The Ducati XDiavel is an announcement—Ducati has created a cruiser with the heart and passion that embodies the platform. What was initially a foot in the door of the cruiser segment by the Italian marque is now a permanent residency.Its name—XDiavel—evokes the ideologies that it bridges: feet forward riding position with sophistication, refinement, and performance that some would argue has not traditionally been present to that sect of motorcycling.
As a Ducati owner whose riding career has been focused on sport bikes, the notion that the Bolognese brand would sail into such waters is jarring.[Visit the Ultimate Motorcycling Reviews Page]But, if you’re like me, that is where you would be wrong. The superbike pedigree is evident in the XDiavel—black contour design elements and a purposeful feel reassured me it was still very much what I expected of Ducati. It exists for someone who wants more out of a motorcycle—a connection to the intangible, to a concept long dissociated. The XDiavel appeals to the rider who wants the scalpel, without sacrificing performance, excitement, or urban attitude.Do note that, despite the name, the XDiavel has little in common with the Diavel, which remains in the Ducati lineup. They share similarities, of course, but are completely independent of one another, with a rethought chassis, engine, suspension and, obviously, the presentation.
Developed after extensive research in the United States on the kinds of roads it will be traveling, Ducati’s team worked hard to create an authentic cruiser. All of the classic earmarks are there, and a mind for what made cruisers the staple they are in American motorcycle culture—customization.Take a look at the XDiavel. Piece by piece, it was meticulously conceived—not only as a whole, but how the whole is affected once personalized with the many accessories being launched alongside the XDiavel and XDiavel S.Not simply satisfied to dump a load of parts in a catalog and let the rider sift through them, though you are certainly welcome and capable of doing so, Ducati has packaged them in easily accessible groupings—Sport pack, Urban pack, and Touring pack. Sport brings carbon fiber bits to the table, Urban means billet aluminum (including wheels), and Touring adds bags, a backrest, and small windscreen. Engine and exhaust upgrades are available separately, for those who want to make an even stronger statement—aurally and visually.The eye can see cruiser aesthetic dripping onto the asphalt, and that is one strength Ducati has been founded on—the visual. At the XDiavel’s core, the powerful, muscular, and new Testastretta DVT 1262 engine produces 156 horsepower at 9500 rpm, and torque peaks at 95 ft/lbs at 5000 rpm. Those are high rev counts for a cruiser powerplant, but the Desmodromic Variable Timing assures the nest performance at all engine speeds.In practice, the 1262 motor is a churning, violent machine ever so deviously lying in wait, and its command just one wrist twitch away to show hidden motives. I felt secure, deceived by my own predisposed notions of what a cruiser should be, only to be forced into the seat as the front end rose with ease. Thrilling does not begin to describe the kind of power we are privy to with the XDiavel.The exhaust note is reminiscent of the desmodromic superbikes we have all come to know and love—something I am very pleased that Ducati did not forget—and they allowed it to forge a distinct identity, creating a sound that is uniquely XDiavel.Gorgeous embellishments, such as the machined-billet belt covers can be found on the XDiavel S—yes, Ducati has joined much of the cruiser world and gone to belt drive. A tight, short tail also reminds us it is still very much a Ducati, with the large visual gap between the seat fairing and rear wheel, as well as the single-sided swing arm that has become a staple of the brand.A feature that might go unnoticed initially is the nearly complete concealment of cooling lines. In that sense, the XDiavel pays homage to the freedom of air-cooled twins.Taking a seat on this machine solidifies its presence. The contoured seat sits just under 30 inches off the ground, in relaxed, traditional cruiser riding style. My arms are at a neutral height, my legs with a slight crook, and heel stopped up against ample foot rests, which happen to be adjustable forward and backwards. This machine knows what it is—sitting unapologetically at a crossroads, the XDiavel is a uni er of motorcycle cultures and a crusher of stereotypes.Pulling from a stop, one thing is indisputable—the XDiavel commands attention, as is wont of Ducati. Give praise to the platform and give praise to Ducati, as passers by in urban areas are xated on this machine.
As a sport rider, the call of the canyons cannot be ignored. Entering an enticing set of twisties, I found myself driving out of the apex from rev counts that cause most sport machine engines to stumble. The XDiavel has the heart of a track beast, and a low slung, glaring façade to back it up—it moves for no one but its rider.Boasting a maximum lean angle of 40 degrees, the XDiavel wanted more than I was willing to deliver. Forty degrees is not a number usually associated with cruisers, which can dip into the low 20s.I again let my judgments are, believing that it wasn’t suited for a more spirited venture; rest assured, we need not worry about its capability. Once I accepted the XDiavel’s hand, having earned its trust (and vice versa), the handling was eerily reminiscent of, well, a Ducati.Even the slightest suggestion from the mind to the controls lets the bike glide around the corner—that omnipresent torque is nearly in full force as early as 2100 rpm and it is satiating, even for the most venerable speed demons. This is what the XDiavel lives for—it yearns to be backed into corners, only to come out swinging. It’s a bar brawler who will pick up the tab once the score is settled, living up to Ducati’s slogan for the XDiavel: The Gentleman and The Bastard.You can push the XDiavel, but I find that less is more when riding this machine—settling in and absorbing the bike, feeling the engine through my every fiber. The canyon. The asphalt. The bike. Me.
