Ducati XDiavel & XDiavel S (2016): Full test and review

By Marc Potter
marcpotter Tested every new bike since 1994, loves anything on two wheels, Bike Social boss, Potski to his mates. Recently discovered elbow-down riding - likely to end in tears.

Ducati's XDiavel is only available in two shades of black. Seriously. It's one mean mother of a bike. We got to ride it in San Diego at its world launch. Here's our full review.

DDucati has gone all cruiser on us with a new belt-drive, feet-forward 1262cc cruiser and mean black styling. But don't worry, they haven't gone soft on us with the XDiavel. The new cruiser features a masive 240mm rear tyre and launch control along with styling that looks like a cruiser just stepped off the drag strip and a variable valve time engine.

Bike Social's Marc Potter rode both the XDiavel and XDiavel S today at the world launch in San Diego, USA to deliver his verdict on the 156bhp cruiser.

It's when you first gas the XDiavel that it takes you by surprise. The whole thing lights up. All the electronics suddenly wake up from their slumber and take things into hand.

The massive 240-section rear Pirelli fights for traction, the front-wheel leaves the ground through first and second and it’s a blaze of thunder, revs and 156bhp as electronic controls trying to stop you firing yourself of the back of the deep-stepped seat.

This is a Ducati, make no mistake. It might have feet forward footrests and a belt drive so it’s also a cruiser, but not as you know it.

Harley-Davidson may have the V-Rod Muscle putting out some claimed 122bhp, and Victory have the Hammer S as their cruiser come drag-strip refugee, but the 2016 XDiavel blows those into a dust cloud in terms of performance in every possible way. The XDiavel handles and stops almost as well as any Ducati you’ve ever ridden, yet still lets you chug along should you wish with your feet hanging in the breeze up front.

VIDEO REVIEW

XDiavel is at home in the city or on the open road.Ducati say the Multistrada is four bikes in one, but the XDiavel is two bikes in one. It can do the whole looking cool in the city cruiser vibe chugging along at 50mph at 4000rpm, but there’s a darker side to it too when you let all hell break loose.

Get on it and bring it to life Multistrada style with a button to light-up the electronics and then a separate starter button.

The keyless ignition means the key sits in your pocket to keep the dash clean, fire it up and there’s a subtle but noticeable Ducati throb. The switch gear is back-lit red and glows menacingly in the early morning gloom, the dash is a tiny full-colour TFT screen with a rev-counter, speedo and the usual array of Ducati tech adjustable from within including power modes to cornering ABS settings, traction control settings and Bluetooth hands-free. It may be a cruiser but nobody has skimped on spec.

It may be built in Italy but the XDiavel is just at home in California. In fact, Ducati’s Project Manager Stefano Tarabusi tells me that the bike’s design team spent months in America living and breathing the cruiser vibe. 

 They rode around with a range of cruisers, some Harleys, some Ducati Panigales and hung out with American motorcyclists, at events and with bike builders like Roland Sands to get the cruiser vibe and work out what influences they wanted to portray into their bike – the first Ducati cruiser of the modern generation.

We won’t talk about the Ducati Indiana of the eighties and built by Cagiva, or the 1260cc V4 Apollo prototype from the 60s, both officially classed as cruisers in their time although the Apollo never made it to production and only two were ever built. I’ve had the honour of riding one of them from the Ducati Museum, but that’s another story.

Blue skies, California and an XDiavel. What more can a man (or woman) want?But Ducati has been on a long journey over the past few years with the Multistrada and Scrambler allowing them to move into different markets away from their usual sports bike staple. And let us not forget the Diavel launched in 2011. It paved the way for the bike you see now, and interestingly only the rear tyre and part of the name are shared with he XDiavel.

We ride past the high-rise city scape of San Diego, California. Through an early morning sea mist the XDiavel and me are happiest right now in Urban mode. It turns the power down to 100bhp from the claimed 156bhp maximum output in Touring and Sport modes. The ABS is cranked up, the traction control set near maximum and I’m happy to ease ourselves into USA riding with a touch of jet lag. Me, not the bike.

The power is muted in Urban mode, but it’s gentle and enough for town and takes some of the fierceness out of the engine.

