Attempting to accurately define or categorize the new-for-2013 Ducati Diavel Strada is akin to hammering a square peg into a circular hole. In broad, theoretical strokes the Strada is merely a Diavel that has been adapted for touring duty, opening the door to Ducati aficionados who want to tour further, longer, and with more comfort, accompanied by a passenger and their stuff. In practice, however, it exhibits such personality, charisma, and idiosyncrasy that delegating it to one specific class or category would be painting it into the proverbial corner and doing everyone a disservice in the process.
Changes above and beyond the stock Diavel include a higher and closer handlebar position, adjusted footpegs, small but surprisingly effective windscreen, a more comfortable seat with a pillion, backrest, and grab rails, heated handgrips, two auxiliary power outlets, and soft saddlebags. All of these added accoutrements of course arrive with an additional weight of 6kg (13lb) and a cost of $1,500 over the entry-level Diavel Dark, ringing in at a base MSRP of $20,495.
Outfitted in Race Titanium Matt, styling cues combine form and function in a final product that is both alluring and imposing while not being altogether photogenic. Taking in the physical presence of the machine is far more impressive than trying to capture images of its best angles; since I’m not entirely convinced it has any.
Settling into the saddle of the beast is an easy proposition as controls are intuitive and the proportions are comfortable for my six-foot frame. Flicking open the kill switch and thumbing the keyless starter button awakens the fuel-injected and liquid-cooled 1198cc Testastretta 11° L-Twin cylinder powerplant that gurgles and shudders before roaring to life, echoed through the lightweight 2-1-2 aluminum mufflers. Toeing the gear peg into first with a heavy thunk, the clutch engages power smoothly but what you do with it is all up to your right hand. A smooth, deliberate and linear application of power is needed with the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada, otherwise you could find yourself lurching forward over the handlebars or introducing your eyeballs to the back of your skull with acceleration that can easily be described as brisk.
|Outfitted in Race Titanium Matt, styling cues combine form and function in a final product that is both alluring and imposing while not being altogether photogenic. (Photo: Dustin Woods)
While the heaviest Diavel tips the scales at 245kg (540lb), power is more than ample in any gear and can be adjusted with the new electronic riding mode system that can be changed on the fly giving the rider a choice of Sport, Touring, and Urban settings. Sport mode allows for the full 162 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 94 lb-ft of torque at 8,000 rpm to be at the command of your right hand combined with a reduction in the traction control intervention with the understanding that you are comfortable riding closer to the limit. Touring mode has the same potency but with a smoother torque delivery and medium traction control intervention. Selecting the Urban riding mode instantly drops power to 100 horses and ups the traction control level to higher intervention for safer riding in a hectic riding environment.
A toggle switch on the left handlebar of the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada allows the rider to scroll through a plethora of information on the LCD display: speed, rpm, time, coolant and exterior temperature, along with warning lights for neutral, turn signals, high-beam, rev-limit, DTC intervention, ABS status, oil pressure, fuel reserve. Additional instrumentation is available on the tank-mounted TFT colour display including gear selection, air temperature, battery voltage, trip metre, fuel reserve trip, average and actual fuel consumption and speed, trip time and scheduled maintenance updates. With all of this welcome -- and in some cases extraneous -- information available, it was somewhat strange to find the absence of a fuel gauge, the one piece of information that every rider would appreciate.
They say the devil is in the details; my biggest gripe with the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada may be completely insignificant to someone else but the toggle switch that scrolls through the aforementioned information and adjusts drive modes is one and the same as the turn signal and cancel switch which is very close to the horn button. Over the course of my week with the Strada, I still fumbled with scanning through the interface when I was attempting to cancel the turn signal or vice versa, and even inadvertently hit the horn several times with my cold-weather gloves on.
|Power is more than ample in any gear and can be adjusted with the new electronic riding mode system that can be changed on the fly giving the rider a choice of Sport, Touring, and Urban settings. (Photo: Dustin Woods)
Riding the Ducati Diavel Strada took a bit of getting used to, mostly due to the fact that the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rubber wrapping 14-spoke Alloy rims measure 120/70 ZR 17 in the front and a massive 240/45 ZR17 in the rear. As a result, smooth cornering required a different technique at different speeds and made the 371kg (818lb) Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special I rode next handle like a nimble little sports car by comparison.
The claimed 41L side panniers are certainly better than nothing but are more suited to a picnic with your passenger or holding little more than rain gear rather than storing the necessities of a long haul. The canvas-like fabric and zippers didn’t instil confidence that they would stand the test of harsh weather or time, and they aren’t lockable so I had to unpack all my camera gear and carry it with me every time I left the bike unattended out of fear of it not being there when I returned.
Despite the personal gripes, I enjoyed my time with the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada and would be happy to have it as a travel companion for its supreme comfort and versatility. Its imposing demeanor and wicked exhaust note scared the neighbourhood children and upset their mothers, while the performance is akin to a flying rodent exiting hell. It is difficult to define the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada because I think it creates a new category all its own.
|Riding the Ducati Diavel Strada took a bit of getting used to, mostly due to the fact that the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rubber wrapping 14-spoke Alloy rims measure 120/70 ZR 17 in the front and a massive 240/45 ZR17 in the rear. (Photo: Dustin Woods)
- Incredible sound
- Comfortable performance touring bike with character in spades
- Straight-line performance
- Confusing controls
- Rear tire dislikes leaning
- All the information you need except for a fuel gauge