It's hard to slot the Ducati XDiavel S into a specific segment or category. Is it a sportsbike? A cruiser? Touring bike? The reality is, the XDiavel S is a machine that dares to defy segmentation – brimming with cutting-edge engineering, design and technology, it's a bike that looks like a cruiser, has the handling and engine performance of a sportsbike, and with its adjustable ergonomics, is even comfortable enough for a bit of long-distance touring. We got to spend a few days with the X and here's our take on what this machine does best.
DESIGN & ERGONOMICS
Mere words, or even professionally-shot photographs, simply aren't enough to describe the way this bike looks – you just have to see the XDiavel S in the metal to get the full impact of its styling. Visually, the X is stunning, with a beautifully sculpted fuel tank flowing into the seat unit, which ends in a svelte tailpiece with integrated LED taillamps. The LED headlamp, steel-tube trellis frame, L-twin engine with chrome highlights on the cylinders, massive single-sided swingarm and 17-inch 12-spoke alloy rear wheel shod with 240-section rubber – all these elements come together to create an effect that's almost surreal. It's loud and brash and unashamedly Italian. Ride this bike and be prepared to be filmed by a thousand cameraphones, with people gaping and pointing fingers at the X. But don't worry, you'd get used to the attention very soon.
Coming to the ergonomics, this is the first Ducati with a feet-forward, cruiser-spec riding position, which is quite different from what the regular Diavel offers. For those not accustomed to riding cruisers, the forward-set footpegs can be slightly daunting at first and you'll probably take some time before you get used to it. However, the footpegs are 3-way adjustable (from all the way forward, down to an almost conventional position) and most riders should be able to find a setting that works for them. We received the bike with the footpegs placed in the middle position, a fairly forward-set footpeg position that we got used to within half an hour of riding, after which the pegs' position felt normal. The X's one-piece gently tapering tubular-steel handlebar felt perfect from the start, and its broad, comfortable seat was comfortable for all-day riding. Sure, it's a big, heavy and long-ish motorcycle, but on the move, the X is actually quite manoeuvrable and while it's definitely built for wide open roads, we actually enjoyed riding it even in dense Delhi traffic.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The XDiavel S' engine is, we believe, quite the star of the show. It's a liquid-cooled 1262 cc 'Testastretta' L-twin, which features Bosch fuel injection, elliptical 56 mm-equivalent throttle bodies, Desmodromically-actuated 4-valves-per-cylinder (with variable valve timing), twin spark plugs per cylinder and full ride-by-wire throttle management. With its catalytic converter and twin lambda probes, the engine is fully Euro 4 compliant and produces an impressive 156 hp at 9500 rpm and 129 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm, of which more than 100 Nm is available at just 2100 rpm.
The XDiavel S' L-twin features 'Desmodromic Variable Timing' (DVT), which was first introduced on the Ducati Multistrada 1200. This system varies both intake and exhaust valve camshaft timing, via a valve timing adjuster fitted at the ends of each of the two overhead cams. The DVT system is comprised of an external section, rigidly connected to the pulley driven by the timing belt, and an internal part, connected to the camshaft, coaxial to the first and which, with respect to the external section, can rotate earlier or later depending on the oil pressure in the special chambers. This oil pressure is controlled by dedicated valves and the timing of each cam is controlled dynamically by a sensor in the cam covers. With variable timing and a compression ratio of 13:1, the X's L-twin is able to deliver high levels of torque even at lower engine rpm, without compromising on its high-rpm rush of power.
Other notable bits on the X's DVT 1262 L-twin include a new steel plate balancing system for the crank, twin spark plugs for each cylinder for optimised combustion, and a secondary air system that brings fresh air into the bike's exhaust duct for complete oxidation of unburned fuel, which in turn reduces emissions without harming performance. Ducati's trademark 'Desmodromic' valve closure system is also present here, of course, and ensures that intake and exhaust valves are opened and closed with the same precision. The water pump, too, has been repositioned and placed between the engine's cylinders, and that has allowed the engineers to re-route all its associated plumbing for a cleaner, more aesthetic look. The pump has also been resized for optimised water flow and improved engine cooling. The 2-into-1 exhaust system, with chamber-type body and twin tail pipes, is compact and has been beautifully integrated into the machine. Positioned ahead of the rear wheel, the system is barely visible, leaving the engine and one side of the rear wheel in full view.
