2012 Ducati Diavel in India first ride
Dieval. That's what the Italians wanted to name it. Except everyone outside Italy would pronounce it as Die-well. It's definitely a beauty that you'd die for but not quite the name you would want for a motorcycle. So the spelling was changed to Diavel (pronounced Dee-ah-vel). Technically that's how dieval' is pronounced in Italy too.
So much for etymology. Okay one more trivia. Diavel in the local Bolognese dialect means devil. One look at the motorcycle and you know why it's called that. Ducati have thrown conformity out of the window when it comes to the design. They took the best ingredients from a superbike, a naked bike, a cruiser, even an American hot rod and produced a mean sizzler. To put a twist on it, if Batman had to trade in his batpod for a motorcycle, he would buy the Diavel.
Viewed side on, there is more concentration of mass towards the front, with the gnarly exhaust headers screaming for attention. The fuel tank - the fuel tank cover actually - is also incredibly large and makes the Diavel look bigger than it actually is. All that mass is really just a carbon fibre cover (sheet metal in the standard version) that incorporates the airbox and fuel tank. The anodized-looking fiber side plates are air scoops and below them are the symmetrical twin radiators that are mounted on both sides of the bike. The panel covers for the radiators also house neatly stacked LED indicators. The red trellis frame is prominent like in most Ducatis.
The single-sided, cast aluminium swingarm also adds to the aggressive theme. The seat is low (lower than any other Ducati) like in a traditional cruiser and looks like a single-seater till the rear seat cowl is removed to expose the entire seat. Clever design touches include a retractable passenger grab rail and foot pegs that fold neatly against the bodywork. The rear end however looks stubby which may not appeal to everybody. This however further magnifies the ultra-wide 240-section rear tyre which has been specially developed by Pirelli. Twin LED strips at the rear work as brake and indicator lights. Another neat and smart element is the rear number plate holder which looks like its floating on top of the wheel and covers very little of it. This further enhances the Diavel's sexy rear.
Toss a leg over the Ducati and you are pleasantly surprised - the Diavel isn't as heavy as it looks. In fact, it isn't heavy at all. Picking the bike off its side stand is simple and effortless. It weighs just 207kg, that's only slightly more than an average superbike and a lot less than other muscle bikes. Sitting on the low saddle and gripping a flat handle bar felt rather strange at first but then the foot pegs are placed like in a street bike and are lower than normal (to go with the seat height). The riding position is very neutral, without a sporty lean or a slouching posture like in a cruiser. Everything about the Diavel is new and unique.
To match the Diavel's aggressive looks, a powerful motor had to be chosen. The 1198cc, L-Twin Testastretta 11 was the obvious choice. The motor is similar to the one found in the 1198 superbike and the Multistrada. In the Diavel the engine has 11 degrees of overlap (inlet and exhaust) rather than 41 degrees in the 1198. Reduced power you may say but wait till you hear the numbers. Maximum power is 161PS at 9500rpm while peak torque output is 127.5Nm delivered at 8000rpm. This makes it more powerful than the Multistrada (150PS at 9250rpm and 118.7Nm at 7500rpm). A major chunk of this extra power is due to a more free flowing exhaust. The engine sounds like a typical Ducati twin at idle but the free flow exhausts make it sound very loud on the go even though I had earplugs on, almost like an aftermarket exhaust.
On the open road, the Diavel is deceptively quick. I don't remember ever reaching the ton mark this quick, hell it's the quickest bike I've ever ridden. That's because the claimed figure to 100kmph is a mind boggling 2.6 seconds - that's quicker than Ducati's own 1198! It also has the shortest braking distance of any production Ducati ever made (thanks to a 320mm front discs and ABS), including the MotoGP-derived Desmosedici. I had to take a break to get my pulse rate down and this is when I spent some time playing around with the various electronic settings.
Similar to the Multistrada, there are various power modes on offer. I tried the Sports mode as I was riding on an open stretch of tarmac. In this mode traction control is set to level 1 by default (up to eight levels can be chosen in any mode). Incredible power and reduced weight meant the bike took off like a missile, only thing missing were some wings. Traction control kicked in but even that wasn't enough to get the front wheel back on the ground. I also had to be really quick with gear shifts since the red-line was approached in no time. The Diavel crossed the 200kmph mark with ease and could have gone higher but I ran out of road.
But then if you're one for cruising and don't want to be a drag champion, you can choose between two more riding modes. In touring mode all 161PS is available but power delivery is more progressive. This means you can cruise at triple digit speeds all day long without stressing the engine. I did spend some time riding in this mode but I preferred gunning the throttle. The third is the urban mode. I had to ride back into central Delhi and it made sense to try this mode. Power is limited to 100PS and in Delhi traffic it was more than I needed. Power wasn't abrupt and the throttle response was ideal.
The Diavel is not just about looks and power, it's a great handler too. 50mm Marzocchi forks do duty in the front (with adjustable compression, rebound and preload) while the rear features a Sachs monoshock that's mounted at a nearly horizontal position. Preload can be easily adjusted via a hand knob. Despite a long wheelbase and wide rear tyre, it holds a steady line around corners and since it is light, the bike is very flickable too. High speed sweepers or straight line stability, the Duc feels at home. It's a muscle cruiser that actually does behave like a superbike when it comes to handling.
The Diavel surprises you in every way, its lightness, handling and superbike-like power - something no motorcycle in this class has been able to offer before. It's similar to what the Multistrada did to the adventure bike category. The Diavel is a remarkable machine and Ducati have entered the cruiser segment in style by offering their take of what should be a muscle cruiser. A Diavel may care attitude approach? It's to die-well for.