This is why the XDiavel was created—to feel those moments and develop an inward rapport with the road that can be missing from the exacting demands of the sport bike realm. The XDiavel is a wanderer and a tool for exploration, whether that be inter- personal or otherwise. It sways you to see where you’re going, and touch, taste, smell life in-between. This is not a feeling that is fully nonexistent on a sport bike—it is simply different.Fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi forks, as well as a single Sachs shock in the rear with spring preload and rebound damping adjustments, let the XDiavel glide across some weathered mountain roads. Tipping in a bike of this stature—a hearty claimed 545 pounds with the 4.75-gallon tank nearly full—can be a bit daunting for the uninitiated, yet it fought no battles with me.In fact, the slightly stiffer, performance-oriented suspension is one of the defining qualities of the XDiavel. A typical cruiser it is not, but what little comfort is sacrificed is made up for in handling.When wrung out, the XDiavel’s personality changes once again. At 9500 rpm, the Testastretta DVT 1262 is certainly charging to the rev limiter, and it is grinning the entire way. A taste of the Panigale begins to appear in its personality—yet another aspect of its duplicitous character. Comfort, sport, city, highway drifter; it will ll many roles.A bike such as this, so brooding and bipolar—in the best possible way, mind you—is maintained by the therapeutic help modern technology can offer. Bosch lean-sensitive ABS and traction control may take away a taste of the danger, but also allow for a more aggressive attitude with the throttle and brakes.Most notable for those who frequent drag strips—legal or undocumented—is the new Ducati Power Launch option. This allows for the fastest starts imaginable. After selecting a DPL intervention level (there are three) from the dash menu while in neutral, pull in the clutch, drop the XDiavel into rst gear, twist the throttle to the stop (yes, really), and then let out the clutch for a high power take-off. Not quite as easy as it sounds, it takes some getting used to, and if you fine-tune your skills on the street, your license will be at risk.
For more traditional riding, there are three selectable riding modes—Urban, Touring and Sport. However, all of these modes can be modified completely, so they serve as helpful guidelines from the factory.Urban allows the XDiavel to clean up in the gas station bathroom sink and x its tie before a job interview, passing itself off as a subdued, mild mannered machine, restricting its 156 horsepower potential to a mere 100. Is that bad? No, not in the least. While hunkered down in the depths of traffic, its relaxed nature is quite welcome.In Touring, you have access to all of the Testastretta DVT’s power, with some calming measures. I found there to be a bit of hesitation in the throttle as well as a linear power delivery that proves to be extremely predictable and confidence inspiring. This was what allowed me to become acclimated to the bike, soaking in the relaxed riding position.For those of us coming off of superbikes, the Sport mode is where the bike expectedly shines, or at least terrifies people near you with the constant need to wheelie—and the XDiavel will confidently do so with absolutely no hesitation. Power delivery becomes progressive, and much excitement is available at the twist of the wrist.What stops you when it’s time to tame those horses? Brembo M4-32 front calipers are tapped on the XDiavel, and M50s on the XDiavel S—both are radially mounted monobloc units.Braking performance is similar, and the progressive feel is well above what you typically find on a cruiser, again highlighting the bike’s thoroughbred lineage. Riding them back-to-back, the standard model’s M4-32s seem to be slightly grabbier than I prefer, but still do the job of slowing the big, fast beast.Even under some surprise braking, there isn’t an ounce of shuddering from the ABS system. The smoothness of the ABS makes it completely unnoticeable, confounding naysayers who believe it detracts from the ride—it doesn’t.
Control of the high-tech features is easily navigated and, more importantly, the menu displayed on the full color dash does not immediately make one question his own intelligence. Simplicity is the key; common sense with trial and error paid off, despite having no formal instructions on how to use any of the menu features. A bit of fiddling on the side of the mountain road proved enough to get my bearings.The differences between the XDiavel and XDiavel S are few, but worth noting. In addition to the change in the front brake calipers, standard XDiavel buyers will be missing out on the S’s glossy black paint, upgraded seat, machine-finished highlights on alloy wheels and aluminum engine belt covers.The new Ducati XDiavel can be summed up in what it represents—the eye opener, the mentor that broke down ideological walls with suggestion and, when it has to, a fist. It is the enabler and lurid hand that pulls each and every one of us down the hall and into the rooms we were told never to enter. The excuse and justification; the reason why we work the way we do to get what we want. It is the XDiavel.Riding Style:
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!