As we head out of the rough concrete slabbed streets of San Diego the suspension feels firm on some of the bumps and you can feel the 240-section rear Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyre just pushing the bike in low-speed corners. After a few minutes you’re dialled in and used to it though.

The meth heads pushing their world along in trolleys are at every stop sign and loving the parade of XDiavels on this world launch. And they’d be right to. The XDiavel is one of the coolest looking motorcycles that anyone has ever produced. That’s some statement, but just look at he detailing, especially on the £18,395 XDiavel S.

From the painted then brushed aluminium swing arm, the gloss black paint of the engine, the aluminium detailing on the motor, the way Ducati put the water pump inside the V-twin to give it a cleaner look, and those wheels all gloss black and aluminium. For me it’s the wheels on the S that make it. On the cheaper £15,795 XDiavel it’s pretty much the same spec mechanically but there’s matt paint on the tank and engine, a painted swing arm, less bling wheels and the same 50mm Marzocchi fully-adjustable forks but no Diamond Like Coating as on the S. It also replaces the S version’s top-line Brembo M50 brake calipers for slightly lower-spec, but still good, M4 32 front calipers. Both get full LED lighting front and rear but the S gets a Daytime Driving light to give it that distinctive look so you instantly know it’s an X-Diavel S.

But whichever one you ride the electronics packages are the same, they all get launch control, the standard riding position is the same and it all hangs off that new 1262cc DVT (Ducati Variable Timing) Testastretta motor.

That kicked-back riding position, that distinctive headlight. That's the XDiavel S alright.In Sport mode where you get full ponies and the more aggressive fuel map the bike is in its element and so am I. The touring mode gives the same power but numbs it all slightly. Out of town Sport mode is the answer.

From 3000rpm to 7000rpm the motor making so much torque that you never need to rev it. Just hook a gear higher and let the motor’s mid-range do the work. Euro 4 noise and emissions controls may have done their best to kill any sound coming out of bikes in 2016, the XDiavel even sounds good too. The induction noise giving it a nice deep bark and grumble, those slash-cut twin exhaust side pipes making a decent attempt at sticking two fingers up at the Euro 4 police.

Look at it and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a drag bike, It’s long, it’s low and that rear tyre dominates. But from the front it’s slim. Ducati’s Stefano Tarabusi, the product manager tells me the bike has much bigger radiators than the Diavel and a much narrower profile, it also means it doesn’t get as hot as a Diavel in traffic.

The main man Mr Shane 'Shakey' Byrne.Along for the ride today is main man, Ducati British Superbike rider Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne riding shotgun along the coast road out of San Diego. He’s here because he rides for Ducati, and fresh from a successful BSB test on his new Paul Bird Motorsport Panigale. But more than that he’s here because he wanted to come and he’s a big cruiser fan with three custom Harleys at home. As he says: “I spend my life chasing lap times and tenths of a second, when I’m riding on the road with the lads I just want something to kick-back on that looks cool and makes a nice noise.”

However, though most of the day we kick back and enjoy the nature of the bike, you can take the racer away from the racetrack, but the mentality of a guy who started his career testing bikes for Fast Bikes magazine in its hooligan heyday is still in there.

He's testing the electronics to see if it wheelies off the lights. Full revs (it appears to have an in-built rev-limiter when you rev it and whip the clutch it) and drops the clutch. The sight of that fat 240-section rear tyre and Shakey hanging on to it, grinning like he'd just won the double opening race of BSB is all you need to know about it. This bike might be a grown-up cruiser but it's explosive fun too.

The design philosophy of the XDiavel was ‘the engine is king’. It's basically an engine with a load of parts hanging off it in a similar vein to the Monster, but this is a cruiser all right.


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The seat is low slung at 29.5 inches (755mm) the handlebars are fat, high, wide and there's a stretch to them. You ride the bike hunched. All LA gangsta. Feet forward in the breeze, your knees out flapping. But it's comfortable too. The seat has a high back to stop you firing off the back when that torque kicks in. The footrests can be adjusted three ways and there are a variety of seats and bars available to adjust the bike 60 different ways. From wheels made by Roland Sands to Termignoni pipes and bits of bling, Ducati are keen that owners spec the bike how they want, as you’d do on a Harley.

The pillion seat is one of the smallest ever fitted to a bike and feels like you’re slipping backwards before pulling away, but a back rest and different options are available.

