There’s something about a motorcycle that’s scarily quick to ride, no? The adrenaline rush, its ability to leave you white-knuckled because you held onto the handlebar with a vice-like grip – it’s all so inviting, as much as it is intimidating. And when Ducati launched the original Diavel, back in 2011, it was almost like the Italian bike maker wanted to showcase a bit of its dark side. Known better for its achingly gorgeous, often red-hued sportsbikes, Ducati’s intent with the Diavel was to attract bikers who are ‘not into’ sportsbikes but want the performance of one.
But the Diavel wasn’t just intimidating. It was also disruptive. It looked properly brawny and muscular while handling the way a Ducati ought to, besides boasting the performance to put many a sportsbike to shame. And we now have the second-generation Diavel 1260 on sale in India that promises to push that envelope further. My first rendezvous with this Italian beast was, co-incidentally, exactly a year ago in Southern Spain. To the uninitiated, the Diavel 1260 is an all-new version of Ducati’s muscle bike, fully redesigned, with a brand-new chassis, suspension, and the 1,262cc Testasretta DVT engine in one of its highest states of tune, offering a staggering 157bhp along with a superbike-shaming 129Nm.
It isn’t gorgeous in the usual Ducati way, but looks stunning from every angle. In fact it looks so much sleeker and modern than the outgoing version, that it makes its predecessor look rotund! The headlamp is sharper-looking while turn indicators have been repositioned and look more distinctive now. The basic silhouette may look similar to the older version from the side but that isn’t the case, as the lines are different. Move to the rear and you cannot help but first admire the rear alloy wheel that sits exposed on the single-sided swingarm, wearing that massive 240-section Pirelli. I’m also glad Ducati has retained another trademark feature, the twin LED strips that function as stoplights and the retractable pillion grab handle that tucks itself underneath the seat neatly.
Ducati Diavel 1260 S (Image: Gaurav Chandrasekhar)
The instrument cluster has been made more compact but is more detailed now and is your gateway to the Diavel 1260’s more advanced electronics suite. In fact, the Diavel 1260 is no less than a technology fest, boasting one of the most modern electronics packages, comparable to the latest litre-class superbikes. So a six-axis IMU has been slapped on, so the Ducati Safety Pack now integrates Bosch Cornering Evo and Ducati Traction Control Evo. Heck, it also gets Ducati Wheelie Control and the Ducati Power Launch Evo now! There’s a whole bunch of other rider aids as well, including cruise control, a bi-directional quickshifter and three riding modes, Urban, Touring and Sport.
Urban drops the power output to a far mellower 100bhp, while Touring and Sport offer the full 157bhp, though Touring has the horses delivered to the rear wheel in a softer manner. No prizes for guessing Sport is the full-ballistic mode. And one distinct highlight about the Diavel’s motor is that being a V-twin it produces peak power and peak torque at relatively lower revs. So Sport mode is a no-no for newbies – the Diavel 1260 has the ability to redefine the term ‘wet your pants quick’ for a lot of riders. It can surprise some of the most seasoned riders with its acceleration and I reckon a three and half second 0-100kmph time, despite the bike’s 244kg kerb weight. And typical of Ducatis the engine feels juddery below the 3,000rpm mark but cross it and the motor feels very smooth and ultra-quick to build revs. Getting to blindingly quick speeds is thus second nature for the Diavel 1260 and it’s a great tool to cover distances very rapidly.
In-gear acceleration is equally good if not better and in fact there were several occasions on the highway when I rolled on more throttle to overtake vehicles ahead, only to realise a couple of seconds later that I was at over 140kmph! Sport mode is thus sinfully delicious with the stock settings for all the electronics, though you can tailor them if you feel like. I didn’t really feel the need to and in fact with traction and wheelie control set to 1, the Diavel 1260 was more than willing to rear its head and allow some really fast wheelies in the first two gears! The quickshifter does its job well, though shifts part throttle upshifts can be a little clunky at times.
Of course, a lot of credit (and I really mean a lot!) to the Diavel 1260 letting you ride it fast without scaring yourself goes to its electronics. Without those rider aids, the bike is no less than a projectile on two wheels and riding it with the electronics off isn’t something I’d recommend at all! Then there’s the handling. The Diavel 1260 might look rather large but it handles so well it’ll goad you into believing it is a very light and compact motorcycle with its dynamics. The version we tested is the higher-specced S version that gets top drawer, fully-adjustable Ohlins suspension at both ends. In fact I’m mighty impressed with how alert its front end feels, courtesy the 48mm upside down front forks.
The Brembo M50 calipers upfront gripping twin 320mm discs on the front wheel also mean business and offer excellent retardation, very quickly. In fact the first couple of times when I braked hard I was taken aback by the bite. The suspension and brake setup on the Diavel is in fact comparable to top-spec track tools, including the ultra-sticky Pirelli tyres. The bike’s agility also surprises you and I can imagine Diavel 1260 riders smoking sportsbike riders in the hills rather easily. More importantly, the ride quality isn’t particularly harsh – it is firm but the bike ensures the rider is not unsettled on bad roads. And this certainly adds to confidence when riding fast on our kind of undulated roads.
The Diavel had set some serious benchmarks for a non-sportsbike in terms of engine performance and dynamics both and the new Diavel 1260 pushes those benchmarks further. It’s a machine that’s hugely satisfying, wherever and however you ride it. You could take it out for a quick, late night sortie in town or a breakfast run on the highway or in the hills or even go touring. It’ll just do it all. And the performance in particular will keep you enthralled. The standard version retails at Rs 17.70 lakh ex-showroom but if you’re spending that kind of cash, you might as well spend a bit more and get the 1260 S that retails at Rs 19.25 lakh ex-showroom. It is a lot of money, yes, but it’s a real devil and will let you smoke pretty much everyone you meet on the road!
|ENGINE||1,262cc, Testastretta DVT, 90-degree V-twin|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed, bi-directional quickshifter|
|PRICE||Rs 19.25 lakh (ex-showroom)|