RideApart Review: 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada

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162 Horsepower. 94 ft/lbs of torque. 240 rear tire. 62.6 inch wheelbase. Windscreen. Side bags. Italian. It’s the Ducati Diavel Strada.

What’s New
EVERYTHING. Ok, so not everything. But the Diavel Strada is a “new” bike for 2013, coming in the form of a touring oriented adaptation of the launched-in-2011 Ducati Diavel. The Diavel Strada get both a windscreen and side bags, while the bars, seat, and pillion seat have all been adapted for the bike’s new purpose. The bars are now swept up and come in at 0.6 inches higher and 2.36 inches back towards the rider. The seat received some additional foam padding and the pillion seat got a back rest, new grab rails, and slightly adjusted foot pegs. Electronically, the Diavel Strada got fancy heated grips and auxiliary power outlets. All of these additions and the Diavel Strada comes in at just 13 pounds heavier than the Diavel.

The Ride
While I’d hoped to take this “touring” version on an official tour of some sort, my schedule didn’t allow me to get away for more than a day so the most I was able to do was 2, 200-250 round trip days around Southern California. The first, down to Julian to the Julian Pie Company (because I love pie more than most things) and the second to see friends playing a certain music festival in Ventura this past weekend (which I’ll leave unnamed because people my age aren’t supposed to like that sort of thing).

The first thing I did when I got home from picking up the bike was to remove the windscreen. I had a good deal of buffeting and it gave my new Schuberth C3 Pro (the quietest helmet I’ve ever worn) boom quite loudly. I spent the first part of the week commuting with it to LA and back, and that weekend to Julian, because it’s always a wonderful day for pie.

Around town, the bike turns a lot of heads. More bluntly, I’ve never been hit on more or gotten more attention from girls on any motorcycle, which really surprised me (keeping in mind I wear a full face helmet and they can’t see my face). Harley guys liked it and felt like the lines of the Diavel were similar to their bikes, while other people really noticed and liked the different materials and finishes of the bike. And the SOUND.

Now, I haven’t ridden the regular Diavel so feel free to correct me, but the bars seemed to make a bike that already has somewhat of a difficult time turning more difficult to turn. Around town, this is just something to be mindful of and will keep you looking a little less than smooth, but is nothing to really worry about safety wise.

The route to Julian is mostly freeway down the 5 until you hit the 78 where it gets more and more rural until you’re on some brilliant windy and clean roads out near Palomar mountain where I got to ride the Hayabusa. The freeway on the Diavel, sans windscreen, was not an enjoyable experience. The bars are just a little higher than I would have liked, keeping my arm in a position where I had to use my forearm muscles to hold onto the bars. Without the windscreen, the bike is fantastic to ride around town, but on freeways you become a sail. Once we hit the slower, twisty stuff, I was glad to be without the windscreen but still struggled because the bike just does not want to lean over. It will do so if you force it, but it really becomes a battle of wills if you want to try and do anything athletic on it. Luckily, the brakes are fantastic on the bike and give you the ability to easily manage your entry speed, keeping you from any sticky situations provided you ride cautiously. At least the Diavel Strada makes an excellent pie carrier.

I decided it was only fair to put the wind screen back on for my second week with the bike, at least for the sake of being a responsible journalist. While I missed having an open view of the road and did not enjoy the boom it gave my helmet, it did not induce the buffeting I had previously for the remainder of the week except for one particularly windy section of Hwy 1 in Malibu, so I guess I won’t really blame Ducati for my experience riding the bike home initially.

I appreciated the extra wind deflection my remaining days commuting to work with it, and the boom wasn’t terrible as long as I kept my speeds low. On Sunday, I rode to Ventura to see friends who were playing a music festival and decided to take Hwy 1 up. Sunday mornings are one of the only times you can catch LA freeways without traffic on them and the bike is much more comfortable to be on at speed with that windshield on and the wind sail effect turned off. I had similar problems with the handling on the twisty sections of Hwy 1, especially when riding quickly to pass in the sparse passing lanes.

I will say, people assume you know what you’re doing or you’re an accomplished human being when riding a bike that looks this nice (read: expensive). By the time I got up there, they were already making cars park about a mile away. I was told to say “I’m going to the production lot” despite not having any credentials and each cop or venue employee I encountered didn’t blink, despite my having seen them turn away two guys on a Harley who had been 2oo yards ahead of me.

