The Ducati Diavel has been somewhat of an anomaly from the very start. First seen at the 2010 EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan, the bike created quite a stir in the motorcycle world after it was unveiled not only because of its outrageous design but also because it came from Ducati, a company known more for championship winning high performance sport bikes than cruiser oddities. The bike displayed in EICMA looks unlike anything Ducati had created before. It’s like a cross between a cruiser and a naked bike rolled into one but powered by a superbike motor. Some people call it a muscle cruiser. But Ducati simply calls it the Diavel, which in the Bolognese dialect we were told, means Devil.
Now on its 3rd generation, the Diavel faithfully continues on this wild tradition. Low, long and very powerful. It was for this purpose that Ducati Philippines flew me and Zach Lucero of Makina halfway across the world to Spain to test the all-new Diavel 1260. I learned later on that it was the same location where Ducati held the international press test of the original Diavel 8 years prior, and I must say Ducati couldn’t have chosen a better location. Situated in the Costa del Sol region south of Spain, Marbella has some of the most beautiful roads with spectacular views this side of Europe and beautiful weather, too. Marbella offers a beautiful mix of mountain roads and wide open highways.
A few hours after arriving at our hotel I fought jet lag to attend the welcome dinner where Eugenio Gherardi, project manager of the Diavel 1260, gave the Asia Pacific Press a technical presentation where company executives explained in great detail how they combined the best qualities of a superbike, a sport naked and a muscle cruiser to create the Diavel 1260. Just like the original concept, but they introduced a host of significant changes to the chassis geometry, riding position, engine position, engine displacement, electronics and styling to qualify it as an all-new bike and not just a facelift.
I first saw the Diavel 1260 at the Ducati World Premiere and EICMA Motorcycle Show last year in Milan, Italy and I must say the new bike is a big improvement in terms of styling compared to the 2018 Carbon and Titanium models that arguably resembles a cruiser. The Diavel 1260 on the other hand is more sport naked bike than a cruiser. Personally I like how Ducati designed the front end with more aggressive air-scoops, radiator shrouds with integrated LED turn indicator strips, the more flushed headlight with a halo-like LED daytime running light. Gone are the Monster-like right exiting exhaust system for a more cleaner, streamlined look like that of the XDiavel. Only the front cylinder exhaust is visible and it now exits to the left going down to the collector box and muffler combo. Exhaust gasses still exit to the right side, though. Thankfully, Ducati retained the low seat and the 240 section rear tire.
The Diavel 1260 shares its 1262cc twin spark Testastretta L-Twin motor with the Multistrada 1260 and XDiavel. It features a hydraulically actuated DVT, or Desmodromic Valve Timing, for a linear power delivery across the rev range with a powerful top end rush. Peak power output is up by 7hp to 159bhp and up 4 lb-ft of torque to 95 lb-ft from 152 bhp and 91 lb-ft respectively from the previous model. The spread of power is very linear that using the smooth and precise quick-shifter and autoblipper to clutchless shift gears up and down becomes optional. During our ride around the scenic Sierra de las Nieves mountains near Malaga, I find myself in 4th gear most of the time as I cruise between 40 km/h to 130 km/h. The power increase is more evident when you reach 7500 rpm after which the power comes explosively and the surrounding Spanish countryside becomes a blur as I was catapulted forward to warp speed.
Thankfully, the Diavel 1260 has one of the most sophisticated electronic rider aids available to mankind. The Ducati Safety Pack includes Bosch’s newest 9.1 MP Control unit that features cornering ABS capability. This system is an integral part of the Ducati Traction Control Evo (DTC) system that, according to Ducati, acts as a filter between the rider’s right hand and the rear tire ensuring optimum traction at all times. Adapting superbike technology, the Diavel also features Ducati Wheelie Control for that perfect launch at the drag strip, or the stop lights. Like the DTC, the Ducati Wheelie Control can be adjusted to eight levels depending on your mood, or level of courage. A new Ducati Power Launch feature ensures a very fast and safe start thanks to the optimised management of the maximum available torque, with a DTC always active and control of the pitch angle as measured by the six-axis Inertial Management Unit, or IMU. Everything is customizable to your own preference, or you could opt for the three riding mode presets; Sport, Touring or Urban.
