good bye anyone who wants attempt to stay up to you in a straight, just might loose in the corners is all

  • Max Headroom

    +1 on the props to Ducati for creating a bike that busts a category and works. As for the looks, if you haven’t actually seen one in person, I would reserve judgement. It’s not ‘pretty’ and seems to offend many but the fit and finish of the bike are exceptional. There seem to be just as many who like the bike as those that don’t. Just not here.

    • slowtire

      Agree. The fit and finish are nice. I really wanted to like this bike, but after seeing it in NY, I was disappointed. Still would like to ride it though.

  • Tim

    It looks like a giant scooter. I am all for them building it, though. I wish them much success. Interestingly enough my wife thought it was a great looking bike, so perhaps they will spin off a small version to woo more female buyers?

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

      My girlfriend likes aspects of it, too. In fairness, though, she likes her vehicles curvy.

  • Lawrences

    That’s not a trailer hitch on the rear bumper there is it? :)whoa down now! just kidding…

    As if I could ride it anywhere near it’s maximum…big rear tire or not…

  • DoctorNine

    I guess they named it Diavel because it looks like Hell.
    They should put out stickers for it that say “Duc From Hell”, that have a little duck with horns.

  • Beale

    I still want to see one setup for touring. I think it might actually be a great solo touring bike with the right setup.

  • Coreyvwc

    I think this is one those bikes that shouldn’t be judged until you see it in person. There are A LOT of bikes out there that look like complete shit in photos but actually end up looking pretty damn good in person. Certainly better than any piece of horse shit power cruiser that’s coming out of the far east. Ducati only does one thing better than the big 4, and that is make motorcycles that people actually DREAM of owning.

    • markbvt

      I saw it in person at the Montreal Motorcycle Show last week. It’s just as hideous in person, if not even worse. That is one ugly, ugly bike.

  • Keith

    I would have one in a heartbeat…just need the $$$.

  • Brad

    Saw two riders on Diavels zipping down the 101 Freeway – must’ve been the afternoon of your test ride. Actually, I *heard* them – and then caught a black and red blur. Definitely appear better in person. But, still not sold on the power cruiser idea. Why not just ride a standard?

  • Kurt

    I don’t know why it would surprise anyone that Ducati could make a bike with such a wide rear (tire) handle at least decently,if not well. Geometry specifically designed for a “beach ball” along with input from the tire manufacturer seem destined to give such a result. I seriously doubt that any such efforts have been made in the previous iterations of the fat tire look. In fact, all the previous fat-rear-tire bikes I’ve seen have been doomed to handle like s*** by their weight and geometry without even considering tire size.

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    Just test-rode the 105hp french-legal carbon version today.
    I must say i was quite impressed by how well it handled (and braked, wow) the 240 remarkably unoticeable (at least by me, i won’t say the same regarding onlookers, i’ve never had so much attention on a bike, from riders, cagers and civilians alike).
    I was less impressed by the engine. It was much more linear than my corsaro until 7000rpm where it started behaving like a sportbike (between 4 and 7k, meh). So great bike and a lot of fun for sure. But i’m not sold on the looks and it didn’t convince me to sell my moto morini (i would have to sell it twice anyway) wich to date is still the most incredible engine i’ve ever tried. By the way, was it ever sold in the US (i guess not, i remember your love and longing for the scrambler)? Anyone here tried it?