A few too many hours on my feet, too many bustling teenagers who can’t figure out how to walk without bumping into people, and dropping temps and I headed home a little earlier than planned. My 90 mile ride home meant 88 miles of freeway and the bike absolutely ate the miles. The seat is decent, but I would like to see them make a gel seat like the one for the Multistrada for a bike like this. The heated grips (operated by pressing the starter) kept my hands at a nice temp while the windscreen kept me comfy the whole way home.

The Good
The fit and finish of the bike are beautiful. The bike is definitely an eye catcher and evokes a reaction.

The power is incredibly fun, especially if you’re in a straight line.

The bike is relatively comfy (which coming from someone who’s never comfortable means you will all find it extremely comfortable).

The dual displays give you tons of information, though I wish they would include a gas gauge if they’re going to include everything else.

The windscreen is a nice addition, though I feel they could have spent more time on its design, and the bags are useful for day to day stuff, but their size (a reported 10 liters) keeps them from being very good for any real touring.

The gas mileage is decent (I averaged 41 mpg with a range of 150 miles or so during my two weeks with it) for a bike that makes that much power that is that addicting to use.

The Bad
I’ve already covered most of this, but for the sake of thoroughness, the windscreen is poorly designed and provides a decent boom in an otherwise silent helmet, as well as some buffeting.

The bags are more useful than nothing, but too small for real touring.

The headlight (the same or very similar to the one used on the Monster) is incredibly bad, especially when you introduce two different displays on the dash that are too bright and make the light thrown by the headlight appear even worse in contrast.

I really didn’t like the position of the bars, but that could be more of a personal issue than one everyone will have.

The biggest issue I have with the bike is the cornering, but I suppose if you are looking at this in comparison with other big power cruisers, that isn’t something you’re too worried about.

Also, the button to turn the bike on is wedged under the digital speedometer and is difficult to see, let alone push to turn on the bike. You feel like you’re on a hidden camera show the first few times you struggle to operate it.

The Price
The 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada has an MSRP of $19,495. This is compared to the Diavel Dark, which retails for $17,695, and the Diavel Carbon, which retails for $20,495. I wouldn’t even know what Harleys to compare the Diavel or Diavel Strada to, but I’m guessing it probably tops the list price wise.

The Verdict
While I enjoyed riding the Diavel Strada around for a little bit, I could not imagine owning one. Personally I think it tries to do a lot of things, while the only things it does well are attract attention and accelerate really fast. Then again, that’s all a lot of people want and if that’s you (and you happen to have an extra 20k lying around you can’t figure out how to spend) more power to ya.

EDIT: The button I was using to turn the motorcycle on and off (like the key would normally do) was only supposed to be used if the battery on the key fob died or if you lost your key. This is why it was not made as readily accessible as I would have liked.

RideApart Rating: 7/10

  • Miles Prower

    RideApart rating at the head of the article is 8/10. At the tail, 7/10.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      Sorry about that. We have to submit changes to edit those and we tend to get our reviews up before they make the changes.

  • jefflev

    That hidden button is only to be used when you lose your key fob or its internal battery dies. The only on button you should be using for everyday use is the red lever/button on the right handlebar

  • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

    I’ve ridden a lot of Diavels, not the Diavel Strada though. The handling a bit slow compared to sport bikes, but if you move around on the seat and give the bike a bit of neutral throttle while in the turns it keeps the back spinning and makes it handle so much better. When people ask me about a Diavel in the twisties I tell them it will do about 80-90% of what you can do on a sport bike. Pretty good for a ‘cruiser’ type motorcycle. I would imagine that screen might buffet a bit depending on your hight. I’m really tall so I like the small sport screen on the Diavel and it makes it a very comfortable ride for me.

    And with the key, you don’t need to hit that button unless you forgot your key fob. If you get a chance try the normal Diavel and just play around with your riding style to see how well it handles for that class of motorcycle.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      that’s how the guy who manages the press fleet turned it on. is it just supposed to sense the key and turn itself on so you can press the starter? I’m happier knowing I just had it wrong, but it’s still a stupid place for that button.

      I disagree about the bikes ability. It’s definitely more capable than it lets on, but I don’t think its anything near what a sport bike will do and it is certainly less happy doing so.

      • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

        Yeah it’s just supposed to read the key in your pocket when you hold down the red button and then you press the starter. No idea why he would turn it on with that button. I agree, it is in an odd place though.

