The Pirelli 240/45ZR-17 rear tire is something many never thought they would see on a Ducati. Even with such a large tire out back, the Diavel is nimble and changes direction effortlessly.
The Diavel features a handlebar-mounted LCD display that shows speed, RPM and all other important information as well as a tank-mounted TFT display that doubles as the control panel to personalize the DTC and RbW settings.
Who ever thought they’d see a day when a license plate was mounted by a trellis-inspired bracket?
The Diavel features a low 30.3-inch seat height. The Ducati Accessories catalog will offer a Roadster seat that is 20mm taller (something taller riders such as myself will appreciate) and a Tourer seat that is 20mm shorter.
In comparison to the Multisrada 1200, the Diavel makes roughly 12 more horsepower. According to Ducati engineers, this gain is mostly accredited to the head pipe, which is longer and has a greater distance between the cylinder head and two-into-one exhaust tube.
For the world press intro, Ducati had journalists riding the Diavel Carbon, an upgrade of the Diavel if you will. The Standard model is seen here and comes in either red or black color options
To accommodate a passenger, simply remove the rear seat cover and fold down the passenger pegs.
The fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi fork is just one of the many superbike-derived components Ducati engineers fitted the Diavel with. The unit is compliant around town and confidence inspiring in the canyons.
There’s something to be said for breaking the rules. Yes, it may be frowned upon and yes, there are often consequences, but the thrill of not knowing if you’re going to get off scot free is almost always associated with an intoxicating rush of adrenaline. Perhaps it’s this rush of adrenaline that urged Ducati’s design team to push further into the new Diavel’s designto break all the rules that said you couldn’t have a performance bike with a 240-section rear tire, long wheelbase and low-slung seat. Perhaps it was that excitement of not knowing if they would get away with it that urged them to push the envelope that little bit further.
With the Diavel, Ducati engineers started with a clean sheet of paper and a performance-based enginethe already proven Testastretta engine. This is the same engine that powers the 1198, Street Fighter and Multisrada 1200. And while much of the Ducati Testastretta engine has gone untouched (internal components are the same, as are the bore and stroke numbers which remain at 106 x 67.9mm) in its transplant from 1198 Superbike to Diavel, a number of small modifications have lent to slightly revised engine characteristics and more overall horsepower.
As with the Multistrada 1200, valve overlap has been reduced from 41 to just 11, with Ducati now labeling the engine the Testastretta 11. The new cam timing for the Testastretta engine results in more user-friendly power characteristics, better fuel economy and still plenty of brute power on tap.
Compared to the Multistrada 1200, which was the first bike to run the Testastretta 11 engine, the Diavel makes roughly 12 more horsepower. Much of the gain is accredited to the longer head pipe of the Diavel which is significantly longer from the cylinder head to the two-into-one tube. Other changes to the Ducati powerplant include a new water pump for increased flow, twin side-mounted radiators, a new slipper-action wet clutch and aesthetic changes to the crankcase covers.
As you would expect from the Italian manufacturer, the chassis of the all-new Diavel is comprised of a trellis frame and die-cast aluminum sub-frame. But unlike any other Ducati you have seen, the Diavel features a massive eight-inch rear wheel, long 62.6-inch wheelbase, extensive 25-inch aluminum swingarm and 28 of rake. Most likely the biggest surprise of all though, is the 240/45ZR-17 Pirelli rear tire that was built with both style and performance in mind.
Since the bike’s unveiling, the wide-section rear tire has been continually scrutinized by ducatisti, who accused Ducati of forgoing performance in order to make itself available to a different market. But to be fair, Pirelli has developed the Diablo Rosso II to provide excellent grip and overall performance. The 17 wheel/tire combo is more akin to a sportbike setup and the profile of the large rear tire is intended to provide a large contact patch. In addition, the Rosso II offers a high sidewall that is intended to better absorb bumps. All said, it’s clear the rear of the bike isn’t just meant to resemble a custom/cruiser look.
