2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 Review: Better Devil



Ducati’s mean-looking, power-packed cruiser suits its name, but it gives riders plenty of unseen assistance

Text: Derryn Wong 

Photos: Jonathan Lim, Derryn Wong 

SINGAPORE – ‘Good Omens’, the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, is well worth a read. Now back in the limelight thanks to a TV adaptation, one of the book’s main characters is a devil named Crowley, who teams up with a book-collecting angel to save the world. 

Naturally Crowley is a devil with a secret heart of gold, having grown to enjoy a millennia on earth, driving around in a Bentley that makes all the music coming out of its stereo sung by Queen. 

If he were to ride a motorcycle instead, it would be the Ducati Diavel 1260. 

Combine the idea of a power cruiser with an Italian brand known for fast, red, race-bred stallions, and the result should be intimidating, at the very least. It’s literally named ‘devil’, that’s what the word ‘diavel’ means back in Ducati’s hometown of Bologna. 

We’ve all heard of it, since it’s been around for nine years, and this is actually the new, third-gen model, with a whole lot of new onboard. 

The engine is the same one as found on the XDiavel, a 1,262cc L-twin with Ducati’s Desmodromic valve system and variable valve timing technology (DVT), which we first tested on the 2016 Multistrada 1200 S. 

Obviously a lot of this is found in the XDiavel, the Diavel’s brother model with forward-mount cruiser pegs and different, more ‘custom’ styling. It’s more oriented towards the power cruiser side of things, while the Diavel itself sits more in the middle, a sport-naked/streetfighter that happens looks like a cruiser. 

Unlike the more stripped down XDiavel, the Diavel has two air intakes lined in satin chrome, and underneath that integrated indicator light bars. It gives the bike a more broad-shouldered look which reminds us of the 1980s shoulder pad craze and post-apocalyptic movie themes. 

That’s high praise in our book, and the rest of the styling rounds out the all-around bad-ass visuals: Fat 240mm wheel framed by a single-sided swingarm, shorty slash-cut exhaust, and a long, almost streamliner stretched-out geometry. Our only dislike is the sissy bar on the bike shown here, but that’s optional equipment. 

The low 780mm seat should allow almost any rider to reassuringly flat-foot at a stop, and riders of ‘normal’ motorcycles will quickly get used to the mid-mount footpegs (in contrast to forward-mount ones). They do stick out more than most and have a pointed end, which could snag your jeans if you wear them unbloused (ask us how we know!). 

There’s a definite lean forward over the vast expanse of the fuel tank, which spells out the Diavel’s sporty intent from the start. You’re not as splayed out as a sports bike proper, like the BMW R NineT Racer, but this is no lean-back cruiser, that much is clear. 

There’s a 3.5-inch TFT display and an tiny ‘oh-shit’ board above (for low fuel, engine lights, etc), and a particularly nice touch are the handlebar control buttons, fittingly backlit in a fiery red. Our test bike came with lots of optional Rizoma official catalogue bling, including frame plugs, engine covers,  mirrors, adjustable levers, and reservoir covers. 

Keyless means unlocking and firing up the bike is done easily, no de- and re-gloving needed, though the 1,262cc L-twin is quieter than we’d like (no thanks to Euro IV!) and doesn’t quite match the bike’s intense visual character.

There’s no hesitance or gumminess to any of the controls, the clutch, throttle and both brakes are smooth and easy to modulate, and the sporty-but-still-comfortable ergonomics will be familiar to any rider who has owned a sports or sports touring machine. 

For a V/L-twin, the Diavel has a very smooth power delivery, without any big jerks or lurching, although like the Ducati Supersport it wavers a little on small, constant throttle openings. Other than that, it has admirable town manners. It’s more difficult to maneuver at parking or low speed, being long, low, and wide, but it doesn’t roast your nuts, it rides fairly comfortable for a sport bike, and on the move the weight melts away. 

Wait, is this really a 160hp power cruiser we’re talking about?

It’s around now you might realise, the Diavel isn’t at all evil, and it’s only devilish in the right ways.

Ducati’s DVT system means there’s plenty of flexibility to the two-cylinder engine, it’s almost like a parallel twin in its flexibility and not as finicky about you being in the right gear all the time. That also means it’s not a mad screamer of an engine demanding you go faster because it was built that way – BMW’s terrifyingly fast S 1000 R comes to mind here, as does Ducati’s own Panigale V4. 

Which isn’t to say the Diavel isn’t capable of becoming a velocity fiend when required. You can select three riding modes – Urban, Touring, Sport – and they do change the character of the bike significantly. 


The styling and good urban manners make it easy to forget it’s a Ducati powerplant, not a loping American twin. Max power comes at 9,500rpm, and that 159hp is no joke. Even if the Diavel weighs 244kg with fuel, the powerful, revvy L-twin makes you feel like the long cruiser has morphed into a land-speed record bike instead. 


And then there’s the handling, which makes you think: “Is this really a power cruiser with a 240mm rear wheel we’re talking about?” 

Power cruisers are basically drag monsters. Bikes with big power and just as much rake (more rake = more parallel to the ground) which means they usually don’t handle well, but someone forgot to tell Ducati that.  

It’s not preternaturally agile like a lighter sport naked with a short wheelbase, but dips into corners easily and with lots of stability that, ironically, could help some riders go quicker. The fat tyre means there’s a ‘stop’ to the lean, but gain confidence with the bike and it’ll go far lower – and quicker – than you think. 

You can do that because there are angels to help you. They’re not on your shoulder but underneath you instead – Bosch’s six-axis IMU allows for cornering ABS, wheelie control, traction control, and launch control, and all the systems are modulated according to ride modes, with further customisation possible via the 3.5-inch screen. 

At the end of it, the most devilish thing we can say about this bike is that it looks best at night, the low, hulking design, the purr of the L-twin, the red backlights winking at you.
Unlike Crowley’s ride, it may not have the ability to turn everything into magnificent opera rock, but look beyond its menacing appearance and you may find a bike that will have you saying ‘Hallelujah.’

Ducati Diavel 1260

Engine

1262cc, 8V, L-twin

Power

159hp at 9500rpm

Torque

129Nm at 7500rpm

Gearbox

6-speed manual 

0-100km/h

Not revealed 

Top Speed

Not revealed 

Wet Weight

233kg 

Seat Height 

780mm 

Agent

Ducati Singapore (Wearnes) 

Price (OTR)

S$59,900 with COE, road tax 

Availability

Now

 

about the author

avatar
Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.