2013/2014 Ducati Diavel Strada Review

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Ducati Diavel Strada

Editor Score: 79.5%
Engine 19/20
Suspension/Handling 8/15
Transmission/Clutch 6.5/10
Brakes 10/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8/10
Value 7/10
Overall Score79.5/100

Ducati’s Diavel has been an odd Duc since its 2011 inception, going partway down a cruiser path but not fully committing to the segment’s form-ahead-of-function paradigm. The regular Diavels can feel a bit confused – it’s sort of a cruiser but one from a new sub-breed.

And now comes the Diavel Strada, a touring-oriented version of the Italian devil that adds such niceties as a windscreen, saddlebags, higher handlebars with heated grips, and a plusher seat that includes a passenger backrest. While this would seem to dilute the animalistic appeal of the original Diavel, the Strada actually makes a bit more sense as a complete package – a comfortable and potent bagger, like an Italian-style Street Glide, the best-selling motorcycle in America.

A Street Glide, however, can’t match the Diavel’s 9.95-second sprint down the quarter-mile, as evidenced in the shootout listed above with the Cromo version of the Diavel. The 1198cc V-Twin kicks out 135 horses to a fat, 240mm rear tire, giving the 527-pound Diavel a potent power-to-weight ratio. The Strada version, at 540 pounds with its 4.5-gallon (claimed) tank full, should be almost as quick.

Also see the Diavel Cromo vs. the Star VMAX on the street and at the dragstrip

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Profile

A windshield, detachable saddlebags and a passenger backrest identifies this Diavel as the Strada version.

The core of the Diavel is unchanged: engine tuning, gearing, rake (28 degrees), wheelbase (62.6 inches) and seat height (30.6 inches) remain the same. New to the Strada are a higher-output generator to juice dual 12-volt power outlets, revised (non-retracting) passenger footpegs and a subtly altered rear lighting assembly.

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Luggage

In a nod to long-haul comfort, the Diavel Strada receives a more comfortable seat with high-density foam padding. It’s fairly plush, but its padding packs down eventually. The security offered by the backrest not only encourages your passenger not to crowd you, keeping you more in control, it also makes sure your pillion remains on board when unleashing the Diavel’s brutish power.

First impressions are, for a Ducati, of a large, long and bulky machine, but keep in mind it carries around a massive 260 pounds less than a Street Glide and has 3 fewer inches between its axles. As such, relatively speaking, the Strada is a streetfighter among traditional baggers, with footpegs nearly under a rider’s butt as opposed to a cruiser’s feet-forward layout. The Strada’s new handlebars skew nearer to a cruiser, gaining 15mm (0.6 inch) in height and pulled 60mm (2.4 inches) closer to the rider.

Carried over from the other Diavels (base model, Dark, Carbon, losing the Cromo and AMG for 2014) is the bike’s imposing presence. The liquid-cooled motor is stuffed inside a tight-fitting trellis frame, and the back end is dominated by a fat donut (240mm) of a rear tire. The single-sided swingarm proudly displays a lovely aluminum wheel highlighted by machined accents.

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Action Right

Leave it to the Italians to do it different. The Diavel Strada isn’t a typical cruiser, nor is it – with detachable textile saddlebags – a typical bagger.

Fired up, the Strada retains the Diavel’s slight grumpiness at very small throttle openings and a fairly heavy clutch pull. Also, its gearbox is somewhat clunky and requires longish throws, with neutral occasionally difficult to access at a stop.

Otherwise, the Diavel is delightful, feeling almost like a Honda Grom next to a typical bagger. Once past 1500 rpm, throttle response is pleasingly devoid of jumpiness, even in its performance-oriented Sport setting. A 70-degree steering sweep makes the bike easy to position in tight spaces, and the taller handlebar yields more leverage when trying to overcome the heavy steering responses created by that fat rear Pirelli.

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Luggage Open

Ducati says there’s 41 liters of storage in each semi-hardshell saddlebag. While they’re fairly roomy and conveniently detachable, they lack the security and style of hardshell bags with integrated locks.

The V-Twin in the Diavel is far revvier than any cruiser, yet it boasts stupendous midrange power that’ll annihilate any other V-Twin at the stoplight GP. The traction-control system makes the bike impossible to flip over when accelerating off the line, but it satisfyingly allows second-gear, 50-mph wheelies! True hooligans can switch off the TC. Meanwhile, you’ll be enjoying the crackling, raucous tunes played by a lightly muffled exhaust – loud enough to dissuade me from considering the aftermarket.

COMPARISON: Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review

The Diavel is not only easy to launch, it’s also easy to bring to a stop. Braking performance from the triple-disc Brembo system is exceptional, with a firm lever actuated by steel braided lines and, up front, to stout radial-mount monobloc calipers. A relatively long wheelbase keeps the bike stable during heavy deceleration, and the standard ABS system rarely intervenes.

