First Ride: Ducati Diavel Carbon

On its launch in 2011, Ducati's Diavel drew gasps from motorcycle fans across the globe. Its futuristic and awkward appearance was loved by many, yet criticized by others for being too brutish.

First rides only brought more controversy. With a powerful Testastretta 1198cc V-Twin sat in an upright, cruiser frame, the question of exactly where it fit into the motorcycle market arose - was it a cruiser or a sportsbike?

As it turned out, the Diavel was neither, but instead a marvel of engineering from the manufacturer that had previously produced such legends as the 750 GT, and the 916.

Offering a relaxed riding position, thrilling acceleration and incredibly agile handling, the Diavel was an unlikely star, and sold extremely well, despite a high pricetag.

Alongside the Diavel, the Italian bike builder unveiled the Carbon, which was clad in the innovative material in an effort to reduce weight and highlight the brand's sporting heritage.

Ducati has updated the Diavel Carbon for 2016, with a host of technical and aesthetic adjustments.

What is it?

The 2016 Diavel Carbon is the meanest-looking bike to have ever left the Italian brand's Borgo Panigale factory. It features a number of additions over the Diavel, which include larger air scoops flanking the tank, and the latest update brings all-new graphics and new technical features.

A new asphalt grey paint job has made its debut, a colour which is complemented by red stripes and the dark chrome paintwork on the frame. Meanwhile, the exhaust manifolds boast a new Zircotec ceramic coating, while the system has also received brushed-effect stainless steel silencer covers.

What's under the tank?

The Diavel Carbon retains the 1198cc, liquid-cooled, eight-valve V-twin and 162bhp power output of the original Diavel. A previous update added twin spark plugs on each cylinder, new camshafts, a revised injection system, higher compression ratio and improved low-rev torque.

What's the spec like?

While the Ducati isn't the cheapest in the cruiser class, it offers a unique appeal and an impressive range of spec as standard including keyless entry, and an on/off button feature, although this can be difficult to fully depress due to the proximity of the bike's electric dash.

This unit displays time, speed, revs and engine temperature, and sits below a row of light-up symbols, which include indicators, oil light and high beam, amongst others.

A third, TFT unit is integrated into the fuel tank, and displays the currently selected Riding Mode, gear, and Ducati Traction Control level as well as total and trip mileage.
First Ride: Ducati Diavel Carbon
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First Ride: Ducati Diavel Carbon

Any rivals?

Honestly, no. The Diavel Carbon, and even the original Diavel, occupy a position in the market which has not yet been challenged. A comfortable compromise somewhere between sports and cruiser, that looks mean and rides amazingly.

What's it like to ride?

The Diavel Carbon demands to be ridden fast. Unfortunately wind resistance makes it near impossible to cling on at high speeds, and so a more reserved pace is advised.

The bike cruises comfortably at motorway speed, and power is not lacking even in the upper echelons of the 11,000 range. Maximum torque of 130.5Nm is achieved just shy of 8,000 revs.

An electronic Ride-by-Wire throttle system makes for smooth acceleration in all three riding modes, which are mapped to suit sports, touring and city riding, while suspension, meanwhile, is accounted for by 50mm inverted Marzocchi forks and a Sachs monoshock. These are both fully adjustable and contribute to the Diavel Carbon's excellent handling.

Safety features as standard include Bosch ABS and Ducati Traction Control (DTC). While good, the latter is not infallible, and all it took was an eager twist of the throttle on a frosty November morning to send the rear wheel sliding.

AOL Cars verdict:

While the Ducati may be a Marmite bike – you either love it or you hate it – every motorcyclist should ride one before discounting it. Its brutish looks belay its refined ride, and its array of standard tech is both impressive and user friendly.

Once again, Ducati has made the awkward attractive.


Model: Ducati Diavel Carbon
Power: 162bhp
Economy: 49.6mpg
Emissions: 133g/km
Price: £17,595
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