Ridden

New metal – Yamaha MT-10 tested

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This is the eagerly-awaited MT-10 – Yamaha’s take on a naked R1, and the first Japanese supernaked to offer any serious competition to the Europeans in years.

However, this bike is far more than just an R1 with the plastics removed and straight bars fitted, it’s a fully reworked bike, one that’s been built for the roads.

There are no two ways about it, this bike’s looks are going to polarise opinion. Edgy, angular and very plasticky. At the NEC show last November, when the bike made its UK debut, it was its styling that sparked lively debate – that and the gaffer-taped indicators at the rear – and you’ll either love or hate the ‘Transformer’ aesthetics.

But look beyond the bike’s questionable lines and you’ll discover a machine that is defined by its engine. In this case the R1’s 998cc, 200bhp inline four powerplant has been reworked and features a new cylinder design, new pistons and a new combustion chamber. Essentially detuned to make 160bhp, a figure more appropriate for an unfaired machine, the redline now sits at 12,000rpm instead of the R1’s 14,000rpm, and the net result is a better spread of torque in the middle of the rev range which is more accessible to the rider more of the time.

The MT10 retains the R1’s aluminium Deltabox main frame, swingarm and fully-adjustable KYB front and rear suspension, but it feels a lot smaller than its faired sibling. It looks tiny and compact, much smaller than the already tiny R1, and even when sat on the bike it belies its 210kg wet weight.
But small can be beautiful, and the MT10 proves this is true with every blip of the throttle. It doesn’t have the edgy, rorty boom of the R1, but the rumble from the cross-plane crank engine is still pleasant enough, though it has a rougher, coarser tone.

First gear is still tall ­– 70mph – but the rear sprocket now has 43 teeth instead of the 41 as found on the R1, and that makes this a far more usable tool on real roads. Power delivery is silky smooth, and while it lacks the rapid acceleration low down of its rivals, that works in the bike’s favour as this lack of arm-snapping allows you to exploit its potential higher up in the range. Keep the throttle open and you’ll see the white light flash of the gear shift indicator at 10,000rpm, a useful addition to the full-colour dash.

This real-world performance is backed up by a suite of rider aids including traction control, cruise control and three riding modes – A, B and Standard. The reality here is that there is little difference between the modes, apart from the initial response in the first degrees of the throttle twist, and B mode, the most aggressive, is probably the one that most riders will use, and it’s a delight – punchy and responsive, giving the bike a more dynamic, edgier ride.

This is a bike which enjoys being hustled through the corners, those wide bars making countersteering fingertip easy, encouraging the bike into the turn with the lightest of pressure. It’s stable, predicable and accurate too, allowing to carve corners with pinpoint accuracy.

And thanks to the riding position, this is a bike you’ll enjoy for mile after mile. The riding position itself feels natural and comfortable, with the bars falling easily to hand and the pegs sitting directly below the seats. It’s a position which reminds me of a naked Ducati – you’re very much over the front wheel, and as well as making you feel really connected with every movement the bike makes, this natural crouch also allows you to better exploit the bike’s acceleration. There’s no wrist ache, no knee ache, and the small plastic cowl actually does a good job of keeping the worst of the wind at bay.

This cowl is worthy of praise, as naked bikes normally result in a lot of buffeting and neck strain. Not so here. And it’s this well-designed, well-crafted feature which turns the MT10 into a bike you could ride all weekend. And it still works, even when speeds rise, and by tucking into a racing crouch as you would on a sportsbike you’ll lower the noise considerably.

The more time I spend with the bike, the more I begin to notice the less obvious things, like the slipper-clutch which is effective at keeping the bike settled on downshifts by reducing back-torque, the beautiful colour dash, and the brakes, which are powerful without being ferocious. The only thing it’s really missing is a quickshifter, which is a noticeable omission.

This is a great all-rounder. It’s fun, agile and entertaining and it will wheelie for England. This is the machine that finally sees the Japanese create a bike to threaten the European stranglehold on this sector of the market – it’s definitely on a par with the BMW S1000R, if lacking the sheer performance of the Aprilia Tuono V4. Try one…

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Tested – Suzuki SV650

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Suzuki’s new SV650 is everything the original bike was, and then some. The king of the middleweight’s is back, and gives more bang per buck than ever.