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Action Left

The Strada’s windshield offered good wind protection for my 5-foot-8 height, although a simple adjustable arrangement like on the latest Multistrada would enhance its adaptability. The distance from seat to pegs is tighter than a typical cruiser, but it’s far more relaxed than a sportbike.

Out on the open road, the Diavel accelerates stronger at 80 mph (4800 rpm) than at 65 mph (3500 rpm), which is something no stock Harley ever could say. Its freeway-speed jam is outstanding and makes short work of any dawdlers in your path. It’s very solid and stable on the highway, where the pilot enjoys a fairly smooth ride thanks to the the long (for a Ducati) wheelbase that capably smothers most bumps. Passenger impressions are less favorable, as that heavy rear hoop and tire directly below your pillion is being ineffectively damped. Big bumps transmit considerable harshness to both riders, even after trying several settings on the suspenders. The shock features a hydraulic preload adjuster to allow easy changes to suit varying loads, even on the fly.

The fat rear end not only extracts a penalty from suspension compliance, it also degrades turn-in responses and linearity while altering bank angles. The relatively tall profile of the Pirelli helps the Diavel steer better than any other bike with a 240mm meat, but while no one can doubt the badassitude of the chubby back tire, it can’t help but compromise vehicle dynamics.

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Action Cornering

Despite disproportionately wide rear rubber, this so-called cruiser will have no trouble showing its LED taillight down a twisty road to anything wearing a wheelbase of more than 62 inches.

The Diavel boasts a two-tier instrument display that offers a comprehensive set of gauges. Attached to the handlebar is a gray-scale display for speed, oil temp, clock and bar-graph tach headed by an array of warning lamps. Atop the fuel tank is a color TFT panel with ambient temp, GPI, dual tripmeters, average and instantaneous fuel mileage, power mode and DTC settings. Like on many Yamahas, the Diavel has a convenient count-up tripmeter that engages when reserve is reached. We averaged nearly 40 mpg during our 500-plus miles on the Strada.

Another electronic trick is the Diavel’s keyless ignition with a proximity sensor. Journalists, who tend to switch bikes often, dislike such electronic ignition locks. But such locks are incredibly handy if you’re the only rider – just keep it stuck in your pocket and never worry about your key again. Anyone concerned about maintenance on a Ducati should know the Diavel is equipped with a two-year warranty, and valve-adjustment intervals have been stretched to 15,000 miles.

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Front

LED lighting bisects the headlamp and is nicely integrated into the leading edges of the radiators as clear-lens turnsignals.

Conclusion

The transformation from Diavel to Strada has endowed this oddball platform with broader-band appeal. No longer just a muscle cruiser, the new equipment on the Diavel Strada stretches it into the sporty-touring category, offering range-extending comfort for both rider and passenger. It makes us want to load up 82 liters of luggage for a weekend getaway with a loved one to the next state over.

Okay, it’s not like we shelled out the $19,495 MSRP for our test bike, which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a considerable chunk of change. But a base-model Street Glide now retails above $20k, and, while it has an audio system and GPS, it lacks traction control, standard ABS and the ability to make pass after pass down the quarter mile in less than 11 seconds. Oh, and a Street Glide does crappier wheelies!

+ Highs

  • Fun and unique
  • Versatile powerhouse
  • Metrosexual Street Glide
- Sighs

  • Wide/heavy rear wheel/tire
  • Spendy
  • Metrosexual Street Glide

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada Front Right

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  • cr0ft

    The bags scream “aftermarket addon”, not Ducati class. They seriously drag the whole thing down. If you’re going to make a factory bagger, make the bags fit the styling and make them out of a hardshell material. In my view, the Diavels claim to fame has always been the streetbike-ish engine in a fairly rideable chassis, as an almost hybrid approach. It’s just not a bagger platform, and if that’s what you need you’re better off with something else that’s designed to be a bagger – a Guzzi California tourer or heck why not a Triumph Rocket III Touring? Otherwise, just buy a Diavel and cobble on aftermarket bags, it will look just as bad as this… Diavel? Thumbs up. Diavel with cheap bags? Pass.

    • Commenter_X

      Totally agreed. Ducati, what the heck are you thinking with these? I would seriously have entertained a Diavel with real luggage. Tiny soft bags that look like cheap third party add ons and will break in a few thousand miles? Ridiculous, Ducati is not even trying here and my money went to BMW.

  • 2wheelsgood

    The bags are a lot smaller than 41L each, maybe 41L combined ? I have 42L side cases and they look like steamer trunks compared to these.