Coming to the bike's transmission, the XDiavel S gets a 6-speed gearbox with hydraulically controlled, oil bath type slipper clutch. The most notable part here is the use of belt-type final drive (a first for Ducati), with Z28 and Z80 sprockets at the front and rear respectively. The belt drive system is in keeping with the X's 'sports-cruiser' positioning, requires less upkeep and maintenance compared to the conventional chain drive set-up and does not compromise the bike's performance in any way. Indeed, it works silently and efficiently, transferring the L-twin's mega horsepower to the rear wheel without any hiccups whatsoever.
On the whole, it's an impressive package, with 15,000 km intervals for routine engine maintenance, and 30,000 km intervals for valve timing adjustment. Ducati claims 124 g/km CO2 emissions and close to 19 km/l in terms of fuel efficiency for the DVT 1262 engine, which is pretty impressive for this machine.
CHASSIS, SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Like most Ducatis (except the Panigale, which has a monocoque chassis), the XDiavel S is fitted with tubular steel trellis-type frame, which uses the bike's L-twin engine as a stressed element. The chassis is attached to the engine at both cylinder heads, and the twin forged-aluminium plates that connect the swingarm are also attached to the engine. The single-sided swingarm itself is comprised of two parts – a cast alloy lower section, and forged steel trellis upper section that's removable, allowing the transmission belt to be accessed for repairs and/or maintenance when required. Despite its 1615 mm wheelbase, the XDiavel's finely tuned steering geometry (with a headstock rake of 30 degrees and an offset of 130 mm) and chassis set-up ensure fairly agile handling, and Ducati claim that the bike can achieve lean angles of up to 40 degrees during high-speed cornering.
The XDiavel S' 50 mm Marzocchi forks (adjustable for spring preload and compression / rebound damping) and almost horizontally-mounted Sachs monoshock (adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping) with progressive linkage, work perfectly in sync with the bike's trellis frame, delivering very good ride quality and handling. One area where the XDiavel S is particularly well equipped is braking hardware – the bike is fitted with twin 320 mm brake discs at front, with Brembo's top-of-the-line M50 radial-mount 4-piston monobloc callipers, and a single 265 mm disc at the back, with Brembo 2-piston callipers. Furthermore, there's Bosch 9.1MP cornering-ABS, which works in sync with a Bosch inertial measurement unit (IMU) for optimised front / rear braking power. The XDiavel S rides on 17-inch alloy wheels, shod with 120/70 (front) and absolutely massive 240/45 (rear) ZR-rated Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres, which provide immense grip.
TECHNOLOGY & SAFETY
The XDiavel S is packed with technology, which makes its performance more accessible and makes the bike safer to ride for riders of all skill levels. The X's engine features full ride-by-wire throttle control – when the rider twists the throttle, a signal is conveyed to the ECU, which then takes into account various parameters (speed, gear position, riding mode selected and many more) and works the FI throttle bodies accordingly, for optimised power delivery. Depending on the riding mode selected – there's sport, touring and urban modes to choose from – the system changes power and torque delivery characteristics (for example, the full-fat 156 hp is scaled back to 100 hp in urban mode), traction control (DTC) intervention level and anti-lock braking (ABS) activation threshold.
The X's 8-level DTC offers variable levels of assistance, allowing wheelspin at lower levels of assistance, and reducing or entirely eliminating it at higher levels for maximum grip in tricky conditions. ABS works in a similar manner and can also be switched off entirely.
The control panel for all of the XDiavel S' electro-trickery is the left-side handlebar-mounted buttons and its colour TFT screen, which provides detailed information on what's happening with the machine's various systems and sub-systems. The TFT screen can operate in various display modes and can be customised to display as little or as much information as you want. It's easy and intuitive to choose or change riding modes via handlebar-mounted buttons on the left side, engage cruise control, personalise DTC and generally mess around with most other settings. Also, the X has full Bluetooth compatibility for smartphone connectivity – pair your device and the bike's TFT instrument panel will show incoming calls, text messages and even information on the music tracks that you may be listening to on your phone.
Lastly, we must also make a mention of the XDiavel S' hands-free ignition system, which lets you power up the bike without having to insert a key. As long as you carry the key in your pocket, the bike's system automatically 'reads' its electronic code, allowing you to unlock and start the bike. Very useful indeed.
It really isn't very complicated. Yes, the Ducati XDiavel S costs Rs 18.58 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), which translates to Rs 20.93 lakh on-road in Delhi. So no getting away from it then, it's a very expensive machine. But if you want a stunningly beautiful sports-cruiser/musclebike that offers very high levels of engine performance, combined with very, very good ride and handling as well as advanced safety electronics, the XDiavel S is the only option you have. It's a beautifully crafted piece of Italian two-wheeled exotica that simply doesn't have any competition.
TEXT: Sameer Kumar
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay