A week with an old friend makes us wonder why you don’t see more Ducati Diavels than you do.
Photography by Rennie Scaysbrook
It’s a funny bike, the ol’ Ducati Diavel. It’s a motorcycle that has never really had a home. It doesn’t really have class competitors either, save for possibly the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 or, if you have to throw a bagger in there, maybe the Indian Challenger. The Diavel is its own thing and that’s a large part of its appeal.
When the Diavel came out in 2011, the only motorcycle it competed against was the Yamaha VMAX, and it did away with Yamaha’s king bruiser cruiser with one arm tied behind its back. Such was the performance of the then 1198cc Diavel, it made any other low-slung power cruiser instantly irrelevant. We’d never seen a motorcycle with a 240-section rear tire able to corner with such fluidity, while still retaining the style and comfort of the cruiser segment.
However, the Diavel still hasn’t won over American cruiser hearts and wallets the way it probably deserves to. That’s because many of those riders are Harley to the core and likely always will be.
So, a couple of years ago, Ducati said “stuff it,” and stuffed the enlarged 1262cc, 157 horsepower Teststretta DVT (Demodromic Valve Timing) motor into a revised chassis that made it even more sporty than before. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, forget ’em.
I absolutely love that about the Diavel. Rather than dumbing down the Diavel to make it more cruisey and less sporty, Ducati doubled down and went bigger, making the Diavel a real devil that’s perfectly at home in twisties, as well as hammering drag strips.
The $23,395 1260 S I was riding over two glorious weeks in So Cal quickly became a garage favorite but more for its practicality than anything else. Despite having a motor that could outrun most sport bikes up to 60 mph, the Diavel’s is probably the most refined L-twin Ducati has ever created. There’s instant (and I mean, instant!) go from the 1262cc engine when you hit the throttle hard, but the character exuding from the machine doesn’t will you to explore the outer limits of possible performance.
There are three riding modes of Sport (which annoyingly does away with the fuel gauge on the dash), Touring and Urban, and after checking out Sport for a few days, I settled on the more sedate throttle response of Touring and couldn’t have been happier. I rode the Diavel everywhere—trips to L.A., running errands, going for a pre-lockdown drink with the lads—and each time I got off the Diavel, I was more infatuated with it.
The throttle response is superbly metered for a big, lumpy Italian L-twin and when matched to (in my opinion) a better quickshifter than on even the Panigale range, it’s a good time on the Diavel. I say the Diavel’s quickshifter (standard fare on this S model, aftermarket on the base model) is better because if your feet accidentally hit the lever, you won’t kill the ignition. I’ve gone through the screen twice on Panigale’s due to my lazy foot touching the lever, which, mercifully, isn’t a problem on the Diavel.
This being the S model, you get chunky 48mm Ӧhlins forks and an Ӧhlins shock, both fully adjustable, of course. The ride isn’t exactly smooth as silk—you’ll still cop a solid whack in the ass from the seat if you hit square-edged bumps like potholes—but the tradeoff is the Diavel’s ability to rip through corners at a pace and poise other power cruisers can only dream about.
This is complimented by Brembo M50 calipers and a radial master-cylinder which, while a little bit on the old side when you consider the higher-spec Stylema caliper range has been around for a few years now, still does the job of hauling you up from speed quickly and with plenty of lever feel.
As per usual with any top-line Ducati, the Diavel is littered with rider aids like six-axis IMU, traction, wheelie, and launch control, Cornering ABS EVO, power launch (for your drag starts you’re always going to be doing) and LED lights with the looking Daytime Running Light giving the bike a rather menacing look. Oh, and you get cruise control and the Ducati Multimedia system, so you can pair your phone, take calls, etc.
I’ll admit, the Ducati Diavel isn’t for everyone. It’s got a style that’s more retired UFC fighter than suit and tie, and it’s probably the most unapologetic “look at me” bike from a company that specializes in “look at me” motorcycles. Regardless, the ride is way better than I remember from back in the day when I was riding these things around Sydney, Australia, a decade ago. It’s got style, presence, and backs it up with an excellent ride experience. I’m genuinely surprised how much I like this motorcycle. CN
2020 Ducati Diavel 1260 S Specifications
||L-Twin, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke
||8-valve, Ducati Testastretta DVT with Desmodromic Variable Timing
|Bore x stroke:
||106 x 71.5mm
||157 hp at 9250 rpm
||95 lb-ft at7500 rpm
||Tubular steel trellis
||Öhlins, 48mm inverted fork, fully adjustable
||Single Öhlins shock
||2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc M50 4-piston calipers, radial pump w/ Bosch Cornering ABS
||Single 265mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper, with Bosch Cornering ABS
||Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 III 120/70 x 17 in.
||Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 240/45 x 17 in.
|Weight (curb, claimed):
||Total Back; Sandstone Grey, Red