2016 Ducati XDiavel launch

Photos by Milagro and Costa Mouzouris

Ducati has been busy. Very busy. The company has unleashed a whole load of new models for 2016 and within the multitudes of Panigales, Stradas, Motards, Monsters and Scramblers comes a new Diavel with an added X for, well, seX.

At this time of year we all need a little added X, but CMG’s Costa Mouzouris once again pulls the longest straw and gets to fly down to San Diego for some warmth, sun and some added X. Oh and let’s not forget a splattering of cow poop for good measure.

Yes, Ducati has officially produced a cruiser. The XDiavel isn’t the firm’s first foray into foot-forward frolicking, as you may remember the Indiana of the mid-’80s, or not, as the folks at Ducati are probably hoping is the case.

San Diego in February and a line of XDiavels. Not a bad way to spend a day.

However, this beast of a machine, which I’ve been invited to ride in sunny San Diego, is a cruiser like no other. It’s an Italian take on a North American phenomenon, and even though Ducati has embraced the tagline “Low-speed excitement” to emphasise its penchant for boulevard crawling, riding it reveals that those Italians have a distorted view of “low speed.”

The XDiavel is longer and lower, and has more rake than the standard Diavel. In fact, it shares only brake calipers and tires with the Italian muscle bike. Its Testastretta DVT is an all-new variation of the Multistrada’s engine, stroked to 1,262 cc from 1,198 cc, and redesigned with no external coolant hoses between the heads. It’s also retuned for lots of bottom-end torque. Let me reiterate: LOTS of bottom-end torque. Like 95 lb.-ft. at just 5,000 rpm.

Costa-Ride1Swinging a leg over the XDiavel reveals a low seat, a relatively modest reach to a wide handlebar, and forward-mounted foot controls. I don’t care much for the feet-ahead riding position, but you don’t actually have to live with it. Ergonomics are adjustable to 60 different positions via three different handlebar options, five different seat options, and four-position footpeg mount options, one of which includes the much better mid-mounted footpegs.

Once the engine fires it doesn’t feel or sound particularly menacing. Put the bike into gear and give the throttle a good twist, however, and you’ll immediately discover what it’s like to be fired from a cannon. It’s a good thing the seat is deeply cupped for support, because I can’t remember having ever ridden a street-legal bike that has such a ferocious forward rush. It even has a three-level power launch mode. They should have named the bike XCatapult.

beauty3Despite its brutish ways, the XDiavel is quite civilised in town. Even in Sport mode, the throttle is easy to modulate — as long as you don’t roll it on too far. And if you really prefer a normal riding experience, just switch to Urban mode, which softens throttle response and limits output to 100 hp from 156. But seriously, where’s the fun in that?

Though it is a cruiser, the XDiavel is built by Ducati, and inevitably some of the company’s superbike lineage has rubbed off on it, so it has three ride modes, adjustable ABS, adjustable traction control, and adjustable wheelie control.

Costa-Ride2During the pre-ride technical presentation, I ask if the bike really needs wheelie control; it does after all have a longer wheelbase than the Diavel. The presenter breaks out in a grin, saying rather smugly, “You have not yet ridden the bike.”

Indeed I have not. And it’s only when riding through a tunnel in the city, where I roll on the throttle in second gear to, you know, get some underground exhaust reverberation going, that I get his remark. The XDiavel’s headlight illuminates the tunnel ceiling in an instant as the massive torque raises 220 kg over 1,615 mm of wheelbase effortlessly. Despite being down a bit on the standard Diavel, the X’s torque peaks a whole 3,000 rpm lower, thus the need for wheelie control.

Following Ducati’s CEO, Claudio Domenicali, it’s refreshing to see a CEO who not only partakes in launches but also rides very well. Just don’t follow too closely …

We ride along the winding roads southeast of San Diego (where I follow Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, who isn’t one to shy away from riding one of his bikes), and I’m surprised at how nimble the XDiavel is for a cruiser. The suspension is a bit on the firm side by cruiser standards, but it contributes to the bike’s surefooted stability through sweeping turns, where the wide handlebar and 40 degree lean angle don’t hamper my ride.

What does hamper my ride a little bit is being splattered by high-speed excrement, after following the CEO a bit too closely, as he inadvertently runs over the steamy deposit of a very recent bovine bowel movement.

The XDiavel S gets machine-finished aluminum engine bits, different wheels, monobloc front calipers, and other trim pieces and accessories for $3,000 over the standard XDiavel’s $21,495.

The XDiavel is a unique take on the cruiser genre, and I tip my hat to Ducati for breaking away from the skirted-fender, floorboard-scraping cruiser mould. When Ducati CEO Domenicali is asked what target customer he had in mind when building this unique Italian cruiser, he replied “We do not build bikes thinking about what market we will hit, we build bikes that excite us.”

Thank god for the Italians.


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  1. Two things that surprise…

    They let you back on a Ducati 😉

    “I can’t remember having ever ridden a street-legal bike that has such a ferocious forward rush” …how so? The regular Diavel is no less powerful, though I know torque is lower down on the X, but still, it’s likely just under a mid ten second bike. There’s a whole lot of bikes that you’ve ridden that would shame that.

  2. “The XDiavel is a unique take on the cruiser genre”.

    IMHO, the styling leaves a lot to be desired.

    I know, its Italian and all that, but fugly does indeed come to mind….

      • Yeah, and the last gen V-Max likely has 50hp on the Diavels, but still didn’t sell. Rode one and liked it, but loved the V4 – they got to put that motor untouched into something else – put those 200hp into a new sport-tourer and finally dump the FJR I say! It would also trump the GTL1600 and its much touted 160hp 6.

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