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Common Tread

2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S first ride review

Apr 04, 2019

If Ducati’s new Diavel 1260 defies classification, that’s by design.

The 159-horsepower motorcycle was born out of a directive to disrupt convention, company execs explained at the recent international press test in Spain. Ducati set out to merge the best qualities of a superbike, a sport naked, and a cruiser — adding inspiration from muscle cars, comic book heroes, and tech.

Ducati Diavel 1260 S
The Ducati Diavel 1260 S mixes styling cues from sport bikes, sport nakeds and cruisers, all powered by the DVT L-twin engine and with that big, fat tire hung off the rear end on a distinctive, single-sided swingarm. Ducati photo.

That’s a tall tally of things to fuse into one machine. Walking around the motorcycle the night before the test, I wondered how all of it would translate into the Diavel 1260’s ride. Could such a hybrid, infused with cruiser DNA, really deliver comfort and cool with performance on straights and twisties? I was definitely keen to find out.

The 2019 Diavel 1260 is a new bike

On engineering and design, Ducati was quick to point out the 2019 Diavel 1260 is “not just a facelift” but largely new over the 2018 Carbon and Titanium models.

Ducati Diavel 1260 riding position
The Diavel 1260 provides a more neutral riding position: less sporty than the Monster and less cruiser-like in the footpeg position than the XDiavel was. Ducati illustration.

To start, the bike — which hits showrooms in April — gets a revised rider position. The saddle was opened up and the pegs brought back a bit. So too was fork rake: modified from 28 to 27 degrees. Ducati says the new Diavel 1260 weighs 538 pounds ready to ride and it prices at $20,395 for the base model and $22,995 for the S, which has better suspension and additional tech features.

Ducati Diavel 1260 changes
Ducati highlights what's changed on the new Diavel 1260. Ducati illustration.

On design and styling, Ducati cherry-picked from the motorcycle’s three class inspirations. The Diavel 1260 got the side and belly fairing of a superbike. From the sport-naked it took the hump fuel tank, headlight/handlebar combo and forward engine position. And from a cruiser, the Diavel kept front to rear frame lines and a low seat.

Ducati Diavel 1260 S
Ducati Diavel 1260. Ducati photo.

The new Diavel 1260 (the S in particular) comes adorned with Ducati’s digital performance options. Project Manager Eugenio Gherardi gave me a digital walk-around of the motorcycle, which has two processors — an ECU and Ducati’s Black Box System — and multiple sensors from the wheels, to the brakes, to the engine, in addition to a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit. On the S, the tech includes ride-by-wire throttle, Ducati’s DQS clutchless shifting (up and down), adjustable cornering ABS, and traction and wheelie control.

Cruise control and adjustments to the settings of the electronics are controlled on the lefthand grip. Ducati photo.

The rider controls the dozens of settings by toggling a thumb button on the left handgrip that displays changes on the dash. You can make life easier by selecting one of three preset riding modes: Sport, Touring and Urban.

Ducati Diavel 1260 S turn signals
One of the unique styling touches on the Diavel 1260 is the turn signals in the radiator shrouds. Ducati said they create a "3D effect." Ducati photo.
On the powerplant, Ducati engineers touted the “extremely linear torque delivery even at low revs and sport bike performance at high revs.” Changes to the intake, exhaust and mapping of the DVT engine, also used on the previous Diavel Carbon and Titanium models, yield 95 foot-pounds of torque peaking at 7,500 rpm, said Gherardi.

And finally, Ducati gave the 1260 a massive 240 mm rear tire on a 17-inch rim. That’s nearly 10 inches of rubber, giving the Diavel a distinctive look that's unlike much else in the production motorcycle world.

A quick ride on the new Diavel 1260 S

Heading out on the Diavel 1260 S for the 220-kilometer test run through southern Spain, I first noticed how tame and comfortable the bike could be, despite its burly appearance. Cruising along the Mediterranean seaside, the motorcycle felt less like a 159-horsepower muscle machine and more like a touring bike. The ergonomics are relatively upright and relaxed. The pegs are positioned more in line with the Diavel 1260’s sport breeding than its cruiser roots.

Ducati Diavel 1260 S instrument panel
Instrument panel on the Ducati Diavel 1260. Ducati photo.

As the trek shifted into tighter roads of the Spanish countryside, I observed the bike also didn’t inherit the sluggish cornering dynamics of most cruisers. Direction changes were quick, the Diavel 1260 S felt agile and at slow speeds the turning radius was reasonable.

