Get ready for launch Hitting Harley heartland After 4500 miles with the Italian super-cruiser, Emma’s discovered that yet another Ducati star has been born Best foot forward
The votes have been counted and verified, and after six months of appraisal I can honestly say that the Ducati Xdiavel S has that little bit extra. In 11 years of road testing, I’ve never ridden anything that grabs attention quite like this Bologna brute. It stopped traffic – literally – wherever it went, and pulled crowds whether it was parked up on a rain-soaked petrol station forecourt or at a sun-drenched summer bike meet.
But the big V-twin’s beauty was more than skin deep; despite what its spec sheet suggested, the big X rode more like a super-naked than a cruiser. Country lanes could be attacked for pleasure, and even longer distances passed without too much pain.
With show-stopping looks and 156bhp of superbike-like performance, every ride on the 1262cc V-twin was a memorable one, but as I wave goodbye to the Italian stallion I’m reminded of some stand-out moments… With over 100ftlb torque at just 5000rpm, accelerating on the Xdiavel is an eye-wateringly intense experience. And with a peak power figure of 156bhp, the big X has the ability to reach speeds of around 150mph (neck, arm and thigh muscles being the only limiting factor). Fortunately, the factory gifted the S model with their Ducati Power Launch (DPL) system, which has been designed to take the stress out of launching such a powerful bike. I tested it at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, and when it was activated all I had to do was pin the throttle wide open then swiftly release the clutch, and the bike would do the rest – modulating wheelies and wheelspin. Using the system made launches feel really slick, and the front wheel just hovered inches above the ground, but interestingly my 0-60mph times were quicker without the system activated. The Xdiavel was designed to take the fight directly to Harley-davidson, especially in America. While the MCN budget couldn’t stretch to a touring trip to the States I was able to do the next best thing and ride to a local HarleyDavidson dealer day to see how diehard Milwaukee fans reacted to the Italian pretender. Although it was a little nerve-racking pulling up amid patchwearing Harley faithful, their reaction to the Xdiavel was entirely positive. In general, Harley riders loved the looks, were not put off by the near-£19,000 pricetag, and appreciated the pillion accommodation – but many found the big X’s 156bhp and associated performance a bit of a worry. “Do you think I’d get on with the foot forward riding position?” and “is it comfortable?” were the most frequently asked questions I received from MCN readers who were considering buying their own Xdiavel. The riding position was comfortable for me, especially due to the clever adjustable pegs and optional sweptback bars. But after a full summer and autumn of use, I found that I did miss the connected feeling you get from a standard riding position, and when I spent a few days riding Ducati’s 959 Panigale I realised just what I’d been missing. The Xdiavel definitely handles better than any other cruiser on the market, but you may miss the feeling of oneness you get from riding a proper sportsbike or super-naked – in which case you should slow down, kick back, and enjoy all the admiring looks. Cheers Xdiavel S, it’s been a blast.
Launch control engaged and cleared for take off Even Harley owners were impressed ‘With show-stopping looks and 156bhp, every ride was memorable’