    • Kevin

      You’re absolutely right, 38 liters is 10 gallons, 41 liters is about what a Victory Cross Country has, no way are these bags nearly that big.

    • Kevin Duke

      Our Ducati rep has confirmed the 41-liter-each claim, FWIW.

      • Kevin

        My wife says the rep probably is a man, and that he probably believes his “pinky finger” is 7 inches long!

        • Kevin Duke

          We have a close relationship with Ducati, but not close enough to verify your wife’s theory!

          • Kevin

            Please don’t, she doesn’t need to know.

      • 2wheelsgood

        Yeah, I see that spec out on the internet ( so it must be true

  • Vrooom

    Given other bikes have similar power as the Diavel and a 180/190 series rear tire, I’d look at a new rear wheel if I was an owner. It might look cool, but reduces handling, and let’s face it, you didn’t buy that Ducati to go in a straight line.

  • Kevin

    Sorry Dukester, most often you can make your efforts to draw comparison from one bike to another work, but not this time. There is just too much disparity in purpose, form, and function from the Duc to the SG. No one considering one would give a second thought to the other. The Guzzi California tourer is the only legit Italian rival to the SG. The better comparison for this ride (as the touring bits look like aftermarket add ons any way) would be and accessorized V-Max and Rocket III roadster.

    • Kevin Duke

      Well, I don’t actually believe there’d be many people cross shopping a SG with a Strada. But the intent – looking cool, looking mean, with enough comfort and storage for a weekend away – is pretty similar.

      • 2wheelsgood

        I’d take this any day over a SG or their v-rod, or a vmax. I sat on one in the showroom and was shocked at how light and well balanced it felt. It doesn’t look it, but it is.

        I think there is some cross market shopping between HD and Ducati. Some HD buyers go for a monster or diavel. They both require big dollars and they are viewed as among the best or most authentic of their type.

        It rides harsh though ? That’s kind of a bummer, but typical for Italian bikes.

      • Kevin

        I have to admit that you do a better job of drawing a basis for comparison than Ducati does in claiming the luggage is as big as the bags on a Cross Country.

  • Craig Hoffman

    My favorite part of this bike is the exhaust. Those headers look suitable for Allison V12 duty!

    The bike does not make a lot of sense though. The Moto Guzzi bagger gets my vote for oddball Euro touring bike. They may not have anywhere near the power of this Duc, but they are 90 degree engines, which automatically makes them cool.

  • michaelfalke

    I guess I am just getting too old but what is the deal about the stylists pride at the building of another insanely hideous motorcycle? This thing regardless of how it handles is absolutely hideous. And what is with those exhaust pipes? Ugh! I would not want it parked in my garage. The Italians USED to make beautiful machines. Did all those stylists die?

  • Tom Brown

    I did a test on a Triumph Rocket 3. It’s got the same problem with the rear suspension, a wide, heavy rear tire with not enough suspension travel. And wait until that big meat has 7 thousand or so miles on it and is flat in the middle. Turn-in will be just completely awful. I won’t be buying a bike of this genre but I think the Duc is the best of em.

    One thing I dislike about Ducatis in general is their higher cost of maintenance. Wait until you find out how much that 15K valve adjustment costs you! This won’t dissuade most of the customers for these bikes. They’re occasional riders who aren’t going to put a lot of miles on them. Most who buy these new will trade them before 15K. I predict a high turnover rate…Used ones will be around in a year.

  • mog

    9.95 quater mile?….. then, on another page (actually buried in another review) you tell the reader this is a corrected time? Not for anyone else here, but for me, this is an issue. Next time please post the actual time and then the ‘corrected’ time. The bike can stand on its own without demerit of time distortion. Otherwise well done.

  • Jeffrey Degracia

    Have any of you actually test ridden a Diavel? The turn in is relatively Panigale-like compared to a traditional bagger. In fact, everything is Panigale-like compared to traditional baggers. I believe the mission here is to create a power cruiser capable of light touring for the sport bike rider looking for a second bike or “ageing” out of single-minded supersport bikes. One test ride will convince you they have succeeded.

    • Commenter_X

      I did and quite liked it, but the rear suspension is badly in need of retuning for compliance if your roads are less than smooth (I would have overlooked this and done that) and there is really no good luggage solution for the bike that I have seen.

  • Glenn

    I’ll have one.The Diavel in it’s shopping edition was out because I wouldn’t make my wife sit on that poor excuse for a pillion perch this one looks do-able.
    Will be investigating hard bags though.

  • Ron

    The Italians took something ugly, and made it even cheaper looking! The Diavel…isn’t easy to look at…then they did this… Sorry, not a fan of any Strada…some scooters look better and I HATE scooters! Total FAIL!

  • http://www.jacoposilva.it/ Jacopo Silva

    great bike!