It’s been an interesting year of riding; not my most enjoyable but that’s not the fault of the beautiful Ducati Diavel 1260S. The bike’s a stunner and has a shopping list of top spec parts that include a two-way quickshifter, Ohlins suspensions, ride-by-wire, and has more riding modes to choose from than I’ve had hot dinners. I am sure for many it would have been a complete joy from day one but for me it’s been a slow burn.
With just a couple of hundred miles on the clock my first ride home is one of trepidation. With keyless ignition, it’s a quick push of a button to fire the 1262cc engine growls into life. I love characteristics of a twin-cylinder machine. I own a Ducati Monster 695 but this is a totally different beast, twice the size, twice the power and with so much torque, it pulls in every gear.
A weekend away to South Wales, I’m on the hunt for luggage and there’s various accessory packs available through Ducati. I opt for the Touring Kit (panniers, screen and heated grips) and £1352.66 plus fitting, the Touring Kit’s not cheap. Panniers are good quality, hold enough kit for the trip and, provided the covers are in place, they’re waterproof.
My journey to Tenby is brilliant, I love the fast sweepers and the Brecon Beacons are littered with them. A quick coffee stop gives me chance to bask in the midday sun, it’s my kind of day, perfect weather, fantastic roads and the Diavel’s made for it.
Mid-summer I move house, my daily commute doubles to a 30 mile round trip, made up of town riding and a large, often congested, stretch of the A1. It’s a grind in a car, I opt to use the bike but it’s not ideal. At 244kg the Diavel is heavy, combine that with a snatchy clutch and not overly smooth power delivery at slow speeds, it’s not the easiest to manoeuvre.
When I do get a stretch of open road I’ll click on the cruise control, taking my twitchy right hand out of the equation definitely improves throttle control.
I head to Goodwood Motor Circuit to meet fellow Diavel rider, Mike Guy. Mike bought his first generation Diavel 1198 new in 2011, now with nearly 24,000 miles on the clock, he’s keen to see how it compares to mine. Switching bikes for the day gives me the chance to experience his bike and I’m impressed, it’s easier to ride and feels less aggressive than the 1260S but it does looks dated, particularly the clocks and the lack of fuel gauge would be an annoyance on longer trips.
Autumn bites, there’s a few mornings in October I’m grateful for the heated grips, fitted as part of the Touring Kit. With three heat settings, they’re operated by scrolling through the menu on the TFT dash and take a few minutes to get up to temperature.
As I give the bike a quick wash over, it's a chance to have a good look at any wear and tear. I’m pleased to say that with the thick end of 5000 miles on the clock, there’s only one real area that looks a little secondhand. My size seven boots have left a patch of scratches on the end can, I regularly sit with the balls of my feet on the pegs, which means my heels sit further back than some might and hence the marks.
Update five: Swap Shop Time
Published: 30 September 2019
What better way to spend a sunny Friday morning, than a quick tour of the South Downs with Mike Guy, a fellow Ducatisti and member of our #Ride5000miles Facebook group.
Owner of the first-generation Ducati Diavel 1198, Mike bought his bike new in 2011. Eight years on and with 24,000 miles on the clock, he’s intrigued to find out whether the latest evolution is an improvement and I’m curious to see if the 1198 has stood the test of time.
With the sound of the familiar V-twin growl, I hear Mike arrive at the Goodwood Motor Circuit Café and we park nose to nose. You can tell the bikes share the same gene pool, there’s the familiar Ducati trellis frame, aggressive front-end and massive 240-section rear tyre.
Mike’s on his home turf and takes us on a forty-mile loop, a perfect mix of dual’s, fast flowing A-roads and minor B-roads give us both a chance to find out how the Diavels perform.
As I take to the road on the original Diavel, it’s instantly easier to ride than my 1260S, the throttle response is sharper, clutch lighter and not as snatchy. The bikes have similar plush touring seats and riding position, so feel equally as comfortable.
I find the switch-gear and clocks on the 1198 a little dated, the clocks are split in two, they are digital and the information is clear but the position of the speedo make it difficult to read. Mike has a different view, he comments: “I like the reassurance of the second clock on the 1198.” He does have one complaint though. “I find it’s a bug-bear that there’s no fuel gauge on my bike, there’s a fuel warning light but no gauge, so the 1260 is better in that respect.”
