2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S Review: Crushing of Conformity
When the Diavel debuted eight years ago, skeptics wondered how long a Ducati cruiser would last in the marketplace. While the Ducati Indiana of the 1980s had a short life, the Ducati Diavel power cruiser has shown to be a durable addition to the brand.For 2019, the Ducati Diavel follows in the footsteps of the XDiavel and takes on the Testastretta DVT 1262 motor, along with an updated chassis. We grabbed the 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S to wrinkle some pavement on the varied streets of Los Angeles.
1. The S means more than upgraded suspension. Yes, the Ducati Diavel 1260 S has Öhlins suspension rather than the nameless units on the standard Diavel 1260. The S also adds clutchless shifting (bi-directional quickshifter), Brembo M50 monoblock front brake calipers (M.432 units on the standard edition), LED headlight with DRL, machine-finished wheels, an S seat, and access to Ducati’s sophisticated smartphone-linked Ducati Multimedia System. Otherwise, the standard Diavel 1260 is identical to the S. The extra features are reflected in the $3000 higher MSRP on the S—be ready to write a check for $22,995.2. With variable cam timing, the Testastretta DVT 1262 motor puts out serious horsepower and torque. There is almost no way to overstate how aggressive the 1260 motor can be. Although the peak numbers come at fairly high engine speeds, the 1260 cranks out the power across a broad rev range. There are three riding modes—Sport, Touring, Urban—and the wise use of each will have a profound impact on how much you enjoy the 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S.3. Although the hybrid sport/cruiser ergonomics are unchanged, Ducati worked on the Diavel’s chassis. You might not immediately notice, but the trellis frame is new, as is the aluminum swingarm. The two work together to improve cornering by reducing rake a notch to 27 degrees, while also increasing cornering clearance—now a generous 41 degrees. Riding the Diavel 1260 S in the canyons is much more like riding a sportbike than a cruiser, as it has ergonomics that mimic a standard upright rather than a relaxed cruiser.4. Putting the 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S through its paces on urban twisties will change your ideas on the definition of cruiser and sportbike. Mulholland Drive, which bisects the Hollywood Hills, is a perfect way to challenge the handling of urban motorcycles. Sitting in a natural position with 157 horsepower on tap, not to mention 95 ft/lbs of torque, means that you can hustle the Diavel 1260 S around at an alarming pace—if that is your choice.5. Part of the magic of the Diavel 1260 S is how much the three riding modes impact your riding experience. In addition to altering both power output and delivery, the modes adjust the ABS, traction control, and wheelie control settings. Further, you can finetune those setting to taste, should you feel the need. A six-axis Bosch IMU is your aide in either taming the Diavel 1260 S, or letting it run wild.6. You can ride the 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S in the Sport mode, but you better be ready to rumble. Unleashing full power in the most aggressive manner possible, the Sport mode is absolutely serious. While the Diavel’s upright seating position is very much like a standard, it’s still no Monster. It is an experience that is unlike anything on two wheels. You are on a cruiser, yet the throttle response is something that works best on track day. While there may be a select few riders who can exploit the rapid throttle response and 157 horsepower in the twisties on the Diavel 1260 S, it makes the 538-pound beast unruly. Of course, when it comes time to accelerate onto the freeway, well, let’s go!7. The sweet spot for the Testastretta DVT 1262 is the Touring mode. Sure, Touring might sound boring. However, rest assured that you have full power from the big L-twin, along with a more than satisfying throttle response. For ordinary people in the twisties, this is the way to go fast on the Ducati Diavel 1260 S. The sharp hit from cracking the throttle is gone, so the Diavel stays settled. The chassis loves the Touring mode and signals to the rider that all is well. The traction control and Bosch Cornering ABS are dialed up a bit, though not so much as to be intrusive. The overall confidence created allows for a more aggressive throttle hand and quicker riding. The Touring mode means fast riding without wrestling with the motorcycle.8. Even with quicker steering, the Ducati Diavel 1260 S is still stable and predictable, along with being impressively nimble. There is nothing like Mulholland Drive when you get an open run. There’s a wide variety of corners, as well as pavement conditions. On the stretches with newer pavement and few blind driveways, you can certainly have a good time. The Diavel 1260 S is so responsive on the tightest of turns that I had to look at the rear tire when I stopped for a break. I just couldn’t believe that it has a fat 240mm tire, given how willingly the Diavel changes direction and handles quick transitions. Plus, the 41 degrees of lean angle is more than sufficient—I never touched anything down. