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2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon: MD Ride Review

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Simple human minds not only categorize everything, they let the “name” of the category define an experience. You don’t have to study Zen (although it helps) to understand this. Not every “horse” is the same, nor every “dog”. Human inventions are even more variable … they all exist along a spectrum and category names are sometimes useful, but equally ineffective and misleading.

Enter the 2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon we have been testing here at MD. It is the second generation of a motorcycle we first tested back in 2011. After the European launch, we even got Gabe’s take on the all-new Diavel. To summarize things, the original Diavel was fun, fast and comfortable … if a bit odd looking.

Fast forward to the 2015 model year, and Ducati has made some changes to the Diavel. It still features a superbike-derived 1198cc Testastretta 11° DS v-twin engine, with a slight increase in torque and a broadening of the powerband (peak horsepower remains at 162).

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With more than 95 foot/pounds of torque at just 8,000 rpm, the Diavel Carbon makes power just about every where you might ask it to … except way down low in the rpm range where the big twin gets characteristically lumpy and hesitant.

All this motor works together with a slipper clutch and traction control, and the action is controlled by your right wrist through a ride-by-wire throttle. Ducati has stretched valve check intervals to 18,000 miles on the Diavel.

For 2015, all Diavel models feature LED headlights and tail lights and re-designed, shorter mufflers (that we think are better looking).

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Most riders appreciated the comfort of the original Diavel, but for 2015, Ducati tried to make the bike even more comfortable with higher bars and a new seat shape.

Although we have tested the Diavel on two previous occasions as noted above, this was the first time for our Editor. The Diavel Carbon looks menacing with interesting, unique shapes and a beautiful finish highlighted by the generous use of carbon fiber.

The seating position is somewhat unique as well. The rider sits relatively upright, but has to stretch a bit to reach the bars. That is a stretch to high bars, not low bars like on a sport bike. Sitting still, the bike can seem a bit uncomfortable, particularly after riding plenty of modern nakeds and adventure bikes.

The ergonomics make more sense once you ride the Diavel. The lack of wind protection pushes the riders chest backwards to balance the forward reach to the bars, and that reach feels comfortable and natural after a few miles in the saddle.

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That seating position also works for aggressive riding better than one might initially think. This is a Ducati after all, and it likes to go through corners.

That gigantic rear tire (a 240 mm for god’s sake!) doesn’t help matters in the twisties, because it makes the bike want to stand up mid-corner (and particularly when trail braking). It reminded me a bit of the Victory Hammer we tested years ago (that bike had a 250 mm rear) in this regard, but the Ducati is in a different league, altogether, when carving apexes.

I got used to that rear tire, and it didn’t really hold the Diavel Carbon back too much. Pretty soon, I was carrying good corner speed and relatively big lean angles with plenty of confidence drawn from the contact patches of the excellent Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires. To be sure, the Diavel Carbon is no Panigale, but you can still have fun traversing canyon roads quickly and confidently.

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Some of the quirks found in similar generation Ducati v-twins were present on the Diavel Carbon, as we found a few false neutrals trying to shift the bike with a light toe (as if we were aboard a Suzuki), and finding neutral at a stop light was almost impossible, at times. The mirrors vibrate at rpm levels above 7,000, as well.

The fully adjustable suspension includes a massive 50 mm upside down fork. Together with the steel trellis frame, the Diavel Carbon chassis is rock solid, which only contributes to rider confidence. The suspension is on the stiff side, and not the best at absorbing small road chop, but overall damping is quite good.

The Diavel Carbon model we tested not only gets the requisite carbon body work, but forged Marchesini wheels that are both beautiful and functionally light. To accommodate that massive rear tire, the rear wheel is 8″ wide!

All Diavels are backed with plenty of technology and top shelf components. Brembo monobloc calipers grip 320 mm discs in front, and the latest Bosch ABS is standard.

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Electronic rider aides include traction control (DTC) and selectable riding modes, including Urban (which restricts power to 100 hp and sets DTC at a level that activates quickly), Touring (full 162 hp  and DTC at an intermediate level) and Sport (full power and least intrusive DTC). We tried each of the levels, but tested 90% of the time in Sport mode. The other two modes may be useful for less experienced riders and/or low traction conditions, such as rain.

All Diavels also feature hands-free ignition. In other words, you carry a key fob with a remote signal, and never insert a key to start the bike. Split-level instrumentation includes a very bright panel located on the gas tank (which was bright enough to be annoying at times while riding in the dark). Both panels are quite legible in daylight, but we rarely like a digital tachometer, and the Diavel reinforces this. All manner of information is available, including from a number of warning lights above the upper panel.