Suzuki launched the original SV650 back in 1999, and the mercurial middleweight V-twin quickly won us over with its eclectic blend of agility, punchy performance and low price. It was a successful formula and more than 410,000 units were produced. It’s no understatement to say this was a bike that revolutionised the middleweight class, but then Suzuki took its eye off the ball – the Gladius lost the SV’s agility, and Yamaha introduced the class-leading MT-07. The writing was on the wall, and brand new bikes were heavily discounted. We know of some brand-new bikes that were being sold for as little as £3900.

But this year Suzuki has seen sense and given the SV a thorough going over, and the result is the bike you see here – the SV650.

This bike isn’t just some made over and reworked Gladius, it’s an all-new bike, and it’s one that’s to look at – classically modern without being too fussy or cool. It’s full of neat touches; the digital dash, which now includes a gear indicator, oozes quality, and the attention to detail ­– back bars, sporty stripe on the tank, new exhaust – is exquisite.

However, Suzuki’s venerable 645cc V-twin powerplant is the real star of the show. The engine has received 60 changes including new pistons, electro-chemically coated bores, ten-hole fuel injectors. It also boasts a few electronic tweaks such as a new low rpm assist function. All of these changes mean the engine pumps out 75bhp and 47lb.ft of torque, and because it’s a V-twin, it has plenty of punch available when you need it. This is something worth pointing out, as it’s pretty much unique in this class – Kawasaki and Yamaha use parallel twins while Honda uses an inline four – and this is the ace up Suzuki’s sleeve.

Thumb the starter (the SV has Suzuki’s new ‘easy start’ system, which means you don’t have to pull the clutch in; if the bike is in neutral, hit the starter button once and the bike will automatically turn over until it fires into life) and you’ll be greeted by a pleasant, burbling rumble. The Suzuki sounds good, potent even. Suzuki’s engineers have worked on the airbox, ensuring it contributes to more power higher up in the rev range, and that, when combined with the induction noise, giving the SV an addictive sound.

It has the bite to match its bark too. That engine works well on UK roads, combining a useable linear spread of torque with a healthy dose of speed, and it’s just as happy crawling through town as it is hunting down corners on your favourite back roads.

Twist the throttle and the response is instant and smooth, lacking any the hesitation associated with twins of old. This is a bike that delivers and entertain, irrespective of your level of riding experience.

And that punchy performance is more than backed up by the SV’s handling. The chassis is excellent, and while the suspension may lack adjustment (only the dampers’ preload can be tweaked), it’s more than good enough most of the time. You can push it much further than you have any right to, and it will only start to complain when you start taking real liberties.

Its performance may be punching well above its weight, and price tag come to that, but Suzuki hasn’t forgot who this bike is aimed fat, and it retains a wealth of handy new-rider friendly features. The tank is narrow, for improved grip, and this narrowness also impacts on the eat height, which now sits at 785mm. Then there’s the low rpm assist, which has been designed to increase the revs slightly at the point the clutch starts to bite to help reduce the chances of a stall.

This is a bike that offers something to riders of all abilities, and it just as entertaining for new riders as it is for those with more miles under their belts, delivering more smiles per mile than its any of its competitors. And then there’s the price. The SV is back. With a bang, and may just be the biggest bargain in Britain at the moment.

 

Tested – Ducati 848 Evo Corse SE

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The bike you see here is far more than just a standard 848 with a fancy paint job, it’s the 848 Evo Corse SE, and stunning colour scheme aside, it comes with an Öhlins rear shock, a quickshifter, larger front discs and traction control.

The Evo looks beautiful in the flesh, and the Corse paintjob suits the 848’s purposeful lines.

Throw a leg over the bike and everything’s where it should be, though the riding position won’t suit everyone – the seat is canted forward and there’s a long reach to the bars. And shorter riders might find their knees getting caught on the end of the fairing scoops.

Turn the key and the clear and uncluttered dash springs into life. Thumb the starter and you’re greeted by the bassy sound of the 848’s V-twin rumbling into life. Twist the throttle and listen to it cackle on the overrun. It stirs something deep inside you.