In terms of ergonomics, the Diavel is similar to Ducati’s Monster 696 and offers a relaxed and more upright position. In contrast to its naked 696 kin however, the Diavel’s handlebars have been raised some 140mm and pulled an additional 100mm closer to the rider. Moreover, Ducati engineers designed a new seat and gave the Diavel an uncharacteristically low 30.3-inch seat height. In an attempt to make certain that the result wasn’t a cramped and uncomfortable riding position, the footrests were dropped some 23mm.
Similar to the Multistrada 1200, the Diavel features eight levels of traction control and three separate riding modesSport, Touring and Urban. For each mode, a predetermined traction control setting has been programmed in by the factory.
In both the Sport mode and Touring mode, the Diavel makes full use of all 162 horsepower, but the Touring mode has been revised to deliver the power in a smoother manner. In Urban mode, the Diavel is cut to only 100 horsepower.
In order to change the riding modes, you must navigate through the beautifully lit tank-mounted display. The full color Thin Film Transistor (TFT) display uses the same technology as most of today’s smart phones, doubles as the control panel for the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system, and is also where the riding modes can be selected or even personalizedso long as the bike is stopped. Paired with the tank-mounted display is a handlebar-mounted LCD panel that displays speed, rpm, time, temperature and all the other necessary information.
For 2011, the Ducati Diavel will be offered in two versions, a standard model and a Carbon model. The Diavel Carbon, which tips the scales at 456 pounds dry, features carbon fiber bodywork, forged Marchesini wheels and milled disc carriers for additional weight savings and enhanced looks. The standard model is only slightly heavier though, with a claimed dry weight of 463 pounds. In the way of colors, the standard Diavel will be offered in red or black and the Carbon model will be offered in red carbon or black carbon.
Proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover
As you throw a leg over the Diavel, you are almost forced to remind yourself that it is a Ducati. After all, the Italian manufacturer has never produced something that has you drooped down in the seat and draped over an elongated 5.3-gallon tank. The seating position is surprisingly comfortable though, and as you grab hold of the controls, you notice that the reach to the handlebars is nothing out of the norm, nor is the distance to the footrests.
As with the Multistrada 1200, the Diavel uses a hands-free ignition system. This means that in order to start the bike, you must have the key within range (6.5 feet) and if by chance you haven’t left the key in the pocket of your other riding jacket, you can start the bike via the switch on the right handlebar. In an instant, the 1198cc engine fires off and sits at the ready.
Around town, the Diavel is very deceptive. For a bike with such a long wheelbase and massive rear tire, the Diavel is very nimble and it almost falls into tight, slow-speed corners. Even more, side-to-side transitions are effortless and accelerating out of a corner and past cars is a breeze thanks to the Testastretta 11 engine. The surprisingly strong handling characteristics are almost mirrored in the canyons, where the Diavel performs with sportbike-like characteristics.
When pushed, the fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi front fork and fully adjustable Sachs rear shock work exceptionally well. Along the rough canyon roads, the units absorb every bump and at higher speeds, they give the rider an unbelievable sense of confidence in the motorcycle. And despite what appears to be a low ride height, there are never any clearance issues with the footrests, even on the most banked of corners.
Seems funny to hear how we pushed the Diavel through the canyons though, right? Almost referring to it as a sportbike? It’s hard not to however, since the bike is host to sportbike-derived suspension and a superbike-derived engine. And yes it may look like a custom or a cruiser, but it turns into corners like a sportbike, accelerates like one, and has the same technology as all of today’s superbikes. So why not compare it to them and go on to mention how it handles just like them?
The only place the Diavel does show some signs of weakness is in the slower canyon corners, where lean angles are increased and the wide rear tire begins to flex. The squirm from the rear tire is most noticeable in the middle of the corner and gives you the feeling that the bike is going to lose traction all togetherdespite the slow speeds. Once you are able to open the throttle however, the unnerving sensation tends to fade and the Diavel continues to drive through the exit of the corner like a bat out of hell.
