When Ducati’s design team was first tasked with designing what would become the Diavel, they looked at three completely different design concepts. By merging superbike, custom bike and naked bike designs, the team was able to sketch out a bike that was performance-oriented, but still comfortable and unique. And when the first prototype was wheeled out in front of a group of Ducati engineers, one looked at the eccentric rear of the bike and proclaimed in Bolognese, “Ignurant comm’ al diavel!” Or “Evil, just like the devil!” It was then that the Diavel name was born.
To be completely honest, the name is more than fitting. The bike is deceiving; It looks like it’s ready for a Sunday cruise, but open the throttle up and you better hold on. Its large section rear tire looks more akin to straights, but lean it into a bend and feel the bike steer right through the corner. The Diavel really is as aggressive and deceptive as you would expect the devil to be.
While the design is new, unique and certainly deserves recognition, the Diavel’s engine was what really impressed me. The Ducati Testastretta 11° engine has been pulled directly from the Ducati Multisrada 1200, but minor changes have lent a gain of nearly 12 horsepower.
According to one of Ducati’s technical engineers, “95% of the power gains have come from the new exhaust,” which features an elongated head pipe – something that couldn’t be done on the Multistrada because the bike needed to accommodate rear luggage bags. Additional power gains can be attributed to slightly revised engine tuning and also to the slightly larger and redesigned air box. Other key features include the Diavel’s twin side-mounted water radiators, new water pump and ride by wire system.
On the open road, the Diavel is deceptively fast. In Sport mode, there is an unbelievable amount of power between 6000 and 10,000 rpm. And in said range, it’s important to keep a keen eye on the tach as well, since the revs climb extremely quickly and the next shift is only a matter of seconds away. That doesn’t mean however that you can’t run it at 4000 rpm and cruise around town. In fact, the Diavel is quite comfortable at such rpm, and still offers plenty of power to accelerate down the road when need be. And if the “I’m about to rip your limbs off” power is not what you are looking for, the Diavel offers two more riding modes that offer revised characteristics.
These modes can be selected via the tank-mounted TFT color display (this is separate from the handlebar-mounted LCD display that shows the tach, speed, temp and time). And in each mode, there are base settings for the traction control – each of which can be adjusted and saved to the bikes memory. In both the Sport and Touring mode, the Diavel makes use of all 162 horsepower and is blatantly fast. However, in Touring mode the mapping is slightly revamped and therefore throttle response is less abrupt. Even still, as I tested this mode I noticed that there is still plenty of power on top. In Urban mode, the Ducati Testastretta 11° engine is cut to “only” 100 horsepower, but there is still a decent amount of power to have fun with.
Few things are as beautiful...
Few things are as beautiful as thirty plus Ducatis lined up at the ready
Pirelli spent a great deal...
Pirelli spent a great deal of effort developing this large 240 section rear tire. It significantly adds to the Diavel's unique design and the bike is still surprisingly nimble.
The front of the Diavel is...
The front of the Diavel is like many naked bikes and features a round headlight unit. Notice also the side-mounted radiators on the Diavel.
As for the traction control, it almost seems like a necessary evil on the Diavel. And while I was not keen to using the higher settings (they seemed too intrusive), I did notice that settings one through three provided almost a perfect safety net that would ease my mind as I traversed down some of the damp, dirty roads along the coastline. I was also able to test the Diavel with the TC off, and I can say that with a heavy hand, things can get out of shape in an instant’s notice – hence why it is almost a necessary evil.
The Diavel isn’t all about power though, it also handles exceptionally well. Despite its long wheelbase and large 240-section rear tire, the Diavel is very nimble and changes direction extremely easy. Even on the tightest and roughest of roads, the Marzocchi 50mm front fork and Sachs rear shock do an admirable job of keeping the bike planted and the Pirelli rubber gives you an extreme amount of confidence in even the fastest, flowing corners. And at 463 pounds, the Diavel is not the heavy monster it looks. Nor is the Diavel Carbon, which is host to a number of carbon fiber components, forged Marchesini wheels and tips the scales at 456 pounds.
Equally as effortless as getting the Diavel up to speed, is getting it slowed down – a feat that is accomplished by the four-piston, twin radial mounted Brembo Monobloc callipers that grip the 320mm discs. There to assist is the Bosch ABS system, which does an admirable job of making sure traction is never lost, even in situations where hard braking is a must.
Name-brand components like the Marzocchi front fork, Brembo brakes and Bosch ABS are what slightly bring the Ducati’s price tag up though. And at $16,995 for the standard model ($19,995 for the Carbon model) the Diavel is not exactly cheap, but it is something most Ducati aficionados and motorcycle enthusiasts alike will still love to have. For 2011, the standard model will be offered in red with a red frame and black with a black frame. The Diavel carbon will be available in red carbon with a red frame and black carbon with a black frame.
Be sure to take a look at the full 2011 Ducati Diavel First Ride story in the May issue of Sport Rider Magazine.