Pull away and the throttle is smooth, with little of the traditional V-twin snatchiness. Snick a gear using the quickshifter, increase speed and tuck in behind the doublebubble screen. Chest flat against the tank, snick another gear and the engine effortlessly makes progress. The fuelling is spot on – it delivers loads of torque but also loves to be revved to its 11,000rpm redline. The delivery is smooth and progressive and gloriously elastic.

Drop a gear and tip into a corner and the front gives loads of feedback and masses of confidence. it feels planted, though it’s hesitant and reluctant to turn in on the tighter bends.

But as the road deteriorates the Ducati’s suspension makes itself known. To say it’s on the hard side is an understatement. As the bike bounces over a bump I get a severe punch in the kidney, leaving me in pain and turning the air blue inside my helmet. That harshness is only an issue on the really bumpy stuff, but it can catch you off guard when it happens.

If things do ever threaten to get out of hand, a squeeze on the Brembos quickly gets things under control. They’ve got great feel and power but they need treating with respect – they’re ferocious and it’s very easy to lock up the front.

So what’s it like to live with? Well, in the three weeks we spent together the Corse SE feels planted on open, flowing bends. It’s a machine that turns every ride into an occasion and it gets a lot of attention. It never misbehaved or did something to sap my confidence. And even though the weather was miserable during the majority of my custodianship, the traction control meant things never got hairy. It’s also deceptively quick. Crack the throttle, snick a gear and the bike launches itself forward, front wheel pawing the air, speed building in unison with the feral roar booming from the cans. It feels aggressive and relentless, more like an inline four than a twin.

Those same underseat cans do, however, get very, very hot and I managed to melt my rucksack during an ad hoc roadside stop to change into waterproofs.

So are the trinkets worth £1000 more than standard 848 Evo? That depends on the riding you do. it takes a while to dial into just how the 848 needs to be ridden, and if you’re going to get the most from it you need to be riding it hard, which for many of us has to mean riding it on the track. And if that’s the kind of riding you do, then it’s worth every penny as you’ll never be able to upgrade the standard bike for the same amount of money.

However, if your riding is primarily limited to the occasional Sunday blast, then you might be better off with the standard version, which is still a magnificent sportsbike that’s far less intimidating – and expensive – than the Panigale.

 

Ducati 848 to Yorkshire

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I’m blasting across the Yorkshire Moors, the low flying sun doing its best to interfere with my visibility. It’s cold but dry and there’s still loads of grip on this glorious stretch of tarmac. I should be in Spain now but I really don’t care, this bit of the A169 is biking heaven. It’s fast, open and flowing for most of its length, but then without warning it suddenly becomes tight, technical and narrow and you start noticing freshly laid flowers by dry-stoned walls marking the spot where loved ones have perished. It’s a life affirming moment, and reinforces everything I love about riding bikes. If only all roads were like this.

I’m eager to make the most of the day ahead, a brilliant 288-mile route through Leyburn, Hawes, Ribblehead, Stainforth and the likes, the Ducati 848 confidently attacking blind corner after blind corner. It’s hard work but that somehow makes you appreciate the whole experience even more.

And then the heavens open. The clouds violently spit their contents out as far as they eye can see, quickly turning the tarmac into rivers of fast flowing water. The Ducati’s on race rubber, so the first few miles are spent nervously assessing just how much grip’s available. The pace is slow, but we quickly find our rhythm and make our way across the slippery B-roads, avoiding the washed out gravel as best we can. It’s a slog, but as we drop on to Ribblehead and see the Railway bridge rising through the mist I know it’s been worth it money can’t buy views like this.

All too soon we hit Skipton and return to the real world. I’ve only been gone six hours but it feels like a lifetime. The Ducati stirs the loins, but biking days like this move the soul.

Ridden – Suzuki GSX-R750

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Suzuki’s GSX-R 750 has been some 25 years in the making and this is the result – a bike that’s as close to Japanese sportsbike perfection as it gets.

