Don’t be fooled by the name
I finally got my hands on a Ducati XDiavel S. But don’t be fooled by the name because this bike has nothing to do with the Diavel. Believe me, the only things they share are the tires. They have the same Pirelli Diablo Rosso II and this is a problem. You see, Ducati designed a bike with a similar shape as the Diavel but completely different in its DNA. It’s like taking the Supersport and call it the XPanigale. It makes no sense at all. How would you explain to the audience that you produced a motorcycle with a similar shape to another?
This rear tire fashion drives me crazy
Another problem is its enormous rear tire doesn’t make sense on a motorcycle. I’m probably not the best person to review it since I’m not into cruisers nor I am a muscle bike fan. On the other hand, I love well-crafted motorcycles and the XDiavel is no exception.
I enjoyed the view immediately. What I couldn’t enjoy was the weather in Hamburg. It started to rain from the first minute I got the bike and for the rest of the day, it changed just in intensity. It was the most miserable test of the year but the XDiavel was great, I always had the right confidence and grip I needed it.
Riding a bison in the rain
There are three different riding modes: Urban, Touring, and Sport. They change the power delivery, the torque, the traction control, and the ABS. In Urban mode, it’s a purring cat resting on your knees perfect for the city. The Touring mode is what you might use most of the time, it’s fun without being challenging. But the Sport mode turns the purring cat into a roaring lion. I had great fun with it even in the rain, I don’t recommend it but it’s still fun. I’ve said on some occasion that a 200 rear tire only makes sense on a MotoGP or a Superbike which requires tons of grip and heat dissipation. But a 240 rear tire finds simply no place on a motorcycle under a practical aspect. I know that design isn’t always meant to make sense in the real world.
What is this bike for?
Ducati’s intention producing the XDiavel is to conquer the American cruiser market. To do it there is a series of characteristic to match. An American cruiser needs a big engine which it has. It needs a fat rear tire which it has. It needs a belt transmission which it has. And finally, the sound of the engine needs to be pure so no dry clutch and no mouth-full-of-bolts sound here. The challenge was to define a point where they try to get into a new market without losing their identity. It’s like going on out and trying to charm your date without lying to yourself: “I have a boa constrictor pet” and you “Seriously, I love boa constrictors”. Don’t be that guy. But Ducati made the right choices in the right places. They built a new model without losing their identity.
The Italian red bikes have a special character. This one has a full deep sound but it’s civilized when you cruise at half speed. But when you twist the throttle, the sound becomes visceral and alive. I complained before about the fat rear tire, I was wrong. So wrong that I was surprised by how good was the handling. It has that sort of Ducati DNA which is good but I wasn’t fully convinced by the gearbox. I had the feeling I had to change gear pretty often. I’m not saying it was frantic but it wasn’t as relaxing as I espected to be.
Design in motion
They were so obsessed with the design that they relocated certain engine part just to give it a better look. Forget about the fat rear tire, forget even the gearbox, forget that you might not like cruisers. Just make a step back and look at it, take your time to enjoy every angle and every detail. The Ducati XDiavel is an incredible piece of design.
I think there is a grace in sport bikes that is unmatchable for other bikes. It’s the beauty of function, knowing that the fairing is shaped that way to pierce the air gives it the same elegance you’ll find in a light athletic body. The Ducati XDiavel is different under this aspect, it’s built with the purpose to look good and no one does it better than Ducati. The lines don’t have a proper function other than satisfy your eyes. The rear wheel alone belongs in an art gallery. Everything is made for the purpose of elegance otherwise, I can’t explain the passenger seat. If you have a girlfriend, she has to be as thin as Keira Knightley. Or even better, she needs a motorcycle on her own.
In 1950, the Museum of Architecture and Design of Chicago started an award that celebrates the best industrial design. To give you an idea of the list includes the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the NASA Spaceship. I can explain the XDiavel to myself with an espresso maker. In 1933, the first Bialetti Moka pot came out and it was a masterpiece of design which never changed over the years. Can you think of any product that didn’t change its design over generations? I can’t and the weird thing is: the coffee isn’t any better but it’s wonderful object to have in your home.