Drag Race Video: Ducati XDiavel S vs. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R

Can Ducati’s Diavel Take Down the King of the Strip?

It all started innocently enough. We were headed to our top secret airfield drag strip so that Senior Road Test Editor Ari Henning could fire a handful of bikes down the ¼ mile—our usual test routine. Then we realized that we had a [Kawasaki ZX-14R][] and [Ducati’s new XDiavel S][] sitting in the garage. Fast. Motorcycles. We piled them in the truck too, and packed some GoPros so we could show you all what happened.

A quick recap: Kawasaki’s ZX-14R has long been king of the drag strip, busting under the 10-second barrier in stock trim and pretty much ending the horsepower race. (Yes, there is Kawi’s own H2 and H2R, but they’re difficult to launch, prone to wheelying, and overall not as user friendly or widely available as the ZX-14). As an open-class sportbike, it’s pretty much unmatched.

The Ducati Diavel is a completely different beast. Bastard son of a superbike and a cruiser, the Diavel first surfaced in 2011. Many heads were scratched. What was this thing? Would people really buy it, especially in a suffering economy? After 20,000 units were sold through the end of 2013, it was clear that the devil's ride was here to stay. Ever since it debuted, Ducati has said that the Diavel is the firm's fastest accelerating bike.

So we lined up, Ari on Kawasaki's streamlined behemoth and me on the new for 2016, belt-drive, feet-forward XDiavel S—the Ducati makes less power, but weighs about 40 pounds less. Still the result is clear...