Ducati XDiavel S

Ducati XDiavel S – First Ride Review

Ducati set out to make a true cruiser. The result is the XDiavel, a true Gentleman Bastard. – Originally published in SportBikes Inc Magazine, April 2016.


Quite simply, this Bastard is greater than the sum of all its parts. Power, performance, style, rideability… Combined with the “in-seat” rider experience, the 2016 Ducati XDiavel S is a marvel of motorcycle technology and a pinnacle for concept, execution and delivery.


My introduction to the XDiavel S was at the international press launch in San Diego, CA. I could compare the XDiavel to the original Diavel model that was launched in 2011 but the differences are immediately evident. They are two different machines, only partially sharing a name. The XDiavel is a bonafide cruiser with forward foot controls, belt drive, 40 degrees of maximum lean angle, 1262 CCs and 156 horses. It sits low and longer with a muscular presence that generates excitement. The XDiavel is rider-friendly with a surprising level of grunt and power that raises the bar when it comes to the cruiser class.

The maximum torque output is achieved at 5,000rpms, delivering power throughout the gearbox. In other words, this bike may be a cruiser, but it can move, possessing what I refer to as the “get the hell outta Dodge” factor. The XDiavel’s familiar Ducati profile comes by way of the dual spark, liquid-cooled testastretta engine is in L twin formation housed in a tubular trellis frame.

With power in hand, the XDiavel offers comfortable stability at both ends of the speed spectrum. It’s nimble, manageable and rider-friendly. With a wet weight of 545 pounds, there is no need to muscle the bike. It turns in well while in tight corners, maintains its balance in the sweepers while providing great feedback as it responds to rider input. That stability breeds confidence via the bond between rider and machine allowing the rider to truly engulf oneself in the ride.

This is what I am referring to when I say “in-seat” rider experience. When the bike is doing all that it should be doing and you believe in the bike, then your focus is abundantly about the ride itself. Comfort, stability and focus… The XDiavel grants these elements simply by twisting the throttle. Through the streets and hills of San Diego, even kissing the border of Mexico, the XDiavel proved to be more than impressive. It was intimidating… for all the right reasons.


Ducati set out to make a true cruiser. The development of the bike involved spending time with American cruiser bike builders and the community of cruiser enthusiasts to capture the sensibilities that were essential to the class. They did their homework and the fruits of their research bore something altogether new. It’s low and long measuring 90.9 inches with a seat height of 29.7 inches. The XDiavel is authentically Italian while deeply rooted in the asphalt of the U.S. If ever a rose grew from the concrete, this is it. There was nothing like the XDiavel before. And if you think that’s an exaggeration, revisit that statement after you’ve ridden one. You’ll share the sentiment.

Numbers aside, it wasn’t until I was able to spend some serious quality time with the XDiavel on a road trip from Daytona, FL to my home in Philadelphia, PA that I truly could grasp what the bike brought to the table. There is a major difference between squeezing out first impressions on a day ride, albeit in the sunny hills of San Diego… And experiencing real seat time riding through a variety of elements and situations. A major highlight is the XDiavel’s level of comfort. On the long haul, the seating position and the forward controls made a huge impact on minimizing fatigue. The foot controls are customizable with rear, middle and front placement. The handlebars are adjustable for personal preference. All in all, there are sixty ergonomic combinations applicable to the XDiavel to maximize your “in-seat’ rider experience.

Ducati XDiavel

The Ducati XDiavel S is equipped with three riding modes: urban, touring and sport… Adjusting the available horsepower and interaction with the ABS and traction control. Through the highway stretches of the Carolinas, the cruise control was in full effect. That’s correct, cruise control. Simple and easy to use via the left-hand controls, the cruise control feature is clustered among other switches. It includes the menu toggle, horn, high beams, as well as self-canceling turn indicators. The turn indicators arrest to self-cancel after a certain degree of tilt or rate of speed is achieved.

The XDiavel has Bluetooth capabilities to sync with your smartphone so that information from your phone can be displayed on the TFT color readout dash. It also displays pertinent data and statuses: MPH, fuel consumption, time, mileage, ride mode, etc. Then, of course, there is the Ducati Power Launch. More accurately, it is a launch assist but the thrill is still the same. Activated by the button the right-hand controls, the features gives you three levels of launches that allow you to launch the bike with the throttle wide open but keeps both wheels on the ground.

It’s a riveting experience by itself but once mastered in harmony with the other bells and whistles that the XDiavel offers you can quickly come to the conclusion that the team back in Italy have a major hit on their hands. Its level of craftsmanship is beyond the engine performance and the truly unique Italian cruiser design and execution. The engineers dug deeper to create a long-lasting, if not undying experience.

Ducati XDiavel

All the numbers and specifications that are posted on every manufactures website regarding their new model are a great source for static information… That’s why they are there. Numbers don’t lie. But numbers won’t tell you how it feels to ride the machine. Throwing a leg over an XDiavel and understanding that the power beneath you is at your beck and call is empowering, exhilarating. For some could be life-changing.

As a commuter machine, selecting the urban ride mode, the Ducati XDiavel S again delivers above expectations. In city traffic, light to light, or maneuvering through the concrete jungles of Philadelphia, the bike is right at home. And this is where you can really feel the difference and appreciate the in-seat rider experience. City traffic moves at various speeds at various times throughout the day. The XDiavel is ready for action at those often lower speeds and can quickly adapt to a rushing increasing speed of the opportunity arises. It has the power and ability to be the bike that you need it to be when you need it to be.

Ducati’s moniker for the XDiavel is the “Gentleman Bastard” and I get it. But I would add “badass” to the front end of that. It’s more than appropriate. The bike itself is all of those things but the badassery leans more toward what the experience is about. At standstill, at idle, at speed… The bike is tough looking. It’s distinct style, from the unique and captivating headlight, side profile, the contrast cut wheels and that 240mm rear tire makes you… By transitive properties, a badass.


And that is what is at the core of why so many of us ride. It is that sense of standing apart from the remainder of society that chooses to drive as opposed to riding.

The 2016 Ducati XDiavel S places its finger on the pulse of that reality… Tthat core of existence for the two-wheeled life and says, “I get it… Now let’s ride.”


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