Friday, May 31, 2013

Riding the Devil

This shall be known as 'the best day'. These kinds of days only happen by pure coincidence and cannot be planned, they must occur when they feel like it, and happen by accident.

It started by dropping off my bike for some work at Ducati City where I thought I was getting a tram back home, yet was given a Diavel to ride for the day instead -  a pretty special kickstart. Not just a squirt-round-the-Yarra-Blvd kinda test ride, but thrown-the-keys-and-go-have fun kind of test ride. Bloody good start! Sometimes it pays to be normal and ask nicely, that's what my dad always told me.

I also scored a set of Strada GT V2 pants - the waterproof thermal lined kind that zip into your jacket at a pretty spiffy discounted run-out sale kinda priced. All of a sudden my dreams of being completely waterproof have come true. Pants zip in, right down over my boots, WHEN SEATED, and it's a match made in bloody heaven I tell you. So I'm loaded up with my Kevlar jeans stuffed into my jacket, looking like I've suddenly acquired a massive beer gut, and packed onto a Diavel out the door.

 My mind just about exploded at this point. A brand spanking new Diavel with 400kms on the clock. What to do? Get back home, sort this shit out, suit up and piss off! That was all coming together when a certain Harley riding fella, known to you as Big Steve, texted me feeling optimistic about some unexpected time off work, and a potential ride out his way to the Yarra Ranges. Looking pretty good so far right? 30 mins later we were scoffing pizza and heading out on the Eastern for a ride, me on a new Diavel about as excited as a kid in a lolly shop can get.

First impressions

The Diavel is a spectacular motorcycle. Stupendous fun. Loaded up with the biggest balls out, this machine is a dead set license shredder. It is one of those bikes that polarised riders - you either think it looks totally mad and futuristic/concept-esque, or you think it's the ugliest thing on the road. I hadn't really decided but let me say I was erring closer to the latter part of that sentence than the former. I am not sure what about it does this, the fact that its low slung and long like a ?? or that massive back wheel straight off the Batbike. You gotta admit it is an attention grabbing motorcycle.

 

Haven't decided either? Jump on one ASAP and your mind will be changed forever.

The ride

The gearbox, stolen from the 1198 paired up with a 14 tooth sprocket is the secret to this beasts straight line acceleration power. Man it is insanely fast. I don't know how to emphasise it enough. 10 g-force? A million wild stallions? Being strapped to a rocket launching into outer space? All of those things. That's how fast it is. Technically speaking it is the same engine that is in the MTS but with a sprocket change and the revised intake and exhaust ports plus some adjustment to the cam timing, gives this low slung beast 162bhp vs the MTS 150bhp, making it an absolute torque monster.

 It's torque-on-tap everywhere at all speeds. Just blip that throttle an hang on as your head snaps backwards. Thankfully, they have included a gear indicator light on the dash which is useful because you can sit on the national speed limit in fourth at 4,000RPM and not notice. Clack it up a couple of notches into overdrive and just cruise. If I ever ride the Nullabor to WA, this is the bike I want to do it on (I haven't thought about the practicality of that statement at all so just let it be). Comfort wise, it will really depend on your girth, if you are above a 40" waist and well over 6' tall, I'd hazard a guess that this bike is going to be a tad on the small side. For me, at 6"2" and a 34" waist, I squished in and felt completely badass.

*strong language warning*
My knees were pretty high, but it's a tucked up 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' kinda high that makes you feel like a mean mother fucker biker. It just has to be said. Ride this motorcycle and you are a fucking badass.
*end of strong language*
That's what it does to you. I swear, chuck on a pair of boots, jacket, jeans and jump on this bike and you are going to be so bad ass your soul will literally be consumed by the Devil. Diavel. You know what I mean. I found a couple of false neutrals or jams between second and third a couple of times, but other than that the gear box is really smooth and light, and shifts are dead easy to make quickly and time easily. Must be reiterated that this was a new bike so the gearbox is likely to be tight. I really like the clutch action and gearbox in this bike over the MTS apart from that sticky neutral thing, it's really easy to use.

 

I really dig the second dash in the petrol lid thing. Full colour LCD it whizzes and flashed on start up like a blinged up iPhone before settling down into some sensible selections.[/caption] And that's probably why it's going to be a license shredder for me, I found way to much speed, way to easily off the lights, and that dreaded 80 feels a lot more like 60 than you think, so being a cruise missile like it is much respect is required for that twist of the wrist around the city. It would be interesting to see what could be done about a set of forward controls to give it that full cruiser experience, maybe a set of apes… Big Steve!?! See what you have done to me? Stop talking. No apes.


Batbike
Handling. Now here's an interesting aspect of this bike. You'd think with that massive 240 rear tyre that it would be a pig in the corners right? Not so. You just roll that sucker over and seemingly never finding the edge, it's a different feel altogether than anything I'm used to and I wasn't sure if I was to get off the seat and hulk it over, counter steer or what, but with those big wide bars providing plenty of leverage, just a light counter steer action copes just fine. It's surprisingly nimble in the corners completely disguised by its bulking cruise-ship appearance. With a 76cm seat height it is an accessible machine for anyone to throw a leg over and I was completely surprised by just how easy it is to ride. I don't know what I was expecting to be honest, not being a cruiser fan much at all (until now)  my whole perception of this bike and cruisers in general just changed completely. Who knew kicking back and taking the long road home could be this enjoyable?

In the wild

Out in the open... phwoar! The power comes on so sudden it creates a dramatic sense of inertia, this bike has giddy straight line fever oozing from its very dark heart.  But it can be ridden normally and in control quite convincingly as well. Cruising with Big Steve on his Dyna we found a really comfortable leisurely pace up around Mt Dandenong and out back somewhere around the Ranges and just took in a brilliant Autumnal day on the bikes.

 Cruising this bike does well. I did notice that with some of the rougher roads we encountered it didn't soak up the bumps like the MTS does which is to be expected really when you compare the two bikes, it's kinda pointless actually doing so. The lower, shorter suspension, longer wheelbase Diavel doesn't quite bounce over the rough roads like the MTS but lets you know when you have hit a pothole with a rigid bit of feedback via the bars but it never felt bad. Just completely bad ass. Bump? Yeah fuck you! I'm going straight on at maximum warp.

 My arse got slightly numb around the 3-4 hr mark of riding which isn't bad. Man, my arse was dead after 40mins on the Hyper. Sargent seat would fix that. 17L petrol tank is pretty standard for the Ducatis of today it seems so you can hopefully pull a comfortable 250-300km ride out of this but that depends on your wrist action. At 210kg dry weight it's no lightweight but no heavier than most tourers or even some bigger sports bikes these days, yet it feels so light and balanced on the road you wouldn't believe it is any heavier than anything you're already riding. All up this bike is a dead set weapon. A blissful horn of a machine that will surprise and delight for many, many kilometres of  riding. And they make one in my favourite colour, blue. Check it out.



Summary

Seriously, it is no wonder this bike's name translates to the Devil. It really is, it's the devils motorcycle. Not to be taken lightly, but ridden like there is no tomorrow.

Disappointed. Do I really have to give it back? Can't I just keep it?


PS: I totally want one. Diavel Tech Spec Shop: Ducati City

Dan says: Huge thanks to John, the Dealer Principle at Ducati City for the opportunity to expand my lust for Ducati motorcycles and the loan of the Diavel. Bastard, now I expect I shall have to save up some pennies and buy one.