Ducati Diavel 1260 S cornering
Despite its cruiser DNA, the Diavel 1260 S is still agile in the turns. Photo by Milagro.

The first leg of the test run served as a warm up, getting me acquainted with the Ducati’s balance, braking and cornering characteristics. The latter half of the ride would reveal the new Diavel 1260’s true character and performance.

Led by Ducati Rider Experience Academy Director Beppe Gualini, a pack of us roared back at a fast clip from the Sierra de las Nieves Mountains to the Málaga seaside. That 85-kilometer section of the ride covered narrow, twisty, technical terrain; spiraled through ascending and descending roadways, and traversed small Spanish towns. As Gualini pushed the pace, lean angles and acceleration increased, disc and engine braking came more into play, and we started hitting three-digit (mph) speeds on the straights.

So what was revealed about the Diavel 1260 S? Above all, the motorcycle showed dynamic performance, starting with its motor. When called to duty, the 159-horsepower, eight-valve twin brings tremendous acceleration and speed. Overall power delivery even felt more refined than the Multistrada 1260 S I tested last year. At throttle, the Diavel has a distinct signature: throaty, but with a higher pitch.

Torque on the Diavel 1260 is robust through all six gears. The engine braking actually reminded me of some of the regenerative performance qualities of electric motorcycles I’ve tested. Between the torque and the engine braking, I found I didn't have to use either the triple Brembo brakes or the DQS to downshift to navigate many corners. Just roll on and off the throttle and power through.

The Ducati’s fat Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rear tire is a focal point. There’s no doubt it contributes to the bike's strong look and provides a feeling of stability and a big contact patch. I did not feel the wide tire hampered the handling, as happens with some bikes fitted with such a wide tire.

Ohlins suspension
Öhlins suspension is one of the upgrades that separates the 1260 S from the base version. Ducati only had the S version available for the press ride. Ducati photo.

The revised ergonomics of the Diavel 1260 S, especially the saddle and tank, are central to the bike’s cross-over abilities. When pressing the pace, the seat and knee slots allow the rider to shift into a sportier riding position. But you’re not stuck in that position all day. When you slow down, you can shift back to a more relaxed, upright seating position, akin to a touring bike — albeit with greater style and attitude than any touring bike I’ve seen.

Ducati Diavel 1260 with Touring Pack
The accessory Touring Pack makes the Diavel 1260 better suited to overnight runs. Ducati photo.

And that gets to the gist of this motorcycle, so far as I could establish over 48 hours. The new Ducati Diavel 1260 S is a blend of badass attitude and high-performance versatility.

It’s not a sport bike but it brings the goods so you can hang with your sport-bike buddies. It’s not a tourer, but you could certainly travel on it. And though the Diavel 1260 S is not a cruiser, it would fit right in with any group of cruisers on bike night. One distinct difference is if the pack picked up the pace, you could drop any conventional cruiser on the new Ducati on straights and corners.

So if you have the budget and want a motorcycle with muscle-bike attitude, touring capacity, and sport performance, the Diavel 1260 could be a winner.

Ducati Diavel 1260 S
If you have the budget, the Diavel 1260 S provides a unique combination of muscle-bike attitude and sporty performance. Photo by Milagro.

Don’t be surprised if it appears in an upcoming Marvel movie. Ducati’s new fat-tire, torque-churning, 159-horsepower Diavel could be equally cast for a comic-book hero or villain.

2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 S
Price (MSRP) $20,395 $22,995
Engine Type Liquid-cooled L-twin, four valves per cylinder, Desmodromic Variable Timing
Displacement 1,262 cc
Bore x stroke 106 mm x 71.5 mm
Compression ratio 13:1
Power 159 horsepower @ 9,500 rpm
Torque 95 foot/pounds @ 7,500 rpm
Transmission Six gears, chain final drive Six gears, chain final drive, Ducati Quick Shift up/down
Front suspension 50 mm adjustable fork, 4.7 inches travel 48 mm Öhlins adjustable fork, 4.7 inches travel
Rear suspension Single shock adjustable for preload and rebound, 5.1 inches travel Single shock adjustable for preload and rebound, 5.1 inches travel
Front brake Dual 320 mm semi-floating discs, Brembo radially mounted four-piston caliper, Bosch cornering ABS
Rear brake Single 265 mm disc, Brembo two-piston caliper, Bosch cornering ABS
Tires front/rear Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120/70ZR17, 240/45ZR17
Rake/trail 27 degrees/4.7 inches
Wheelbase 63 inches
Seat height 30.7 inches
Tank capacity 4.5 gallons
Wet weight 538 pounds