To get the attention of the general public on the uber-rich and ridiculously extravagant streets of Monte Carlo you have to be something special. In a place where the money flows like wine and the wine costs more than most houses, you might think a $21,000 motorcycle wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow. But in a place with the highest concentration of supercars in the world, the 2015 Ducati Diavel stole the show. Nevermind that million-dollar Bugati, check out that carbon-fiber wrapped Italian power cruiser! There is nothing like the Diavel, and everyone knows it.
Since it’s introduction in 2011 Ducati has sold nearly 20,000 examples of the Diavel – proof that although it is a unconventional cruiser, it has grabbed the attention of those that want more out of their ride than a lumpty-lump engine and a comfortable seat. Here at MotoUSA we have been fans of the Diavel since the first time we swung a skeptical leg over the Italian power cruiser. We even named it the Best Cruiser in 2011 and 2012. For 2015 Ducati has given the Diavel a facelift and invited the international press to the Principality of Monaco to get a first ride impression. Who are we to turn down a visit to the one of the wealthiest places on earth to burn miles on a motorcycle we already adore?
The most striking new feature of the 2015 Diavel is the LED headlight housed in a brushed aluminum housing. Not only is the lighting performance enhanced, but the assembly gives the Diavel a more aggressive look. Additional functional styling features include LED turn indicators that run vertically down the reshaped radiator shrouds and small air-deflector, mounted to restyled handlebar clamps. The exhaust cans are now dual megaphones that show more of the single-sided swingarm-mounted rear wheel. None of it is a huge departure from the original look and feel, but it does make for a more handsome portrait.
The Diavel is offered in two trim levels, the $17,995 standard model in single colorway, Dark Stealth, and the Carbon Edition in either Red Carbon or Star White Carbon for $20,995. We would be riding the Carbon, which features carbon fiber body panels, forged Marchesini wheels and stainless-steel exhaust silencers. Thanks to its fancier and lighter parts list, the Carbon tips the scales at a claimed curb weight of 516 pounds, 11 less than the standard.
While the styling enhancements are the most obvious changes to the 2015 Diavel, the most important come in the way of the updated Testrastretta 11° DS L-Twin. The DS stands for Dual Spark that uses two spark plugs for more complete and efficient burning of the air-fuel mixture in a shorter duration. Ducati’s engineers have bumped up the compression to 12.5:1 and have repositioned the fuel injector to spray directly onto the hot intake valve for better atomization of the incoming charge. All this is targeted at a smoother engine character at low rpm while increasing the torque by 4.5%. Max engine horsepower remains the same at 162, but is achieved at a slightly lower 9250 rpm.
User-friendly updates include a fuel level sensor and indicator in the tank mounted TFT display. The seat has been reshaped for more comfort through an increased area. Service intervals have been increased to 18,000 miles between major services.
The first opportunity to sample the 2015 Diavel on the road was a ride to dinner through the streets of Monte Carlo tracing the lines of the famed Formula 1 course. For the evening’s jaunt I rode in the first of three selectable riding modes – Urban. The ride-by-wire throttle response and engine power is muted with a 100 horsepower cap for an easy to handle character around town. The Ducati Traction Control (DTC) setting is defaulted to level 5 of 8, and even my most aggressive throttle application couldn’t get the rear tire to squirm or buck, but the intervention is noticeable when the system kicks in. Overall the setting is perfectly calibrated to work in the rain or on city streets crowded with quarter-million dollar cars.
The next morning we set out into the hills and had many opportunities to stretch the Diavel’s legs in the sport and touring modes. Touring gives a full 162 horsepower but with a medium response and a DTC level of 3. This is an excellent setting for the majority of situations, but to be honest I only spent a small percentage of my time on this setting; Sport mode is just too enticing.
In Sport the DTC is cranked to the minimum level of intervention at 1, and all of the power is unleashed with the maximum response. This is the first area in which the Diavel blurs the lines between cruiser, standard and sportbike with a hit of power that is intoxicating and brutish. The front tire claws at the sky out of corners and your arms stretch as the countryside becomes a blur. Any other cruiser will be left wallowing in the dust as the Diavel rockets forward with a thrust that would make many sportbike riders take notice. Throttle response is snappy and crisp but not jerky.
The prescribed route consisted of mountainous roads that would make any cruiser owner, conventional or performance, cringe with a hefty heaping of switchbacks and sweeping high-speed curves. Once again the Diavel turned from a comfortable cruiser to a shredder that could hang with most standards. Despite a wide and flat 240mm-wide Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rear tire, the Duc turns into the corner nicely with just a slightly heavier feel when the speeds are low and the corner is tight. When the going gets rapid the handling is supremely neutral and surefooted. Corning clearance is excellent for a cruiser and good for a streetfighter; only once did I scrape the footpeg feeler.
The 50mm Marzocchi DLC coated forks and lay-down Sachs Rear shock are both fully adjustable and handled the less than perfect road surface with a firmness that also soaked up the bigger bumps with a plushness. The ride is all-day comfortable yet you can feel the sportiness just under the surface.
Braking performance is well beyond cruiser-spec and is truly full-on superbike with Brembo Monblocs. Lever action is excellent with an initial bite that transfers the power from your index finger to the dual 320mm semi-floating front discs with a solid, connected feel. At the back the rear brake is less telepathic but still better than the majority of machines out there. The ABS is not too intrusive and it takes a sharp grab or heavy stomp for the system to activate on good pavement, and when it is needed you’ll be satisfied with a controlled stop. Want to fool around and back it into the corner? Switching off the ABS is as easy as a few button pushes to navigate through the menu, but I felt no need to disable the system after I got a few skids out of my system.
Spending the day in the saddle revealed no flaws in the reshaped seat and the rest of the cockpit is laid-out well. Leg room is sporty but not too cramped with the footpegs underneath the rider. The Diavel’s bars are just wide enough to be comfortable without hindering the performance at any speed.
On the return ride to we made a final loop though Monte Carlo, turning the heads of both locals and tourists alike. They are blown away by the look and the sound, but at the end of the day I was blown away by the complete package. The power, the handling and the comfort make for a cruiser that has no rival in more categories than one. With a more aggressive look and a smoother engine the Ducati Diavel has only gotten better for 2015.