The tank is wide yet somehow the bikes silhouette is slim from the front, and it's unmistakably a Ducati thanks to that peanut tank and the trellis frame. Take the badges off it and you'd guess it was one of Bologna's finest.

Ride it and you would know it was from Bologna too.

It might look like a hot-rod come cruiser, but the XDiavel handles, make no mistake.We head out of town towards the Mexican border and some of the finest twisty roads America has to offer and the X-Diavel is at home here. It’s more than just a cruiser. It’s comfortable, it’s hilariously fast and it handles. That massive rear tyre might convince you otherwise, but you can genuinely get the thing healed over to a claimed 40 degrees. I didn’t measure it in degrees, but neither me nor Shakey scraped it all day long on some very twisty roads. Either way it leans over a decent way and ground clearance isn’t an issue.

The shock and forks are firm but it means when you wind up the wick a bit the bike loves it. The long, kicked out front rake of 30 degrees with a trail of 130mm means the front wheel feels along way away from the rider but gives you a decent amount of feedback. I certainly didn’t have any issues with the handling and the rear always bites hard and gives you decent feedback.

And if the brakes are good on the cheaper XDiavel, on the S it has way more brake than you will ever need. These are the brake calipers fitted to the track ready 1299 Panigale S and some of the finest kit money can buy. On the XDiavel that long, low vibe means you can pin it without ever worrying the ABS.

XDiavel handles too.It can be ridden fast, it’s the dark side of the XDiavel with an engine that will pull hard all the way to the 10,000rpm with a limiter at 10,500rpm, but I rarely went beyond 7000rpm. Kicked-back with the world rolling past and that engine doing its thing at lower revs than you thought were possible the XDiavel is one very special Ducati. It’s way more than a cruiser. It’s a sports bike in dragster clothing, just don’t be confused by your feet sticking out in the breeze. It handles almost as well as Monster, yet has more style, more presence and more panache.

I also get the impression from Ducati that this is just the beginning for them and we’ll not only see more bikes of this type from them in the future, and that glorious engine will also be used in other models currently on the drawing board of Ducati’s R&D department.

It may have been a bold step for Ducati to build a cruiser but it’s one that has paid off. The XDiavel is one hell of a motorcycle.

X-DIAVEL DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY IN DETAIL

The XDiavel isn’t just your average looking cruiser. It looks like a bike that was dropped out of the future. The XDiavel is what Ducati call a ‘Technocruiser’. A mash-up of cruiser with performance dragster and the styling from a futuristic world of mechanics. Ducati’s design team built it to handle corners as well as long, straight roads like you’d get on Route 66, or Lincolnshire. Ducati claim it can lean over 40-degrees. It’s no sports bike, but as most cruisers touch their foot pegs down when you turn right out of a junction it’s well sorted in that department.

Close-up the detailing on the bike is incredible and it’s fair to say the bike is better finished than any Ducati before it.

Ducati have tried to highlight the 1262 Variable Valve Train L-twin motor to bring out the beauty of the engine and combined it with a modern, short, typically Ducati trellis frame and a teardrop tank which they say combines the world of a cruiser and the DNA of the Monster and the Diavel. The finishing on this bike is impressive.

In marketing speak, if the Scrambler is yellow, the superbikes are red then the XDiavel owns the colour black for Ducati. The XDiavel is matt black along with the engine covers and belt covers. The subframe is grey along with the swingarm. On the XDiavel S the bike is gloss black with a matt black stripe and red trim along with gloss black engine, with belt covers and engine machined in aluminium and left exposed.

That 240-section rear tyre.

1262cc DVT TESTASTRETTA MOTOR

The XDiavel’s 1262cc motor might be loosely based on the variable valve timing 1200 engine and system used on the Ducati Multistrada 1200S. But, for the low-revving cruiser nature the motor has been given a thorough overhaul with a stroke of 106 x 71.5mm compared to the 106 x 67.9mm of the 1200 lump on the Multi. It's essentially an all-new motor and one which had Ducati engineers more used to working on high-revving sports bikes using every bit of their talent to turn into a cruiser motor

It also has a higher compression ratio (13:1 instead of 12.5:1 on the Multi) and different crank. But it does share the Bosch electronics injection system and elliptical 56mm throttle bodies. It also uses ride by wire throttle and gets a new cylinder head which can be bolted to the frame, which the footrests hang off too.

