Will wonders never cease? Probably not, though you may have thought you’d seen it all. Case in point: Even though you believed hell had frozen over when a pragmatic, technologically focused motorcycle company like BMW decided to build a style-oriented cruiser a few years ago, hell has clearly thawed out enough to freeze over again. Ducati is famous for creating some of the most successful sport bikes in the world, with a legacy of road-racing world championships to show for its efforts. And while the company has always infused its hardware with plenty of Italian style, its primary concern has been performance. Indeed, when Ducati intro duced its Monster series of bikes, it created a genre with “naked” styling and street-friendly ergonomics, but these were and are solid sport bikes underneath. The idea of Ducati building a style-focused heavy-metal cruiser was ridiculous, though that group is the biggest seller in the U.S.A.
But here’s the thing: Over the past few years we’ve seen a new animal emerge, the “performance cruiser,” with a healthy dose of horse power (and characterized by bikes like Harley-Davidson’s V-Rod and Star Motorcycle’s VMAX). Ducati apparently saw this as a way to enter the market by placing a special version of its powerful Testastretta V-twin Superbike engine in a long, low chassis with an absolutely huge 240-series rear tire, even if, as Ducati explains it, “the image would send a seismic shock through the industry.” They also de cided that this bike had to handle and perform like a big sport bike, and thus easily dispatch any of the competition on a challenging stretch of pavement.
The result is the Diavel, a 162-horsepower rolling nemesis of a motorcycle that will cut a wide swath through the big boys in this category, especially since it sets performance standards the others can’t touch. According to Ducati, the name arose when “one person looking from the rear of the bike saw its silhouette and exclaimed in Bolognese dia lect, ‘Ignurànt comm’ al diavel!’” Translation: “Evil, just like the devil!”
The big, fat cruiser styling might indeed freak out the Ducati faithful, but the closer you look, the slicker this pitchfork-packin’ ride becomes. Side-mounted radiators and Ducati’s signature single-sided rear swingarm reveal some of the latest tech, along with multimode engine tuning, trac tion control, and ABS brakes. Amazingly, as massive as the bike looks, it’s considerably lighter than most cruisers (the Carbon version even more so, thanks to carbonfiber bodywork), and even with the low profile there’s more than ample cornering clear ance. Most interesting of all, the Diavel’s riding position is more up right than the genre typically dictates, allowing for easier body movement when riding in a devilish manner on wickedly twisty tarmac. With performance like this, Ducati’s Prince of Darkness may please its master, but it’s likely to scare the hell out of the competition.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled V-twin|
|Bore x stroke||106 mm x 67.9 mm|
|Fuel system||Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection|
|Ignition Digital||Digital electronic|
|Front suspension||50-mm male slider forks, fully adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single shock, fully adjustable|
|Front brakes||Dual 320-mm discs, ABS|
|Rear brake|| Single 265-mm
|Fuel tank||5.3-gallon capacity|
|Seat height||30.3 inches|
|Dry weight||463 pounds|
|Base price||$16,995; Carbon: $19,995; Carbon Red: $20,395|