Both bikes are set in touring mode and it’s interesting that Mike has a similar opinion to me about the sports setting, neither of us are that enamoured and barely use anything other than touring mode. “In sports mode, my bike’s an animal,” he comments and also finds that fuel economy suffers. “On a run I get around 44mpg, in touring mode, when I owned it initially I ran it in Sports mode and was only getting 27mpg.”
When it comes to the all-important question, would Mike swap his beloved Diavel for the latest model. “I liked it but it’s not enough of an improvement to make the change. The new bike has the soul of the Ducati but I think they got it right first time with mine.”
Update four: Hit or Miss for the Ducati Diavel?
Published: 18 September 2019
It’s a head turner, it’s big, butch and takes me totally outside of my bike-riding comfort zone. It’s been a slow burn but now with 2500 under my belt, I’m a firm fan of the muscular, twin-cylindered Ducati Diavel 1260S.
I’ve recently moved house and my daily commute has doubled, so I’ve had more chance to improve my riding technique and put the Diavel to the test. It’s definitely a bike that favours sunny conditions and I’ve spent recent summer mornings enjoying the ‘long way round’ to the office.
I thought now the time is right to hone in on some of the areas I favour and highlight those I’d prefer to change.
Fuel Economy - hit
I love a spreadsheet, figures are my thing, I have a detailed spreadsheet to keep tabs on fuel economy. Sounds dull, in all honesty it is a little anally retentive but it means I can tell you I’m averaging 51mpg. (It’s comparable to last year’s Yamaha Tracer 900GT, where I averaged 53mpg over my year of riding.) At worst, when I’ve been throttle happy on a blast it dropped to 42mpg and at best, on a long wet trip from Wales, a healthy 59mpg.
Comfortable Ride - hit
Bum firmly plonked on the wide plush seat, knees bent and feet fractionally off vertical, it’s an almost perfect riding position. There are a few aches and pains after a couple of hours in the saddle, wrists take slightly more of a battering than ankles, hips or derriere. It took a few rides to get used to the wide bars, arms are outstretched and shoulders tense, being bike fit is the key and the more miles under my belt, the more comfortable I am.
Too many modes to choose from - miss
I know many would relish the chance to have 1458 variations of riding modes to test. They’re not tricky to set, it’s a case of scrolling through the stylish TFT dash and adjusting where they need to be. For me, there's too much choice and after initially flicking through a few, I’ve stuck with a middle of the road touring setting, it suits me and I’ve not been tempted to try anything else.
Engine performance - hit
I love the unmistakable sound and characteristics of a twin cylindered machine and the Diavel 1260S, with 93ft-lb of torque, is the most powerful bike I've ridden. I owned a Honda Bros (34.5ft-lb), progressed to a Kawasaki ER-6N (71ft-lb) and settled on a Ducati Monster 695 with (45 ft-lb), which is nestled in the corner of my garage. They all have the low down grunt to pull in any gear but the powerful Diavel’s a world apart. It’s swift and brings a Cheshire cat-like grin, although the engine braking in higher gears have caught me out a couple of times.
Quick Shifter and Auto Blipper - jury is out
I’ve used quick shifters on a couple of bikes, the most recent being the Yamaha Tracer 900GT, so I’m used to the technique of nipping up the gears but find the Diavel to be tricky between higher gears. If I’m not 100% positive with my left foot, there’s a chance of hitting a false neutral. I tend to only use autoblipper for downshifts when out on a more spirited ride, normal commutes and town rides I favour the clutch.
Update three: It's touring time!
Published: 10 July 2019
We'd been invited to a mate's wedding near Tenby and I could take the sensible option and travel with my hubby in the comfortable (and dry) car but with the Ducati Diavel 1260S sat in the garage, I see it as a chance to have a mini-riding holiday. Who doesn't love a mini-break, after all?
With wedding finery to transport, it's a great opportunity to put my recently fitted luggage to the test. Ducati have a full range of aftermarket parts for the Diavel and their touring specific kit, which comes with heated grips, panniers and screen, suit my style. At £1352.66 plus fitting, it’s not a cheap option but the quality of the products are definitely in keeping with the Diavel.
