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2013 Ducati Diavel Strada First Ride

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It is fairly obvious to anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on this site that the staff of MotoUSA love the Ducati Diavel. When it was introduced in 2011, it hit the cruiser/standard/streetfighter scene with more controversy than any motorcycle from Ducati since the 999. And with good reason. What is it? Is it a cruiser? Yes. Is it a standard? Absolutely. Streetfighter? Sure. What about a tourer? Not exactly. The lack of wind protection and storage made long stretches in the saddle a blustery and minimalist experience.

Ducati now has a solution for those looking to strike out past the horizon on its muscle-bound cruiser, the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada. For the 2013 model year the Italian marque has bestowed the Strada treatment to both the Diavel and Hypermotard to broaden their demographic appeal with touring features. But does the concept really work? Do bags, a windscreen and a few other tweaks make for a touring motorcycle?

The equipment change list for the Diavel Strada from the standard model is not long, but it is notable. Most prominent is a windscreen mounted above the Duc’s headlight and a set of molded textile side bags. A rear backrest and grab handles up the passenger amenities, while the entire seat gets more padding without raising the low 30.3-inch reach to the pavement.
The 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada gets a windshield  bags  passenger backrest and more comfortable bars over the standard model.
2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Dyno Chart
The monster motor of the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada is pure performance.
We are glad to see the Strada treatment didn't dilute the Diavel's performance one bit.
The handlebars are swept back 2.4 inches further than the standard and rise just over a half inch as well. Revised foot peg placement adds to the more relaxed rider position. Heated grips and two auxiliary power outlets finish off the transformation to a Strada. These changes add 13 pounds to the overall weight, tipping the MotoUSA digital scales at 540 pounds with a full tank of fuel.

All other details and specs are identical to the standard model, including the 1198.4cc Testastretta 11, L-Twin powerplant that cranked out 137.62 rear-wheel horsepower and 81.99 lb-ft of torque on the MotoUSA dyno. Twisting the throttle on the Diavel Strada brings forth acceleration unmatched by any stock cruiser or tourer. Wheelies and burnouts are a snap of the wrist away. For those not looking for such behavior, the engine’s output and delivery to the rear 240mm Pirelli can be tempered via Ducati’s Riding Modes (Sport, Touring and Urban) that can deliver as low as 100hp in the Urban setting. For me the choice was either Sport or Touring as the two settings give full power, but the later softens the initial hit for a more controlled response. No matter the mode, the Diavel Strada’s engine is one of our favorites.

One downside to the Diavel’s wonderful engine (besides the risk to your license) is the fuel economy and range. While testing we averaged 31.6 mpg with a combination of highway, back roads and city work combined with a overactive throttle hand. That gives you 142 miles out of the 4.5-gallon tank, not very good for a model meant for touring duty. The tank will be dry long before your body needs a break. Go easy and you could probably get closer to 40 mpg in touring or urban mode, but that only increases the Strada’s reach by another 40 miles. You want power? You're gonna have to pay for it at the pump.  

Another gripe with the Diavel Strada is with the two most obvious features of the machine – the windshield and the side bags. At highway speeds the air coming off of the shield takes the pressure off the rider’s chest but lands it squarely on the helmet. This causes quite a bit of buffeting and gets annoying quickly. Every tester that rode the Duc looked for an adjuster to raise or lower the screen to smooth the turbulence. Alas, there is no adjustment causing us to hunker down behind the shield, negating the comfortable bend of the handlebars and roomy cockpit.

The side bags on the Diavel Strada are not what we could classify as roomy, and to be honest they barely classify as adequate. The 10.8-gallon capacity is good enough for a couple changes of clothes, a pair of shoes, toiletries and not a whole lot more. Locking the bags requires the use of a combination luggage lock. Overall the bags feel like an afterthought especially when compared to the Ducati accessory bags for the Multi.

