Is it a cruiser? A sportsbike? Or just a styling exercise? No one was sure at the unveiling at the Milan show, and when you ride the Ducati Diavel it really isn’t one thing or another – it’s a bike unlike anything else. And it’s simply breathtaking. We see riders come to the Diavel from sportsbikes. They love a powerful bike, want performance, but also want comfort and don’t want the adventure bike path.
With its 1198 superbike engine retuned for accessible grunt and a chassis that’s a revelation, the Ducati Diavel is for them. After a test they’re blown away – it doesn’t just handle well for a big bike, it handles brilliantly full stop. It’s easily capable of trackdays. And with Ducati’s accessory range the Diavel can be anything you want.
Some go down the custom route with fancy machined wheels, mirrors and handlebar grips. Others venture into the performance parts world by fitting carbon trim, lightweight wheels, exhausts and aftermarket suspension. It’ll be a sports tourer too, thanks to the Strada version with its panniers.
Ducati Diavel are a sound investment thanks to their great build quality and because they hold their value brilliantly. They’re really popular used buys and have to be experienced to be believed.
Even the base model Diavel comes with Ducati’s impressive eight-level traction control system. Ride-by-wire throttle allows three preset riding modes – Urban, Touring and Sport – which alter the bike’s throttle response and power output, each with a traction control setting to suit.
There’s ABS too, working on Brembo one-piece superbike-style calipers – with the stability from the 1590mm wheelbase the Diavel stops in an impressively short distance.
The Ducati Diavel drips with tech, one aspect of which is keyless ignition. Simply having the transponder key on you when closer than 6ft is enough to deactivate the steering lock and start the bike. Early 2011/12 bikes were recalled due to the steering lock not releasing before the bike was started, potentially allowing you to ride the bike with its steering locked.
The Ducati Diavel’s eight-valve V-twin is from the 1198, but with less valve overlap (the time, measured in degrees, when intake and exhaust valves are both open) – hence the Testastretta 11˚ name. It has impressive service intervals; the basic service (oil and filter) is annually or every 7500 miles, and costs £220. The major service, which includes valve clearance and cam belt inspection/change, comes at 15,000 miles (18,000 miles on the 2015 bike) and costs £231. Ducati recommend that all fluids (fork oil, brake and clutch fluid, engine coolant) be changed every three years at a dealer cost of £144.
The Ducati Diavel is full of neat design touches, like the pillion footrests and grab rail that fold away when not needed, and LED strip rear lights. To show off the stubby seat unit and single-sided rear, Ducati created a novel numberplate hanger placing a short mudguard and the numberplate close to the wheel. Early Diavels had this bracket replaced under warranty by dealers when the bike came in for service, through fears it wasn’t strong enough and could break. The replacement item is much more robust.
90% of Diavel buyers get the best out of the standard Sachs shock just by setting it to suit them, but those who really want to optimise performance fit an Öhlins shock. It costs around £800 and takes the rear end of the Diavel to the next level in terms of handling and ride, and offers greater adjustability.
For street riding the front Marzocchi suspension works brilliantly, however the rear shock has quite stiff damping as standard, with even the heaviest Diavel riders commenting on a harsh ride. Don’t let it put you off – spend an afternoon on your favourite road and adjust the damping so the ride and handling suit your taste. Access to the Sachs shock’s damping and preload adjusters is easy, and you don’t need to be a suspension whizz to get good results.
Early Ducati Diavels (and also Multistradas which share the same engine) were recalled due to fear that their original coolant could cause the cylinder heads to become porous. The coolant they changed to is manufactured by Agip and is recognisable due to its pink colour. All the affected bikes should have been rectified, but always check with the seller.
Rear Master Cylinder
There’s been a couple of instances where the rear master cylinder plunger wasn’t aligned properly from the factory, which caused the rear brake to not be very effective. All it takes is a quick strip down and a bit of straightening up to get it working perfectly.
Pirelli spent 18 months on the design of the Diavel’s whopping 240-section rear tyre. Very wide rears are usually very flat in their profile and so don’t handle well, but the model-specific Pirelli Diablo Rosso II is much like a superbike tyre. It’s part of the secret to the bike’s astonishing handling. We never recommend fitting anything but the OE tyre on a Diavel.
Spot One !
2011-2014 Ducati Diavel
Loads of rider aids, keyless ignition and the first production bike with a colour TFT dash. Red or black.
1198 cc – 143 bhp – 210 kg
Price : £8000-£10,000
2011-2014 Ducati Diavel Carbon
Carbon Red and Carbon Black have forged wheels, and carbon tank cover, cowl and mudguard.
1198 cc – 143 bhp – 207 kg
Price : £9500-£11,500
2012-2014 Ducati Diavel Strada
Touring Diavel with panniers, heated grips, deep seat, bar risers, taller screen and titanium paint.
1198 cc – 143 bhp – 215 kg
Price : £10,000-£15,000
2012-2013 Ducati Diavel AMG
Celebrating a short-lived tie-up with Mercedes AMG. Special wheels, paint and seat, very limited numbers and so very collectable.
1198 cc – 143 bhp – 207 kg
Price : £26,000