2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo Review

A devil of a different color

Who knew Lucifer to be such a haute-couture sumbitch. A half-dozen years ago his alias was associated with Prada via Meryl Streep, and now its resplendent on the air intakes of a motorcycle manufactured by one of our industry’s designer name brands. Got to admit, though, pronouncing Diavel sounds way cool (dee-ah-vehl), and just knowing the Bolognese word for devil has expanded my vocabulary to include more than a few Italian motorcycle terms and the names of Americanized spaghetti sauces. 

Ducati recategorized the power-cruiser market with the Diavel, taking the fight to YamaStar’s venerable VMax (stay tuned for our forthcoming shootout), but the Cromo version seen here only ups the fashion ante. Divorced from function or performance, higher fashion commands a higher price and that applies to the Cromo model. The Cromo is one step above the standard model. Retailing at a $1500 premium over the regular Diavel, the Cromo ($18,995) is outfitted with a bevy of cosmetic accoutrements. Most noticeable are the chrome-finished tank panels embossed with Ducati's vintage Meccanica logo and the word Cromo laser-etched into the air ducts on either side of the tank. A seat cover streamlines the pillion saddle, while the paint's gloss-black finish is highlighted by silver pinstripes on the front fender, fuel tank, headlamp nacelle and seat cover. Horizontally ribbed seat stitching gives a custom appearance.

2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo Cornering

The standard Diavel is available in a similar Diamond black color scheme for the same seventeen-five price tag, but a Cromo it is not. The Cromo ranks fourth in the Diavel line, behind the  AMG ($26,495) and the Carbon ($19,995). In any guise, the Ducati cruiser is a bike unlike any other.

"The Diavel is surprising in so many ways,” says grand poobah, Kevin Duke. “It looks huge but feels small and has a caricaturish fat rear tire yet is amazingly agile.” To which senior scooter editor, Troy Siahaan, adds “Its stance is pretty badass, menacing, aggressive and mean, just as a bike in this category should be.”

2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo Cockpit

Sitting dormant the Diavel could be construed as more form than function, but how lame would a title like Devil be if that were the case? This is Ducati after all, a manufacturer with a reputation for performance. With the key fob close by, flip up the red kill switch and push the starter button and Diavel belches (legal decibel level) hellfire from its 58mm cross-section exhaust headers and dual stacked shorty mufflers.

“Ducati exhaust notes are almost always delicious, and the Diavel continues that tradition,” says Duke. “It emits a tough and nasty bark befitting its muscle-bike persona.”

Riding the Diavel conjures a mixture of sensations. Hell, just sitting on it can be perplexing. “I'll admit it was weird to place my feet in front of me on a Ducati. That's something I've never done before,” remarks Siahaan.

2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo Dyno Results

Motion exposes Ducati’s go-fast intentions, and for the Diavel, that begins with the motor. Strapped to Hypercycle’s dyno the Cromo produced 134.5 rear-wheel horsepower at 9400 rpm and 80.1 ft.-lb. of torque at 7900 rpm from its Testastretta 11° engine. Twist a handful of right grip and the deeply curved seat immediately makes sense. While it tends to lock its rider into a single position, the backstop it provides when unleashing the engine’s potential is welcome support considering the bike’s upright seating arrangement.

In the hands of MO’s dragstrip specialist, Duke put the Diavel through the lights at Famoso Dragway outside Bakersfield, California, in a very respectable time of 10.32 seconds at 131.29 mph. Corrected for temperature and air pressure, the ET converts to a seriously quick 9.95-second pass. Yes, we did run the Cromo against the VMax but we’re withholding that information for our upcoming shootout between these muscle-bike beasts.

2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo Drag Race

On the street and in the corners the Diavel Cromo blurs the lines between cruiser and sportbike. “Despite its cruiser pretense, this is one factory custom that doesn't need to shy away from a twisty canyon road,” Duke says. Despite its conservative rake and trail figures and its wide swath of rubber out back, initial lean-in is easy to achieve, but it’s leveraging that 240mm wide tire to its edge that’s trying.

“When you get it leaned over, the front feels like it's going to slide out from under you,” says Siahaan. “It won't, but you have to slowly work up to that level of trust with the Diavel.”

Another eminent performance attribute are the Diavel’s brakes. “Its Brembos are notably strong, but their initial bite might be a little too abrupt for anyone accustomed to typical cruiser brakes,” notes Duke.

2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo Passenger Grab Handle

Included in the Cromo’s asking price is an array of electronic gadgetry such as ABS, DTC, riding modes and ride-by-wire throttle, while suspending the bike is a fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi fork and a Sachs progressive linkage monoshock, both fully adjustable. As mentioned earlier, these components are identical to those on the lesser expensive standard model Diavel.

For a more detailed assessment of the Diavel’s performance read Pete Brisette’s full review, and stay tuned for our forthcoming shootout against the VMax.

For now, Duke sums the Diavel up best, saying it “impresses as much for what it isn't than what it is. It's not a typical cruiser nor is it a typical Ducati but a hybrid of cruiser and sportbike that delivers a pleasingly unique riding experience. There’s nothing else quite like it.”

2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo Left Side

Ducati Diavel Cromo Specs
Type Testastretta 11°, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Displacement 1198.4cc
Bore x Stroke 106 x 67.9mm
Compression Ratio 11.5:1
Power 162hp (119kW) @ 9500rpm (claimed at the crankshaft)
Torque 94lb-ft (127.5Nm) @ 8000rpm (claimed at the crankshaft)
Fuel Injection Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection system, Mikuni elliptical throttle bodies with RbW
Exhaust Lightweight 2-1-2 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes. Twin aluminium mufflers
Gearbox 6 speed
Primary Drive Straight cut gears, ratio 1.84:1
Ratio 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25
Final Drive Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 43
Clutch Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run.
Frame Tubular steel Trellis frame
Front Suspension Marzocchi 50mm fully adjustable usd forks
Front Wheel 14-spoke in light alloy 3.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Rear Suspension Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Sachs monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel 14-spoke in light alloy 8.00 x 17
Rear Tire 240/45 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Front Wheel Travel 120 mm (4.7 in)
Rear Wheel Travel 120 mm (4.7 in)
Front Brake 2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo callipers, 4-piston with ABS
Rear Brake 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper with ABS
Instrumentation Handlebar mounted instrumentation with LCD display: speed, rpm, time, coolant temp. Warning lights for: Neutral, turn signals, high-beam, rev-limit, DTC intervention, ABS status, oil pressure, fuel reserve. Tank mounted instrumentation with TFT colour display: gear selected, air temp, battery voltage, trips 1 & 2, fuel reserve trip, average and actual fuel consumption and speed, trip time, scheduled maintenance. Full status and/or management of Riding Modes, DTC, RbW and ABS.
Dimensions and Weight
Dry Weight 210 kg (463 lb)
ABS Wet Weight 239 kg (527 lb)
Seat Height 770 mm (30.3 in)
Wheelbase 1590 mm (62.6 in)
Rake 28°
Trail 130 mm (5.12 in)
Fuel Tank Capacity 17L - (4.5 US gal)
Versions Dual seat
Standard Equipment
Standard Equipment Riding modes, ABS, DTC, RbW
Warranty 2 years unlimited mileage
Maintenance Service Intervals 12,000 km (7,500m)
Valve Service Check 24,000km (15,000m)
Emissions And Consumption
Standard Euro 3

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