Review: Ducati Diavel 1260

Without a doubt, the Ducati Diavel 1260 is the most polarizing motorcycle that I ever rode. Never before I got so many reactions to the design of a test bike. “Ugliest Ducati ever,” I heard. But the haters were easily outnumbered by the fans. I saw a lot of love for the Diavel. One driver even payed more attention to my bike than to the road.

The Diavel’s distinct design is a real eye-catcher. A long and low body, with a muscular front and a striking rear: no fender, just a license plate holder which fortunately prevents a wet back during rain rides. Thanks to the single-sided swing arm on the left and the short exhaust, you have a good view of the impressive rear wheel.

On photo the Diavel couldn’t really convince me, but in real life its design won my heart easily. The finish is outstanding. Even if its looks aren’t for you, you can’t deny that the designers from Bologna put a lot of love into them. Just look at fine details such as the panels in brushed steel, the beautiful indicator lights on the front or the backlit buttons on the handlebars (just a pity that the lettering on those buttons isn’t transparent, so it doesn’t light up in the dark).

In 2011 the Diavel was introduced, and got a major update for model year 2019 to make it easier to steer. New engine (the 1262 cc Testastretta twin with variable valve timing that we know from the Multistrada), adjusted geometry with a shorter wheelbase, a reduced rake and a decreased trail, a higher seat, a weight reduction of 10 kg and more centrally placed foot pegs.

Easy steering isn’t something I expected from the Diavel. With a full tank it weighs more than 240 kg, and on top of that there are the vast rear tire and the not exactly short wheelbase. In addition, the term “power cruiser” (the category in which this Ducati is housed) sounds more like fast-on-the-straights than light-footed-through-the-corners.

But the power cruiser emblem doesn’t really fit the bike. There’s indeed plenty of power, but calling the Diavel a cruiser? You must be joking. Firstly because of the sitting position. It’s not relaxed leaning backwards, with the feet forward. It’s active: slightly bent forward, with the legs in an acceptable angle. By the way, if you’d like a more cruiser-like position: check out the xDiavel.

The adjustable suspension sits nicely between hard (for tight cornering) and soft (to filter out bad road surfaces). In addition, and despite the considerable weight, the Diavel enters corners remarkably easy. The result: the bike offers very good road handling and is remarkably playful for its size, a second argument why you shouldn’t call it a cruiser. Still it prefers fast long corners, in tight turns it requires some extra input.

Next to being playful, the Diavel is also terribly powerful. What else would you expect from that massive twin engine that delivers 159 hp (at 9,500 rpm) and 129 Nm (at 7,500 rpm)? The bottom range isn’t the engine’s favorite, but from around 5,000 rpm it pulls harder and harder, to finish off with an extra energy shot right before the limiter. Big fun.

Despite that devilish power, the Diavel is still perfectly manageable. It has a good throttle response, efficient brakes and a bunch of electronics such as cornering ABS and traction control. The sensitivity of the latter depends on the riding mode you choose. There are three: Sport, Touring and Urban. Urban limits the engine to 100 hp, Sport reacts quite fiercely to the throttle, but all in all, this Italian stallion remains civilized. For example the center of Brussels during peak hour wasn’t a problem with the Sport mode. In Touring mode it behaves less extreme, but not less impressive.

The cruise control is also standard and very welcome, because the Diavel isn’t a very comfy bike. After all, you’re riding a kind of naked bike with zero wind protection. At first sight, the seat looks like it doesn’t offer any room to move around, but it actually has just enough space and good grip. And yes, there’s room for a pillion too.

The display is remarkably low-profile. It is positioned in such a way that you don’t see it when you stand in front of the bike, so it looks like the Diavel doesn’t have a display. If you hop on the seat, there is little to see on and around the handlebars, resulting in a surprisingly open view on the road. Despite its tiny format (3.5″), the display packs a lot of info. Some info is very small, but because it concerns secondary information, it doesn’t bother.

The six-speed box requires clear input. It dares to ignore subtle shifting instructions, and sometimes it misinterprets them, so you end up in the void between two gears.

A void in your wallet could also occur, because the Diavel isn’t exactly cheap: from $20,295 on. If that price-tag isn’t a problem, why don’t you consider the Diavel S? About $3.000 more expensive, but also with more treats. Among other things: better brakes (Brembo M50 instead of Brembo M4.32), Öhlins front and rear suspension and a quick shifter.

Conclusion

The Ducati Diavel 1260 is not your average bike. You might think it’s a kind of cruiser, but at the same time it looks extremely brutal and powerful, which of course it is. Or did you expect otherwise from such an impressive two-cylinder? What you might not expect is that the Diavel is also a very pleasant cornering machine. Its handling is a lot lighter and easier than its size and weight suggest, and it has an excellent road holding. Fortunately, it also has enough electronics to intervene should you become over-enthusiastic. Only its prize will have a hard time making you enthusiastic. But if you go for it, you do have a unique bike with which you’ll easily leave the pack behind you.

Photography: Kenny VH

Pros

+ Beautiful design
+ Crazy engine
+ Doesn’t intimidate despite its power
+ Remarkably light steering behavior

Cons

– High price
– If I really have to come up with another downside, I’d prefer a more refined gearbox

Tech specs

Engine

Type: Ducati Testastretta DVT 1262, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual Spark, Liquid cooled, Desmodromic Variable Timing
Displacement: 1,262 cc
Bore x stroke: 106 x 71,5 mm
Compression ratio: 13,0 : 1
Power: 117 kW (159 hp) at 9,500 rpm
Torque: 129 Nm at 7,500 rpm
Fuel injection: Bosch electronic fuel injection system, eq 56 mm elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire system
Exhaust: Stainless steel pipes and single muffler with twin tail pipes, Catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes

Transmission

Gearbox: 6 speed
Primary drive: Straight cut gears, ratio 1,84:1
Final drive: Chain, Front sprocket Z15, Rear sprocket Z43
Clutch: Slipper ans self-servo wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control

Chassis

Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame
Front suspension: 50 mm adjustable usd fork
Rear suspension: Monoshock, preload and rebound adjustable, Aluminium casted single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel: Light alloy casted 8,0”x17”
Front Tyre: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tyre: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 240/45 ZR17
Wheel Travel: 120 mm front / 130 mm rear
Front brake: 2x 320 mm semi-floating discs, Radially mounted Brembo monoblox 4-piston M4,32 callipers, PR18/19 radial master cylinder, Bosch Cornering ABS Evo
Rear Brake: 265 mm disc, 2-piston Brembo floating calliper, Bosch Cornering ABS Evo

Dimensions and weights

Dry weight: 218 kg
Kerb weight: 244 kg
Wet weight (no fuel): 233 kg
Seat height: 780 mm
Wheelbase: 1,600 mm
Rake: 27°
Trail: 120 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 17 l
Number of seats: 2

Equipment

Safety equipment: Ducati Safety Pack (Bosch Cornering ABS Evo, Ducati Traction Control EVO DTC), Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Wheelie Control Evo (DWC)
Standard equipment: Cruise control, Ducati Power Launch Evo (DPL), Hands-Free, Backlit handlebar switches, 3,5” TFT colour display and dedicated warning light display, Full LED lighting system, Self cancelling turn indicators
Ready for: Ducati Quick Sift up/down (DQS), Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), Antitheft system

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