Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ducati Diavel Ride Review

Two Wheel Reviews
I just got back from riding the Ducati Diavel and came back thoroughly pleased and surprised. The good folks in Bologna have been busy (not to mention the complete new Superbike coming out next year). We attended the introduction to the U.S. market of the Diavel while attending the IMS in Dallas and got the scoop on the design idea behind the new model.

The guys down at Ducati of Oklahoma twisted my arm until I took off on one of their newer Ducati models. I suited up and took off with a Ducati Diavel Carbon.

Diavel in the Carbon version
At first glance, this comes across as a semi cruiser, with it's laid back and muscular styling, but minus any chrome. Impressive however you look at it. Once you swing a leg over it, the feeling you get is somewhere in between a cruiser and a standard, sit up motorcycle like the BMW GS. The closest comparison I can make is to the new Yamaha Vmax. The bike sits low and aggressive with it's almost missing rear section aft of the seat to show off the 240 mm wide rear tire and twin booming cans of mufflers. A low seat height of 30.3" and the forward concentration of mass, ending with the massive 50mm inverted Marzocchi fork round out the look. On this Carbon model, you also get a carbon fiber fuel tank, front fender and Marchesini wheels to round it out. I have no doubts that the styling was one of the main jobs on this bike, but it definitely has the engineering and equipment to back it up. They already had a strong engine and let's face it, Ducati has always had a magic hand when designing chassis for their bikes and this shares the basic frame with the new Multistrada.

Comprehensive dash
This is a bike I could live with quite easily. With the key in my pocket, I push the button to start the bike up. You feel and hear the bark of the Tettastretta engine below you and watch the two dash displays come alive. We are enjoying a time of motorcycles that is finally using some of the technology available to really make some real-world improvements for street riders. The Diavel comes standard with ABS, DTC (Ducati Traction Control), three different ride modes, a "ride by wire" throttle, not to mention the spotless fueling and ignition. The traction control is adjustable eight different ways and the ride modes are selectable on the fly between Urban, Touring and Sport. Urban cuts horsepower down to 100 and smooths everything out for smooth cruising around town and in traffic. Touring gets you the full 162 hp, but spread quite evenly and slows the throttle response, especially off idle. The last is Sport. Sport mode gives the 162 hp, but also quickens throttle response and makes everything very immediate! Because of these different modes, this bike is happy to lope around town with a passenger on the back and be very smooth and easy to use (Urban mode) as you cruise by the bars just to show it off to your jealous friends, all thinking you are very smooth and have excellent throttle control on your new 160+ hp bike, or choose one of the two other modes and have full use of it's 162 hp. I couldn't help running it up the tach, just to feel the effortless lunge of the twin. The heat coming off the engine/exhaust while tooling around town is one of the only downside of the bike that I could find. Of course, it was also a little over 100 degrees that day and that quickly disappears once you get above crawling speed, so your results may vary.

Out on the highway, you first start to realize that you are not piloting a regular cruiser as it jumps to 70 mph without any effort, and can end up well over 100 without even trying. The gearbox feels refined and always shifted smooth and positive. Once up to highway speeds, the torque now starts to be very useful, passing cars when needed and without any drama (nobody likes to linger while trying to get around a large truck). The exhaust note changes from the raspy idle sound to a bearable growl when running highway speeds. I am easily entertained and loved being able to watch the valve in the exhaust open and close while playing with the throttle at a stop and listen to the difference in exhaust note.
240mm rear tire
The riding position without much wind protection at all, makes higher speed cruising for much of a distance, a little bit of a struggle as you fight the wind, but the actual seating position is a comfortable mix and other manufacturers should take note before designing any more cruisers that seat you in an uncomfortable, feet forward slouch. Ducati does offer two different windscreens as options, although we have not tried any yet. On this road test, I had a passenger along for some of the city and freeway part of the ride. She commented a few points about the passenger accomodations that are worth noting. The first was the comfortable seat and the handy, pop out grab handle that gives the passenger something to hold on to. She also commented that she could feel the same heat that I was during traffic and those cool, flip out pegs were pretty close to the riders pegs when in use, allowing her feet to bump the back of my legs a couple times. But overall, very comfy passenger accommodations for such a minimal bike.

During the test, I talked to one rider that took his Diavel from the middle of Oklahoma, up through Wyoming and back. Comfortable and torquey. Now we are on to something.

Carbon model of the Diavel
Once you get off the freeway and find some more interesting roads, it doesn't disappoint.With enough ground clearance to actually enjoy the ride in the twisty bits, you forget what kind of bike you are on and find yourself running with the local sportbike guys without thinking about it. Using it's 94 lb-ft of torque from corner to corner and slowing when needed with the incredible Monobloc Brembo brakes had me giggling in my helmet with ABS and traction control backing me up. I had my doubts about the 240 mm wide rear tire working very well under these conditions, but forgot about it once the road turned curvy. The thing loves curves! I shouldn't have had any doubts. Turning in like it was supposed to, holding a line and with the pegs and exhaust moved up where it is, no grinding! There's nothing like taking a new bike out for a road test and grinding hard parts before you leave the parking lot, then having to return it with the exhaust, footboards, etc. having all been ground to submission after a leisurely ride. I don't consider it safe, if you ride a bike that you can grind part of the frame while maneuvering in town.

By the time I had to return the Diavel, I had fallen in love with it. After spending some time with it, the bike that defies being catagorized, comes across as a versatile, go anywhere, loft the front end kind of bike that brings a smile to your face every time you get on it. And isn't that why we are riding anyways?

A few of the basic specs.
Wheelbase: 1590mm (62.6in)
Dry weight: 456 lbs Carbon, 463 lbs for regular version
Hp: 162hp @ 9500rpm
Torque: 94lb-ft @ 8000rpm
This is the Ducati engine that you would recognize from their Superbike line. It is an 1198cc, Testastretta 11°, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic and liquid cooled.


Special thanks to Ducati of Oklahoma for setting us up.
Get down to test ride one yourself at Ducati of Oklahoma
Or check out the official Ducati website here

Two Wheel Oklahoma

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