        I wonder if the different handle bars have something to do with the steering? When I’m riding it though in twisties I do have to push it though to get it to handle well. Climb all over the front of the bike and muscle it around a lot. For sure it’s not a sport bike, but I think you can get going down a twisty road really well. It’s awesome on high speed sweepers. One place it really sucks though is low speed hair pins. I have to tip toe through those.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          i would need to ride the regular one to be sure, but my guess is that the bars hurt the handling. I kept wanting them to be a little lower and more forward.

          • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

            I bet it has to be the bars. I was looking at them the other day and they are very far back compared to the standard Diavel bars. If you can for sure try to get a ride on a standard Diavel, and probably a carbon too. The lighter wheels on the Carbon are noticeable I think.

        • Piglet2010

          “When I’m riding it though in twisties I do have to push it though to get it to handle well.”

          Take the Diavel off my want list then – a bike that does not want to turn in really bothers me – I prefer to steer bottom up as Pridmore teaches, instead of the counter-steering flop Code likes.

          “One place it really sucks though is low speed hair pins. I have to tip toe through those.”

          Sounds like an easy bike to crash in Turn 10 of the Road America Motorplex (decreasing radius with about 10 feet of drop). https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Road+America,+Plymouth,+WI&hl=en&ll=43.798411,-87.999013&spn=0.000964,0.002642&sll=38.787471,-92.930172&sspn=0.033318,0.084543&oq=road+america,+&t=h&hq=Road+America,+Plymouth,+WI&z=19

          Think that stupid 240-mm rear tire is to blame – my Honda Dullsville runs well over 600 pounds with a touring load, has moderate rake and trail, yet turns in easily with a 150-mm rear tire.

          • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

            It does want to turn, you just need to work at it a bit. It’s not like a normal sport bike. It’s not really a function of the rear tire. It was designed with handling in mind and actually works pretty well. We’ve had it on track and it’s does a good job, just not as great as something like an 848. I wouldn’t use it as a track bike, but I wouldn’t be afraid to take it down a twisty road. Before you right it off, I’d go to a Ducati dealer and take one for a test ride. You have to ride it for yourself to see if you like it, and since most Ducati dealers have a demo fleet it won’t really cost you anything to give it a try.

            • Piglet2010

              Well, I was at a Ducati dealer two days ago (getting my Bonnie serviced – no problems getting her to turn in just by hanging one cheek off and a push on the tank with a knee) – should have asked to take out the demo Diavel (but would rather spend half the money on a Husqy Strada or KTM Duke 690).

  • Kevin

    I was not an immediate fan of the Diavel’s looks, but it’s grown a bit on me. This treatment though is like putting a trailer on a Corvette. It just doesn’t work visually.

    Also, not surprised to see that Ducati struggled with the windscreen. Multistrada owners can give you an earful.

    But that engine… sweet sassy molassy that’s a gem of a motor.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      I agree about the looks growing on me, so much that I was bummed they changed the rear lights for the strada version.

  • VagrantCoyote

    Nice review Sean. Totally not my thing, but well worth the read.

  • Jason 848

    The Diavel is the only duc I don’t see myself ever wanting, and this review confirms what I suspected about owning one. Last time I was at my local Ducati dealership two loud obnoxious Harley riders (a couple) were only checking out the Diavel – that told me what I needed to know!

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      i felt similarly but, I have to tell you, that engine is a lot of fun.

      • Jason 848

        Have you ridden a multi? If so how does it compare to that? I’m assuming the valve overlap is 11deg on both?

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          Multi is one of my favorite bikes in the world (assuming money is no object). It’s so good at everything.

    • A Smith

      I’m just one data point (and a longtime Monster rider), but I really liked the Diavel when I test rode one last week. I completely understand all the objections–and some of the doofus Harley factor–but I was smiling the whole time. And isn’t that what riding is all about?

  • Davidabl2

    Get me a MT-09 and let me keep the spare change..

  • Andrew

    Interesting review…I have a Diavel now and love it because of its handling. I previously had a 1198s for 2 years and I can say the Diavel will stay with any sports bike in the twisties. When in LA for work I have ridden the snake many times on the Diavel and its been so much fun. My only suggestion is you need to get off the bike and a quick firm counter steer for initial turn in. Once turned in…it is on rails.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      Sounds like you’re good at riding motorcycles. Keep in mind though that, just because Jamie can keep up with me when I’m on a RSV4 and he’s on a 10 speed, it doesn’t mean the 10 speed is as capable as the Ape.

