When was the last time you rode a bike that was largely alone in a sector that it itself created? A bike that is instantly recognizable. That made a load of power and delivered in a chassis that was…OK look, enough of this. Let’s talk about the new Ducati Diavel 1260. Actually, the 1260 S. It’s the one we’ve been enjoying on the world launch in Spain. It’s incredible.
And I don’t mean that in a ‘gosh, look at this lovely new motorcycle in the sun, isn’t it spiffing’ kind of way – I’m talking about a bike that I want underneath me all the time.
It’s incredible. It’s spot on. It’s a beast, it’s fun, it’s easy to use and potently rampant on the road and I say this with true conviction after just 175 miles or so on the road.
2019 DUCATI DIAVEL 1260 (1260 S)
Price: Diavel £16,795 (£19,985)
Engine: Ducati Testastretta DVT 1262, L-twin, 4-valves per cylinder, Dual Spark, Liquid-cooled, Desmodromic Variable Timing.
Power: 159hp (117kW)@9500rpm
Torque: 95ib-ft (129Nm) @ 7500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame
Tyres: (F) Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120/70 ZR17; (R) Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 240/45 ZR17
Suspension: (F) 50mm fully adjustable fork (Öhlins 48mm fully adjustable fork); (R) Preload and rebound adjustable monoshock (Öhlins fully adjustable monoshock), Aluminium cast single-sided swingarm
Brakes: (F) 2 x 320mm semifloating discs, 4-piston M4.32 Brembo calipers, PR18/19 radial master cylinder (M50 Brembo calipers, PR16/19 radial master cylinder); (R) 265mm disc, 2-piston Brembo floating caliper. Bosch Cornering ABS Evo front and back
Kerb weight: 244kg
Seat height: 780mm
Fuel tank: 17 litres
Service intervals: Oil service at 9000 miles and a Desmo service at 18,000 miles
ALL NEW, YET RECOGNISABLE
The reason it works is because of the overall changes that Ducati has made to the Diavel – the geometric changes are huge (although, happily the riding position is virtually identical to the original bike’s design).
What the Italian factory has done is take the 1262cc Testastretta motor from the Diavel and move it further back towards the back wheel. Up front, they’ve pulled in the rake and trail to make the handling feel lighter and more responsive. They’ve also shortened the swingarm and shifted the oil-cooler to the front of the motor to clean things up aesthetically.
The factory has also cleaned up and made much more elegant the exhaust.
It’s still double can, but it juts out of the belly of the bike in a racy, stubby sort of way, instead of effectively blocking out the view of the single-sided wheel.
Exhaust aside, the bigger, geometric changes equate to a riding experience that, if you’ve had the pleasure of that original Diavel launched nine years ago, is instantly familiar, but still really quite different.
Close your eyes and you know you’re on a Diavel. Look at the new 17-liter tank and flared shoulders complimented by the single, tiny color screen and idiot lights perched on top of the handlebars, and you know you’re on a Diavel. Fire the lump into life and you would bet your life that a Diavel was under your backside. So Ducati has at least got this right.
Almost everything on the new bike is new. Aside from that engine, front mudguard, handlebars, and rear mudguard holder, it’s a freshly created Diavel for 2019. And yes, the new bike might be5kg heavier than the old model at a (now) 288kg wet and the wheelbase is longer (20-odd mm), but even just paddling the bike around, let alone getting out on the move, the whole thing feels lighter and more nimble than you remember – the engineering theory works in practice. It’s brilliant. It’s racetrack thinking used to just make life easier on the road.
READY FOR ANY ROAD
On the road, this thing is a peach. The motor has a virtually flat torque curve. In reality, this means that no matter where you are in the rev range you can crack the throttle and the bike surges forward – in fact, you can pop the bike into a gear higher than you think and just lazily ride that torque if you want to. It’s that good and means that you’ve got lots of the 95lb-ft on tap whenever you want it. There are three riding modes: Sport, Urban, and Touring, with each giving you full power with various levels of delivery finesse combined with the factory-set traction/wheelie/ ABS levels as wanted. You can go into the bike’s digital brain and set each element of each riding mode to suit your style and need further. You can also do this by an app on your smartphone.
But back to the riding experience and the sublime chassis topped off with more than a soupçon of the fruity, revvy motor. Get it into the top end of the revs and it just romps away with an animalistic growl that undresses the 1262cc DVT Testastretta’s track DNA and begs you to keep going. Don’t get caught up thinking that this hulk is all about blasting A roads and chasing triple-digit dragons. Thanks to the DVT motor, slow speed manners and ability are second-to-none. This bike is a doddle to ride at a walking pace. Low down, pottering through towns is smooth and thinking-free.
IS IT ALL GOOD, THEN?
Niggles? There are a couple. The mirrors show you a lot of what’s behind, but get over 3500rpm and they turn the view into a silly, vibrating mush of colors, and the TFT color screen is fine but – at 3.5 inches across – a bit too small for me. I’d happily have a bigger screen for more info availability. Oh, and some heated grips as standard should really be a fixture on this bike, not just available as an aftermarket option. But hey, I’m splitting hairs here. This new Ducati Diavel is pretty flippin’ excellent. It’s a real road riding a motorcycle at its best on fast sweepers and tight turns. Crack the throttle and it feels raw and urgent – hiding the cleverness and the billion gizmos that are keeping you upright as you launch towards the next corner. Plus it has that 240-section Pirelli rear tire that grips and turns into corners like you wouldn’t believe.
Price-wise you’ll pay £16,795 for the standard 1260, which only comes in grey. It’s £19,985 for the S model that gets M50 Brembos up front, 48mm Öhlins TiN forks and a host of other things which you really do want. The 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260S is absolutely terrific and I urge you to get one in your life.
see also: Yamaha R125