2013 Ducati Diavel Strada First Ride USA
Ducati now has a solution for those looking to strike out past the horizon on its muscle-bound cruiser, the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada. For the 2013 model year the Italian marque has bestowed the Strada treatment to both the Diavel and Hypermotard to broaden their demographic appeal with touring features. But does the concept really work? Do bags, a windscreen and a few other tweaks make for a touring motorcycle?
The equipment change list for the Diavel Strada from the standard model is not long, but it is notable. Most prominent is a windscreen mounted above the Duc’s headlight and a set of molded textile side bags. A rear backrest and grab handles up the passenger amenities, while the entire seat gets more padding without raising the low 30.3-inch reach to the pavement.
All other details and specs are identical to the standard model, including the 1198.4cc Testastretta 11, L-Twin powerplant that cranked out 137.62 rear-wheel horsepower and 81.99 lb-ft of torque on the MotoUSA dyno. Twisting the throttle on the Diavel Strada brings forth acceleration unmatched by any stock cruiser or tourer. Wheelies and burnouts are a snap of the wrist away. For those not looking for such behavior, the engine’s output and delivery to the rear 240mm Pirelli can be tempered via Ducati’s Riding Modes (Sport, Touring and Urban) that can deliver as low as 100hp in the Urban setting. For me the choice was either Sport or Touring as the two settings give full power, but the later softens the initial hit for a more controlled response. No matter the mode, the Diavel Strada’s engine is one of our favorites.
One downside to the Diavel’s wonderful engine (besides the risk to your license) is the fuel economy and range. While testing we averaged 31.6 mpg with a combination of highway, back roads and city work combined with a overactive throttle hand. That gives you 142 miles out of the 4.5-gallon tank, not very good for a model meant for touring duty. The tank will be dry long before your body needs a break. Go easy and you could probably get closer to 40 mpg in touring or urban mode, but that only increases the Strada’s reach by another 40 miles. You want power? You’re gonna have to pay for it at the pump.
Another gripe with the Diavel Strada is with the two most obvious features of the machine – the windshield and the side bags. At highway speeds the air coming off of the shield takes the pressure off the rider’s chest but lands it squarely on the helmet. This causes quite a bit of buffeting and gets annoying quickly. Every tester that rode the Duc looked for an adjuster to raise or lower the screen to smooth the turbulence. Alas, there is no adjustment causing us to hunker down behind the shield, negating the comfortable bend of the handlebars and roomy cockpit.
The side bags on the Diavel Strada are not what we could classify as roomy, and to be honest they barely classify as adequate. The 10.8-gallon capacity is good enough for a couple changes of clothes, a pair of shoes, toiletries and not a whole lot more. Locking the bags requires the use of a combination luggage lock. Overall the bags feel like an afterthought especially when compared to the Ducati accessory bags for the Multi.
Suspension on the Strada is firm, but not too taut to make life on the super slabs uncomfortable. You will want to avoid contact with potholes and ridiculously rough pavement, but the solid ride has an upside. When the road goes ‘round the bend the Diavel will blow other cruisers and touring cruisers into the weeds. Turn-in effort is slightly heavy thanks to that massive meat at the back, but once it’s leaned over the feel is so stable you’ll think of taking a shot at streetfighters and standards in the bends. Yes, the weight can be an issue if you come in too hot, but ride within the very generous safe zone and you’ll be rewarded with a bike that handles far better than expected. This is where the Diavel Strada shines. Pick a mountain or curvy coastline and enjoy the sure-footed handling and copious amounts of power on tap.
As mentioned before, the Diavel will run out of go-juice before your body needs a break thanks to an easy reach to the bars and extra cushion in the seat. Five-hundred-mile days are achievable, and you’ll arrive no worse for wear. It just takes a little longer due to the extra fuel stops. The heated grips are a very nice feature to have and heat up quickly with three levels of warming goodness.
Overall the Diavel Strada is a great bike, and we still love it for its wonderful engine, stable handling and unmistakable Ducati-ness. The added comfort makes it a bike that you can tour on – if you are willing to accept it for its diminutive saddlebag capacity, short fuel range and less than perfect windscreen. Unfortunately the Diavel Strada is not the very best bike to chew up miles. For that, Ducati offers the Multistrada. But if your idea of touring is traveling light, stopping more often and enjoying what’s along the way, the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada is one of the coolest ways to do just that.