A nimble yet mean tourer | At first sight, it's a menacing looking creature.
I don’t really watch video reviews, or read other reviews. It’s probably because now that I create my own content based on my own experiences with vehicles, I don’t want my view of a car or motorcycle to be skewed by something I hear from another writer. As such, my first experience with Ducati‘s Diavel was during Top Gear’s “The Perfect Road Trip” special, where I watched Richard Hammond barrel across parts of Europe on this totally badass-looking motorcycle. When I was offered a week with the 2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon, I was pretty excited.
It’s not exactly a cruiser, and it sure as hell isn’t a crotch rocket, so which category exactly does the Diavel fall into? I like to refer to it as a power tourer; a motorcycle that provides just as much joy in the twists and turns as it does comfort while touring the highways. Rolling on the throttle even while idling in neutral confirms the fact that this bike is pure evil. The 1198cc Testastretta V-twin engine (shared with the 1199 Panigale) has been modified and further developed for this year; the intake, exhaust ports, and compression ratio have all been improved (compression ratio is now 12.5:1). Power is instantaneous when you’re higher up in the rev range. I noticed a bit of bog at lower RPMs, so if riding spiritedly, gear choice is important.
The Diavel has three riding modes to maximize both comfort and efficiency. City riding is simplified with the “Urban” setting, which limits horsepower to 100. Both “Sport” and “Touring” use the full 162 horsepower, but the “Touring” mode is obviously less lively and makes highway cruising a cinch. I will admit, it took me a little while to get used to the clutch on the Diavel; it’s adjustable but not nearly as forgiving as one might expect. It’s actually heavy enough to make the intermediate rider look like a complete newbie during the first few shifts, not unlike the 899 Panigale. The Diavel is loud on hard acceleration, but once you’ve found your cruising speed in sixth gear, it quiets down significantly.
The controls within the instrument cluster are amongst the easiest and most straightforward I have ever seen on any motorcycle. Out of the two screens, the lower is actually a colour LCD and toggles things like ride modes, fuel information, current gear, etcetera. The upper is a typical monochromatic one with speedometer and tachometer. One feature I must mention about the Diavel is the intelligent key. While this is very commonplace on cars these days, it’s the first time I’ve experienced it on a motorcycle. You keep the Volkswagen-style flip key in your pocket and the Diavel detects its presence. Push a button and you’re on your way. Locking it is a bit tricky; you “close” the kill switch and, with the wheel turned all the way to the left, hold it down until the bike locks.
Riding position is a bit strange at first, but it’s actually done very well. You don’t really sit on the Diavel, you sit in it. The seat is a brilliant design and is very comfortable for longer runs. I took it for a nice jaunt out to Niagara Falls on a bright weekend day and found myself a lot less tired than I usually would be on a bike that isn’t a full-on cruiser. The grips are a bit further away than I’d like, but I have pretty long arms, so it wasn’t a stretch in the slightest. The 240-rear section tire makes for satisfying sweepers. I was impressed with the Diavel’s versatility – it may be a big bike but it’s exceptionally nimble in the corners. The 62.6″ wheelbase makes its cornering abilities seem almost physics-defying.
This 2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon impressed me. At first sight, it’s a menacing looking creature; the huge LED headlight is intimidating and the carbon-fiber trim everywhere on my “Carbon” model looks high-quality and mean. The noise from the stock exhaust is great too; it just sounds so Italian and right. Honda has just released their Valkyrie, which we will be testing later in the summer. I’m interested to see which of the two bikes I like more, but gauging from how much I liked the Diavel, the Honda has tough competition already.
2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon Gallery
*Photography by Jeff Wilson*