Since 2010, the Italian motorcycle maker has been going strong with the Ducati Diavel, so much so that in 2016, the company brought the power cruiser one step closer to purist cruiser lovers by introducing the more easy-riding XDiavel. The Diavel and the XDiavel line is undoubtedly the best cruisers money can buy today, fitted with the company’s top-of-the-line engines. They are also are prime examples of how a power cruiser should be designed for the rest of the world.
That said, things weren’t always smooth sailing for Ducati. Back in the 80s, the company’s first attempt to wow the American market with a cruiser failed quite miserably. The Ducati Indiana launched in 1986 was such a no-go that in 1988, two years later, Ducati stopped production of the cruiser and went back to making supersport motorcycles. While even back then, the idea Ducati had was exactly the same as the present Diavel – a cruiser chassis powered by a supersport engine, the Indiana was a major miss that sold only 1000 units in United States before it the plug was pulled. So when the Ducati Diavel surfaced for the first time in 2010, everyone was quite apprehensive about it’s fate. But after 6-years of production and branching out into the new XDiavel line, the Italian motorcycle maker’s latest cruiser has assured its stay. The Diavel’s success story though, cannot be told without giving due credit to it’s predecessor -the Ducati Indiana’s glaring mistake.
The Ducati Indiana was launched at a time when Ducati’s ownership was being shifted from government ownership to new owners Cagiva. The Ducati Indiana was in fact designed and developed by Cagiva, and was based on the company’s Elefant motorcycle, but used the Ducati brand name and their 650cc Pantah engine to get a better footing with the international market, specially North America. From the technical point-of-view, the Indiana was as solid as any Ducati motorcycle is expected to be. Despite its extra-long 40mm Marzocchi front forks that had a 33-degree rake, the Ducati Indiana was one of the best handling cruisers in the market. Power wasn’t bad too. The Indiana could pulverise any other Japanese or American cruiser in acceleration back in the day due to its considerably light construction, weighing in at just 453lb (205kg). The Ducati Indiana, just like the modern Ducati Diavel and XDiavel was every bit a great cruiser, but there was one major flaw that erased the Italian motorcycle from existence within years of launch.
There is no better way to put it, but the Ducati Indiana was utterly bland. Italians automakers, and specially Ducati are know for their design and craftsmanship. Look at the Diavel and XDiavel today, there is nothing, absolutely nothing that looks like it. Both the machines scream monstrous power with a devilish ease of going about it. The Indiana was none, it was one of Ducati’s most jaded designs that lacked any attention grabbing elements whatsoever. If the Ducati Indiana was to be left without its Ducati badge between a bunch of Japanese cruisers, no one could make out the difference. For the American market (the Indiana’s target market) where the value of goods are perceived more on face value rather than performance, the Indiana brought nothing impressive to the table, and in 1988, just 2 years after its launch, it was taken off production for good.
The Indiana’s failure taught Ducati their most important lesson. It took Ducati 22-years to get back to making cruisers. But upon return, the Italian brand ensured that their machine brought the most radical design to the market. Today the Ducati Diavel is as much as about great design as it is about performance and comfort. The latest iterations of the machine – the XDiavel and XDiavel S build up upon the muscular body language of the Ducati Diavel while adding appeal to the cruiser market with a more comfortable riding position. The XDiavel is the refinement of an already great product with gorgeous packaging of performance and style that opens up a brand new market to Ducati around the world.