Ducati Diavel Carbon Review
Americano, aka American coffee apparently sprung into popularity when American GI’s came to fight in Europe during the Second World War. Finding the Italian espresso too strong for their taste buds, the American soldiers diluted it with hot water to make the flavour more subtle and easy-going how they liked it back home. Like the Amerciano, the Ducati Diavel was brewed up as a watered-down Italian purebred that would have laid-back American packaging. But unlike the coffee, diluting an Italian machine isn’t that easy.
On a motorcycle in general, and specially one like the Ducati Diavel Carbon, more fun can be had when the weather is dry. Unfortunately today isn’t that, as I start to gear up for a soggy, grey morning. With no hope of sunshine and a 162bhp machine waiting to be ridden, I was still certain that it would be anything but a dull day. As i enter the dark basement I could see the Diavel’s silhouette stretching out. It’s long wheelbase houses a massive fuel tank that arches gradually towards the deep bucketed seat, followed by a short stubby rear end that was stowed under a cowl. This being the more expensive Ducati Diavel Carbon had all it’s body panels including are made in carbon fibre while sporting lightweight Marchesini wheels. As a result, the Carbon gets a 5kg weight reduction over the standard model. Sliding the kill switch up and pressing the keyless-go button on the far end of the tank and the power cruiser comes to life. The dual instrument consoles light up, where the top half tells the speed and revs while the lower half that sits on the tank gives all the information about vehicle systems – ABS, traction control, riding modes, fuel etc. Thumb the starter and the massive 1198cc V-twin lazily chugs and flutters for a while before it can catch rhythm. As it slowly reaches a steady idle, the echo starts to fill up the basement one beat after after the other.
Warming up an 1198cc, superbike-derived V-Twin (L-twin in Ducati language) in a closed underground basement, on an early weekend morning can never be a good idea. With a gentle whack to the throttle, the lethargically-burbling twin revs up furiously lending out a menacing bark. I quietly apologise to those who were sleeping for making them fall out of bed, and quickly rush out of my basement before angry groggy-eyed mobs start to appear with pitchforks and torches.
While there is always the temptation to straight away jump over to sport mode as soon as you hit the road, I thought it would be nice to wait till I got away from the city. So with the Diavel on Urban settings, I pottered though the thin morning traffic contemplating the use of such masculinity on a day-to-day basis. The Diavel is an odd ergonomic experience. It can be called a cruiser in the most Italian meaning of the word. While being very comfortable, you sit low, hunched slightly forward, holding a wide handlebar while at the same time folding in your lower extremities as if it you would on a street bike. The 100bhp low-power mode is meant to show latency in throttle response, but not so much that any urban scenario cannot be overcome. The ABS and traction control are set to high to ensure that there isn’t any awkward spilling over in stop go traffic. As you calmly cruise through traffic, there is a constant feeling of being watch by wide-eyed spectators who give the Ducati Diavel Carbon undivided attention as the finely crafted Italian machine goes passed them. The big V-twin that came out of the 1198 superbike now has a narrower head which translates to more usable power and torque down the rev range. Although at extremely low rpms, things are still a bit shaky, but once the revs climb above 3,000rpm the going gets smooth. That said, running a bike this big under thick urban conditions wouldn’t be my favourite thing to do, specially when the clutch is on the heavier side and finding neutral is a constant struggle once the moving bits get hotter.
The good thing about an early weekend morning is that you don’t need travel too far out before the traffic thins down to zero and the long empty stretches of tarmac serve as a reward for that excruciatingly early morning alarm. Under such settings, the logical thing to do on a Diavel is to hold down the left handle-mounted control and shuffle the Diavel into Sport mode. To understand the results theoretically, the onboard computer now has the engine primed-up to deliver the full 162bhp, while keeping the traction control and ABS at minimum intrusion mode. Practically… as you let go of the clutch while cracking the throttle open, the Diavel fires off in utter violence and your head struggles to keep up with the direction of acceleration. Here, the Ducati Diavel shows it’s raw superbike-shaming side as it continues to pull your arms off their sockets all the way till 9,000rpm. If it isn’t for the traction control keeping the wheels in check, such an exercise could result in one seeing sky through the handlebars soon after launch, or see how the curb looks like as you uncontrollably slide sideways… and then see sky. Either ways, it wouldn’t be pretty. The massive 240-section Pirelli Diablo Rosso II does it’s best to keep up but the smallest rough patch of tarmac makes break loose almost instantly only to be quickly brought under control by the Diavel’s traction control. Keep the throttle pinned a little longer and before you know it, you are way past the legal speed limit with the speedometer approaching the loony end of motorcycling. But then the strong wind blast that hits you from sitting upright quickly forces you back to civility.
