The devil is in the detail as the 2023 Ducati Diavel goes V4.
The Jabel Hafeet Mountain road in Abu Dhabi has been considered by many an automotive journalist to be one of the finest driving and riding roads in the world. At a little over six miles long with 60 corners rammed into its 4000 feet of elevation, it bears a resemblance to our hallowed Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. However, the continual armco and concrete lining means you’re far less likely to send yourself into the rocky abyss if it all goes wrong than at Pikes. Under me is the brand new 2023 Ducati Diavel, the 1158cc V4 nestled snugly inside the aluminum monocoque chassis wailing its 168hp brains out as try in vain to keep Ducati’s legendary test and development rider, Alessandro Valia, in sight.
It’s at the top of the run the realization really hits me: this is essentially a cruiser, not a Streetfighter — as hard as that is to believe given the kind of riding I’ve just done.
The new Ducati Diavel V4 is thus a dichotomy of the senses. At first glance, I’m convinced it won’t go up the Abu Dhabi hill as fast or as easily as Ducati tells me, especially with that big ol’ dump truck of a 240-section rear tire. But, ride it, and ride it hard, and you’ll be thoroughly amazed at the trick Ducati has pulled.
With a 31.1 inch seat height, you’re low but not lazy in the chassis, the mi-mounted controls offering a near naked bike stance even though the swept-back handlebar would have you believe otherwise. You can thus attack corner entries like you would on the company’s Monster range, braking and apexing late, winding on the gas and letting the motor take care of the rest as you throw gears at it like dollar bills.
However, the ability to ride fast is only a small weapon in the Diavel’s arsenal. Ducati has created an extremely versatile street bike by gracing it with the Grantourismo V4 motor originally seen in the Multistrada V4 S. Different intakes, airbox, cams, and cam timing, and a shorter first gear to the Multistrada are all aimed at producing more bottom-end acceleration— drag start style — on the Diavel, but it also has impeccable low speed manners thanks to the Ducati suite of electronics. This includes four-stage traction control and stage wheelie control, three-stage cornering ABS and power launcher, Ducati’s up-and-down quick shifter, and cruise control, but no heated grips. Those you have to buy for $397 out of the Ducati accessories catalog.
You can thus tailor the ride experience however you like with the two power modes of 168 and 115 hp ready to be utilized in any of the four riding modes.
On the chassis side you’ve got new Brembo Stylema four-piston calipers in place of the outgoing Diavel 1260’s M4.32 calipers; 50mm Marzocchi forks and a Marzocchi shock, both fully adjustable of course, but no electronic Ohlins as Ducati says fitting all the hardware required to make such an addition wasn’t worth the weight increase.
Regardless, the Marzocchi’s do an excellent job of ensuring the ride is smooth and comfortable, although, at my 190 pounds, the standard suspension settings were a little on the soft side. A twist of the preload knobs at both ends fixed this, and I was off chasing Valia up the hill once again.
Chunky, brutal, and mean, the $26,689 Red and $26,995 Black V4 Diavel is as in-your-face a motorcycle as you can get. Design cues like that massive rear tire, front and rear LED lights and foldable passenger ’pegs set this bike apart from not just any other in Ducati’s own range but any other on the road today, at least from a major manufacturer. It’s not for everyone, but I suspect my Editor, Allan Lane AKA Black Moses already has his black one on order right now…