The variable valve train system also features two spark plugs per cylinder and a secondary air system which brings fresh air into the exhaust duct to complete oxidisation of unburned hydrocarbons and reduces the level of pollutants.

Styling wise, the motor has a repositioned water pump between the cylinders for a more aesthetically pleasing look.

There’s a six-speed gearbox with wet slipper clutch and Ducati’s first-ever belt drive. Service intervals are 9000 miles or once a year for minor, and 18,000 miles for valve timing adjustment and a more major service.

BOSCH ELECTRONICS WITH RIDING MODES

I reckon that one piece of technology has changed motorcycling more than any other widget in the last two years – the Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit. Like the Ducati 1299S and Multistrada 1200S, the Diavel X uses the Bosch IMU which measures speed, lean angle, roll and pitch under braking, cornering and acceleration. This allows the bike to run three different riding modes (Sport, Tour and Urban) and adjusts the level of traction control, and cornering ABS settings depending on different modes.

The Touring mode, for instance, gives maximum 156bhp power, knocks the traction control back to level 2 to allow some rear wheel slippage, and reduces the traction control to level 2. Touring mode uses full-power but in a less aggressive map, and adjusts the traction and cornering ABS to suit, and the Urban mode cuts power to 100bhp, cranking up traction and ABS to a high level of 6 on the traction and level 3 on the ABS. The traction control can be adjusted separately from level 1 (least) to level 8 (most).

That red button is the launch control.

DUCATI POWER LAUNCH

Yes, it has three-way adjustable launch control. Dial in the menu on the left-hand switch gear, select your level depending on your fear levels, squeeze the clutch, engage first gear with the throttle wide-open and then gradually release the clutch for a controlled drag start up to 75mph!

The clutch even decides if you’ve done too many launches to stop it destroying itself if you’re over eager. Love it.

RIDING POSITIONS

There’s 60 different positions you can sit when riding the XDiavel once you throw all the optional accessories in to the mix along with four different footrest positions, 5 different seats and three different handlebars. Add in adjustable foot pegs that can be moved forward or back by 22.5mm either way, or opt for optional Ducati Performance pegs to give a racier riding position. Different bars with 25mm back or 25mm further forward options are also available, along with higher and lower seats, a more luxurious seat and even different options for the pillion.

TYRES & WHEELS

That 240-section rear tyre dominates the X-Diavel’s dragster come cruiser vibe and is a major feature of the bike in the same way it was for the Diavel. On the XDiavel there’s 14-spoke wheels, the X-Diavel S gets those bling 12-spoke machined alloy rims. The rear is a 17-inch by 8” wheel with that 240/45 x 17 rear and at the front there’s a 120/70 x 17 front. Both versions use a Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyre.

Rear shock is fully-adjustable.

BRAKES & SUSPENSION

We’ve already talked about the Bosch-powered cornering ABS function, a system that lets you brake hard up to the apex of a corner at full lean and miraculously stops you crashing. The brakes are radial Brembo M4 32  monobloc calipers on the XDiavel and M50 monobloc calipers on the XDiavel S with 320mm twin discs. At the rear the bike has a 2-piston Brembo caliper with a 265mm disc.

Front forks on the standard bike are 50mm Marzocchi forks with black anodised sleeves. The S gets Diamond Like Coating (DLC) Both bikes feature rebound, compression and pre-load adjustment. At the rear there’s a Sachs monoshock adjustable for pre-load, rebound and compression on a progressive linkage system.

LIGHTS

Both front and rear are full LED and feature a sensor to switch between day and the full night setting.  On the S there’s a full daytime running side light.

XDiavel in detail.

