What is a power cruiser anyway? You either want a madcap motorcycle that packs a giant load of power and will leave everything else in its dust on the street or you want one that takes you distances in comfort. The Italians thought that these two worlds should be brought together and since too many riders were adoring the American cruisers the world over, they had to come up with a response. Enter the Diavel. Been around for about eight years now, the Diavel is currently in its 2019 model with 159 hp, superbike-like equipment, an extensive electronics package and looks that render it fit for its name. The 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260S is most definitely a handful if you're not paying attention. But then, this isn't the kind of bike that loses your attention easily.
There's no doubt that the Diavel 1260S in its black paint scheme with some red on the frame looks big and strong and spells aggression no matter how you look at it. The gold on the Ohlins forks looks darn good. It is all about moderation. Go ahead, use shiny gold or silver paint but if it's in moderation, it'll work. The giant headlamp casing with an LED lamp is only helping its case and so are the sleek tail lamps. The Diavel 1260S clearly has a hint of a superbike on its tail section and the Monster at the front.
Once you're done ogling at it, the next step to take is to interact with it and quite frankly I thought the riding stance was awkward the first time I saw it. However, a) seat height is not a problem for short riders, b) the seat is wide and comfy, c) the stance allows excellent control. Yes, it is a heavy motorcycle at 244 kg (kerb) but no, it isn't. For perspective, the Harley-Davidson Street 750 weighs in at 238 kg so the Diavel 1260S is actually not that heavy for its kind. It is rather easy to manoeuvre through slow-moving traffic (the rake angle has been increased on the 2019 model and the handlebar is now closer to the rider making handling easier). Considering that I don't have a very butch build and I found it easy to move around, it must be so then.
Now, about the ride. The pull on the clutch lever which has hydraulic control can be quite the workout in traffic but then who cares if the throttle response is, in a Ducati fashion, very instant. It also has an up/down quickshifter so where's the problem? The 1262cc L-twin that it shares with the XDiavel puts out 129 Nm of peak torque at 7,500 rpm and 159 hp at 9,500 rpm. It needs sophisticated traction control because there is just a lot of grunt going to the rear wheel and hence it gets an eight-level system that is very evidently working to keep it from losing it.
The torque delivery is consistent across the flat curve and so, the pull you experience in the second gear is pretty much what you feel in the fifth as well. Speaking of which, I've found one thing really annoying about throwing the throttle open on big bikes like these – you must hold on to the handlebar with all your might when you do. But that didn't happen with the Diavel since the seat design is brilliant – just crouch a little low and it's a rocket ship that can do 0-100 km/h in under three seconds and a top speed of about 270 km/h.
Something as big as this going as fast as it does needs a pair of good brakes so Ducati gave it four-piston Brembo M4.32 callipers up front and a two-piston over at the rear. The very initial pull does not feel too bitey and I like that as I don't want it to freeze every single time I touch the brake lever in regular riding conditions. But under hard or emergency braking, the callipers clasp and it'll stop in a little over a couple of heartbeats.
Another change on the 2019 Diavel 1260 is the increase in the suspension travel which could mean the ride is plusher than before but don't get the word wrong, it is a Ducati – it has to be able to deliver on sporty performance. Which it does. Well, at the rear it has a ginormous 240-section tyre that is rather a separate entity in itself. So, you can get great lean angles on this machine and do swift directional changes on twisties but no, it won't be effortless like a sports bike. That's the thing though – it is a mix of sports and cruiser, and demands you to have a sense of when the two are in contrast or a blend.
There is a lot of power, it is fast, can be really quick off the line, and feels very torquey in every gear. That doesn't mean it won't cruise at low speeds though! The Diavel will easily do 30-40 km/h in fourth gear. But the thing is, it doesn't actively want to.
The throttle response at low speeds feels choppy and so does the clutch release. It's like asking Usain Bolt to take it slow – you know he'll throw a tantrum. Now it isn't much of a complaint I'd say, but then this combined with a cramp-giving clutch lever and a big rear tyre that can push the bike around on even the slightest of undulations on the road means you wouldn't want to use it in the city at all. I rode it in the month of January so this engine that runs hot in slow-moving traffic was more than welcome, but imagine it in the month of June in India and it'll burn your britches off.
Price: 19,25,000 (ex-showroom)
The important thing here though is that the Diavel 1260S makes for a very enjoyable ride, so much so that the words written in the section above would begin to mean nothing. Also, who buys a big bike to do office commutes anyways? You buy it if you're interested in riding, you buy it if you're not bothered about spending time and money on aimless joy rides with your mates, or you buy it if you want to travel on it. Yes, the Diavel 1260S will make a good tourer as well. Yes, it demands a lot of money and you could buy the Multistrada instead but it won't look or sound as menacing as the diavolo itself.