Ducati gives its Diavel the ‘Strada’ treatment. We put it to the test to see how it fares as a touring motorcycle in our 2013 Triumph Rocket III vs Ducati Diavel Strada comparison.
The Ducati Diavel has created a furor since its introduction. An 1198cc Testastretta Superbike engine, Ducati’s signature trellis frame, a 240mm rear. A so-called cruiser with traction control, variable engine mapping and Bosch/Brembo ABS? Seeing how the Diavel defies categorization, it comes as little surprise that Ducati created a touring version for 2013.
Touring treatment on the 2013 Diavel Strada includes small saddlebags, a broader touring windshield, and a new shape to the seat. The Strada handlebars have been pulled back a couple inches and raised 20mm. It gets heated grips, too. The riding position was tolerable for about 300 miles before riders become fatigued from being locked in one position. Passengers see the addition of grab rails, a backrest, and fixed footpegs.
Hop on the Diavel Strada and you’re more ‘in’ the bike than the Rocket III, legs tucked, body leaning slightly forward. Accessing the on/off switch is a pet peeve, the button mounted on the tank console below the speedo/tach with barely enough room to squeeze in gloved fingers. But once the bike fires up, the rumble of the Diavel’s exhaust is intoxicating. It’ll make you long to rev it to redline just to hear the L-Twin roar.
Crack the throttle of the ride-by-wire system and hold on tight because the engine pulls top to bottom, hitting peak torque of 81.95 lb-ft at 8200 rpm, while its horsepower stretches to 9500 rpm before cresting at 137.55 hp. Thanks to three variable engine maps, the power is immediate but controllable. But it is a bike that begs to be on the throttle because fuel delivery gets choppy between 2000 – 3000 rpm.
The six-speed gearbox on the Diavel is a little rough around the edges, too. The clutch lever pull felt lighter than the Triumph but the gears are notchy and we experienced a handful of false neutrals. The “thunk” into first gear is particularly loud and mechanical before smoothing out a bit.
Get the Diavel Strada into the twisty stuff, and handling is much lighter as there’s less mass to deal with. Turn-in effort is slightly heavy due to that massive 240mm chunk of Pirelli rubber on the back, but once leaned in it tracks stable and fluid. Considering its gaudy rear proportions, handling is impressive.
As are the brakes on the Diavel that combine incredible stopping power with precise modulation. Big twin 320mm discs on the front with Brembo monobloc calipers get the job done with an aggressive bite and tons of feel. Add ABS to the equation and the Diavel can be ridden at an aggressive pace because of the confidence two-finger stopping instills.
As far as the Strada’s touring treatment, the windshield deflects air from a rider’s chest but the head is still subject to buffeting. The bags are small and the zippers are cheap and one of the zippers broke, rendering the bag virtually useless. They don’t lock, either. The position of the bags actually made it harder for a passenger to climb on, too. But our biggest gripe - range. We got 132.6 miles out of the 4.5-gallon tank before running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. For a bike that’s supposedly set-up for touring, this equates to gas breaks almost every other hour if you’re running it hard.
The Ducati Diavel is an amazing machine, with a beast of an engine, top-notch stoppers, and rider aids that make it very forgiving. But beyond the more comfortable riding position, the new windscreen is only modestly effective, the bags are flimsy, and range hasn’t improved on the touring version. If you’re looking at getting to your destination in a hurry though, the Diavel Strada is an E-ticket ride at Disneyland.