How do we justify naming the Ducati Diavel “Cruiser of the Year” two years running? Because nobody has stepped up to match the performance of Ducati’s power cruiser. In fact, the Ducati Diavel Carbon, at 452 pounds, is a claimed 11 pounds lighter than the standard Diavel thanks to forged Marchesini wheels, a Marzocchi fork, and carbon fiber fairing and trim. Not that a few pounds matters much to its 1198cc Testastretta superbike engine. The bike’s Ducati traction control can make a good rider out of average skills and variable engine maps allow the Diavel to be adjusted quickly for changing road and weather conditions. We even took it touring and found the sporty Duc to be more than capable and it’s riding position comfortable for the long haul.
We still marvel at Ducati’s engineering feat, the way it’s been able to build a motorcycle with a 240mm rear tire that still handles. Ironically, the 240mm rear is one of the Diavel’s only true cruiser-ish traits. Little about the Diavel is classic, from its single-sided swingarm to its small, suspended tail section. Traction control and multiple rider modes are not typical cruiser fare but they’re standard features of the Diavel Carbon which help set it apart. After arguing about its place in the segment last year, now we view it as the performance standard to beat.
Honorable Mention – Tsunami Harley
What cruiser motorcycle drew more headlines than any other this year? The Tsunami Harley. The 2004 FXSTB Softail Night Train traveled all the way across the Pacific Ocean in the back of a cargo container. It was found on a beach in British Columbia. The guy who found it realized its significance and didn’t touch it out of respect for the some 20,000 people who perished in the Sendai earthquake and tsunami. The owner of the motorcycle, Ikuo Yokoyama, declined Harley’s offer to return it and instead asked that it be put on display exactly as it was found to serve as a memorial to those “whose lives were lost or forever changed” by the disaster. The Harley has a story unlike any other and is a monument that now resides in the Harley-Davidson Museum for all to view and pay their respects.
Motorcycle USA Best of 2012 Awards
Rider of the Year 2012: Max Biaggi
Manufacturer of the Year 2012: KTM
Best Cruiser 2012: Ducati Diavel
Best Sportbike 2012: BMW S1000RR
Best Street Bike 2012: Triumph Speed Triple R
Best Touring Motorcycle 2012: BMW K1600 GTL
Best Adventure Motorcycle 2012: Triumph Tiger Explorer
Best Enduro 2012: Beta 450 RR
Best Dual Sport 2012: Kawasaki KLR650
Best Motocross Motorcycle 2012: Kawasaki KX450F
Best ATV 2012: Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT
Best UTV 2012: Polaris RZR XP4 900
Motorcycle of the Year 2012: Kawasaki ZX-14R