      • Andrew

        Sean,
        I do like this bike..but I also ride a Vespa anything with 2 wheels and a motor is good for me..not sure about a 10 speed thou …Wes that’s all yours.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      LOL, no.

    • James P

      How worn were those tires? As a Diavel owner, I’ve noticed as the tire wears flat from straight driving, it starts to exhibit strong tendency to stay upright until I’ve leaned over onto the curved portion of the tire. Replacing the tire with new ones instantly fixed that issue. In the pictures, the tire looks pretty worn in the middle which explains why you had a hard time leaning over. Now it’s nowhere as nimble as my sv650s, but it’s definitely not fighting me when turning when the tires aren’t worn. Of course all bikes exhibit this same behavior when worn flat, but the diavel is even more pronounced because of the large rear tire. That’s a very wide and potentially flat tire profile.

      I like the site and viewpoints, but I must say with all the recent reviews, the quality of reviews have been lacking. The diavel hits home because I’m very familiar with the bike.

  • Steve

    I can’t imagine a less qualified review. Never ridden a Diavel? Seriously? I’m not sure what standards you are supposed to be applying, but if you have only ridden such and such type of a bike and are now reviewing the Strada you should disclose your bias, like: ” as someone who only rides cheap Japanese sport bikes, the Strada is way too comfortable”. In any event your cornering criticism is absurd for this type of bike, that is intended to appeal to the cruiser segment and if you have ever ridden a cruiser (don’t want to make any assumptions here) you would know that this bike corners better than the best of them.

    • TP

      Your claim that Sean’s “someone who only rides cheap Japanese sport bikes” is what is absurd. I seem to remember that the his first time on a 600 was like a year ago?

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

        First 600 yes. Plenty of time on all of the 1000′s. Man, I wish they would update those things more.

    • Tim Watson

      Not sure what you point is. Sean was honest in his review that he’d not ridden a Diavel. Does this make his review of the Strada less relevant? Absolutely not. Nobody can ride every bike that’s out there. This is Sean’s findings of his time riding this Ducati.

    • HellomynameisAG

      Man and I thought I was hungover.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      I apologize if I made it seem as if I lacked the knowledge base necessary to review this bike. What you do not understand about this industry (powersports journalism, but more specifically the road test editing segment) is that sometimes we don’t have bikes in for very long and not everyone at a publication always gets to spend much time on everything. I was with the guys from every major publication at the Busa launch and the conversation often turns to recent bikes, and there was tons of stuff that all guys I was with hadn’t ridden because someone else had done the review.

      While I have not ridden the regular Diavel, and therefore can’t speak as well the subtle ways in which the changes to it change the ride, I have ridden pretty much everything and Wes and I make it a point to both try and ride everything that comes in, even when it’s a hassle, so we can have those reference points.

      Had I been comparing this bike with sport bikes, I would have harped on the issue much more. My issue with the handling is the bike’s unwillingness to turn, not so much it’s inability. The bike just doesn’t want to lean over and it’s always trying to straighten up. The few of us who rode it all noticed the same thing and it was a point everyone mentioned when getting off of it.

      Your final statement is false. I consider the Goldwing another variation of a cruiser and it is much happier to lean over.

      • Richard Gozinya

        You’re not the only reviewer to mention the cornering thing. It seems to stem from that big fat rear tire. Also, here’s video evidence of the lack of cornering ability on the Diavel.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW5sLXtTC-0

      • Andrew

        Sean, Steve,
        How people review or like a bike is so personal. It’s great to have differing views. I noted in another comment Sean you mentioned the multi was a favorite of yours. I have ridden many and I find them really vague mid corner to the point it put me off buying one. It does a lot well but i wont spend my money on one as i am sure you wont be buying a Diavel. The main thing here is we are discussing bikes that’s got to be good.

  • Austin Sorenson

    How would you compare this to the V-Max? They are close in price, and weird shaped cruiser category.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The Diavel goes around corners.

  • http://stellarplum.tumblr.com/ Marie Delgado

    haha warped tour, really?

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      Hahahahaha. Of course you’re the first person to judge me for that (or at least leave a comment saying so)

  • sixgunsteve

    Sean, great review. I’m sold, got to get back to the Julian Pie Company and get me some pie!

    • http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_SgRlM0sDWJI/R4Zrki-3osI/AAAAAAAAAW8/WOaLxbOOLws/s400/zoolander.jpg Sean MacDonald

      i’m in.