Earlier this summer I received an invitation to participate in a Cycle World "Ten Best Riding Experience". I must've said yes, 'cause I got a confirmation that I'd been selected to come down to Danversport Yacht Club just north of Boston with a friend to ride a Ducati Diavel.
Hannah and I rode down on Friday to check this thing out. It was a beautiful day and we had a nice ride down followed by a bite to eat, then we went to the Ducati tent and hung out until it was our turn to ride. We got a quick overview of the design goal from one of the Ducati reps, followed by a brief talk about the bike and why it was chosen as one of the Cycle World ten best for both 2011 and 2012 by Blake Connor, Senior Editor at Cycle World.
After that we walked out to the bikes and got a quick tutorial on how to change between the three different ride modes, "urban" "something or other" and "sport".
Before I knew what was going on, the lead rider was heading out.
The factory rep helping me set up the ride mode.
There were about 8 riders in our group and I let most of 'em go in front so I could follow behind Hannah, and Blake was riding behind me. We had been asked to start out in Urban mode with a measly 100 HP, then switch to whatever we wanted once we got on the highway. I complied with this and was still reasonably impressed with 100 HP.
One of the first things I noticed once we were underway was that this bike is indeed very agile. It was fun dodging manhole covers and pavement cracks, and I noticed that everyone ahead of me thought so too. It looked like a bunch of riders weaving around and gassing the bikes in preparation for a road race.
Once we got a little further into the ride I switched up to full power mode and hit the gas a few times. I remembered from the overview that the Testastretta engine develops 162 HP at around 9,000 rpm. It became clear to me that I'd never see anything close to 9,000 rpm on this ride, since we were on public 2 lane roads for most of the 40 mile loop. I had to content myself with several short acceleration tests, and when I say short, this bike accelerates so quickly that you just can't have enough room in front of you on public roads to really see what it'll do. I was catching up to the group in seconds and at high speed.
The bike is so un-intimidating to ride. If I were perched on a Ducati Superbike with this engine I'd be intimidated as all get out, but the Diavel has such an easy riding position that you feel more in control of the power, leading with your hands. Just dial in how much you want and back off when you want, as opposed to the Superbike position where you're looking through the top of your faceshield and you're leading with your head.
The Cycle World people (Blake and Tonia) and the Ducati folks were great, they thanked us for participating and seemed genuinely pleased that we'd made the trip.
Hannah getting ready to ride.
After the ride.
Hannah got some attention from the rep.
We had a longish ride home since we caught rush hour traffic leaving Mass and into N.H., but it was a great day of riding. I just wish I knew what 162 HP @ 9,000 RPMs feels like...