Suspension on the Strada is firm, but not too taut to make life on the super slabs uncomfortable. You will want to avoid contact with potholes and ridiculously rough pavement, but the solid ride has an upside. When the road goes ‘round the bend the Diavel will blow other cruisers and touring cruisers into the weeds. Turn-in effort is slightly heavy thanks to that massive meat at the back, but once it's leaned over the feel is so stable you’ll think of taking a shot at streetfighters and standards in the bends. Yes, the weight can be an issue if you come in too hot, but ride within the very generous safe zone and you’ll be rewarded with a bike that handles far better than expected. This is where the Diavel Strada shines. Pick a mountain or curvy coastline and enjoy the sure-footed handling and copious amounts of power on tap.

As mentioned before, the Diavel will run out of go-juice before your body needs a break thanks to an easy reach to the bars and extra cushion in the seat. Five-hundred-mile days are achievable, and you’ll arrive no worse for wear. It just takes a little longer due to the extra fuel stops. The heated grips are a very nice feature to have and heat up quickly with three levels of warming goodness.

Overall the Diavel Strada is a great bike, and we still love it for its wonderful engine, stable handling and unmistakable Ducati-ness. The added comfort makes it a bike that you can tour on – if you are willing to accept it for its diminutive saddlebag capacity, short fuel range and less than perfect windscreen. Unfortunately the Diavel Strada is not the very best bike to chew up miles. For that, Ducati offers the Multistrada. But if your idea of touring is traveling light, stopping more often and enjoying what’s along the way, the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada is one of the coolest ways to do just that.
2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Photo Gallery
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2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Technical Specs
The 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada has 41 liter  top-loading saddlebags and comes with amenities like heated grips and two auxiliary outlets.
Engine: Liquid-cooled, L-Twin cylinder
Displacement: 1198.4cc
Bore x Stroke: 106 x 67.9mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1 
Fuel injection: Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection system, Mikuni elliptical throttle bodies with ride by wire
Exhaust: 2-1-2 Twin aluminium mufflers
Transmission: Six-speed, slipper clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame with aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 62.6 inches
Rake/Trail: 28 degrees / 5.12
Seat Height: 30.3 inches
Front Suspension: 50mm Marzocchi fork, fully adjustable
Rear Suspension: Sachs monoshock, fully adjustable
Front Wheel/Tire: 3.50 x 17, 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Rear Wheel/Tire: 8.00 x 17, 240/45 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Front Brake: Dual 320mm discs, radial mount 4-piston Brembo Monobloc calipers with ABS
Rear Brake: 265mm disc 2-piston Brembo caliper with ABS
Fuel Tank: 4.5 gallons 
Wet Weight: 540 pounds
MSRP: $19,495
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited mileage