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if the Benandanti were after me—it’s that otherworldly.9. Pirelli is responsible for much of the magic on the 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S. Ducati gave the Diavel 17-inch tires to help the motorcycle deliver the Italian sporting experience. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires are highly regarded, and they do their work on the hefty Diavel without complaint. A big reason the Diavel 1260 S is such a willing turner, in spite of its 240mm rear tire, is that Pirelli gave the Rosso III an aggressively rounded profile. This is not your grandfather’s 240.10. Extra velocity is provided by the clutchless shifting. The Testastretta DVT 1260 can be worked through its six-speed transmission without having to touch the lever to actuate the assist-and-slipper clutch hydraulics. Gearchanges are instantaneous and smooth in both directions thanks to the quickshifter, making acceleration and deceleration more efficient and nearly effortless. All you have to do is remember to pull the clutch in at stoplights.11. Ducati does provide an Urban riding mode, and it has its place. When you are threading the needle through traffic near Hollywood and Highland, or down the Sunset Strip, there is no reason to have a responsive motor cranking out power you can’t use. Urban mode reduces horsepower and slows down throttle response. You will appreciate that in traffic, and find the relatively lazy acceleration only mildly annoying once things open up. It’s easy to switch up to Touring or Sport as needed to facilitate adrenaline production, and you can lighten up on the wheelie control if you feel the need to loft the front end.12. For the hardcore, there’s launch control. This seems like something more appropriate to a dragstrip, though it might come in handy for the right rider. There are three levels of launch control, and a dedicated handlebar button to engage and select just how brave you are. The system works by allowing you to hold the throttle wide open and be smart with the clutch—good luck! The Diavel 1260 S’s electrical system counts how many times you use the launch controls system to stop you from destroying its clutch. This feature proves there is something for everyone.13. With these sorts of performance enhancers, world-class braking is a must. The 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S has highly regarded Brembo M50 calipers up front, along with a radial pump on the right handlebar. These brakes don’t have a nasty initial engagement, fortunately, though they will slow the big Ducati down aggressively when adding some grip to the lever. Don’t forget the footbrake. With that fat 240mm rear tire, the rear 265mm disc and Brembo caliper can come into play if you like. Again, Bosch Cornering ABS gives you some wiggle room when you get insistent with the braking system.14. As you would expect, the Öhlins suspension is flawless. Really, the only complaint I had is that it’s not semi-active electronic suspension. I would love to be able to switch between suspension modes as easily as the ride modes. Instead, you can pretty much set it up as you like and enjoy it. Most riders will be fully satisfied with the factory settings, as they are well sorted.15. For the technocrats, there’s a Ducati Link App and the Ducati Multimedia System. If riding a motorcycle isn’t thrilling enough for you, the 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S also lets you enjoy it as an appendage of your smartphone. The Link App allows customizing of various electronic aids, while the Multimedia System lets your smartphone interact with the TFT dash regarding text messages, phone calls, and music.16. The 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S is about crushing conformity. Many people have fixed ideas of what a cruiser is and what a sporting motorcycle is. The Diavel 1260 S isn’t interested in your stereotype or expectations. Instead, it provides the style and Italian-flavored charisma of a cruiser-style urban motorcycle with mind-bending motor performance and appropriately poised handling. For a moment, forget about owning the 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S—that will come. Most importantly, no matter what your interest in motorcycles, this is a machine that you will want to ride, as there is nothing like it on the planet.Location Photography by Kelly Callan Studio Photography byGiovanni De SandreRIDING STYLE
This Podcast is also brought to you by the new modular helmet from Schuberth, the C5. The C5 blends safety with light weight and amazing quietness. Visit Schuberth.com for more information.
This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!