Technical specifications for Ducati XDiavel and XDiavel S

 

DUCATI XDIAVEL £15,795

DUCATI XDIAVEL S £18,395

Engine

Type

Ducati Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing), L- Twin, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, Dual spark, Liquid cooled

Ducati Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing), L- Twin, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, Dual spark, Liquid cooled

Displacement

1.262 cc (77,0 cu in)

1262 cc (77,0 cu in)

Bore x Stroke

106 x 71,5 [mm] (4,17 x 2,81 [in])

106 x 71,5 [mm] (4,17 x 2,81 [in])

Compression Ratio

13:1

13:1

Power

156 bhp @ 9500 rpm

156 bhp @ 9500 rpm

Torque

95,0 lb-ft (128,9 Nm) @ 5000 rpm

95,0 lb-ft (128,9 Nm) @ 5000 rpm

Fuel injection

Bosch fuel injection system, Full ride-by-wire system, 56mm oval throttle bodies

Bosch fuel injection system, Full ride-by-wire system, 56mm oval throttle bodies

Exhaust

Stainless steel exhaust and muffler with dual oval exits, Catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes

Stainless steel exhaust and muffler with dual oval exits, Catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes

Emissions

EURO 4

EURO 4

Transmission

Gearbox

6 speed

6 speed

Ratio

1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25

1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25

Primary drive

Straight cut gears, Ratio 1,84:1

Straight cut gears, Ratio 1,84:1

Final drive

Belt, Front sprocket Z28, Rear sprocket Z80

Belt, Front sprocket Z28, Rear sprocket Z80

Clutch

Slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control

Slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control

Chassis

Frame

Tubular steel trellis frame

Tubular steel trellis frame

Wheelbase

1.615 mm (63,58 in)

1.615 mm (63,58 in)

Rake

30°

30°

Trail

130 mm (5,12 in)

130 mm (5,12 in)

Front suspension

Adjustable Ø 50 mm (Ø 1,97 in) usd fork

Adjustable Ø 50 mm (Ø 1,97 in) usd fork with DLC treatment

Front wheel travel

120 mm (4.72 in)

120 mm (4.72 in)

Front wheel

Light alloy, Cast, 3.5"x17"

Light alloy, Cast and machined, 3.5"x17"

Front tyre

Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 120/70 ZR17

Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 120/70 ZR17

Rear suspension

Single shock absorber, Adjustable preload and rebound, Remote reservoir, Single sided cast/trellis frame swingarm

Single shock absorber, Adjustable preload and rebound, Remote reservoir, Single sided cast/trellis frame swingarm, natural anodized and brushed swingarm

Rear wheel travel

110 mm (4.33 in)

110 mm (4.33 in)

Rear wheel

Light alloy, Cast, 8,00" x 17"

Light alloy, Cast and machined, 8,00" x 17"

Rear tyre

Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 240/45 ZR17

Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 240/45 ZR17

Front brake

2 x 320 mm (12,60 in) semifloating discs, Radial Brembo monobloc 4-piston M4-32 callipers and radial master cylinder, Bosch cornering ABS as standard equipment

2 x 320 mm (12,60 in) semifloating discs, Radial Brembo monobloc 4-piston M50 callipers and radial master cylinder, Bosch cornering ABS as standard equipment

Rear brake

265 mm (10,43 in) disc, 2-piston floating calliper, Bosch cornering ABS as standard equipment

265 mm (10,43 in) disc, 2-piston floating calliper, Bosch cornering ABS as standard equipment

Fuel tank capacity

18 l (4,75 US gal)

18 l (4,75 US gal)

Dry weight

220 kg (485 lb)

220 kg (485 lb)

Wet weight (kerb)

247 kg (545 lb)

247 kg (545 lb)

Seat height

755 mm (29,72 in)

755 mm (29,72 in)

Instrumentation

3,5" TFT colour display and dedicated warning light display

3,5" TFT colour display and dedicated warning light display

Ducati electronics

Riding modes, Ducati Safety Pack (Bosch cornering ABS + DTC), DPL (Ducati Power Launch), RbW, Cruise control, Hands-free

Riding modes, Ducati Safety Pack (Bosch cornering ABS + DTC), DPL (Ducati Power Launch), RbW, Cruise control, Hands-free

Warranty

24 months

24 months

Mainteinance service intervals

15.000 km (9000 mi)/12 months

15.000 km (9000 mi)/12 months

Valve clearance check

30.000 km (18000 mi)

30.000 km (18000 mi)

Versions

Dual seat

Dual seat

Additional equipment

Full-led lighting, backlit handlebar switches

Full-led lighting with DRL, backlit handlebar switches, Bluetooth module, infotainment system, glossy black engine with machined belt covers, Premium seat, machined aluminium mirrors