This is no cruiser!
The road that I was on heads to one of the major dams in the area. As you climb up the hill on a cold morning, the clouds are below as if they are trapped in their path by the massive structure of brick and concrete. As you approach the dam, there are straights that are perfect for short bursts of speed, before you slam the brakes in and position the Diavel for the long sweeping corner ahead. After reaching the man-made structure, the road starts to quickly climb up via a series of hairpins as you reach the highest point. These narrow B roads or state highways of sorts aren’t the plushest of surfaces. But as go along slamming the motorcycle from side to side, the surface puts the bike’s chassis and the rider’s skills to proper test. Over the not-so-smooth sections of tarmac, the Diavel’s remains composed. It does good in keeping my rear end unknown of the rough surface underneath, while the fully-adjustable Marzocchi front forks ensure that none of harshness is transferred to the handlebars. While the ride is on the stiffer side, there is a good balance between not going completely spongy or towards a brain-jarring experience. It is pretty much what you should be expecting from a machine that is built to cruise long distances, but the real surprise comes as you start to approach a corner.
As you dab the massive 4-pot Brembo monoblocs to rapidly shed off speed that was gained while accelerating like a lunatic on the straight before, the front end maintains its composure without taking a nose-dive towards the ground. This feel gives great assurance that just in case you approach a corner a bit too hot, the massive twin discs up front would quickly bring the Diavel to the correct speed. As you align the big V-twin for the corner, the front end stays planted without leaving you in a wallowey mid-corner mess unlike a typical cruiser. As you start to open the throttle to make a clean exit, the chunky flat rear tyre sends very little feedback to understand how much throttle could be too much. But there isn’t much worry if you aren’t over-the-top daft with the throttle, as the traction control quickly sort out any little squirm that the rear throws out. The real struggle with the Diavel though is while taking a low-speed hairpin turns. The long rake forks give a heavy feel to the front as they always try to tuck-in, presenting a situation where you constant have to apply countering force on the handlebars. But as the hairpin starts to straighten out, the Ducati Diavel quickly rewards your efforts with biblical acceleration while making you look like an instant hero as the front wheel starts to catch air.
By the time I reached the top of the hill, the fog had swallowed the views on each side. So I sat in front of the massive Italian machine, reminiscing my the twisty ride i just came through. Before I started out in the morning, the Ducati Diavel for me seemed to be a heavy, cumbersome machine that was stuffed with ridiculous amounts of power that no one could really use accept in a straight line. But then, the more i rode the Diavel, my reservations about the big Italian brute were brutally murdered one after the other like characters in a George R.R Martin novel. In the end, i was left a believer. If you take the comfortable seating away, the Ducati Diavel Carbon is still as much a cruiser as a Happy Meal is a healthy diet option, but it is the whole package that comes together with a bespoke appeal. If you are one of those who prefer to have one motorcycle that is a capable multitasking machine then the Diavel is definitely for you. On weekdays, it will chug you around the city in relative comfort, and comfortably loosen your arms off their sockets on the weekends.
Ducati Diavel Carbon Specifications
Engine: 1198.4cc. Liquid-cooled V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 106. x 67.9
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Power: 119kW / 162hp @9,250rpm
Torque: 130.5Nm / 96.2lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Front Suspension: Fully adjustable, Inverted Marzocchi 50mm fork
Rear Suspension: Fully adjustable Sachs unit
Front Brakes: twin, 320mm Brembo discs with four-piston monobloc calipers (ABS)
Rear Brakes: 240mm single disc with four-piston monobloc calipers
Front Tyre: 120/70ZR-17
Rear Tyre: 240/45ZR-17
Wheelbase: 62.6 inch / 1590.04mm
Seat Height: 30.3 inch /769.62mm
Dry Weight: 452lb / 205kg
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gal / 17-litres