The road from Marbella up the mountains towards Rhonda and then snaking back up east through the Sierra Blanca mountains has to be one of the best motorcycling routes I have ever ridden on, on more than one occasion. This time around, my companion is the new Ducati Diavel 1260 S, the top-spec variant of the new Ducati Diavel 1260. Chasing corner after corner around the limestone mountains, a series of left, right, left corners with tight spaces for overtaking, I soon forgot that the bike I'm riding is supposed to be something of a cruiser. Nope, this is anything but a cruiser in the conventional sense.
Ducati says the Diavel 1260 promises the personality of three bikes in one - a superbike, a cruiser and a naked roadster. A couple of hard corners later, it begins to dawn on me, that it's not something the marketing folks came up with after all. Engaging is an understatement; the Ducati Diavel 1260 S has a level of performance and handling that is properly addictive, and outright entertaining. And no, it's eons ahead of being just a cruiser.
Design, Features and Technology
It's mean, muscular and looks ready to pounce, even when standing still. And it's a design which will certainly turn heads. You get the fairings and belly pan of a superbike, the headlight and flat handlebar gives it the naked roadster look, and the low seat and relaxed ergonomics give it the attitude of a cruiser for sure. Look at it in profile, and the lines from the fat rear wheel up from the belly pan to the fuel tank and the headstock does give it a cruiser-ish design. The fat 48 mm Ohlins front forks give it a big, muscular front end, along with the big air-intakes with distinctive LED indicators and a very unique LED headlight with LED DRL. And the fat 240 mm rear tyre is mounted on a single-sided swingarm.
But it's packed to the gills with performance and technology that will rub shoulders with the best sportbikes in business. The new Ducati Diavel 1260 gets the 1,262 cc Testastretta L-twin engine of the X-Diavel with desomodromic valve timing. What that means in simple terms is that there is plenty of torque across the revs, which translates to oodles of pulling power across the rev range. The engine puts out around 159 horsepower at 9,250 rpm and 129 Nm of peak torque at 7,500 rpm. And to keep all that performance manageable, the Diavel 1260 employs state-of-the-art electronics, with three preset riding modes. Urban mode has power limited to 100 bhp, Touring offers full power, but with a smooth throttle response, while Sport is hooligan mode, with full power and aggressive throttle response.
And the electronics are not limited to just those. There's a new anti-lock braking system from Bosch, as well as a six-axis inertial measurement unit which calculates lean angles and the like, and enables the cornering ABS, cornering traction control, wheelie control and self-cancelling indicators. The other 'usual' standard electronics expected from a near 20 lakh motorcycle like keyless ignition, cruise control, backlit switches are all there, along with launch control, anti rear-wheel lift etc. The S variants also gets a standard up-down quickshifter, LED daytime running lights and a Bluetooth multimedia system you can use to sync with your smartphone. And of course, you can toggle through all of the controls from a split-instrument panel, with a full-colour TFT screen and a row of smaller LED indicators. The TFT panel is where you can configure all the engine and display modes, and each mode can be further customised in terms of throttle map, level of traction control and so on.
Performance, Handling and Ride Quality
The new Diavel 1260 is at least 5 kg heavier than its predecessor with 244 kg kerb weight. But all that weight seems to magically disappear soon as you slot it into first and get rolling. And there's a very likeable bark from the exhaust which will burble and crackle, threatening to wake up every bad boy DNA in your character. It will egg you on to grab a fistful of throttle, and there's a whole lot of punch and more to keep you suitable entertained, all day long. For me, Touring with slightly smoother throttle response was the riding mode of choice. I found Sport mode too aggressive for my liking; perhaps that can be reserved for particularly devil-ish riding mood if that's the kind of personality you are seeking.
Despite its length and bulky proportions, the Diavel 1260 is a surprisingly agile bike. You can attack corner after corner, and the top-spec Brembo M50 calipers will allow late braking and sure shot stopping power. After a day's ride out in the mountains, it was time to get back to the highway on the Costa del Sol (the sunshine coast) of southern Spain and head back to the hotel. Speed limits were sometimes ignored, and sometimes missed; only when the speed limit signs come up, do you notice that you are going at a fairly brisk pace of 150-160 kmph, before it's time to get down to saner speeds respecting the laws of the land.
The only downside could be the slightly firm ride quality. On Andalusia's smooth tarmac, that wasn't a cause for concern. But back home in India, it could be a spot of bother in our road conditions, but we'll reserve that judgement till we get to ride the Diavel 1260 on our roads.
The Ducati Diavel 1260 S is a special bike. Period. And to really classify it as one type of motorcycle, and to see what kind of rider it's suitable for, is a difficult proposition. Is it intended for the typical laid-back cruiser lover, the sportbike rider, or for someone who likes muscular naked street bikes? The fact is, Ducati has hit it off quite well with merging all three - and it's not just marketing speak. The Diavel 1260 S with its updated engine, new chassis and electronics make for a sporty package with solid performance that will have you grinning from ear to ear every time you whack open the throttle. And even if close to 160 horsepower may feel a little out of league for riders graduating from smaller middleweight bikes, the all-enveloping safety net of the latest electronics package will leave you feeling safe, secure and confident.
The Ducati Diavel never had the laid-back, relaxed mannerisms of a cruiser, neither is it as agile or nimble as a proper sportbike. What the new Diavel 1260 offers is a unique proposition - the relaxed ergonomics of a cruiser, enough firepower to scare you silly, and the riding dynamics of a sportbike. That level of versatility is what makes the new Ducati Diavel 1260 very, very appealing. There's a reason why the last generation Diavel was a hit, even in India, and this time around too, with the Diavel 1260, the devil has added an extra dose of temptation. In India, the Diavel 1260 S is expected to be priced around ₹ 19-20 lakh (ex-showroom), when it's launched, sometime next month. If I had a fatter paycheck, and more time to enjoy one more bike, the new Diavel 1260 makes for a very tempting addition to the garage.