Put simply, the 750 is the best bike in the Gixxer family. It has the sweet, lightweight chassis of the 600 without the need to be revved hard at every opportunity, and while it’s still frighteningly quick – it’s good for some 170mph – it doesn’t have the outright  urgency of the 1000. What all this does is put the rider firmly in control, allowing them to concentrate more on the road and exploiting what’s on offer.

Swinging a leg over the bike the first thing that becomes apparent is just how familiar everything feels and just how comfortable it is. The seat is wide and plush, the bars come almost perfectly to hand, the mirrors work and the clocks are simple and easy to read. I’m 6ft 2in tall and it easily accommodates my lanky frame. This isn’t a bike dripping in tech screaming look at me, this is an understated, subtle bike which demands to be ridden, hard.

Turning the key and firing up the engine, you’re greeted with a satisfying bark from the free revving lump. Leaving town behind and heading for the open roads, the pace increases and the Suzuki starts to shine. On the move the grunty engine reveals just how good it is – it’s just as happy screaming like a 600 as it is bimbling along in top at 4000rpm. This means you’re not having to work the box hard like you would a 600, and you feel like you’re using a lot more of the bike’s potential compared with the 1000.

Another area where the 750 excels is its suspension. The ride quality is brilliant. The 750 is set-up as soft straight out of the crate, and it’s spot on for Britain’s bumpy, pot hole ridden road network. Those Showa big piston forks devour everything in their path, and riding it quickly is effortless – it’s brilliantly agile yet feels planted in the corners.

Some 130 miles later and the fuel light comes on, and as we stop for fuel I cast my eye over the bike. It’d make a decent tourer – that wide tank would easily swallow a tankbag and there are are plenty of bungee points on the tail. But the more I look at the 750 the more I feel let down by it. It looks too similar to its 600cc and 1000cc siblings, and it’s starting to look a bit dated. It looks very much like a Japanese sportsbike; it looks anonymous.

As the day continues I’ve already forgotten about its questionable styling – I’m simply having too much fun. I’m even enjoying the notoriously wooden brakes – yes, they’re not the strongest, but this isn’t really an issue as the lack of initial bite simply means the front never feels flustered.

So, it’s good, comfortable, plenty quick enough and it’s easy to ride. But, why is it so good? A lot of that is due to the WSB rule changes in 2003 which allowed 1000cc four cylinder machines to compete, freeing Suzuki to develop the 750 as a more road focused bike. They’ve created a belter. This is the best road bike in Britain today. And with Suzuki currently offering £800 cash back and some cheap finance deals, this is a real world bike that even more of us can enjoy.

Tested – KTM RC8R

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KTM’s eye-catching flagship RC8R certainly stands out from the crowd – its angular bodywork looking as crisp and fresh as it did when the original bike was launched to a stunned public in 2007. It’s aged well, and still looks futuristic in this its sixth year of production.

Yet underneath the aggressively sculpted plastics, stacked headlights and bright orange trellis frame lies a dying breed – a litre bike with no sophisticated electronics or riders aids. This is very much an analogue bike in a digital age and it’s all the better for it.

Swing a leg over the bike and the first things that strikes me is just how roomy it feels. It’s one of the biggest superbikes on the market – I’m 6ft 2in tall and it easily accommodates my gangly frame, and there’s plenty of room to tuck in fully behind the screen. And if it doesn’t fit you straight out of the crate then there’s loads of adjustability – you can move the pegs up or down, the gear and brake levers can be moved, the clutch and front brake are adjustable for span, the wide bars can be moved in or out and the seat can be lowered or raised. Even the ride height can be changed quickly and easily using a concentric adjuster on the shock linkage, and changing the gearshift from a road shift pattern to a race pattern takes a mere seconds.

Turn the key, thumb the starter and the 1195 cc V-twin rumbles into life with a deep, menacing tone. It sounds angry. It sounds mean. It sounds perfect. Twist the throttle, glance up and see the revs rise on the digital clocks. The display itself is comprehensive and offers all the information you’ll need – trip, onboard lap timer etc – although this is the only area of the bike that feels dated; the dash is just too busy and the information is just too small to be of any real use. That’s nitpicking though, as the only information you’ll really be interested in is the speed.

