Another Diavel ride report

Motorcycle Daily has weighed in with their first impression of the Ducati Diavel. Unlike some other reviews, they seem impressed by the handling–even at low speeds.

But perhaps the best impress in comes from one of the article’s commenters, who quips that it looks like somebody finally made a V-Rod that works.

The Diavel’s Big Rear Tire

A few days ago I noted that the big 240-section rear tire on the new Ducati Diavel seemed like it would make handling a bit less fun.  But lots of reviews from European writers say it’s fine. New Diavel ride reviews are in from Motorcycle USA and Motorcycle.com, and both of them bring the subject up in somewhat different terms.

Motorcycle USA’s Bart Madson writes:

[T]he Diavel is probably the best-handling fat rear we’ve ever sampled.

But that’s somewhat damning praise, as there are inherent issues with the rear. Some in our journalistic riding troupe vocalized zero flaws, but we noted a hinky sensation on low-speed maneuvers. Sharp hairpins exhibited a flopping sensation when pitching over. Quick transitions, more noticeable at lower speeds as well, also delivered an awkward feel. The 240mm rear didn’t have us bitching and moaning as a deal breaker by any means. It just left us wondering what that Diavel could been had it been delivered with a more conventional tire choice.

Motorcycle.Com’s Pete Brissette echoes the sentiment, somewhat more technically:

The big rear tire works for me as part of the Diavel’s styling; however, the rear tire’s low-speed handling performance doesn’t work quite so well for my tastes.

Initial turn-in response is neutral; transitioning from upright to three-fourths lean is a fairly smooth, linear-feeling process. But it’s the last little bit of lean you might initiate to complete the turn that results in a “falling in” sensation, as though the tire’s profile is more triangulated than it appears.

As I rolled into the throttle to power out of the apex of a turn, the bike would sometimes exhibit a front-end “push” – like the rear of the bike was chasing the front – depending on the radius of a turn and camber of the road.

This is not to say the Diavel’s handling isn’t light-years better than just about any cruiser you can name, but it’s not as good as any other Ducati you can name either.

Ultimately a 62.2″ wheelbase, and 240 rear tire are what they are, and the effect on handling is ultimately insurmountable. Geometry and physics are pretty unforgiving taskmasters. On the other hand, though, handling that isn’t quite up to snuff in Ducati terms probably equals vastly superior handling in, say, V-Max terms.

Actually, remove the word “probably” from the previous sentence.

First Ride: 2011 Ducati Diavel

The first ride reports are trickling in from the Ducati’s press launch for the Diavel in Marbella, Spain.  Visordown’s ride review tells me exactly what I wanted to know about the Diavel.  My main concern in looking at the specs of the Diavel was the handling.  It’s a bike with a long wheelbase, and a big, honkin’ 240-section rear tire.  That just screams “slow turn-in!” to me.  But, according to Visordown, Ducati has somehow done something special that those specs don’t capture.

The real ace up the Diavel’s sleeve is its handling. A massive 240-section rear tyre and a long wheelbase are not the ideal ingredients if you want a bike to handle, but – and I’m not sure how – the Diavel doesn’t suffer one bit…What really stood out to me was that throughout the whole day, I didn’t think about the bike’s handling once. It went exactly where I wanted it to, not once did I feel like I was running wide, or that I could do with more ground clearance. There are no footboards gouging the tarmac here, no concerns about getting home with half of your exhaust chamfered off. It doesn’t just handle well for a cruiser, it handles well for a sportsbike…When the rear Pirelli can’t cope, Ducati’s Traction Control steps in and gently corrects your over enthusiastic demands, keeping the rear wheel in line and most bikes struggling to keep up.

That…interests me.

Sadly, there are no Diavel’s available yet on this side of the pond, but my crystal ball tells me that sometime in the near future, I’ll be begging Balz Ringli at Moto Forza for a Diavel test ride.

Ducati Diavel Press Launch

The world motorcycling press is gathering in Marbella, Spain for the unveiling of the 2011 Ducati Diavel.  Already, reports are filtering in, including from Motorcyclist Magazine, who give us their first look and test ride reports.

What’s interesting to note from this report is how serious the Ducati guys were about building a cruiser-style bike that didn’t sacrifice performance.  Ducati officials relate it to the commitment they had to creating the the new Multistrada 1200S, making it a bike with serious, Ducati performance.  Based on my experience with the new Multistrada, they certainly did that.  So, how’d they fare with the Diavel?

Well, Motorcyclist seems to like it.

Overall, the Diavel is surprisingly easy to ride fast, aided by Superbike-spec Brembo radial-mount brakes, a firm, 50mm Marzocchi inverted fork, a perfectly controlled Sachs shock and generous cornering clearance allowing a claimed 40-degree lean angle. Slicing and dicing through downtown L.A. traffic on a busy Friday morning, it felt much more like a broad-shouldered Monster than a V-Max or any other so-called “sport cruiser” that has come before.

It looks better, too. The level of fit and finish is the finest we’ve seen on any Ducati-maybe on any bike…It’s an impressive machine that attracts attention even from non-riders who don’t know a Ducati from a Dodge. That’s the one trait it does share with a custom chopper: Everyone notices this bike.

Sadly, I haven’t has a chance to ride the Diavel yet, so, for now, I’ll take their word for it. What I do have are lots of lovely pictures, shown in the gallery below. That should satisfy any Diavel jones you might be feeling.

