2011 Ducati Diavel Carbon | Test

Sympathy for the Devil

"Please allow me to introduce myself; I’m a man of wealth and taste," Mick Jagger sang in the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil. Because the Diablo name was already taken by the likes of Pirelli, whose tires have been specially made for this very devil, Ducati resorted to its own Bolognese dialect for the word Diavel.

And, to be truthful, it is a devil indeed packing a formidable punch with the 162 horsepower beast of an L-twin. Few other bikes can rip up the tarmac with as little effort as this one!

After having tested the Diavel Carbon for a whole day, it is safe to say that this new Ducati is growing on me. Two days later, it seems something else is growing–I suspect it to be horns in my forehead.

Taking a seat for the first time, the Diavel feels comfortable, and not as intimidating as it sounds and looks. The high quality seat features 80mm thick foam and 60mm for the pillion.

There’s hardly anything in front of me to intrude on my overview of the road. It’s similar in that department to the Ducati Streetfighter, which also has a very tidy cockpit.

Two mirrors mounted on aluminium stems flank my vision. They are as solid as the rest of the bike and never vibrate whilst on the move. The TFT (high-end LCD screen) rider information screen catches my eyes and you can change between Sport, Touring, and Urban riding modes using the blinker cancel button. The menu to adjust a host of other information is also found displayed on the TFT screen.

Sport mode, which was my preferred riding mode throughout the day, gave me the full-on power delivery, which in the Diavel’s case means 162 horsepower and traction control set to level 1. The power delivery is direct and responsive at all rpm, and exiting corners the traction control allows some wheel spin before cutting in.

For an easier going setting, the Touring mode suits most situations perfectly. I swapped over from Sport mode to Touring mode each time we hit traffic or a motorway, and to chill out while riding the momentous midrange.

Touring mode still gives a full 162 horsepower on top, but smoothens things out a bit more on lower revs and the traction control is set to level 3 as standard for additional safety.

Through the little villages and the town of Marbella, I switched to the Urban mode. This reduces horsepower to a civilized 100 horsepower and adds level 5 to the traction control. Suddenly losing 62 horsepower feels weird, but it does make sense along with the high level of traction control intrusion.

The Urban mode allows you to be a human being on early morning crossing slippery manhole covers and dodging city center traffic on your way to work. Urban mode also allows you to relax a bit more at the most stressful point in your day.

Changing the riding modes is easy, and they can be changed on the move with a closed throttle. You can customize the riding modes by adding the level of traction control to the modes.

There are eight levels to choose from, and after a while you will find out which suits the specific riding mode best. I think the standard setup is pretty good.

The brakes on the Diavel are the very impressive Brembo Monoblocs found on top Ducati sport bikes such as the Superbike 1198 SP. Riding the Diavel Carbon was the very first time I have ever used the Brembo Monoblocks with ABS and I’m mightily impressed. Let’s not forget that the Diavel Carbon is a pure road bike with a fairly long wheelbase, so I was curious about how ABS and Brembo Monoblocks would work together on the road.

Before I continue I must bring the excellent super-sticky sportbike-compound Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires into the equation. Without such tires I don’t think this package would work as well as it did.

Pirelli has worked with Ducati to develop a very special 240/45-ZR17 rear tire for the Diavel. The profile of this rear tire is 45-percent of the width, giving you a steeper and sharper turning in rate than that of a 240/40 dimension tire. This helps the Diavel turn into corners quickly and precisely.

Compared to a standard Ducati such as the Monster, the Diavel is raked out and stretched a bit, but not so much that it affects the handling in a negative way. The Diavel handles brilliantly for what it is, but it’s never going to be as nimble as a Monster.

Racing up the mountain roads I’m surprised at how well the Diavel tackles the corners, and the lean angle is very acceptable at only a degree less or so than a Monster. This meant that I could ride the Diavel Carbon quite aggressively with hot corner entries and very hot corner exits.

You can’t carry as much speed mid-corner as a sport bike, but you can exit those corners in the same way. The Diavel features a very powerful 162 horsepower version of the Testastretta engine and it has gained 12 horses over the Multistrada 1200 by way of a massive exhaust system.

This new exhaust system really is one of my favorite items on the Diavel, and it proudly displays its massiveness on the right hand side ending in a stacked silencer.

According to the Ducati engineers, the Diavel sounds like the old Troy Bayliss superbike with Termignonis fitted. I believe them, because the Diavel is one of the best sounding standard Ducatis. The rich burble from the 1198cc liquid cooled engine is great, and there is a cool burble when letting go of the throttle ahead of a corner or before a traffic light.

Another unique Diavel feature is the side-mounted radiators–a first for Ducati. The large airbox is fed by aluminium air-intakes found on the sides, giving the Diavel a narrower profile than otherwise would have been the case.

The Ducati Diavel Carbon truly is a midrange beast of a bike-from 4000 rpm there is pure and rich twin acceleration. From around 7000 rpm, the massive horsepower starts helping, and at the top of the power range the acceleration is awe-inspiring.

I’m not sure whether I need to say this but the Ducati Diavel is no cruiser.

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