Ducati Diavel that will reach India in a few months redefines power cruisers

The Diavel (devil in Bolognese) doesn't just reach out and attract attention. It is captivating the moment you set your eyes upon it. Profile-wise, it's stretched and low, its broad, appealing double parabola headlight bisected by an LED strip, before it swoops back into tapered aluminium alloy handlebars. Colossal looking in pictures, the bike's proportions place it firmly in power cruiser domain but they aren't somehow all that intimidating in the flesh.

A modern motorcycle, every inch of the Diavel is painstakingly sculpted and perfectly executed from the best materials. Diavel riders are pampered with top-quality grips, adjustable levers and a futuristic set of mirrors.

Switches operate with a smooth feel and their layout takes little time to get used to. The button that usually functions to cancel turn signals doubles up as a riding mode selector.

Electronics actuate the ignition, allowing the key to stay in your pocket, or anywhere within two metres of the bike. The switchblade-like key is only required ‘in person' to open the fuel filler or seat.

The Diavel's instruments are read via a pair of displays above a flush fuel tank cap. The top LCD display shows speed and engine rpm, a neutral indicator, time, coolant temperature and other basic warning lights. Below, a coloured TFT screen as on your cellphone shows you the present Riding Mode, the selected gear, ambient temperature, level of Ducati Traction Control (DTC) assist apart from twin trip readings. It's an intelligent, easily legible interface that factors in surrounding lighting before displaying data on a black or white background. You can personalise DTC within a Riding Mode while stationary.

The humongous 17-litre tank has deep grooves that provide broad thigh support. Like most Ducatis, both flanks of the Diavel flaunt trellis frame sections. The engine comes with intimidating exhaust pipes snaking out. The pillion footrests fold out as required, or retract to tuck neatly under the seat when riding solo. The Diavel ends in a broad, cropped and somewhat bland-looking tail with mean-looking LED warning lights. Fourteen-spoke wheels with machined alloy detailing looks elegant. The disc rotor mounts are finished to match.

The Diavel gets an 1198.4cc, four-stroke, L-twin Ducati Testastretta 11deg heart. Both intake and exhaust ports are designed to bolster torque delivery. At the other end, you see enormous, 58mm, tuned length headers of a 2-1-2 exhaust system, each of which houses a lambda probe to aid the fuel injection system, via elliptical throttle bodies. Electronic valves modulate exhaust pressure to provide the engine optimal pressure throughout the rev range. In the end, you walk away with 162bhp at 9500rpm, plus a solid shot of 13kgm peak torque, at 8000rpm. A pair of lateral-mounted radiators keeps the Diavel engine cool.

The hydraulic, wet-clutch system is slipper enabled, working with a positive, but heavier than ideal feel at the lever. The Diavel comes with a six-speed gearbox, shifting in one-down, five-up pattern. Feel at the gearshift pedal is again heavy, typically Ducati, but precise and positive. Ratios are well-spaced, with first good for just over 90kph.

Three engine maps regulate the Diavel's power delivery depending on your riding mode — Sport, Touring and Urban mode. The Diavel accelerates like a brute at any engine speed, breezing through its fat mid-range power spread with violent force and pushing remarkably hard towards the limiter once at high revs. There's ample power everywhere in this power band, and you need to restrain your wrist at low speed to keep the front manageable when slotted in Sport mode. Ducati claims a factory test rider has blasted a Diavel from 0-100kph in 2.57 seconds.

A Diavel needs major service with mandatory valve clearance checks only every 24,000km, thanks to improved valve seats and enhanced temperature management. Light for this big a machine, the 210kg (Carbon variant slightly lighter at 207kg) Diavel's Trellis frame spine is fabricated from tubular steel, with dual, die-cast aluminium sections meeting a rear sub-frame.

The Diavel's riding position is upright and comfortable, its saddle comfortably padded and the big motorcycle always feeling lighter than you can imagine.

Ride quality was firm on this test bike, and is adjustable with a conveniently located pre-load knob. 1590mm separates both tyres, the rear specially tailored for the Diavel by Pirelli, an ultra-wide Diablo Rosso II, 240 section, bi-compound unit that provided excellent traction even when leaning aggressively. A hard centre patch keeps mileage and wear acceptable. You do at times feel all that width at the back, but nowhere near as expected, thanks to a more rounded profile.

The brakes are top of the line from Brembo, 320mm discs in front, and a single 265mm rear disc gripped by twin piston calipers at rear. The latest Bosch-Brembo ABS system is standard, and works without infringing on riding pleasure. Brake feel is reassuring, providing fierce bite and excellent feedback from both levers, taking the blur out of the scenery without drama throughout our ride.

All said there is more to the Diavel than you can read on paper. Test ride the distinctive Italian steed when it reaches India some months later and discover what Ducati has managed to give its latest. Raising the bar and redefining power cruisers, the Diavel offers soul that's better felt, than read about.

But like many top-of-the-line Ducati bikes, the company has indicated the Diavel will not come cheap (Price Rs. 17 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh, estimated). It is sure to get your bank balance dented.

Keywords: Ducati Diavel