At cruising speeds, the torque-laden Diavel settles in around 4000 rpm. It isn’t until 6000 rpm, though, that the bike really comes to life. From said rpm to 10,000 rpm, the bike offers an unimaginable amount of power and the better half of the tachometer is eaten up within moments. In mere seconds, the bike reaches its 10,000-rpm rev limiter and screams for the next shift.
Few things are as addictive as the power that the Diavel possesses. In Sport mode, the bike puts out roughly 162 horsepower at the crankshaft and is as intoxicating as almost any literbike on the market. The power in Sport mode is so addictive in fact, you rarely want to switch riding modes. To be completely honest though, the brute and direct power of Sport mode is more fun than it is necessary. In Touring mode, you still get to use the full 162 horsepower, but the revised mapping means that as you open the throttle, the throttle body butterflies, which are controlled by the Ride-by-Wire system, won’t open at a true 1:1 ratio. As such, if you open the throttle at say 50 percent, the throttle bodies may open to around 40 percent. The result is a smoother throttle response that is more palatable around town. In Urban mode, the Diavel is still plenty fun to ride despite the lackluster power delivery. And while it may not have the addictive hit that the Sport and Touring modes offer, it’s so smooth that you soon become enamored with it and decide to leave it be for some time.
On the Diavel, the DTC system is almost a necessary evil, because while the wide rear tire does offer exceptional grip, the powerful Testastretta 11 engine will spin the tire with ease. In any setting beyond level four however, the DTC cuts in rather prematurely and is fairly abrupt. Nevertheless, when the roads are damp and dirty, the first few levels of TC provide a nice safety netone that almost sets your mind at ease.
Cycling through the riding modes is done via the tank-mounted TFT displaya task that can be done on the fly. However, being that the display is mounted down on the tank, you often find yourself taking your eyes off the road and focusing more attention on the screen as you look to find the next modesomething that could be quite dangerous on even the least congested roads. When the bike is at a stop, you can also navigate through the screen and customize each riding mode with different levels of traction control and different engine map settings. All told, the display is easy to navigate through and changes can be made in a matter of seconds.
When things do get hairball, the Diavel can be stopped on a dime thanks to the Brembo monobloc calipers and dual 320mm semi-floating discs up front and the two-piston floating caliper and 265mm disc out back. On aggressive stops, the front brakes provide an extremely linear feel and are strong, but not strong enough to lift the rear wheel and make things exciting. The Diavel also features a Bosch ABS system thatlike the TCprovides a safety net and eases your mind under hard braking. Thankfully, the system is not too intrusiveas some units on other bikes areand under extreme braking, the system works flawless and is almost unnoticeable.
After a full day of riding, the Diavel test unit got a mere 26 miles per gallon. However, this number is most likely unrepresentative of the Diavel’s true capabilities in the way of fuel economy since our test unit was flogged for the majority of the day.
Getting Away With It
With a superbike-derived engine and custom bike design, the Diavel is nothing like any of its Italian siblings. It’s a rare breed, one that steals design aspects from bikes of almost every different segment, and brings them together to create a bike that is performance-based, loaded with electronics, comfortable and most of all, unique. After a full day of riding I was still comfortable on the Diavel, with only a minor ache in my back and a huge smile on my face.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can get can away with breaking a few rules-Ducati certainly did with the Diavel. SR
For more information about the Diavel, visit www.sportrider.com/magazine/1105
|Specifications Ducati Diavel|
|MSRP: Standard: $16,995; Carbon: $19,995-$20,395|
|Type: Testastretta 11 liquid-cooled, DOHC L-Twin|
|Bore x stroke: 106 x 67.9mm|
|Compression ratio: 11.5:1|
|Induction: Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection, Mikuni elliptical throttle bodies equivalent to 56mm diameter with RbW|
|Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II|
|Rear tire: 240/45ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II|
|Rake/trail: 28 degrees/5.12 in. (130 mm)|
|Wheelbase: 62.6 in. (1590mm)|
|Seat height: 30.3 in. (770mm)|
|Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal. (20L)|
|Claimed dry weight: Standard: 463 lb (210 kg) Carbon: 456 lb (207 kg)|