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Exclusive inside Ducati: The XDiavel’s shock tactics

Published: 20 January 2016

Updated: 18 January 2016

Even Ducati were scared by 1262cc, 153bhp cruiser

Ducati’s new XDiavel has taken more resources to design and engineer than any other Ducati in history apart from the Panigale superbike range.

The amount of work the company has put into this new model was exclusively revealed to MCN in an in-depth look at the bike deep inside the Ducati Design Department at the Bologna factory, weeks ahead of the official launch.

The feet-forward, belt drive XDiavel is a bold new step into the world of proper cruisers as the Italian firm gears up to try and take a slice of the massive global cruiser market currently dominated by Harley-Davidson.

MCN was able to get up close with a production bike, the ‘clinic’ bike that was used to get the project signed off, an early clay model, and we also got to see images of the hand-built concept bike used to persuade the board that it needed to create a full-on cruiser for the first time. Apart from the final production bike shown at the Milan show, this is the first time any of these bikes have been seen outside of Ducati.

The amount of work that has gone into creating the XDiavel is massive; it’s effectively an all-new bike with a new 1262cc version of the Testastretta engine used in the Diavel which not only has the Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT), but also gets Ducati’s first belt-drive system, 156bhp, 95ft lb of torque, launch control and a host of other advanced technology.


The long game

When Ducati launched the original Diavel back in 2011 it went to great pains to never use the word cruiser. But Ducati are happy to use that label for the XDiavel.

So was that fear of the ‘c’ word why Ducati launched the Diavel first, as a precursor to a fully blown cruiser, or was the XDiavel only conceived after the success of the existing Diavel?

Head of Advanced Vehicle Design Gianandrea Fabbro told MCN: “The Diavel had to exist before this bike. The Diavel had to be our first gentle step into the cruiser market, but the XDiavel is now a real cruiser which will try to take advantage of a market with huge potential. If we had arrived with the XDiavel before the Diavel it would have scared a lot of people at Ducati.”

Head of marketing for the XDiavel Stefano Tarabusi said: “This is a brave move by Ducati but the opportunity for growth in the market is vital for us because the potential size of that market is huge. This is why the level of the development of this bike in terms of the team working on it and the resources we have put into this has been bigger than any bike apart from the Panigale.”

Fabbro, the designer behind the Panigale, oversaw the work on the XDiavel. He added: “The first work we did was spend some time in America with an existing Diavel, a Panigale 1199, a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy and a Street Glide. We spent a lot of time riding around to understand what makes for a good bike in America.

“When we came back we built a bike to show the Ducati bosses and it was quite extreme. It was very long, very low and I think it scared people a little bit. We did some work but you can see the production bike has barely changed since the first clay model.”


Adding muscle

The 1262cc, 153bhp V-twin installed in the XDiavel is essentially a new engine when compared directly to the Diavel or Multistrada 1200 DVT, sharing only the clutch, gearbox, generator and DVT hardware. The rest of the engine is all-new, and has been designed to be a cruiser engine rather than a de-tuned superbike motor.

The 1262 DVT motor has the longest stroke of any Ducati ever built by the factory, at 71.5mm, and it produces peak power of 153bhp at a lowly 5000rpm. The torque peaks at 95ftlb but it produces 72ftlb at just 2000rpm!

Gianluca Zattoni, Engine Project Engineer for the new motor, revealed: “It has been strange for those of us at Ducati more used to working on sports performance engines to build an engine like this, but still we have kept the Ducati ethos of good power.

“The key change was the increased torque this engine was required to have and the increases to the smoothness of the power delivery at very low revs. In this way the DVT system keeps the same hardware but it has been completely recalibrated to suit the power characteristics of a cruiser.”

The biggest challenge with the new engine was in fact creating the clearance around the pulley needed to take power from the transfer box to the new belt-drive system. The belt drive pulley needed to be bigger than a conventional chain sprocket because if it were too small it would cause wear problems for the belt. The redesign meant changing the design of the crankcases to increase the clearance for the belt-drive by moving the clutch actuator and redesigning a new gear position sensor.

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