THE UN-CRUISER: 2016 Ducati XDiavel

Ducati shocked the world with the original Diavel. Now there's the XDiavel, the next step in the evolution of the Italo-American cruiser.

2016 Ducati XDiavel studio side view
The XDiavel is Ducati's interpretation of a cruiser. For sure, we use that term loosely, but if there is one thing that the XDiavel is, it's an exhilarating concoction of a laid-back riding position, massively powerful engine, and performance oriented chassis.Jeff Allen

When the original Diavel rolled out at the 2010 Milan motorcycle show, it was considered by some to be a broken promise from this brand known for exotic and beautiful superbikes and other sporting creatures with athletic DNA.

After one ride, we were not among the doubters. Ducati put a very sporting Italian stamp on the cruiser class and smoked off the line to take Best Cruiser two years running (sprinting?) in our annual Ten Best voting. It was light for a cruiser, wicked-quick, and turned pretty well for a machine with a 240mm rear Pirelli, even if it was designed for the bike. And it was really fun.

Now in 2016, the “Ducati cruiser” idea has been significantly rethought and redone to become the XDiavel, which joins the “standard” Diavel in the lineup.

“Paradigm shift. That was what we needed,” said Stefano Tarabusi, the man who worked on the X project. “Not only in terms of design—I’m talking about styling, aesthetic design—but also in terms of technical development, targets, approach, communication, and branding. The final result is what you see today: the new XDiavel, a real cruiser and a real Ducati, at the same time.”

He evokes a continuum like this: Monster > Diavel > XDiavel > Traditional cruiser.

Mr. X gets a variable-valve-timing 1,262cc version of the Testastretta V-twin with 95 pound-feet of claimed peak torque and 72 pound-feet at 2,100 rpm, as well as an aesthetic makeover that includes cleaned-up cooling plumbing for a tidy look.

But the “real cruiser” steps were forward foot controls (adjustable along with seat and bars for 60 ergonomic variations) and a belt final drive.

Inspiration for taking this more cruiser-y path? A design team traveled to America and rode slowly, no lie, for months to better understand the American riding perspective. They learned about the abundance of straight roads, the culture, the styling, the open spaces. They learned to relax, which truly might be the one-word nucleus of the cruiser atom.

Rather than breaking Ducati’s brand promise, the first Diavel has expanded it. Now it’s been stretched to a factor of X.