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The misfit motorcycle

The Ducati Diavel Carbon is a naughty boy, but only in appearance.

On its launch in 2011, Ducati’s Diavel drew gasps from motorcycle fans across the globe. Its futuristic and awkward appearance was loved by many, yet criticised by others for being too brutish. First rides only brought more controversy. With a powerful Testastretta 1198cc V-Twin sat in an upright, cruiser frame, the question of exactly where it fit into the motorcycle market arose – was it a cruiser or a sportsbike?

As it turned out, the Diavel was neither, but instead a marvel of engineering from the manufacturer that had previously produced such legends as the 750 GT and the 916.

Offering a relaxed riding position, thrilling acceleration and incredibly agile handling, the Diavel was an unlikely star and sold extremely well, despite a high price tag.

Alongside the Diavel, the Italian bike builder unveiled the Carbon, which was clad in the innovative element in an effort to reduce weight and highlight the brand’s sporting heritage.

Ducati has now updated the Diavel Carbon for 2016, and it boasts a host of technical and aesthetic adjustments.

The Carbon edition Diavel has seen a number of updates for 2016, bringing even more bad boy appeal than its predecessor.

Lookswise, the Diavel Carbon is meaner than ever. A new asphalt grey paint job has made its debut, a colour that is complemented by red stripes and the dark chrome paintwork on the frame. Meanwhile, the exhaust manifolds boast a new Zircotec ceramic coating, while the system has also received brushed-effect stainless steel silencer covers.

It retains the 1198cc, liquid-cooled, eight-valve V-twin and 160bhp power output of the original Diavel. A previous update had added twin spark plugs on each cylinder, new camshafts, a revised injection system, a higher compression ratio and improved low-rev torque.

The Diavel’s awkward composure has been called ugly, but when you step back and take in the whole bike, it’s hard not to marvel at it. Ducati’s master craftsmanship has once again shone through to make awkward attractive – think the 999 and 749 of the early 2000s.

Ducati’s master craftsmanship has once again shone through to make awkward attractive

A thick single-sided swing arm joins the fat rear wheel to the sub-frame, which peeks out alluringly from underneath the tank. Meanwhile, a double exhaust sits on the other side of the rear wheel, producing the expected-but-still-impressive V-twin roar.

A removable rear cowl leaves only the redesigned single leather seat exposed, which is deep-set to hold the rider in place when all 162 horses kick in. The long sweeping tank comes to an abrupt halt at the wide handlebars, and the new LED headlamp is topped off with a small screen, which serves only to shield the in-built sat nav on our test model.

There’s no denying the Duc is an eye-catching bike, but when it comes to practicality it falls slightly short. The sit-up-and-beg position leaves the rider exposed to the wind – of which there is plenty when you fully open the throttle – and the handlebar position is a recipe for frostbite in the colder months.

That said, the bike is extremely comfortable, and can be ridden for miles without even a hint of cramp. Two up, it could become slightly tight, however.

A low seat height and well-balanced weight distribution mean the Diavel is an accessible bike for shorter riders. Despite its long tank, thanks to the seat angle it isn’t too far of a stretch to the bars, and the bike is incredibly agile and easy to manoeuvre.

Safety features as standard include Bosch ABS and Ducati Traction Control. While good, the latter is not infallible, and all it took was an eager twist of the throttle on a frosty and slick November morning to send the rear wheel sliding.

The Diavel demands to be ridden fast. Unfortunately, the laws of physics dictate that at high speeds it’s near impossible to cling on, and so a more reserved pace is advised. That said, it cruises comfortably at motorway speed, and power isn’t lacking even in the upper echelons of the 11,000 range. Maximum torque of 130.5Nm is achieved just shy of 8,000 revs.

An electronic ride-by-wire throttle system makes for smooth acceleration in all three riding modes, which are mapped to suit sports, touring and city riding.

The bike performs well in all three modes, which makes it stand out in the cruiser class – these bikes aren’t typically known for their acceleration.

Suspension, meanwhile, is accounted for by 50mm inverted Marzocchi forks and a Sachs monoshock, both of which are fully adjustable.

This adds to the Diavel Carbon’s excellent handling.

An irritating niggle on what was otherwise an extremely impressive bike is the six-speed gearbox’s reluctance to go into neutral. When the engine was warm or cold, it took a number of delicate shifts before the lever would stop between first and second.

At a glance

Engine
1198 Testastretta V-Twin

Gearbox
Six-speed manual

Power
162bhp

Torque
130.5Nm

Max. Speed
169mph, 0-60mph: 2.6 seconds

Economy
49.6mpg

Emissions
133g/km

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