The 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 is a perfect storm of power, beauty, and control. Those are the elements that define motorcycle bliss. First published in the April 2019 issue of SportBikes Inc Magazine.
To call the Ducati Diavel 1260 a departure from or the next step in the evolutionary process of the Diavel is an injustice. While on paper and in theory, the Diavel 1260 is a second coming, in reality, this machine is so much more.
“Power is the ability to define phenomena… and to make these phenomena act in a desired manner.” – Dr. Huey P. Newton
Ducati introduced the 2019 Diavel 1260 in beautiful Marbella, Spain. Before getting into the technicalities and specifications of the Testastretta DVT 1262 engine, I want to begin with the Diavel’s visual presence. Introduced in 2011, the Diavel took the bike world by storm for many reasons. Efforts were made to categorize or place it in a box, yet the Diavel defied the efforts and remained unique unto itself. It didn’t look like a sportbike. It didn’t look like a naked bike. It didn’t look like a cruiser. It was none of those things; however, it performed like all of those things. The Diavel was a collection of the best performance offerings that those categories provided and beyond. It was a powerhouse that provided superbike performance with the comfort and handling of a standard naked bike. The achievement was impressive. But there was more work to do.
With the original Diavel as a platform on which to build, the refinement of the Diavel is likened to a professional bodybuilder that has leaned out in preparation for competition. With a $19,995 price tag for the base model and $22,995 for the S version, the Diavel 1260 is ripped with striations that elevate its domineering stance. The Diavel’s chiseled and aggressive physique embraces its sharpened lines that commanded my eyes to follow a flow that began on my initial approach and continues as I mounted the bike.
Powering up the Diavel 1260, I was greeted by a decent-sized TFT color dash data center that displays the necessary bike information. You access the full menu and scroll through display view options via the handlebar switches that also activate rider-friendly features that include cruise control, power modes (sport, urban, touring), and wheelie control. Almost tucked out of immediate sight on the right handlebar is the Ducati Launch Control activation button. We didn’t get to fiddle with this bit of fun, and it was not mentioned during the press briefing. The DLC was introduced on the XDiavel S model in 2016. Being familiar with that model, I knew where to look for it. The controls and data of the Diavel 1260 are all very similar to those of the XDiavel, so I was right at home as I toggled my way around the menu.
Once in the saddle, I quickly found what I like to call the sweet spot. Being a larger rider, it often takes a moment to get accustomed to the ergonomics of a machine. With the 1260, however, the overall dimensions suited my larger frame just fine. The ample seat structure provided plenty of comfort without being cumbersome. The ergonomics of the hand and foot controls are ideal for several body types and sizes. I found the most appealing aspect of the placement of the controls was how quickly I could adjust my body position from a relaxed or neutral riding stance to an aggressive or sport attack position.
The Diavel 1260 tips the scales at 538 pounds, wet. It’s a lot of bike. However, its weight and overall mass are deceiving when it comes to how it handles. With its athletic build and broad shoulders, it is better stated that the Diavel is svelte. It’s designed to contain explosive performance that can be unfurled as necessary, at will. It’s a powerhouse blend, an example of the blissful union of power, ability, and agility.
As with most press rides, there is usually a stretch of highway before we reach the technical portion of the route. I find this to be the best time to get a feel for the engine as you get to open the bike up for a bit. From the real roll on the throttle, entering onto the highway, the Diavel roared with an aggressive response. Aggressive, yes. Savage, no. I was instantly made aware of the 157 horses and all of the other grand potentials residing inside the new Desmo 1262, L formation twin, four-valve, dual spark powder keg that was currently between my legs. “Rocket” isn’t the word and “missile” still misses the mark. While the power, itself is most impressive, my thoughts were focused on the delivery of said power. The throttle response is smooth, exact, manageable. Nothing wasted nor unwanted as I worked my way through the gearbox, effortlessly thanks to the quick shift system that allows for clutchless up and downshifts.
As a machine, the Diavel 1260 is confident within itself and its purpose. Confidence breeds confidence. As a rider, the less you have to worry about equals a more significant amount of focus on what is essential, which is the ride. The Diavel 1260’s stability can be attributed to the sheer, proper execution of a design concept but there are other factors at work. A 240 rear Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tire makes for a healthy contact patch, firmly connecting the 1260 to the asphalt. The base model is equipped with 50mm adjustable front forks and a rear mono-shock whose preload and rebound can be adjusted. The S model is loaded with an Ohlins suspension setup that includes 40mm adjustable front forks and a fully adjustable rear mono-shock. Rake and trail check in at 27 degrees and 30.7 inches, respectfully, allowing the Diavel 1260 to offer nimble handling with impressive feel and response.
The route continued from the highway to the base of the mountain where we would begin our ascension via the twisty and technical, yet well-groomed roads of the Spanish countryside. This portion of the ride is where it all started to come together for me. As I processed the information as it occurred to me, the Diavel 1260’s behavior and true personality quickly emerged. It’s reserved yet aggressive manner paired with its smooth delivery of explosive power let me know that it knew what itself was capable of. The Diavel 1260 is sure of its ability without being arrogant. Through blind technical turns and sweeping escalating corners, packing Bosch Cornering ABS technology as well as traction control and a proper Brembo brake package (4 piston monobloc, radially mounted fronts with 32mm with semi-floating rotors and 2 piston calipers in the rear), the Diavel 1260’s confidence increased my ability to focus on the task at hand. This note is important to understand because this is where the mental connection between a rider and their motorcycle is sparked. The realization of trust is the nexus of this relationship.
After a lunch break, we descended the mountain and headed back to the hotel. It was just as fun coming down the mountain as it was going up. Back at the hotel, I took a moment to process an entire day of data. My first instinct was to compare the 2019 Diavel 1260 to the prior year’s models. But that was wrong. It’s a disservice to the mechanical engineers, designers, and the Diavel 1260 itself. The 2019 Diavel 1260 is a new bike in the Ducati family and should be treated as such with all of the courtesies it deserves. It can be considered a second generation of the Diavel but the level at which It outperforms the first generation Diavel, and the difference between the two bikes is so vast that it takes away from the unique attribute of both machines. So, do not line them up next two each other, comparing notes. You’re not making the best use of your time. Instead of trying to make a point of the differences between apples and oranges, throw a leg over the Diavel 1260 and ride one.