The idea of Ducati creating a cruiser-style motorcycle seems odd, but the Diavel, introduced in 2011, was an attempt to expand the appeal of the Italian brand to riders who value style and low seat heights over ultimate sporting potential. Diavel sales were initially decent but seem to have tailed off in recent years.
The spy shots seen here indicate Ducati is attempting to reinvigorate the Diavel platform with a complete redesign, including a new frame, swingarm and LED headlight, plus the unexpected introduction of a belt final drive replacing a chain. We also expect improved performance from the engine by using the DVT variable timing system as seen in the latest Multistrada. The exhaust system is also fresh, exiting through two large outlets in front of the rear wheel.
These photos reveal quite a few changes compared to the current Diavel. Starting at the front of the bike, there’s a new smaller headlight with an increased rearward slope. We’re confident the lighting will be of the LED variety. From there we see the giant air intakes on the current model are gone, revealing more of the trellis frame, which itself looks new. Another tip-off to the new frame theory is the exposed rear cylinder seen in these spy photos. The current Diavel frame hides it. The frame definitely shows off the engine more, especially with those shiny highlights accentuating the cylinders’ 90-degree vee.
The footpegs are mounted forward for a more cruiser-ish posture. Ducati marketing has long told people not to call the Diavel a cruiser, but it looks like that might be on the way out. While the new peg location may lessen ground clearance, we can’t say for certain, especially with a rider seated.
Its fuel tank is new, eschewing the current model’s “hump” for a lower profile that more accurately traces typical cruiser lines. The Diavel’s large air intakes are also gone, but at this stage, it’s unclear whether that is a permanent change or if they were simply removed for testing purposes.
Thanks to the smaller frame and the removal of the Diavel’s previous bodywork, we can see more of the engine, which definitely looks different than the current Diavel mill. We believe it’s a version of Ducati’s new DVT engine – which would deliver the fat torque curve that cruisers crave. We checked CARB certification for the 2016 Diavel for clues, but it’s currently listed with the same emission results as last year’s models. However, CARB certification isn’t definitive and can be replaced at any time with updated test results.
Ducati takes a step away from the cruiser mainstream with the new, smaller exhaust that ends in front of the rear wheel. Although last year’s megaphone-ish mufflers fell somewhere between scrambler and cruiser styling, the exhaust shown in these photos appears to contain almost all of its capacity in a large muffler behind the engine, reducing the impression of size.
The swingarm appears to be a new design, with its bracing now above the main spar instead of below as with the current model. As mentioned earlier, the shock still sits horizontally, but is now mounted above the swingarm rather than below it. Maybe the most surprising difference between old and new is belt drive replacing the current chain – perhaps becoming the first Ducati ever to not use a chain for its final drive. While Ducati’s sporting heritage would make a chain final drive an obvious choice, if the team from Bologna is really going after a larger share of the cruiser market, the nearly maintenance-free nature of a belt should be more appealing, and more familiar, to those customers.
Full details on the new Diavel should be revealed at this fall’s EICMA show in Milan. Stay tuned.