Select first gear, pull away and the brutal cacophony dies somewhat as the bike surges powerfully forward. This KTM has power in spades and pulls cleanly from 3000rpm. This engine features twin-spark cylinder heads (two spark plugs per cylinder) for improved fuelling and improved cam timing for smoother power delivery and it works – compared to the old RC8, which suffered with poor, lumpy fuelling and a harsh throttle response, this bike feels smooth, refined and responsive, even when crawling through town.

Leaving the urban landscape behind we hook up with a B-road that I know like the back of my hand, snick a few more gears and wind up the wick. I’m starting to feel comfortable on the bike and the RC8R’s excelling. The engine’s happy equally happy being ridden hard to its 10,250 redline as it is pootling around in the lower revs, while the WP suspension and steering damper do a good job of soaking up the worst of the bumps. Admittedly, the ride is on the firm side, but it still feels comfortable and never feels bone-shakingly painful.

But it’s in the bends that the KTM shines, devouring the twisties with aplomb. It steers precisely and accurately, like a laser guided cruise missile, predictably responding to the rider’s every input and allowing the rider to unleash ever more of the bike’s brutal power as confidence and lean angle increase. It’s very easy to ride and it’s deceptively fast.

In the next five days we cover 1200 miles and I fall under the Austrian’s spell. I find myself riding purely for riding’s sake, seeking any and every excuse to spend some more time together. It’s won me over with its mixture of individual looks, quality components and engaging ride. It may lack the state-of-the-art electronics of other litre bikes but it doesn’t matter – the RC8R’s superb chassis and smooth power delivery means they’d be redundant on this bike anyway – this is a bike where the rider’s firmly in charge. I even find myself scouring the classified pages, looking for a tidy 2011 bike.

The sad thing is that the brilliant RC8R’s days appear to be numbered, with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer indicating that the bike will be phased out and replaced by V4, 1000cc RC16 in 2017 to coincide with the Austrian firm’s entry in MotoGP.

Guess I’d better scour those pages a little bit harder…

Ridden: Ducati Streetfighter 848

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The news coming from EICMA is that one of Ducati’s most capable road bikes is living on borrowed time.

The Streetfighter 848 has never been a massive seller and Ducati sources have indicated that it won’t be getting the 899cc Superquadro engine found on the baby Panigale – which means that this year is likely to be its last in the Ducati line-up.

And that’s a shame, as the Streetfighter’s combination of high-performance 849cc V-twin and sportsbike chassis make this a real weapon on everyday roads.

The Testastretta engine feels punchy – it punts out 132bhp and 69 lb.ft of torque, and uses an 11-degree camshaft, the same as used on the Diavel, to help the engine make plenty of accessible torque in the lower rev range, thus making the bike easier to ride, especially in town.

The bike also features an eight-stage traction control system, a single-sided swingarm, Brembo radial calipers, fully adjustable Marzocchi USD front forks and Sachs rear shock, and it comes wired up ready to play with a basic data-acquisition (DDA) system to read throttle position, revs, speed, gear selection etc. It also comes with the plumbing in place to accept a Ducati Performance accessory quickshifter.

Despite its lack of fairings, the Streetfighter 848 feels very much like a sportsbike, and it shines on twisty B-roads. Handling and steering are accurate and predictable, quickly inspiring confidence, and the fuelling is perfect. There’s no lumpiness, and the torque really stands out – there’s no lag at all.

Ducati have given the Streetfighter 848 a 180/60 section rear tyre to create a larger contact patch, and it gives plenty of feedback, flicking into corners with ease and feeling planted and well-mannered. And all that torque delivers impressive drive through and out of the corners. This is a bike that guarantees big grins while letting you push harder and harder without ever feeling out of control.

It’s comfortable too. The flattish, wide single-piece bars have been raised by 20mm over the previous model, and that’s made a huge difference; the riding position feels much more upright meaning arms no longer feel stretched – I took the bike on a 500-plus round trip to Wales and there were no aches or pains or tired wrists – even when cruising on the motorway. The suspension also feels a lot more real-world usable, especially compared with the 848 Evo’s – yes it’s still on the firm side, but it’s not so firm as to be uncomfortable, only feeling flustered on really bumpy surfaces.