2011 Ducati Diavel

One day ahead of tomorrow’s EICMA SHow opening in Milan, Ducati has unveiled the new Diavel–formerly known as the Project 0803 motorcycle.  I’ve written about it a bit over the past few months as spy shots and finally an official photo was leaked, but now we can officially see the Diavel in all its glory.

We can also officially see the specs now, too.  Ducati has closely held them, but now that we can see them, they look pretty good.

There are some notable points to be mentioned.  First, while the Diavel uses the same 11° Testastretta engine that the Multistrada 1200S uses, power output has been upped to 162HP, while torque has been raised to 94 ft-lbs, compared to the Multi’s 87.5 ft-lbs. At the same time, while no lightweight, the Diavel is only 35 lbs heavier than the Multistrada, weighing in at 463lbs dry.

All things considered, the Diavel should be a screaming street machine. It might not have the same raw, straight-line power of the Yamaha Star V-Max, but I’d be willing to bet the Diavel will eat its lunch in the twisties, with its advertised 41° lean angle. And, who knows, maybe on a straight-line, the comparison isn’t that far off, either. After all, despite the V-Max’s 197HP and 123 ft-lbs of torque, it also weighs 685 lbs. It’d need all that extra horsepower just to keep up with the Diavel.

I’d suspect that with two riders of equivalent capability, the one on the V-Max would be watching the Diavel’s tail lights.  Until they disappeared ahead of him, anyway. I do know that’s a comparison I’d like to see.

Like the Multi, the Diavel also boasts the the three-mode output/suspension settings, allowing the rider to choose the restrained 100HP output of the Urban mode, the full power, but less aggressive throttle response and softer suspension of the Touring mode, and the full-on power and stiff suspension of the Sport mode.

And I can tell you, from personal experience, that the three settings really do transform the feel and operation of the bike.  And when you hit sport mode…watch out!

The drawback to the Diavel, from a US sales point of view, is that Americans seem to hate naked standards. This might be a bike that sells like hotcakes in Europe, though.

There’s also one more question about the Diavel that needs to be answered. What’ll it cost?

2011 Ducati Diavel

The first official image of the 2011 Ducati Diavel has been released by the manufacturer.

2011 Ducati Diavel
2011 Ducati Diavel

You really do need to click on the image to see the full-sized version.  Because what you can’t really see in the small pic above is that the rear section hides a little trunk in there.

About the only detail we know so far is that the Diavel uses the same Testastretta 11° 1200cc engine used in the Multistrada 1200.  In the MTS, that engine outputs 150HP, but this is, remember, essentially the same 1198cc L-Twin that powers the 170HP 1198 sportbike, although the 1198 has a 41° Testastretta.  In any case, the key takeaway is that the Diavel will put out at least 150HP.  That’s less than the massive grunt of the V-Max, but 50% more power than the V-Rod.

And I bet it’ll be considerably lighter than both.

2011 Ducati Diavel (Project 0803)

It appears that the Project 0803 bike is ready for production, and, based on what the Italian press are saying, Ducati has settled on the name “Diavel” for this model.

2011 Ducati Diavel
2011 Ducati Diavel

This is supposedly the power-cruiser competition for Yamaha’s–or Star’s–V-Max. In any event, it’s finally been seen in the wild, in a production-ready version. There’s no word on specs, etc., so, for that, we’ll probably have to wait until Ducati officially unveils it next month in Milan at the EICMA motorcycle show.

More Ducati Spy Shots

I recently mentioned the new Ducati that’s going to be unveiled later this year.  There was one lame spy shot, and a concept drawing of the Ducati Project 0803 motorcycle.  Well, today, we got another spy shot, this time courtesy of Italian motorcycling site Moto Sprint.

Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot 2
Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot 2

This is much better, despite the camouflage paint splotches and masses of black electrical tape.  Nice looking exhaust. Interesting side-mounted radiators. Single-sided swingarm.

The American press has been calling this a new model of the Monster, but I think that’s just notional.  Over in Italy, they’re just referring to it as a maxi-cruiser.

Maybe it’ll be called the “D-Max”.

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Something’s Up at Ducati

Ducati Project 0803
This Ducati Project 0803 sketch purports to be from a North American Ducati dealer who got it straight from the horse's...uh...mouth.

There’s been a lot of talk of a new Ducati model coming up for 2011. Maybe a big, new Monster. Or something.  Apparently that talk has some basis in fact, because we’re now seeing both spy shots–whether from interested bystanders or directly from Ducati PR isn’t clear–and an interesting concept sketch of “Project 803”. That sketch is on the right, and is clickable for a hi-res image.

The PR department at Ducati is responding to all the rumors of a new bike with this statement:

As many you may have noticed, there has been quite a bit of activity in the past few weeks surrounding a supposed new Ducati model. I wanted to take this opportunity and send you a note saying indeed we do have a surprise in store for this year’s EICMA show. Our R&D department is working around the clock to complete development of this radical new motorcycle, for which time to complete final design and engineering elements will surely come down to the wire.

Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot
Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot

I’m sending this letter today in order to inform you of our communication plan. Since many details of the bike (big and small) are still being sorted out; I have elected not to forward information or photography until the rolling prototypes come close to resembling what the final product will look like.

Stay tuned for further information from the Ducati Press Department; and I can assure you the final bike will impress all with the design, performance and technology everyone has come to expect from Ducati.

It looks like at Italian V-Max. And that “Testastretta 11 degree” engine says it probably comes off the 1198.  So, an 1198 V-Max.  Nice.

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