The 2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon is comfortable enough for commuting, and even touring. Although limited by a smallish 4.5 gallon gas tank and relatively poor mileage (around 30 mpg, in our experience), Ducati offers a “touring pack” that includes saddlebags, back rest kit and windshield.

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The flexibility of this platform is evident in its light weight. Although the seat height is relative low, the Diavel Carbon has a massive look about it, yet weighs only 452 pounds (claimed dry). Slotting the Diavel into a pre-defined category doesn’t do the bike justice. Ducati says it is not a cruiser, and we agree. It is not a motorcycle for everyone, but it has a look and attitude that appeals to many enthusiasts, while retaining just enough practical attributes to justify for many the expense, which in the case of the carbon version is a U.S. MSRP of $20,995. The base model Diavel begins at $17,995. Take a look at Ducati’s web site for more information.

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87 Comments

  1. TimC says:

    Someone at Style Ducati has seen Alien a couple too many times

  2. TURBO MAN says:

    Actually I had the first chance to ride the Diavel before they were even available in the USA.Iwas badazz then and bad azz now..

  3. Mark R says:

    I wasn’t too keen on the looks at first. Bought a street fighter s a few years ago instead.
    After that, a road glide, now a diavel.
    For a late 40’s ex-racer, I love this bike.
    Most of what I love and comfort for this aging body.

  4. Neil says:

    Test rode it. I liked it a lot. I just have not had a chance to dive for a sunken pirate ship and there was no buried treasure in my back yard when I was a kid, just the sewage tank. Doh! – Easy to ride. Came back with a smile on my face. No surprises. I would buy one over a Harley any day of the week and enjoy blowing lines of Harleys into the weeds at every opportunity! I did not notice the back wheel. It cornered fine. Fueling was smooth. Shifting was easy. A really fun machine.

    • Grover says:

      You don’t need a Diavel to embarrass Harleys as most bikes over 50cc’ss can do that. That would be a waste of this machine. Try hunting down Hayabusas and H2s and see if your money was well spent. 🙂

  5. BigPoppa says:

    I’ve had my Gen1 Diavel over a year now and put over 12,000 miles on it so far. It still brings a big grin to my face everytime I ride it. Granted the Diavel may not be for everyone but for me, I have zero regrets about purchasing one. To comment on a few critiques:

    * Comfort: Agreed, it’s not comfortable for rides lasting an hour or more. Doesn’t matter for me because I rarely ride for more than hour or so at a time. I don’t do long distance touring anymore.

    * Maintenance costs: Other than the 15k major service interval, it’s no more expensive than any of my other bikes. Even it’s 15k major service is in line with what the Concours 14 I used to own cost. Also, no major issues since owning it. A couple of minor issues which were both taken care of quickly under warranty.

    * Rear tire: It’s sport rubber that lasts me about 6k-7k miles. The rear can be bought online for about $170 each. The only downside is only one manufacturer and model of tire is available. I would like to see a tire manufacturer offer a sport-touring option.

    * Handling: It’s definitely not a flickable bike but it handles well enough for me. Granted I’m not going to drag knee on it but it handles well enough to have fun on my local twisty roads.

    * Commuting: I commute regularly on mine and have no complaints.

    * Styling: To each his own. I personally love the look of my Diavel.

    Just my $.02

  6. duclvr says:

    I love ducats. I love Italian design. The Ducati Drivel makes me sad.

  7. todd says:

    We put this in the category of “cruiser” because; handlebars with more than 4″ of rise, foot pegs forward of the front edge of the seat, and using excessively wide tires that detract from the performance of the bike.

    If you lowered the handle bars, moved the pegs back a couple inches (probably need to raise the seat to do that) and fit a 180 or 190 rear tire it would be a proper motorcycle.

  8. Mr.Mike says:

    This is another bike where the lines really make the most sense (side view) with a rider aboard. Maybe the trend is to encourage riding the bike instead of just looking at it.

  9. TimU says:

    I’m not interested. I won’t buy a Ducati. (Owned one in the 70’s, never again). I can’t understand how this boutique company rates the excessive coverage it receives.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “(Owned one in the 70’s, never again)”

      Now that’s a grudge!

    • Gary says:

      I remember Ducatis in the 70s. I feel your pain. I suspect modern Ducatis are a tad better now.

      • Grover says:

        Yeah, the 18,000 mile valve service is certainly better than the 4,000 mile valve service interval of years past. My advice is to sell the bike at 17,999 miles and let the next owner deal with it.

    • mickey says:

      My son owns one from the 2009’s. Convinced me to just say NO!