To fit the 18-litre panniers, the twin under-seat rear lights are removed and in their place a rack for the bags and a pillion rest, which incorporates a single rear light fitted. The expandable bags are locked to the rack but the bags themselves aren’t lockable, they have zip openers. They come with waterproof covers, which are definitely needed, as I discover to my annoyance, after I'm caught in a cloudburst.
The heated grips are wired in and operated via the left-hand switch gear, the TFT dash displays which of the three heat settings they're turned to. They come into their own on the journey home and clicked to medium heat setting help dry my gloves on the latter part of the trip.
I’ve fitted a tank bag (£244.52) and the heavy duty magnets keep the bag firmly in place, I’d initially obscured the clocks but after a bit of jigging about it's sorted. The large clear map pocket is the perfect size to stow my scribbled directions, the side pockets an ideal fit for my phone and purse and the main compartment will hold 14-litres, ample space for my weekend essentials.
Update two: Pleased to meet you, how the Diavel are you?
Published: 20 May 2019
I’m ever so slightly in awe and a little bit in love with the Ducati Diavel 1260S, having taken delivery a couple of weeks ago. I’ve commuted to work and ridden around 200 miles on a combination of town roads and motorway. I feel like I’m getting to know what I’ve now lovingly named "The Beast" a little better.
I must admit, I was slightly intimidated that first ride home: nerves, excitement, and a sharp biting point for the clutch made me stall. Deep breath, restart and I was away. I’ve ridden a combination of my Yamaha Xmax scooter and the triple-cylinder Yamaha Tracer 900GT, for the last twelve months, so the power delivery of the Diavel, weight and riding position feel decidedly different. Not bad, just different, and I definitely need to recalibrate my brain to consider the engine braking. I’d expected it in low gears and it’s not too fierce, but ease off the throttle at the top end of the box, it is switch like.
How many settings?!
The TFT dash looks fabulous, with a push of the ignition button I’m welcomed with the stylish Ducati logo, before it shows the full screen of the dash. I’ve got an ideal display for road riding - it shows riding mode, clock, rev counter, mph and fuel gauge. There are various displays to choose from depending on what type of ride I’m on.
With three riding modes to choose from, you’d think it would be simple to decide which to opt for, depending on the weather conditions and what I’m doing with the bike. Set to Touring mode, I thought that was all I’ve got to consider but as I scroll through the various menus, I realise each riding mode has five settings (ABS control, wheelie control, quick shifter, engine and traction control) and each of these with a choice of options, meaning there are a mind-boggling 1458 combinations for each mode! How on earth will ever know which best suits me? For now, I’ll stick with the factory settings and see how I get on.
To key or not to key, that is the question
I’m a fan of keyless technology - my car's got it, my scooter's got it and the Diavel sort of has it but not the whole hog. It’s a strange halfway house, it’s got keyless ignition but I need the key to fuel up. Be one thing or the other! If it’s fully keyless, then great, the key gets stowed in a pocket, have a button to open the fuel cap and you’re sorted. Or have a key in the dash, that opens the fuel tank but don’t be this strange mix. I suppose if that’s the only real issue so far, then I’ve not got much to complain about...
Update one: Introducing the Ducati Diavel 1260S
Published: 19 March 2019
From a weekend tour from Devil’s Bridge to Devil’s Punchbowl, to daily commutes and touring to Italy – I’m determined to see if there’s an angel lurking within Ducati’s 'Devil'.
With the help of the #ride5000miles Facebook group I’m also planning the best way to meet my 2019 mileage target.
Apart from all my Devil-named destinations, I’m determined to take it back to Bologna, too. It's 12 years since I last visited the Ducati factory and what better bike to return on?
Santa Pod is also calling to me, so I’m planning a Run What Ya Brung event to experience the thrills of the drag strip – and will also thunder along to a DGR ride dressed in my best bib and tucker, too. Why should the boys have all the fun?
Read the full Ducati Diavel 1260S review here
- Key stats: • £19,895 • 159bhp • 95ftlb • 780mm seat • 244kg (kerb)
- Rider: Alison Silcox (49, 5ft 10in, 81kg)