First Look: 2011 Ducatis

Ducati reveals the Diavel musclebike and a more muscular Monster 1100 EVO

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Eric Putter, Putter Power Media

Set to the tune of Billy Idol's "Shock to the System," complete with plenty of smoke, laser lights, and a screamin' hot, leather-clad supermodel at the controls, Ducati finally revealed its long-awaited, much-misconstrued Diavel naked musclebike at EICMA Milan. Contrary to the Internet rumors, this is not a chopper, at least not in any conventional sense of that term. We're not quite sure yet what it is—and Ducati took great pains not to apply any labels, beyond "unlike anything else on the market"—but it's definitely not the chromed-out bucket of compromises that hardcore Ducatisi feared. With 162 horsepower coming from a hot-rodded, 1198cc Testastretta 11-degree V-twin, a dry weight of just 463 pounds and an ergonomic triangle more compact than the current Monster 1100, the Diavel might be the rowdiest naked bike on the market.

Certainly the teaser video Ducati played for assembled journalists, showing the Diavel executing crossed-up power wheelies and long, smoky rolling burnouts, defied any low-and-slow cruiser stereotype. And a full suite of Superbike-derived electronics, including three power modes, 8-level-adjustable traction control and race-grade ABS (that can be disabled on demand) reinforced the performance-first attitude.

There is a controversial, 240-width rear tire at the end of the cast aluminum, single-sided swingarm. Ducati technical director Claudio Domenicali promises this doesn't torpedo the handling, explaining that Pirelli painstakingly developed the dual-compound Diablo Rosso II rear tire exclusively for this application. Unlike the 240x18-inch tires common in the chopper and custom sportbike realm, the Diavel's rear wheel is an all-new and novel 17-inch diameter that provides a profile very similar in shape to a MotoGP slick, allegedly with unprecedented handling behavior.

Diavel designer Bart Janssen-Groesbeek spent some time explaining the styling, which is intended to resemble the shape of a sprinter ready to lunge out of the starting blocks. The bike is quite massive in profile, with a broad "fuel tank" (actually an airbox cover, fuel is carried mostly under the seat) and large airscoops covering twin side-mount radiators. The center-dense styling makes the bike look much larger than it is, and when you sit on the bike, compact ergonomics are surprising. The 30-inch seat height is the lowest in Ducati's present lineup, and the bars are one inch closer to the rider and one inch higher than the current Monster. Another surprise is how light the bike feels between your legs—everything under that tank shroud is mostly just hot air.

The Diavel is highly integrated and impressively detailed. The dash is split into two sections: the upper level is a conventional LCD tach and speedo array, while the lower level contains a cutting-edge TFT display just like an iPod, presenting all the data related to the accessory electronics. The level of fit and finish is the finest we've seen on any Ducati, and touches like brushed-aluminum radiator shrouds and the color-stitched saddle exude luxury. The rear cowl slips off to reveal a pillion pad while passenger footpegs discretely swing out from the subframe and a trick, retractable grab rail pops out from under the saddle. Sleek, well-hidden LED turn signals grace all four corners and a sophisticated LED running light cuts horizontally across the headlamp. Keyless ignition is standard.

It's a very impressive machine—especially in optional carbon-fiber bodywork—and though it might be difficult to classify, it certainly isn't the abandonment of Ducati's core performance principles that many feared. It's very much a mega-Monster, picking up where the old liquid-cooled Monster S4RS, discontinued back in 2008, left off, combining true Superbike performance with upright ergonomics and a healthy dose of attitude.

Ducati also took this opportunity to surprise us with a new and unexpected Monster 1100 Evo. Using an even more massaged version of the Hypermotard 1100 Evo's engine, equipped with higher compression pistons, a lighter flywheel and a new, dual shotgun-style sidemount exhaust, this is the first air-cooled, two-valve Ducati twin to make more than 100 hp. The Monster Evo also features the so-called "Ducati Safety Pack"—consisting of four-level adjustable traction control and ABS—as standard equipment. Higher bars, a new, more supportive saddle and a slimmer tailsection round out the updates, and claimed dry weight of 373 pounds remains identical to last year's non-ABS bike.

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