First Ride

2011 Ducati Diavel

customary among the cruiser cult, you're not going to lock anything up. Add in that long wheel-base and the low seat, and the result is great stability even when stopping the Diavel from upwards of 75 mph into a downhill hairpin en route down to the coast again from Ronda. This sets new standards in stopping for a real-world streetbike.

The Diavel is also a new benchmark for cruiser-class handling, and that's in spite of steering geometry that's rangier than on anything yet to leave the Bologna assembly lines. With that long wheelbase and a 28-degree rake to the meaty, fully adjustable, 50mm Marzocchi forks (which feature 120mm of wheel travel, with copious amounts of trail added), you'd expect the Diavel to be a real handful in tight corners along city streets or mountain roads - but it isn't. Instead, even riding it as I did later that day up another much slower mountain road, full of second-gear hairpins, demonstrated this is a bike you won't have to muscle around to get it to steer. Ditto for when Urban mode is selected for a bit of chilled-out boulevarding...

It is indeed a kind of custom-class Superbike.

But the devil is in the detail on the Diavel, and not only in terms of the literally awesome performance package it delivers, but also the optimum fit and finish of the whole bike, including its numerous design touches that prospective owners will relish. Like the clever fold-out passenger footpegs and retractable grab handle behind the seat, which except when used don't spoil The Look. Or the seamless cover that pulls off the passenger seat to expose it; or the brushed aluminum radiator shrouds, cast aluminum mirrors (which don't vibrate and are very effective), steel fuel tank, etc.

Ducati is justly proud that what you see is what you get in terms of materials, and there are almost no plastic parts. Or the LED running lights set horizontally across the single Porsche-esque headlamp, matched by the incredibly bright LED turn signals and tail-lights that are practically invisible when not illuminated. Or the so-distinctive single-sided aluminum license-plate mount with integrated LED that doubles as a rear fender, while matching the cast aluminum single-sided swingarm it's mounted to. Or the trademark trellis frame, the cast aluminium clutch and brake fluid reservoirs, the keyless Harley-type security system - the list goes on and on.

Ducati has made sure that what for them is very much a flagship model in a new segment for the company, while showcasing the latest technology, is tailored to entice the older, more affluent customers in the premium cruiser sector, without at the same time straying too far away from its traditional sportbike clientele.

It's a difficult trick to pull off, but after riding the Diavel nobody will be able to say Ducati didn't give it their best shot. And Ducati dealers absolutely need to ensure they have a Diavel test bike available to get the message across. This is a motorcycle that's completely unlike anything that's been made before, and you have to try it to believe it. CN

POST ENTRIES 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. ¥ APRIL 12 - PRACTICE 9 A.m.




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