Words and photos by Diego Hernandez
You watch Moto GP and World Superbike. You follow the super bike reviews and shoot outs, but when it comes down to it you are not really comfortable stretched that far forward while dogging commuters on their cellphones and trying to make yourself visible to every other distracted driver on the road. While you admire the beauty and elegance of a Panigale, it would be hard to get into work with that beauty sitting in the parking lot.
While superbikes are the super models of the two wheeling family and get most of the spotlight, compatibility is the key to a daily rider. With the range of bikes Ducati has to offer, there is a Duc for each of us that is beautiful, powerful and something we can what we ride every day. A good match fits our lifestyle and feeds the need to ride.
Recently I have had the privilege to “borrowing” four of Ducati’s latest offerings while having some work done on my ST3 at Euro Cycles here in Tampa. All four were ridden down the same roads and under similar conditions, to see how well each fit into my lifestyle. After all we don’t just buy bikes to look at when we pass though the garage; we buy them to ride. During my experience, I rode the Ducati Diavel, Multistrada 1200, the Street Fighter 848 and the Monster 1100.
Let’s start with the most striking of the four, the Ducati Diavel carbon with Ducati Performance touring comfort seat and Termignoni Carbon Fiber full Exhaust. I have ridden the Diavel twice prior to this most recent jaunt. The first time was shortly after the unveiling; then again at the Ducati Experience. My first impression was just that, an impression. I loved the bike but the seat was too low making it hard to sit comfortably- something the touring seat totally clears up. As a result, each ride was successively longer and more fun.
On my first ride I had some initial apprehension with cornering due to look of the front forks. I entered the first curve conservatively and I quickly saw that approach was best left for navigating parking lots. I eased up a bit and went with the bike and the Diavel corners with ease, dropping into the corners, picking up speed. It is startling how such a big beefy and powerful Duc could be so easy in the corners. But it is a Ducati so is that really a surprise? Naturally the speed increased with ease, making for a spirited and enjoyable ride. The seating position is basically upright and you literally sit in the bike because it wraps around you. With your arms reaching forward, it feels like you are sitting on bad ass custom Ducati cruiser. With the seating corrected by the touring seat, the ride is very comfortable. Three different ride modes are for three different riding environments: sport, urban, and touring, though I honestly left it in sport exclusively after trying the others. Sport mode unleashes this beast. If one is not mindful, a hand full of throttle can send you back in your seat. After a bit I grew accustom to shifting my position forward and I eased on to the throttle, with grunts and groans of excitement.
Now on the Diavel’s looks. It is visually stunning and definitely caught a lot of eyes. I rode the bike for two days – riding to the store, running errands, going to work, to work out, and then for some jaunts on back roads. Everywhere I went people in cars, guys on Harleys, and even children on the street, were completely taken in by the bike. The children, especially, were in complete awe. They ran up to me and waved. Even my neighbor’s child said loudly in a tiny voice “mommy he is so cool” then kept calling out to me. I never get that on my ST3. I get some waves, but on the Diavel you feel like a rock star. I met a friend for lunch and we both laughed through the restaurant window as passersby stopped to take photos of the Diavel and his Multistrada. Bottom line – the Diavel definitely ups the cool factor with its futuristic cruiser look.
On the practical end the Diavel does not have panniers like the ST3 or Multistrada, so it was a return to the back pack. This led me to felt like a kid on my first bike, with a lot less to lose and even less to carry around. So as a daily rider the Diavel is limited for groceries or errands. I guess I am spoiled with my ST3 panniers. Carrying only a backpack on the Diavel, makes one focus on what is essential and one has to give more care on a grocery run. The upside would be possibly losing weight with fewer groceries in the house. I would not say the Diavel loses points on storage because you are having some much fun, you don’t really care about other stuff you need to do. Is that not much the point of riding, to get on two wheels and get a way.
Where we go on our bikes does speak to the kind of riding we do. The Diavel is comfortable to ride all day, around town and even in traffic. It is so noticeable that it may actually be a bit safer due to your increased profile on the road. But you do have to plan carefully what you take with you and how far you plan to go. With no storage for cold or wet gear, one would have to go aftermarket for a touring set up, if one were so inclined. Touring brings up one drawback. No fuel gauge. Yes there is an idiot light, and I know mileage is probably a better indicator of fuel. But a gauge does provide a quick reference. While I know temperature is important to be aware of, I think one might run out of petrol long before one overheats their Diavel.
To summarize the Diavel is fun, comfortable, powerful, and stunning; an experience in a new class of bikes. It looks like a cruiser, but it is cruiser with a superbike soul. The Diavel is a Ducati; it is elegant, powerful and performs. There are quite a few aftermarket options to personalize the Diavel and make it fit you. I loved riding the Diavel and seeing it in my garage kept me thinking of what could be done to the bike and where it could be ridden. I really had a hard time dismounting. I kept driving past my street for just a little more, little more for almost 2 hours before I final made it home after dark. It was even harder taking it back to Euro Cycles. After this ride the Diavel is a serious consideration. If you have not ridden it, you should. It is one of the best of Ducati’s recent offerings.
Diego Hernandez is the president of Tampa Bay Desmo and a Licensed Psychologist in private practice working with executives, athletes, and riders on situational anxiety, apprehension and performance. Dr. Diego is also a Trauma expert who works with Veterans and individuals recovering motorcycle and auto accidents. Email Docdiego@earthlink.net