Intoxicating. Each time you ride the Ducati Diavel, the Italian company's most unlikely motorcycle, a power cruiser, it becomes an event. The Ducati Diavel looks and sounds epic, feels fantastic and is hellishly competent, even if it is objectively the worst-handling Ducati ever. We're not alone in thinking it's special, either with several motorcycle critics calling it 'the most exciting and rewarding motorcycle you can buy'.
It's not as if they come along that often, a factory-built street dragster. Such motorcycle are designed to go ballistic off the mark and are quick as hell between traffic lights. These are more than a few pretenders. Ignore the Harley-Davidson's V-Rod because it's not that fast.
The Yamaha VMAX is different story entirely, but is only available in the grey market. Our journey into the shady world of muscle bikes began with the fire-breathing Yamaha VMAX. Two years ago, the Yamaha VMAX became the first machine that we tested that accelerated to 100km/h in less than 3 seconds. We ended the on-road experimentation with a best time of 2.88 seconds. Next almost to make it – and it has done so by other riders – was a Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa, which stopped our clock just over 3 seconds. Now Ducati's Diavel, the VMAX's nemesis, has entered that hallowed club. Not only did it come within a hundredth of a second of matching the Yamaha's best time, but it also did it with traction control on; ergo, no spinning up of the rear tire on launch. Ducati reckons 2.6 seconds is possible using this method! This is unbelievable enough, but what truly amazes is that a gearshift from first to second is involved, whereas the VMAX and the Suzuki Hayabusa both reach 100km/h in first. The Ducati Diavel is therefore wickedly quick, by any estimation. It's blur.
The appearance of the engine aside, about the only area where the Yamaha VMAX really beats the Ducati Diavel is in the 80 to 120km/h roll-on; this it managed in 1.15 seconds to the Ducati Diavel's 1.33 – which is still superbike quick. But in every other way the Ducati Diavel beats the Yamaha, comprehensively out-handling and out-braking it, and bringing a new vision of style to the muscle bike arena.
The Yamaha VMAX V4 may sound astonishing, but the Ducati Diavel's V-twin Testastretta 11-degree engine makes a righteous cacophony of its own. Full bore, it bays like the hounds of hell, and it snarls menacingly on the overrun. The rumble packed enough power to rattle the number plate off its perch, turning it into a proper outlaw motorcycle. How we evaded detection remains a mystery. This motorcycle is about as groundbreaking in its minuscule class as the Ducati Multistrada is in its own hard-to-define sector. There's nothing quite like either. What other drag machine relies on just two cylinders?