Muscular misfits! Ducati Diavel V4 vs Triumph Rocket 3 R vs Kawasaki Z H2

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The world is gradually embracing non-conformity. Fitting in, doing as you’re told, behaving as expected by ‘beige’ people… who wants that? Not us. Freedom is allowing people to live the lives they want, and ride the bikes that suit them.

The Diavel has cut its own groove since 2011: a superbike-derived motor, chassis specced like a supernaked, but with the fat-tyred, feet-forward style of a cruiser.

It stands alone and defies strict categorisation. The L-twin motor has made way for a V4 (the 170bhp, non-Desmo ‘V4 Granturismo’ also at the heart of the Multistrada). The Diavel has been totally redesigned around it – ‘around’ being operative as there is no longer a full frame to hang the motor and chassis parts from.

The Ducati Diavel V4, Triumph Rocket 3 R and Kawasaki Z H2 riding on a road

The crankcases are a key structural element with nearly every assembly attached directly to them. Only a small cast-ali ‘front frame’ takes care of the front-end.

If you’re looking for direct competition, you won’t find it. But there are other bikes living outside biking’s class structure, with appeal that overlaps with the weirdo Ducati.

Triumph’s Rocket 3 R sits on the cruiser-like side of the Ducati, without being a chrome ’n’ tassels chugger. Two and a half litres of longitudinal triple dominates the bug-eyed machine visually and dynamically, with 145ftlb of torque to motivate a bike that weighs as much as two MotoGP bikes, but which is also engineered so well it’s not rendered impractical by the excessive spec.

Three 2023 muscle bikes riding on a UK national speed limit road

Kawasaki’s Z H2 competes with the Diavel’s sportier side, but brings the force-fed lunacy of supercharging, too. With 184bhp to rip the flat bars from your fingers, it’s almost a supernaked, but with attitude that means it doesn’t directly compete with the Tuono, Super Duke, and the rest.

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Chris Newbigging

By Chris Newbigging