This is the best handling Diavel by far. For 2019, Ducati made some subtle but significant changes to the chassis that made it handle better like moving the engine slightly backwards to achieve a 50/50 weight distribution. The riding position was also tweaked by opening up the saddle and shifting the footpegs backward. Also, reducing the trail to 120mm and rake angle from 28 to 27 degrees sharpens the steering making it feel light on its feet, even if the new bike is a bit longer (wheelbase is longer by 20mm) and 8 kg heavier than the previous model. Overall, the Diavel 1260 struck the ideal balance of low speed agility and high speed stability. It’s still not as sharp as the Monster, but it’s almost there. Especially when you compare it to the old Diavel. With the Diavel 1260, you can definitely keep up with your sportbike riding buddies in the twisties.
As with most current Ducatis, the Diavel 1260 uses the engine as a stressed member, bridging the redesigned trellis frame to the single-sided swing-arm. While a tad firm out of the box, there’s plenty of feedback from the premium fully-adjustable Ohlins suspension (front and rear) on the S model that we tested, even when we were caught by sudden drizzle on our way down. On wet or dry roads, grip wasn’t an issue with the 240 section Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tire at the rear and 120 section in front constantly checked by traction control and abs. The suspension package handles poor roads very well and brake dive is minimal under heavy braking. Speaking of which, the 1260S is equipped with radially mounted four-piston M50 Brembo calipers biting a pair of 320mm semi-floating discs that could probably stop a tank. They’re so good I don’t remember using the 2-piston caliper on the rear. Well, at least you know they’re there if you need them.
Comfort is not usually associated with the Ducati brand, but you’d be surprised to know that the Diavel 1260S is quite a comfortable bike to ride. It almost feels like a sports tourer. During our 220 plus kilometers ride not once did I feel any discomfort, and for a naked bike windblast is surprisingly minimal at elevated speeds. An accessory screen is available if you want more wind protection. The 120mm wide sculpted seat is covered in suede and is very comfortable for extended periods, and a low 780mm seat height can accommodate a wide variety of riders. It also does a splendid job of keeping me in place during spirited rides. The footpegs are just the right height for my 5 foot 7 inches height and it allows me to shift my weight easily when cornering. On straight roads my legs rest comfortably in the tank contours. The handlebars are swept back for easy reach and a neutral riding position. The pillion seats higher for a better view of the road ahead and gets the benefit of a retracting handrail beneath the seat if needed. The 3.5-inch color TFT screen displays all the useful information and has four display modes. The Default mode only displays the basic elements with a particularly stylish design and is a new feature for Ducati. The other three, in turn, are the classic Track, Full and City displays matched with the Riding Modes. I also like the self-cancelling turn indicators and the red back-lit switches because they look cool and easier to see at night.
If you own a first or second generation Diavel, there’s little reason for you to upgrade to the 1260 unless you really ride hard and want to have the best handling and best looking Diavel there is because your bike will give you 90 percent of the Diavel 1260 experience. But if you don’t own a Diavel and fancy a beautifully styled bike with the performance of a sport naked and the ergonomics of a muscle cruiser, the Diavel 1260 is the only bike for you. The design and the character of its bikes has always been a core Ducati strength, and it’s no more evident than on the Diavel 1260. It is powerful, it is bold and unlike its forebears, it’s also more effective in the corners. It may defy classification, but the Diavel 1260 is truly one beautiful anomaly.
Engine: L-twin, Desmodromic, DOHC, Dual Spark, 8 valves, 4 stroke, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1262 cc
Max power: 159 hp @ 9500 rpm
Max Torque: 95.5 lb-ft @ 7500 rpm
Transmission: 6 speed
Seat Height: 780 mm
Fuel Capacity: 17 liters
Tire, Front: 120/70-17
Tire, Rear: 240/45-17
Brakes, Front/ Rear: Disc/Disc ABS
Curb weight: 244 kg
Price: PhP 1,490,000 (Diavel 1260), PhP 1,725,000 (Diavel 1260 S)
+: Agile handling, powerful yet flexible motor, comfortable ergonomics, superb build quality, beautiful styling
-: Not much
C! Rating: 10/10
*A printed version of this review is also available on the July 2019 issue of C! Magazine