And should things ever threaten to get out of hand the Brembo radial calipers quickly bring things to a standstill without the slightest hint of grab. Yes, they have plenty of bite, but they lack the viscousness associated with the Mono Bloc brakes fitted to Ducati’s superbikes.

So it’s entertaining enough on the road, but the Streetfighter 848 also gets under your skin when you’re off the bike. The styling looks mean without looking menacing, purposeful while still looking exotic. It’s nicely finished too and the attention to detail is exquisite.

The only downsides to the bike are the 16.5-litre tank, which means you’ll be hunting for a petrol station all too soon, and the lack of ABS, which isn’t available even as an option.

Moto Guzzi V7 – harking back to the glory days of the seventies, but with the reliability and quality of modern machinery

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When Guzzi launched the entry-level retro-styled V7 to the world in 2008 it looked the part but was more an exercise in style over substance – yes, the styling was gorgeous and while it had character, charm and authenticity by the bucketload, its asthmatic 42bhp powerplant let it down. Badly. It just couldn’t compete with rivals such as the Triumph Bonneville or Ducati Sports Classic.

In 2012 Guzzi concentrated their efforts on thoroughly refreshing their 744cc V-twin lump, replacing or revising all of the components apart from the crankshaft and cases. The results are impressive. As well as increasing power to 51bhp, the engine feels more refined and offers better fuel economy (Guzzi claim a 12 per cent increase) and improved emissions. The only downside to this refinement is that the engine has lost its signature square cam covers for rounded ones.

The chassis remains unchanged, but the new models’ wheels are significantly lighter – 1.44kg less at the front and 0.86kg at the rear, which results in a machine that feels agile.

Swing a leg over the saddle and the first thing you notice is just how small the bike is. It’s tiny but relaxed. Everything falls to hand and the feels light and easy to manoeuvre.

Thumb the starter motor and the bike burbles in to life with a pleasingly deep exhaust tone. Guzzi’s team of engineers spent a lot of time perfecting the sound of the bike and it shows; they’ve got it spot on.

The engine feels perky and eager. Open the throttle and the engine makes itself heard in two ways – through the sideways rocking of the sideways rotational forces through the chassis and the fruity, burbling tone emanating from the exhaust. There’s no redline on the V7 and it doesn’t need one. It’s all about torque, not revs, and will willingly shove you forward from as little as 2000rpm. Change up early, sail along on a sea of torque and savour the views.

The only area the V7 suffers is with its suspension, it’s just too soft. It’s perfectly adequate at lower speeds, but the lack of damping sees it struggle when the speed increases, clattering over over bumps and potholes like bikes of old. But then again this isn’t a performance bike, so for many riders this won’t be an issue.

The V7 is a glorious mix of sublime detailing and retro looks, but it now has the performance it deserves. It’s a retro-styled bike that manages to look contemporary while still remaining true to Guzzi’s roots. It’s a tricky balancing act to pull off, but Guzzi have mastered it with ease.

V7 STONE

The Stone is the base level model in the V7 range and comes with cast wheels and is available in black, green or red.

V7 SPECIAL

The Special is arguably the closest to the original 1970’s V7, and comes with wire wheels and two-tone paint.

V7 RACER

Manufactured in a numbered limited edition as shown by the commemorative plaque on the steering yoke, the sporty V7 Racer shares the same engine and chassis as the Special but gets a red frame, red hubs, red wheels and a red swingarm. It also gets a chrome tank, drilled alloy side panels, a single seat suede saddle with race number, rearsets, clip-on bars and an upswept exhaust.

PRICE £6932 (Stone), £7132 (Special) and £8132 (Racer)

ENGINE 744cc, air-cooled 90º V-twin

POWER 51bhp@6200rpm

TORQUE 44.lb.ft@2800rpm

TANK CAPACITY 22 litres

TRANSMISSION 5-speed, shaft

WEIGHT 179kg

SEAT HEIGHT 805mm

Ridden – Even more sympathy for the Diavel

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Since its introduction in 2011 Ducati has sold nearly 20,000 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.