      • xLaYN says:

        every time a ducati post comes the ghost of maintenance and TCO impregnates the comments section.
        now… how it’s possible KTM doesn’t have the same halo? (next is husaberg).

        • mickey says:

          I think all the Euros possess a certain ” maintenance groan” due to lack of dealership, slow parts availability, and general reliability issues. I realize some guys buy them and report never having an issue with them, however from a personal perspective, every owner of a Euro bike that I have known and that includes Ducs, KTMs, Guzzis, Aprilias all say they are fantastic bikes once you accept their idiosyncrasies and get them eventually sorted out.

          A good friend says Euro bikes are made for magazine editors that don’t have to spend their own money on them or live with them after the honeymoon is over.

          • TimC says:

            That’s hilarious. Same thing for Euro cars. Made that mistake a couple more times more than I’d care to admit…my bikes have all been Japanese so I guess I’m getting smarter

          • xLaYN says:

            I wonder what’s the situation in Europe? I remember not have seen a single Mazda 3 in spain, when I saw one it was like… damn… right: there are no mazdas here.
            and Piaggio mp3 being popular in france. (Germany I can testify it’s all covered on bimmers and Mercedes)
            living out of europe, USA and japan all I have is fkng expensive dealers for all the brands in any displacement but <250cc, if you want to complain imagine a CBR500 it's 6.5kUSD, a S1000RR 25kUSD…. and parts come in a lovely 30 working days.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I always had Japanese bikes until about 12 years ago or so. Since then, I’ve had a BMW, KTM, Ducati, Aprilia, Buell and a Husqvarna. Pains in the arse, all of them. But I bought each of those bikes because, at the time, they were exactly what I wanted in a motorcycle, and Japan, Inc. didn’t offer anything that was truly comparable.

            I swore off non-Japanese bikes for good after buying the stupid Buell but still ended up buying the Husqvarna last year because there isn’t such a thing as a modern DR650 or KLR being offered up by the Japanese. I still need to get a good, sporty street bike, and that one will be Japanese for sure. I promise. I think.

        • Trpldog says:

          Jeremy, didnt like the Buell?

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            In truth, Trpldog, I have liked all my bikes, so it is more accurate to say I liked the Buell the least rather than to say that I didn’t like it.

          • xLaYN says:

            there are things that just a brand have, for example I were very tempted about the K1300R or the F800, Honda and the CB11000 or the VF800, Yami triple or the Suzy SV1000 and they are very specific to the brands.

  10. Norm G. says:

    re: “the Diavel Carbon makes power just about every where you might ask it to … except way down low in the rpm range where the big twin gets characteristically lumpy and hesitant.”

    cue Ducati Diavel MKII with a full makeover (this is just the standard mid-life tweek) and powered by “swanky” VVT technology recently introduced on the MTS12.

  11. Trpldog says:

    Ducati attempting to create a nice looking cruiser is about as funny as a Japanese origami styled naked bike being pretty.

  12. Dave says:

    A friend of mine has one in Gen I and sold it after a few months on saddle. He said the bike resists turning with that wide back tire, and hard to ride at low rpm. After all some calls it power cruiser but it can’t even move at low speed.

  13. Boscoe says:

    Meh! Rode it and, surprisingly, bought a Harley V-Rod.
    The Diavel is like Liz Taylor, Britney Spears or Mariah Carey. You know somewhere under all that bloat is a hot thing. But why bother?

  14. skybullet says:

    Function was not the priority with this bike. It is more a look at me Harley alternative.

  15. Sean says:

    I used to really like the Diavel. It seemed to have cool looks, high performance, comfort, in a reasonably light (and pricey) package. I guess it still has those characteristics but as time has passed the look that was once fresh and unique has tired and looks overdone and gimmicky. Also the price tag makes just about any other bike a viable option and with all the great bikes being released today the Diavel has lost some of its luster. I think Ducati needed a more comprehensive update to this bike, this type of radical styling niche works but they need to stay ahead of the curve and remain fresh and futuristic. I doubt this mild refresh will do much for Diavel sales and I would venture to guess that Ducati will discontinue it in a few years because of this which is a shame.

  16. Doug says:

    While I appreciate the capabilities of he Ducati, I still prefer the looks of the Triumph Rocket III Roadster.

  17. Provologna says:

    It seems appropriate to describe it as an over styled naked/GT type bike. But then it fails in having such awful fuel range.

    I don’t care what is the bike’s mission or purpose when it fails in so many ways (suspension smoothness over low speed bumps, fuel range, bad response at low rpm, mirror buzz, etc, etc) and with such steep ticket price.

