Article posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2016
First Ride on the XDiavel
It finally stopped raining in the early afternoon. My morning was spent trying to keep dry and prevent my visor from fogging up while riding the Monster 1200R and Panigale 959 in the rain. Couple that with the fact that the Ducati control riders were taking us through the twisty roads in the hills above Cannes at a very conservative pace, not really being sure of how good some of the dealer representatives were at riding a strange road in wet conditions. So, I won’t bore you with the details except to say the bikes were sure footed in the rain.
Now I’ll get to the reason for writing this story and describe the ride I had on the X Diavel hereto referred to as the X.
First I will relate a little history. The original Diavel that was introduced to the market four years ago was a big leap for Ducati. It didn’t look like a Ducati and it didn’t look like a cruiser. In fact Ducati’s mantra for the bike was “don’t call me a cruiser”. It was a true muscle bike that really didn’t fit anywhere, but maybe between a V Max and a V Rod, two bikes that really didn’t have much of a market share. It was two hundred pounds lighter than those closest competitors. The Diavel is a great bike, sold well, and has captured a loyal segment of Ducatisti.
The XDiavel was completely reengineered and bears little resemblance to the original Diavel. The motor is a version of the DVT that was first introduced in the 2015 Multistrada, but has been increased to 1262 cc. The motor is not only a torque factory, but also a work of art since all coolant channels are internal. The torque and power curve has been redesigned to deliver peak thrust at 5,000 RPM and more power throughout the rev range than the standard Diavel, which by the way is no slouch. What you notice right away with the X is how smooth the power is delivered by the final belt drive as you accelerate through the gears.
As we pulled out of the area in front of our 5 Star Intercontinental Hotel along the Boulevard de la Croisette on the French Riviera I thought to myself that this was a tough trip but someone had to do it. There were eight bikes in our group. I wasn’t sure of the rider skill so I tried to stay close to the Ducati control rider since he would be setting the pace of the group. If this was the same as the morning group I don’t think Ducati paid any attention to the skill rating we gave ourselves as part of the registration process. By the way we were all briefed that the Ducati Power Launch (DPL) was off limits.
I am not a big fan of forward controls, but it didn’t take long to feel at ease with the forward position of the pegs. They were positioned in the middle forward position. It only took a couple of starts from stop lights in Cannes before I stopped searching for my pegs in the traditional place. Ducati will soon have a kit to reposition the pegs under the rider. There are 60 total ergonomic variations for the rider combining seat, bars, and pegs.
We soon left the Saturday congestion in Cannes and hit the main highway that twists and turns south and east along the Mediterranean. It was a picture perfect day and it would have been easy but dangerous to take in the views. A fixation here or there and you would be over a cliff or into the rocks. If you have ever ridden Big Sur or the Sonoma Coast you know the challenge. You have to wait till you stop to admire the scenery. There were tight hairpins and sweepers to test the lean angle, quick transition turning ability, and linear power of the X. It passed the tests with flying colors. I felt like I was close to max lean angle on a couple of the hairpins. I changed into sport mode to be better able to lane split and dart in and out of traffic to get around the typical Saturday joy drivers. If you don’t lane split in Europe you will wind up being passed by 125cc scooters. Due to the traffic and the nature of the curvy road I was never able to use the cruise control.
The first thing I noticed next to the power of the X was how light the steering was compared to the Diavel. The X steers very easy into turns and as we hit the sweepers I had to adjust to not over steer. The bike has a max lean angle of 40 degrees. After a while it was easy to get into a good rhythm even though I didn’t know the road. I had one good test as I was lane splitting on a left hand curve and a bus was coming in the other direction over the center line. I was able to crack the throttle and slip forward into my lane with little trouble. I could think of several other bikes I have owned where I might have ended up as a hood ornament on the bus.
The more I rode this bike the more I wanted to ride it more! When we hit the turn around point on the coast ride I was tempted to keep on going, but Ducati would have frowned on that. If you Google map the coast road east of Cannes you’ll see what I mean. On the way back three of us in the group and the control rider pulled way ahead of the group and really got into the curves and the power of the bike. The rest of the group would catch up as we hit stop lights on the edge of Cannes.
As we pulled back in front of the hotel the next group was already waiting to take their turn on the X. My words to the guy waiting for my bike was “ man you are going to love riding this bike”. I showed him that the chicken strips were gone on the bike. I am not sure whether I was responsible or a previous rider, but it verified that althuogh the X is a cruiser it is also a Ducati!
Sitting in the classroom after our ride we were told by the instructor that the term to describe the XDiavel was “Techno Cruiser”. I don’t care what you call it, but it definitely is a true cruiser waiting to be discovered. I can’t wait to get back to Indy and put some miles on our demo bike.