- The Ducati Diavel 1260S is more than just a fast bike, it is quite intelligent as well.
- The Diavel 1260S offers award winning looks and an engine that puts out enough power to shame superbikes.
- But it is the Pirelli tyres and Bosch electronic brain that create some real magic.
- But there were some false neutrals, we asked Ducati why and they explained it perfectly in a video featured in this article.
Reviewing the new Ducati Diavel 1260S reminded me of the original 1200. It was some time back in 2011 that I found myself at the World Expo Centre in Shanghai, staring at the then brand spanking new Ducati Diavel 1200 (below).
I remember being wide eyed. Completely awe struck.
The Diavel tore apart the conventional understanding of a cruiser, and Ducati quite literally stuck it to the motorcycling world with the Diavel.
Every cruiser since then has, in one way or another, been influenced by the Diavel. Maybe in power, handling, braking power or electronics, but the Diavel set the standards pretty high as far as power cruisers are concerned.
I didn’t get to ride it much, probably about 3km around a square building which served as our “test-track”.
But it was enough for me to believe that Ducati had a winner in their hands, and that the era of the “power cruiser” had arrived.
Nine years later, I am at the coastal town of Malaga and staring at the almost all-new Ducati Diavel 1260S.
It is still a stunning bike as it always has been. In fact, the Diavel recently won the prestigious Red Dot Design Award, click here to read about that.
I say “almost all new” because despite the new 1260 looking very much like the 1200 at first glance, only three things have been carried over from the first Diavel – the headlight, the tail light and the dash.
Ducati says 90% of the bike is new!
It is still a fantastic looking bike, and that 240 section rear tyre will never go out of style. It is just a cool bike but unlike other cruisers, this one has the performance to put sports riders to shame.
I found this out after switching from Touring to Sport mode (the other mode is the sedated Urban mode, which I very quickly got bored of and I am sure you will too).
I had been riding in Touring since leaving the hotel, over highways and part of the coastal mountains. The roads ahead were wide with fast flowing corners, perfect!
Switching modes requires just two clicks of a switch with your left thumb, and about 3 seconds later and a quick roll off the throttle and the bikes goes from mile munching cruiser to F-15 fighter jet mode.
Power is instantaneous and the new 1262cc Testastretta DVT engine responds to the throttle at millimeter precision.
The engine features the Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) technology which made its debut on the XDiavel (click here to read more about DVT technology).
It offers a more direct response to your right hand and you feel it immediately.
Couple this to the new Ducati Quick Shifter and you have a bike that accelerates so hard that it takes your brain some seconds to register the onslaught, at which point you would already be traveling at over 200km/h.
Speaking of the DQS system though, there were a couple of time where the gear didn’t kick in, resulting in a false neutral. We did ask Ducati why this happened though and their reply is in the video above.
In Sport mode, the new Diavel needs your fullest attention. But it is not just the riding mode that makes it quick, in fact the Diavel 1260S represents the perfect harmony of superbike performance and cruiser like coolness.
The suspension is supplied by Ohlins all round, though not electronically controlled but fully adjustable 48mm upside down front fork and a shock absorber for the rear.
Massive Braking Power
Brembo’s M50 monobloc are some of the best in the business this side of professional racing. Featuring face warping abilities, the front is managed by twin 320mm semi-floating discs with radially mounted 4-piston calipers, while the rear is kept in check by a 265mm single dish with a dual-piston Brembo floating caliper.
Of course, there’s a sprinkle of electronic magic here as well with smart electronics working behind the scenes to keep you safe.
The Electronic Brain
Backing up the Brembo braking hardware is a Bosch 9.2MP cornering ABS control unit. It has three intervention levels with Level 1 being the most sporty with zero cornering and rear wheel lift detection. If you like backing it into a corner, this is the level you want.
The ingenious electronics package consists of – Ducati Traction Control EVO, Ducati Power Launch EVO, Ducati Wheelie Control EVO and Cornering ABS EVO.
The brains of it all is a 6-axis Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit that measures roll and pitch angles as well as speed. You can also fully control the level of interference for each parameter – the traction control and wheelie control for example have eight different interference levels.
But despite its power and cleverness, the Diavel 1260S relies on its tyres to deliver every bit of its power. And the tyres are more than a match to the Diavel’s brain and powertrain.
Pirelli’s high-acclaimed Diablo Rosso III are tasked with grip management. And measure in at 120/70 at the front and 240/45 at the back.
This huge variation in tyre section makes the bike feel nervous to lean at first, a typical character of fat-tyre cruisers – the front always seems keener to lean than the rear.
But after a while you get to really dig deep into the tyres for some massive lean angles.
The tyres are dual compound – soft on the outside and hard on the inside.
Despite some damp patches and cold weather, I was able to get on the throttle mid-way of the corner, much earlier than you would on other cruisers.
The Diablo Rosso III is known to have one of the wildest amount of grip, and it complements the character of the bike perfectly well.
So how does it ride?
Comfort is top notch because of the suspension and the wider and perfectly contoured seat that clasps your bum perfectly. No sore bum after that long ride through the mountains and in wet and dry conditions.
The sitting position is sporty with its centre mounted controls, while the X-Diavel is and will be with the new XDiavel 1260, more reminiscent of a cruiser with its forward controls.
The engine and the tyres are really the centrepiece of the new Diavel.
The engine for its mad power and instantaneous response to the slightest input and the resulting massive explosion of power. And the tyres for their ability to keep up with the engine’s brute power.
The electronics are there for check and balance and also for safety that requires thousands of calculations at a fraction of a second. And it is this combination that makes the Diavel feel like a superbike in a cruiser’s clothing.
Our test route was about 220km long along some beautiful roads, a mix of wide, fast and winding and tight and challenging.
The Diavel made mince of it all – of the distance, of the road, of the corners, and even the sections of rain we experienced.
I was too chicken shit to go balls out in Sport mode in the rain, and that too while riding on the wrong side of the road, so it was back to Touring mode, which I find to be the best balance for the Diavel.
Criticisms? Limitatios? I don’t have anything to criticise but some say that there is one limitation you would probably face if you buy the Diavel, and that would be that massive rear tyre. Suffering a rear puncture in a remote area could be a nightmare.
Well, having some experience with touring with the Diavel 1200 during the Ducati China Strada ride in 2013 (pictured above), the tyre never gave way during the near 3000km ride (read about our trip with Ducati in China by clicking here).
In fact, the only problem we faced with the Diavel during that ride was it bottoming out around the off-road section. But that’s to be expected though.
The first-generation Diavel was already fantastic to begin with. A good combination of everything, and the new Diavel 1260S just takes it to an all new level of awesomeness.
Sure it may have taken eight long years for Ducati to improve it, but it is so good, that I actually believe that Diavel 1200 owners may not recognise its riding character.
The new Ducati Diavel 1260S is due to be launched in Malaysia at some point in April or early May of 2019.