    Every time I read about a bike like this, I can’t help but think about my own imaginary perfect GT bike, which is a modern interpretation of Honda’s iconic benchmark ’79 CBX1000 inline-6 by Honda designer Iramijiri.

    I dare you to find someone who has ridden one, in factory red, finely tuned, with Denco 6-1 header, and Honda OEM “Sport Kit,” that does not lust for one to this day. Blipping the throttle at a stop light would make the owner of any cost no object super car green with envy.

    Regardless of it’s infinite weaknesses vs. modern GT bikes, the inherent righteousness of the inline 6 seems to cry out for a clean, modern interpretation.

    • nickst4 says:

      Inherent rightness of an inline 6 for a car:yes. For a bike: a resounding NO! The CBX was one of the most ridiculous bikes ever made and despite the beautiful workmanship, utterly stupid. For me, across the frame the absolute limit is three cylinders, better two, best one, if you want to retain the inherent slimness of a two-wheeler and it nimbleness.

      Nick, UK

    • rokster says:

      Abso loot lee! I only rode a CBX once but I will never forget the smoothness or sound of that l6. Pity the Horex VR6 is so ugly and expensive and, well, dead. Slapping together two Triumph Street Triple motors would work nicely, especially since they thought nothing of building a monster 2.3L 3-cylinder.

    • mickey says:

      For me, across the frame the absolute minimum limit is four cylinders. Had singles, had twins, had triples and none of them did it for me (although a triple two stoke is pretty cool) and yes a reincarnated CBX would be AWESOME! C’mon Honda you can do it!

      • MGNorge says:

        My brother owned two CBX’s and I have to say they were the treat! Not overly powerful but there was enough to have fun with, smooth like a turbine and the sound of a Porsche flat six. Visually striking with the cascading waterfall of all six head pipes laid out in front. As with most bikes, its weight melted away once underway. Good times!

        • Hot Dog says:

          I saw a CBX at the Indy Moto GP a few years ago and it was beautiful. It had a single sided swing arm, USD forks, deep red frame….whew!!!

  18. Dave says:

    I am sure it is a good bike but it is ugly. I have seen them in person and they still are ugly. When they have the touring package on them they are even uglier.

  19. Frank says:

    Nice looking bike that looks better in person. Spending $20K on a quality ride is only for the rich? .. Spending $350K on a Rolls is only for the rich. For the Diavel all you’d need is a job and decent credit.

  20. peter harris says:

    eee-gads – can’t unsee

  21. Sam says:

    “Austin ZZR1200 says:

    May 7, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Its a sport bike for fat, rich people.”

    So what’s wrong with “Fat, rich people?”

    I are one:) 78 bikes and counting.

    Skeptics that I know have ridden one and gave fantastic reports on it.

    All of these bikes today look like the Starship Enterprize and hardly like “real” motorcycles.

    I think I’ll have another expensive double bacon cheeseburger.

    Sam:)

  22. Tommy D says:

    What if there were no DUCATI badging on this bike? Would it be a bike only Honda could love?

    • mickey says:

      LOL yea, then it would be” Honda has lost it’s way” and “what was Honda thinking?” and ” another collectible in 30 years from Honda” and “Honda answers another question no one asked” and “too heavy, too expensive, too late”

    • dino says:

      Could be a Honda… but then it would weight around 700 lbs, and have a parallel twin hidden behind plastic somewhere..

      Seems like Ducati did a good job keeping the weight down to “just” 452lbs for something this big.. If I were able to have a small gaggle of bikes in the garage, this would be one of them.. Not a daily driver for me, but sure looks fun!

      • MGNorge says:

        Mighty big parallel twin with those beefy head pipes. Interesting how perceptions change relating to the name on the tank. Twenty large makes it somewhat easier to keep the weight down.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Haha. It almost does kind of have that “Honda breaks new ground!” look to it, doesn’t it?

  23. mg3 says:

    Seriously, who would drop 20 large on this, other than BATMAN himself ???

  24. Jeremy in TX says:

    I’ve never liked these, but I have seen more Diavels riding around on the weekend in these parts than any other type of Ducati. Having sat on a Diavel, it did seem mighty comfortable which might have a lot to do with how many I see actually getting ridden.

    • Brian Hansen says:

      Speaking of comfort on a Ducati……The brand new MS1200 with the low seat option is a big improvement from the former model. The looks are still …..”odd”.

      It actually looks like an angry digital gorilla face.

      While I would love to roost this Diavel around for a day, I’m not the target audience.

  25. Nikita says:

    The thing makes me think of a wild boar for some reason, its got this beefy side to it, and a low but aggressive looking stance. looks like its about to ram some one with its tusks.

