Ducati XDiavel S: get ready for launch

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With its 160bhp and super-long wheelbase, there’s no denying Ducati’s XDiavel is born for the dragstrip. Which is why the Italian manufacturer thought it right and proper that the S model of the super cruiser be fitted with their cutting-edge launch control system.

Called DPL (Ducati Power Launch) the system toggles the bike’s power automatically, adding in just the right amount of anti-wheelie and traction control to give the rider effortless, perfect launches every time. 

Simply select one of the three DPL levels based on your ability as a rider, activate the system by pressing the DPL button on the right-hand bar, then follow the instructions on the screen. Clutch in, select gear, pin the throttle fully open – then release the clutch smoothly and swiftly.

The system is very satisfying to use – and allows you to absorb the sensation of launching a bike rather than battling to balance the throttle and clutch. The electronics also let the front wheel skim across the tarmac too. 

However, it’s not the route to the fastest launch, or at least it wasn’t for me. By turning the XDiavel’s traction control completely off and launching the bike manually, I was able to post a 0-60mph time of 3.11s. However, my best time using the DPL system was 3.27s.

DPL is very impressive and lets you enjoy the thrill of a launch start, but it’s not the fastest way to do so. And the XDiavel will only let you perform three consecutive assisted starts in any session, and when they’ve run out you have to wait at least 30 mins to try again.


No launch control? No problem. How to launch a bike by Bruce Dunn.


 “Launching a bike is a proper skill, and is a real eye-opening experience, even if you do it frequently, which most riders don’t. Big capacity bikes like the XDiavel are brilliant to launch because, while they do have a lot of power, they’re also long and low with plenty of low-down torque, so you don’t have to wrestle them as much as you do with a sportsbike.


“You don’t need a lot of revs, and you don’t need to saw at the throttle like you see a lot of club racers do. If you do that, chances are you’ll be in the wrong part of the revs when the lights go green. Instead, you should engage first gear, pull in the clutch and release it slightly until you find the bite-point, then pull it back in a few millimetres from there. Then hold the revs just below peak torque (if you can’t feel where that is, just check the manufactures’ spec). When it’s time to go, just concentrate on getting the clutch out quickly but smoothly. Obviously don’t ping it straight out, but on big bikes like the Diavel and Hayabusa you don’t need to slip the clutch at all. Once the clutch is out, pin the throttle and then get ready to change up another gear.”