Ducati’s power cruiser is unusual, but absolutely entertaining.
There are motorcycles whose existence makes perfect sense and then there are some that don’t make any sense at all. Case in point, the Ducati XDiavel Blackstar. It is Ducati’s take on a cruiser and, by definition, these motorcycles are supposed to be the relaxed, gentle way of covering kilometres. If only someone had told the blokes at Bologna that. Because the XDiavel is anything but a typical cruiser.
Tearing the rule book apart
Ok, so the design does suggest that the XDiavel is a cruiser. It’s apparent in its long, low-slung stance and in the way you are seated. The deep bowl-like perch is supportive and comfortable, your legs stretch to rest on the forward-set foot pegs and the handlebar is so wide that your hands are spread apart as if you’re about to embrace someone. And this is where all references to a ‘cruiser’ ends. Because, barring the riding position, the XDiavel is actually a low-slung sportsbike. Allow me to explain.
The apt term to describe the XDiavel is a power cruiser and, my word, has Ducati taken this seriously. The 1,262cc, L-twin engine makes the same 160hp as the sinister Ducati Diavel 1260 that this motorcycle is based on. Peak torque is down by 2Nm, but it arrives much lower in the range, at 5,000rpm. This makes the engine more responsive at lower revs.
While the internal gear ratios are the same as the 1260’s engine, the XDiavel has a belt drive with a z28 front, z80 rear sprocket set-up.
All of this translates into a motorcycle that’s absolutely bonkers off the line. Selecting Sport mode and unleashing the full fury of the engine requires some ‘brave pills’. Because the rate at which the bike hurtles towards the horizon is as scary as it is entertaining. You are merely a giggling, howling-in-glee passenger as the sensation of passing the world at speed takes over. And then there’s the Ducati Power Launch (DPL) to make light work of shooting off the line on this bike. Mind you, it can get addictive!
Back to sane
Even with all that entertaining performance on offer, the XDiavel would’ve been a pointless motorcycle if it wasn’t capable of handling the normal grind. And to our surprise, it takes it all in its stride.
Yes, the engine is lumpy at crawling speeds, even in Urban mode. But the lower power and gentle throttle response makes life easier in the city. A big engine will produce heat and this liquid-cooled L-twin is no exception, so be prepared for that.
Belt drive requires no maintenance.
Touring mode is great for cruising down the highway and this is where the engine feels relaxed yet responsive. The catch is you’ve got to be sitting at over 110kph in sixth and not at 80kph where the engine judders in protest. As we’ve said before, this isn’t your typical cruiser, eh! And that’s the point – the XDiavel needs to be ridden fast to be best enjoyed.
Complementing this temperament of the XDiavel is the lovely chassis that makes it an absolute joy to push around bends. Even with the steering geometry more raked out than the Diavel 1260, the Blackstar felt effortless to tip into corners. Adding to the confidence is the stability offered by the long wheelbase, the Pirelli Rosso 3 tyres and superb Brembo M50 monoblocs, when one needs to shed speed rapidly.
The suspension, even in stock setting, absorbs most road imperfections. However, with limited travel at the monoshock, riding over expansion joints and ruts isn’t a pleasant feeling.
Making sense of it
The XDiavel carves a niche for itself in the sea of motorcycles for more reasons than one. Take a good look at it and you’ll appreciate its sinister design and bits like the billet aluminium mirrors and single-sided swingarm putting the fat rear wheel on display. Even the world stops in its tracks upon witnessing this low-slung motorcycle go by.
It may not make any sense on paper. But when you ride it, you begin to make sense of it all. The XDiavel is an experience that’s unparalleled, but also something that won’t appeal to either the traditional sportbike rider or the traditional cruiser aficionado. At the end of the day, it’s only the discerning few who’ll truly appreciate this absolutely mental motorcycle.