Already insane Ducati Diavel gets faster and lighter with 168-horse V4
It's been a decade now since Ducati torched the rulebook and unleashed the iconoclastic Diavel on an unsuspecting cruiser market. There had been power cruisers before, but never one like this.
Cruisers were huge, lumbering beasts with chromed-out retro-sexy looks and colossal V-twin engines tuned for bowel-shaking, potatoey low-end torque. Not the Diavel. It was a relative featherweight in its class. It didn't look American or outlawish in the slightest, instead going for futuristic Italian gorgeousness. And while it did have a nice big fat back wheel and a V-twin engine, Ducati had the nerve to use its freakin' superbike engine, a desmodromic monster that made more than 150 horsepower and pouted if you didn't feed it revs. Absolute sacrilege, and a barnstorming entry into a new market.
The eagle-eyed will have noticed, however, that Ducati has stopped using V-twins in its top-level superbikes. The latest Ducati street racer is a howling V4 that makes just north of 240 horses. The V4 is now the hero engine; a 1,158 cc "Granturismo" version of it has been in the Multistrada adventure bike for some time now, and now, for 2023, it's the Diavel's turn to get some extra new cylinders to play with.
Indeed, it's the Granturismo V4 that comes to the new Diavel. At 168 horsepower, it's not what you'd call a seismic leap from the outgoing Testastretta V-twin's 157 ponies, and there will certainly be those who complain that if these vee four things can make 240 horses, then any less is a robbery. These people are lunatics, and you should make sure you befriend them immediately to fill your life with wonder and spectacle. The Granturismo engine is not a peaky race donk, it's tuned and geared for maximum shunt at exactly the kinds of speeds you'll be doing on the street, where the Diavel will be ridden. The old Diavel was insanely fast, this one shall be faster.
Lighter too, somehow, despite the extra cylinders. The Diavel has always been a featherweight in the cruiser class, but thanks to a new aluminum frame and single-sided swingarm, among other things, the V4 version drops an impressive 13 kg (29 lb) for a dry weight of 223 kg (492 lb). The folks at Ducati say the weight is balanced lower and more centrally for improved handling, but then they would say that sort of thing.
The overall shape of the bike hasn't been completely overhauled; it's still resolutely a long, low, shouldery dragster Diavel to look at, and that's no bad thing. Ducati has done an impressive job working around what I'd consider a fundamentally sexless and utilitarian-looking engine. But the new version definitely pushes things further toward the Panigale superbike's design language, and in lascivious Ducati red it does a very good impression of an object of desire, even if the four-pipe exhaust looks highly silly.
One of the coolest visual touches is found at the back of the bike, where the LED taillight system is integrated into the undertail as a series of glowing dots. It feels like the kind of touch you'd find on a priceless Italian hypercar, and that's the sort of thing Ducati seems to be doing better and better lately. The company charges a lot for its bikes, but absolutely deliver in terms of performance and eye candy.
Ducati has also been a market leader in terms of electronic rider aids and beautiful user interfaces, and the Diavel V4 gets a lovely color LED dash through which you can control and tweak your multimedia and navigation, as well as top-shelf cornering ABS, traction control, wheelie control, launch control, cruise control and the up/down quickshift system, which should ensure you and your passenger have as little recovery time as possible between avalanches of roaring acceleration.
The Diavel is still an odd duck, but it's a well-established odd duck at this point and the 2023 update gives it a healthy refresh and a fresh set of reasons to give one a test ride. Check out the launch video below, if you enjoy subtitles.
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