Tested – Ducati Diavel

Since its introduction in 2011 Ducati has sold nearly 25,000 examples of the Diavel; a bike based loosely on classic American muscle cruisers and given a Ducati coating of fairy dust. The results were spectacular. The Diavel was a super cruiser like no other, combining comfort, power, presence and handling. And boy could it handle, even if its massive 240-section rear tyre and 1590mm-long wheelbase suggested otherwise. All this was backed up with superbike levels of electronic aids; traction control, ABS and a basic anti-wheelie system.

Ducati has just released two new models; the standard Diavel and a Carbon version. The standard model is available in one colour, Dark Stealth, while the Carbon Edition comes in either Red Carbon or Star White Carbon and features carbon fibre panels, forged Marchesini wheels and stainless steel exhaust silencers.

The design changes are subtle and include a new LED headlight, which is housed in a brushed aluminium housing, an updated dash, a new fuel gauge and sidestand indicator that sit on the tank, new air intakes, LED indicators that run vertically down the reshaped radiator shrouds, a slash cut exhaust that shows more of that beautiful single-sided swingarm, a new, thicker seat for improved comfort and nine-spoked forged wheels.

The booming V-twin lump has also been breathed on. Originally the powerplant for the 1198 Superbike, the updated 1199cc, twin spark Testastretta engine taken from the Multistrada has had the compression increased to 12:5:1 and the fuel injectors repositioned to spray directly on to the hot intake valve to enhance vaporisation and make the most of the incoming charge. This has created a far smoother engine and gives a 4.5 percent increase in torque at 6000rpm for more midrange punch while also improving economy. Maximum engine horsepower remains the same, 162bhp, but is now achieved at slightly lower revs (9250rpm). Service intervals have also been been increased to 18,000 miles between major services.

There are still three riding modes; Urban, Touring and Sport, and all can be adjusted to suit your riding style and requirements. Urban sees the ride-by-wire throttle response and engine power restricted to 100bhp, a smooth throttle response and a high level of traction control (five out of eight), Touring gives the full 162 horsepower but with a medium, smoother throttle response and a DTC level of three, while Sport unleashes all of the power with an aggressive throttle and DTC reduced to the minimum level of intervention.

The 2015 bike retains the standard 120/70-17 front tyre and 240-section rear tyre combination and suspension of the original. That first model was a joy to ride, despite your brain telling you that a bike with a rear tyre that big won’t handle, and this improved Diavel will be no different. That big, fat 240mm-wide Pirelli Diablo Rosso II turns in nicely and offers loads of mechanical grip, with the fat 50mm Marzocchi forks and Sachs shock (both fully adjustable) easily dealing with everything but the biggest of bumps. Yes, it needs to be muscled around, but it’s still capable of hustling and it’s in its element in big, sweeping corners. The ground clearance is superb and if things ever threaten to get out of hand, a quick tug on the levers and the excellent Brembo Monoblocs bring things under control quickly and smoothly.

The Diavel redefined what we expect from cruisers, setting the benchmark and adding a level of performance and sophistication not normally associated with the class. The best just got even better.

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