2016 Ducati XDiavel: First Ride

Riding Ducati's new brutally elegant power cruiser

2016 Ducati XDiavel tested
2016 Ducati XDiavel ridden by editor Morgan GalesDucati

100% Ducati, 100% cruiser. That’s how Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati introduced the new XDiavel at the press launch in San Diego last week. Long and low, with sleek and sexy lines, forward controls and a low seat height. This bike is something totally new for the Italian company known the world over for blending impeccable design and high performance. Whether or not is was a true cruiser would still need to be decided over the next six hours, but you could already tell by the numbers that this bike is pure Ducati.

Heading out in the morning and splitting up into two groups of journalists, I think every single one of us swung for mid-controls before looking down and realizing we were about 12” off from the forwards. Once on the road, however, the controls felt natural and comfortable, aided further by the three positions available for easy adjustment. The initial response of the throttle was enough to instantly get the blood pumping. A simple twist at nearly and RPM provides an instant surge of power. I rarely got out of third gear before lunch, because the bike has so much life between 4500 and 7000 RPMs, but even when slightly lugging in the lower gears, the torque output completely surprised and impressed us.

2016 Ducati XDiavel
2016 Ducati XDiavel S front left profileDucati
2016 Ducati XDiavel profile
2016 Ducati XDiavel S Right side profileDucati
2016 Ducati XDiavel riding shot
2016 Ducati XDiavel ridden by editor Morgan GalesDucati

The three big numbers we kept hearing for this bike are 5000, 60 and 40. 5000 being the number where the engine puts out peak torque, 60 being the amount of different fit options (seats, bars, foot peg positions…), and 40 being the maximum degrees of lean angle. As a team that rides a lot of bikes with forward controls, the low scrape angle was incredible and found us flying into corners with no worry about touching a peg down. I witnessed the easily adjustable foot pegs work well for a rider around 5’6”, and very well for me at 6’4”. Handlebars, however are only offered as an aftermarket accessory, and for me, these were just a bit too low to spend this much time on, leading to a little shoulder discomfort towards the end of the ride.

2016 Ducati XDiavel riding shot
2016 Ducati XDiavel with 6'4" editor Morgan GalesDucati

With the incredible output of the Ducati L-twin, the 240 rear tire really puts the power to the ground. When caught ad a red light a little ways behind the group (I really just wanted a second to open it up), I went to burn a little rubber from a stop in Sport Mode and found myself getting much more traction than I expected and pulling one heck of a little wheelie. I found myself up in triple digit speeds in a matter of no time, with a smile from ear to ear. Utilizing the high performance Brembo dual front disc brake setup, I was slowed down and rolling easy with the group again right away. The only problem with a rear tire so wide is that it tends to want to straighten you out when you’re in a turn: a problem that we ran into a little bit, but did not deduct from the fact that this is one of the best handling cruisers we’ve ever ridden.

2016 Ducati XDiavel seat detail
2016 Ducati XDiavel seat detailDucati

On the way back from lunch we ended up hitting a little bit of traffic and I found the XDiavel plenty nimble while splitting lanes and navigating the Southern California hustle. With the large exhaust tucked under the chassis, I felt a good amount of heat on my left thigh after slowing down for a bit. The right side passenger peg is also located right above the exhaust, which makes me wonder if we’d have been melting shoes had I been riding two-up. At speed, none of this seemed to be a problem, but we can’t all go fast all the time.

2016 Ducati XDiavel handlebar and mirror
2016 Ducati XDiavel handlebar and mirror detailDucati

The XDiavel is available in two versions, the S and the standard XDiavel. The designers of the bike refer to the S as the true incarnation of their work, and when you see the two next to each other, it makes total sense. The contrast cut of gloss black and silver on the engine is replaced with matte black. The wheels don’t have the same custom feel and the swing arm that is anodized on the S is painted dark on the standard model. With a base price of just about $20k and the S model $3k above that, Ducati found their dealers ordering about 80% of the higher end version.

2016 Ducati XDiavel's passenger backrest
2016 Ducati XDiavel's passenger backrest, hangin well off the back of the bike.Ducati

Probably my biggest issues with the bike were the lack of storage options and the tiny passenger seat. With the line of the bike, you could put a tank bag on, but it is likely to be up to your chin. The size of the passenger seat eliminates most seat bags as an option and as of now there are no saddlebag options available. There is a passenger backrest available as an accessory, but even hangs precariously off the back edge of the bike. In my opinion, a true cruiser should have some sort of storage option or at least possibility for luggage, as well as be comfortable and easy to ride with a passenger, where the XDiavel just falls a little short.

2016 Ducati XDiavel instrumentation
2016 Ducati XDiavel instrumentationDucati
2016 Ducati XDiavel S rear wheel
2016 Ducati XDiavel S rear wheel detailDucati

There were several features, like the three levels of launch control that we didn’t get to try out at all, and some like the three riding modes that we would love to have more time to fool around with. Hopefully we will have a longer term tester back with us soon, and not just because we want to further assess the intricacies of this bike, but because it is an absolute boatload of fun and we want to spend more time whipping it around. If you get the chance to catch the Ducati XDiavel Xperience Tour, do yourself a favor and go get some saddle time on this new bike; it’s guaranteed to be one of the most blood pumping and best handling cruiser experiences of your life.

2016 Ducati XDiavel front wheel and brake caliper
2016 Ducati XDiavel S front brake caliper and wheelDucati

For more information, check out Ducati's website XDiavel.Ducati.com