2015 Ducati Diavel—Ridden & Rated
Since its introduction in 2011, Ducati’s Diavel has been a genre-bender: too sporty to be a cruiser, too long and upright to be a sportbike. It was most often lumped into the “power cruiser” category, but was so idiosyncratic as to have only one real rival, Star’s Vmax (and we recently compared touring versions of the bikes in the March 2014 issue). With its selectable ride modes and traction control, the Diavel was the more technologically advanced of the two, but despite being artfully distinctive and blindingly fast, for the most part both motorcycles pushed comfort aside in favor of performance. Consequently, their appeal was limited.
The 2015 Diavel is out to change that. Seeking to strengthen its identity and cruisability, Ducati has given the bike a number of upgrades to make it easier to ride. The revised Testastretta 11° L-twin engine and its dual-spark technology now provide three percent more torque and a more efficient fuel burn. New LED lighting throughout, the headlight in particular, provides yet another distinctive styling accent and vastly improves the rider’s visibility, while a shorter 2-1-2 exhaust exposes more of the rear wheel.
Nice cosmetic changes have been made to the ’15 Diavel’s headlight shroud and instrumentation, and bar risers and a fuel gauge have been added. Fine improvements all, but none are as revelatory as the Diavel’s new seat. In previous years, the Diavel’s perch leaned toward its sportbike lineage, slanting the rider slightly forward in an aggressive position. For 2015, despite the tailsection’s still-dramatic upsweep, the seat is flat, if not angled slightly rearward. On a bike flush with contemporary technology, this new, simple saddle tweak provides one of the greatest improvements over the previous Diavel.
Cruising the Diavel through the pastoral countryside, mountain passes and quaint towns of the Ligurian Alps at the press launch based in opulent Monte Carlo, never once did I feel the uncomfortable crush of sliding down into the fuel tank, or the dull ache in my wrists from bearing my weight for an extended time. Sitting up and lifting my face shield, riding one handed in second or third gear while smelling the cafés and pastures of the region that straddles the French/Italian border, was a delight in moto-tourism. Punctuate those bucolic moments with hours of wild hairpins and furious canyon carving, and the Diavel proved its itself to be quite versatile.
The Diavel’s revised engine makes that familiar Ducati rumble without the characteristic clatter. The exhaust purrs assuredly and growls menacingly with a low pitch that will never be mistaken for a sportbike. In any gear, whether in Urban (limited horsepower and throttle response), Touring (full power, limited throttle) or Sport (full power and response), the Diavel reacted eagerly. The modes seem ideally configured out of the box; though owners can dial in the various traction control, throttle response and horsepower levels to custom settings. Urban mode eased the bike’s aggressiveness in traffic, Touring offered massive highway power without abrupt throttle snappiness, and Sport mode ism frankly superfluous—unless second-gear wheelies happen to be your thing.
The dual-disc, radial-mount Brembo brakes up front provide awesome stopping power and ABS is now standard equipment. The single shock is adjustable, although twisting the knob did surprisingly little to alter the ride; turning it fully in either direction, the distinction between soft and hard was minimal to this 185-pound rider. Still, braking and suspension are equally supreme for around-town traffic, open-road riding and everything in between.
If the 240-series rear tire didn’t clue you in, the Diavel’s length makes it clear: this is a cruiser-sized motorcycle. The fat tire and long wheelbase surely contribute to the Diavel’s confident stance; in any environment and on any surface, the bike is surefooted and never skittish. The turning radius isn’t vast, but thanks to the low seat and relatively light curb weight, slow speed maneuvers aren’t a problem. More satisfying is the lean angle, which helps this light-for-its-size bike easily negotiate even the snuggest of European lanes. The Diavel dives into turns eagerly, and the monster L-twin pulls it upright effortlessly. On a day filled with hills and hairpins, it took a downhill switchback with a decreasing radius for me to scrape a peg—and that only happened once.
Ducati says its new Diavel is geared toward active urban riders who view their motorcycle as a lifestyle accessory. That sounds apt, considering the starting price of $17,995 for the base Diavel (sexy in Matte Black) and $20,995 for the Carbon version (Black with Red or White stripes and accents), which has forged Marchesini wheels (5.5 pounds lighter than the standard wheels), milled front brake calipers, and carbon fiber tank panels, pillion cowl and front fender. The 2015 Diavel should appeal to those who want sportbike performance with more laid-back comfort, and cruiser riders looking for something totally different. This bike is powerful and comfortable enough for any rider, on any ride: boulevard cruising, urban commuting and even light touring.
2015 Ducati Diavel/Carbon
Base Price: $17,995
Price as Tested: $20,995 (Carbon)
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse L-twin, desmodromic DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 106.0 x 67.9mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 62.6 in.
Rake/Trail: 28 degrees/5.1 in.
Seat Height: 30.3 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 527 lbs./516 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.
(This article Kinder Devil was published in the August 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)