  26. ABQ says:

    The position of the pegs felt uncomfortable to me. Maybe if they could be fitted to the customer. I would also look forward to versions of the Diavel with smaller displacement engines.

  27. Kevin says:

    I’ll say this: It’s not as ugly as a VMAX.

    Peak torque arrives “at just 8,000 rpm.”

    False neutrals, too-fat cruiser rear tire (yet “this is not a cruiser”), billboard-in-the-wind seating position, small gas tank plus 30 mpg, digital tachometer, harsh suspension over small bumps, useless mirrors.

    “This is not a bike for everyone.”

    Yes.

    • Austin ZZR1200 says:

      Its a sport bike for fat, rich people,

      • halfbaked says:

        First of all you hardly have to be rich to afford this bike and secondly what has the riders weight have to do with the suitability of this machine. Also can’t you just confine your negative remarks to posers and wannabes like everybody else with out resorting to body hating.

  28. Gary says:

    That fuel lump in front of the seat and it only holds 4.5 gallons? Looks like it ought to hold at least 6. Must be the airbox.

    Congrats to Ducati for having the balls to build something so unconventional. It’s not for me, but it certainly breaks the cruiser mold.

  29. xLaYN says:

    First than nothing Kudos to the photographer, I know the pain which is to get those shots on sunset and night with that nice illumination.
    Interesting take on the muscle execution, I like it!!
    “Ducati has stretched valve check intervals to 18,000 miles on the Diavel” yay!!
    “That gigantic rear tire (a 240 mm for god’s sake!)” indeed, for God’s sake!!
    “but forged Marchesini wheels that are both beautiful and functionally ligh” which I don’t like that much, maybe in the flesh they look way better.
    that fuel tank capacity and MPG will make people cry.

    • dino says:

      Pictures are so nice, were they borrowed from Ducati flyers? Probably not, since most of the pics have “dirty” tires, instead of the perfect looking examples that look like the bike was helicopter dropped into the middle of nowhere, without a speck of dirt on that mountaintop road.

      • Dirck Edge says:

        Thanks for the kind words. These are pictures taken of yours truly by MD photographer Chris Rubino (the bottom photo, 3/4 rear,pipe side still, was taken by me). Chris is excellent. We always use our own photography for bike reviews. Press launches are shot by photographers hired by the manufacturers, but our reviews after the launch are typically shot by Chris or myself. If I am riding for photos, as I did here, I prefer Chris shoot the photos. I helped with lighting on the 2 flash exposures. We love photography here at MD almost as much as we love motorcycles.

        • xLaYN says:

          I was going to said joking you were holding the sun reflector on the sunset photo… guess what you were lol.
          “We love photography here at MD almost as much as we love motorcycles”
          photographydaily.com
          have to add to the list of beautiful machines the watches.

        • Dino says:

          They are great pics! I also enjoy taking photos while on my cycle trips (almost all my vacation photos have a dirty bike in them). You guys take it to a new level.. Good job!

  30. Mark says:

    It is hard to believe the company that brought us the 916 could build such an ugly bike.

  31. Louis says:

    A 4.5 gallon fuel tank, 30 mpg, and how long will a back tire last? And what does a 240mm tire cost? I don’t think this bike would be a good choice for commenting or touring.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “I don’t think this bike would be a good choice for commenting or touring.”

      I agree the range sucks too bad to make a decent tourer, but having sat on one I’d have to say it would make a great commuter. It felt very comfortable. For the people who can afford the bike and the service costs, the cost of fuel and tires is of no concern whatsoever.

  32. Mike says:

    I’ve seen it in person and it does look better than in pictures. And, like all Ducatis, the price is at a premium level that is beyond my means. Perhaps in 5 years when the used market starts to see garage queen examples I’ll have a look.

  33. mickey says:

    As garish as it looks, I found it incredibly comfortable to sit on.

  34. VLJ says:

    Still can’t find a single angle at which this bike has an attractive appearance. It vacillates between cartoonish, corpulent, silly, industrial, and clumsy. It’s like the motorcycle equivalent of Icky Woods waiting in line for coldcuts.

    Good bike for the class, though, assuming one cares to pigeonhole it within a given class.

    • jimmihaffa says:

      I personally think the 3/4 rear view (last pic) is quite striking with a brawny muscular appearance and a silhouette similar to that of a 1985 VFR 1000 or the obvious comparison to any year V-max. In any case, sometimes a bike in a class of its own is exactly what an affluent buyer seeks.

  35. Randy says:

    The bike just doesn’t photograph well in my opinion, it presents itself much better in person where all the odd angles and curves come together.