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neo1piv014   July 30, 2013 02:46 PM
For what they added to the price, it seems like you could do a better version of this by just buying the aftermarket parts already in place. Heated grips run, what, $80 for decent ones from Twisted Throttle? There's probably a dozen aftermarket windscreens for the Diavel already, and the saddlebag market is massive. The bike is awesome, but it seems like the people that would want this bike have already made it on their own.
FourwheelFatalist   July 22, 2013 10:16 AM
"There was no way I was going to bolt on a big-ass windscreen and then fry in stale hot air behind it, just for bugs that are a problem for maybe an hour a day. " LOL I drove up to Carlisle Bikefest Sunday, partially because my bike needs a new chain, partially because the forecast called for rain that afternoon (and sure enough the fest was shut down about 2pm by a light afternoon shower, with a massive rainstorm to the west). Sure enough I see a guy riding a Harley with what had to be a custom windscreen, that wrapped all the way down each side to the footpegs and curved up just high enough to screen his head. His passenger was tall enough so that her head stuck up over the screen, and some wind snuck by to ruffle his hair and beard, but you talk about "taking the opposite perspective" LOL this guy seemed to love his screen. I could only shake my head and drive past. I did get to ride the Gixxer 600 which I'd never ridden before (nice little bike, good midrange power & brakes, razor-sharp handling), the ZX-10 (seemed very heavy on the front-wheel and the engine-braking was severe but it was nice-sized and definitely had a strong motor) and the Ninja 300 for at least a short run before we turned back from the rain. Not only is the steering surprisingly slow on that bike, but I just cannot see how the engine is so weak. You would think that a 300cc engine wouldn't be *THAT* weak. But man that bike has virtually no power at all, seriously. It is absolutely like riding a literbike with just one cylinder working. It goes, yes, if your definition of "to go" encompasses a cow beginning to move. Likewise "to travel". It is just an amazingly-slow bike, no way around it. The Gixxer600 and the ZX-10 are just in another dimension of speed. So I can see the Diavel, assuming that you want something almost as fast as a ZX-10 in terms of acceleration and handling but you want toa ride all day without crying when you get off the bike. The real question is, is doubling the MPG really worth the extreme sacrifice of a dog-slow bike?
kuhlka   July 18, 2013 11:47 AM
This isn't a bike you buy because it's beautiful. You buy it because it is an ugly bruiser of a bike that'll throw down with sportbikes in the canyons while staying comfortable for 500 mile days. IMO, the intake scoops and bulbous fuel cell cover are a stupid waste of space and make working on the ABS and anything under that cover a pain. Otherwise, my Diavel performs beautifully, especially after reflash and mapping with a Tuneboy kit. Fuel economy is improved, throttle is smooth all the way down to 2,500 rpm, and I generally take fuel breaks every 100 miles anyway. It'd be nice to have a 5+ gallon fuel cell, but not if it makes a beautifully-balanced ride top heavy. The Euro fuel tank doesn't have the cut-out for the California emissions canister... I really hope Ducati makes an 848 version of the Diavel with a much slimmer profile and 190 rear tire, maybe axe the tank cover for a traditional fuel cell like the superbikes to make disassembly much easier. Love my Diavel. It has its quirks, but it's been very reliable, has mind-boggling acceleration, and the safety features of the ABS+DTC helps in rain and over sketchy bits of road.
CrustyOldTimer   July 18, 2013 11:45 AM
@eligovt ...but it has a really-great motor and handles well.
CrustyOldTimer   July 18, 2013 11:40 AM
The farther away from your eyes, the more area is required to cover an equivalent field of view. Obviously given a certain density of bug-strikes per square-foot, you now collect more bugs. A windscreen is much harder to clean and collects more bugs faster than your face-shield. The only advantage is that you now have two surfaces to hide behind not just one so you can avoid stopping at all just to clean up your face-shield enough to be able to see. You might be able to do that while stopping for gas or at a rest-stop. Or you can use racing technology and use tear-away layers. Trust me I've thought of all of this many times while riding through Pennsylvania farmland in the evening summer sun and twilight, just getting blasted with bugs. I still haven't cleaned all that gunk off the front of my bike, but my faceshield required one stop along the way just to wipe some of the crap off so I could see enough to ride, maybe some windex and a rag a week or two later. There was no way I was going to bolt on a big-ass windscreen and then fry in stale hot air behind it, just for bugs that are a problem for maybe an hour a day.
eligovt   July 18, 2013 07:58 AM
The standard Diavel looks cool in its own way, but this thing is hideous. Every addition to this bike over the standard is ugly and does not fit the aesthetic. In fact, I think the fact that this version of the Diavel exists, detracts from the appeal of the model as a whole.
Piglet2010   July 17, 2013 06:43 PM
Besides some protection from cold and rain, having a windshield at the right height can mean a lot fewer stops to remove bug splatter from your visor/face-shield/goggles when riding in the summer. But there is no excuse for not having adjustable height on a bike the price of the Diavel Strada - the simple system on the half the price Honda Dullsville works well.
ConundrumCentral   July 17, 2013 05:08 PM
I've never really been a big fan of windscreens. Just throwing on one doesn't seem to be a good solution. But has anyone ever really asked why do "big bikes" get such poor gas mileage relative to "small bikes"? And this is a 1200cc V-twin that only puts-out 140hp peak, in a bike with a 540lb wet weight? It seems to me that for a "cruiser" vs a "streetfighter" you wouldn't want so much power especially if it costs significant range. 30 to 40mpg might mean only 40 more miles out of a 4-gallon tank but 30 to 50mpg would mean 80 miles and 200 miles/tank vs 140. That's a big difference. Is the difference between, say, this bike and a bike with half the HP and torque really worth the hit in MPG for a "cruiser"? No, the bike needs to be geared long enough to reduce that hit in range to a minimal amount. And the fairing, what sense does a fairing like that make at 80mph?
Poncho167   July 17, 2013 02:58 PM
Cruiser it is not.