It's official: Ducati's controversial entry into the huge and hugely lucrative cruiser market, known internally as Project 0803, will be called the Diavel. The name was decided when an unnamed Ducati engineer first saw the prototype's 240mm-wide rear tire and exclaimed "ignurant comm al diavel!" This translates to "evil, just like a devil!" in the Bolognese dialect local to Ducati's Borgo Panigale factory. The spy photo above shows a similar prototype without bodywork; the production model will debut at the 2010 EICMA Motorcycle Expo in Milan in early November.
A claimed 40-degree lean angle, coupled with a Superbike-spec inverted fork and horizontal
Fat tire aside, this isn't a typical overweight, underpowered, knock-off chopper. The engine will be a higher-spec version of the Multistrada's liquid-cooled, 1200cc Testa-stretta 11-degree V-twin, anticipated to deliver almost 140 rear-wheel horsepower. Claimed dry weight is just 440 lbs., delivering a power-to-weight ratio superior to any other musclebike, even the mighty Star V-Max. Selectable traction control, variable drive modes and advanced ABS will be accessible via a touch screen atop the fuel tank. A combination steel-trellis/cast-aluminum frame, like the Multistrada's, will be equipped with Superbike-spec suspension and Brembo Monobloc brakes. The riding position is distinctly non-cruiser, with mid-mount foot controls and a low-rise tubular handlebar creating a relaxed-yet-responsive riding position.
Hardcore Ducatisti have already condemned the Diavel, claiming the mere existence of a cruiser irreparably harms the brand's high-performance reputation. The potential for growth for Ducati far outweighs the risk of alienating some core customers, however. Recent non-traditional models like the Hypermotard and Multistrada have proven that Ducati can successfully enter new markets and grab market share from competing brands. The cruiser market is by far the largest in the U.S. and growing rapidly in Europe. The Diavel gives Ducati a toehold in this category, where even a tiny slice of market share can be hugely profitable.
Take your pick, then: Either the Diavel is the ugliest Ducati or the best-looking cruiser ever. Either way, we're intrigued. Ducati looks to have created a uniquely performance-oriented cruiser that's smaller, lighter and faster than anything on the market, yet still provides the attitude and style cruiser customers demand. There's no evil in that.