Friday, August 30, 2019
2018 XDiavel review
If the T800 terminator had a love child with a Harley Davidson Fat Boy I imagine you’d end up with something like the Ducati XDiavel. Before we begin going on about the ability of the T800 to mate with a motorcycle; I’d like to remind everyone that this is just a review about a motorcycle and shouldn’t be taken with any level of seriousness whatsoever. The T800 reference is just to produce a mental image of the bike and somewhat also touch on its demeanor. I am in no way inferring that a fictional robot in a movie made 35 years ago (yes you are that old) can reproduce with a motorcycle. Now that we have that out of the way; on to the review!
The XDiavel comes in two trims (the base and S version) which differ only in aesthetics and infotainment\connectivity upgrades. I found this interesting because most of the Ducati line-up also include more ‘performance’ focused trims leveraging the ‘S’ moniker (including the Hypermotard SP, Monster 1200 S, Multistrada 1260 S, Panigale V4 S, SuperSport S and Scrambler 1100 Sport) which almost always includes components that help you push the bike harder by often upgrading the suspension components. Also available is the non ‘X’ Diavel (the Diavel 1260) which also has an ‘S’ variant and does include Ohlin’s front and rear shocks and even a quick shifter. The look of the Diavel 1260 however is closer to the original Diavel that Ducati first released and sports a more ‘stout’ front-end. As far as my tastes are concerned give me the XDiavel every single time. I should note however that I have not driven the Diavel 1260 S and on paper I think it has the makings of a killer bike.
Over the course of three days I was able put just shy of around 200 miles on the bike and put it through its paces on the highway and more importantly on the twisties of Southern Indiana. Before I begin discussing the feel, riding experience and overall take on the bike let me share a few numbers. The XDiavel weighs in at 545 lbs. wet, produces 152 horses and 93 ft lbs. of torque from is 1,262 cc engine and has a wheel base of over 5 ft (63.5’’ to be exact). The center of gravity on the bike sits incredibly low so moving the bike around is incredibly easy and the turn radius on the bike is surprisingly very tight as well. The seating position and the seat itself is hands down the most comfortable I have ever experienced on a Ducati (ever). It doesn’t look like it however when on the bike you feel like you are sitting on bucket seats. As you can imagine this helps considerably when walking through the gears aggressively as you feel the g’s pinning you ever more snuggly into the rear seat.
One thing I also want to point out is that if you follow Ducati Marketing, they look to position the XDiavel as the ‘Italian cruiser’ looking to heavily align itself with cruiser culture. I imagine this is in part to entice the Harley Davidson and the traditional cruiser crowd to pay attention to this bike. From my perspective however the XDiavel looks like a cruiser and pretty much all similarities with cruisers end there. If you’re still with me (and I’m glad you are) you’re probably wondering why I am taking so long to get into the actual review of the bike. Well, the truth is it’s because I think it’s important to add the above context to really appreciate and understand what the XDiavel is and means for the motorcycle world. In one word I would describe the XDiavel as OBSCENE and is partly why I started the review in the way that I did. The XDiavel is so over the top that it shouldn’t make sense. It shouldn’t exist. No one should have allowed this bike to be built and yet, here it is, and I am so glad that it does.
This was not the first time I rode a cruiser and once I looked over the numbers and components of the bike, I reasoned to myself that the bike should perform well. How well it performed however completely exceeded my expectations. I’ll walk you through the paces I put it through and a few of the observations I made about the bike along the way. For starters the long wheel base of the bike makes it very planted in corners. This along with the stiff suspension gave me an incredible level of confidence in corners which I will go into more deeply here shortly. The front brakes felt sharp and provided great feedback in hard corners and the delivery of power from the 1260 engine was linear and made me feel like I was taking off on a rocket ship.
On the highway the bike is at home however with the stiffer suspension you feel everything (and I mean everything). Already, I was thinking to myself, “I am not on a cruiser.” I suppose you could take some preload out of the bike and adjust it for more longer distance rides however I would suggest that you didn’t. You’ll hear several reasons why I am not sold that this should even be in the cruiser category and highway riding and lack of luggage options are two of the biggest reasons why. One other thing I want to share about highway riding is that you don’t have as much wind buffeting as I would have expected. I am not an expert in aerodynamics however I do know that if there is nothing in front of you protecting you from the wind, you’ll feel the resistance. Not on the XDiavel however. I have no idea how they achieved this. As far as I’m concerned it is magic.
Okay, now on to the meat of what you came to read. How did the XDiavel do in the twisties? Well boys and girls, grab some popcorn and your favorite beverage because uncle Jamal has a story to tell. The first hard corner I took on the XDiavel I was very surprised to find how easily (and with little effort) the bike tips into turns. In fact, the first hard turn I took on the XDiavel I scraped the heel of my riding boots. Now, I’m going to take some time and talk a lot of about this because leaning is what I will base much of my review on for the bike. Scraping the heel of my boot on the XDiavel is not very hard especially because I was resting the balls of my feet on the foot pegs (like you would on a normal or more standard bike). Lesson #1; place your heels or the arcs of your feet on the foot pegs. When I scraped my heel, I immediately became very conscious of the position of the foot pegs and given that it wasn’t my bike and didn’t want to return the bike damaged. This then prevented me to really push the bike however as the day ran on, I found that also keeping my heels close to the body of the bike helped to prevent any heel scrapes. At one point I decided that I didn’t care if the foot pegs did grind because I wanted to experience the bike a bit more and with the adjustments in foot position and even with the mental block removed, I drove the XDiavel hard and never had an issue with the clearance of the foot pegs. Now, why would I spend so much time talking about this? Well, it’s because once I broke out of that worry, I was able to really understand what the bike had to offer. And it was when I began really pushing the bike, did I find that the chassis of the bike is absolutely a dream. Whether you are in a tight, slower turn or a long sweeper you feel the chassis of the bike flex and settle into each turn. It’s an incredible feeling that you also absorb along with the hulking growl of the engine and the g forces pulling you in and then out of turns as you let the torque of the 1260 rip you out of the corner.
I stand here today in front of you a better person because I now know that the XDiavel exists. There is a different way to experience motorized two-wheel vehicles and I understand that now. In a way I also understand (and appreciate) why people ride feet forward. I would also like to challenge Eric Holloway to test ride the XDiavel because not only do I think he will love it, I truly believe it will change his life. I also believe if you have been riding motorcycles for more that 15 years and have only experienced sport or touring motorcycle to give this bike a shot. At the very least you will learn what it is like to experience a feet forward riding style (which I think everyone should get a chance to do). What I really hope is that riding the XDiavel will help you grow and see that finding an exhilarating experience the road on two wheels doesn’t have to be on your stomach. There is another way…
Article Credit: Jamal Malik