By Bud Wilkinson of RIDE-CT.com
When a motorcycle blogger in another state recently posted that Ducati was going to loan him a Diavel for a week of testing riding, RIDE-CT was miffed to the point of emailing John Paolo Canton, public relations manager of Ducati, with a good-natured “What about me?” complaint. His quick response? “All you had to do was ask.” So, today, RIDE-CT brought home a company-provided Diavel to road test for seven days. The bike was being kept at Ducati New Roc in New Rochelle, N.Y. That’s some 90 miles from home base, which meant a long ride home and long day of riding. My initial review? Wow!
8:30 a.m. – Depart Harwinton. Already there are butterflies. A little nervousness in getting on any new bike is a good thing, because it’s keeps you aware and focused, but I’m feeling some real jitters driving down Route 8. I’ve only ridden a couple of hundred miles since getting back on a bike after the winter layoff and the skills still have rust that needs to be knocked off. Going into heavily-trafficked Westchester County, being handed the key to a new $20,000 bike with 162 horsepower, and then having to immediately jump on a freeway has me now wondering about the wisdom of borrowing the Diavel.
10:00 a.m. – Arrive at Ducati New Roc to find the place bustling. Besides selling Ducatis, the dealership also sells Harley-Davidsons and the Harley demo truck is parked out front with two lines of bikes available to ride. I quickly locate owner Jack Meskunas (pictured with the Diavel loaner) and he takes me back outside where the red and carbon Diavel sits with a tag labeled “B. Wilkinson” hanging from it. I pull out my recently-acquired iPhone and started recording video as Jack explains the bike’s features. Back inside to fill out the paperwork and the bike’s mine to take, except there was so much info that Jack provided that it’s now all scrambled. How do you start it? The Diavel doesn’t have a conventional key that needs to be inserted and turned, rather a fob with a key that you can keep in your pocket. Provided you’re close enough to the bike, it’ll start. After playing wth the multi-purpose kill switch, I finally hold it down long enough for the electronics to stir and for the stacked instrument clusters to illuminate. The Diavel has three riding modes – Sport, Tour and Urban. Sport and Tour use all of the 162 horses, but the Urban mode dials the 1198cc V-twin back to 100 horses. I turn wimp and go with Urban, hit the starter button and the Diavel fires up. Too late to turn back now…
10:30 a.m. – Having made it down the Boston Post Road on to the Hutchinson River Parkway, I’m headed back toward Connecticut and making sure to leave loads of space between my front tire and the car in front. I’ve never ridden a bike with ABS before and the Brembo brakes are really sensitive. Note to self: Don’t grab a handful, just be smooth when pulling back on the brake lever. Having previously owned a Harley V-Rod, I immediately see some similarities, but the Diavel is quicker, leans over easier and stay there – despite having a huge 240 rear tire. It’s also much lighter. My friend Dave Mastrogiovanni is trailing me, driving my car home for me, and he later says that my nerves are obvious because while the bike may be lean over in the curves, I stay upright.
11 a.m. – The Hutch has given way to the Merritt Parkway and the bike’s becoming more comfortable. Not only am I now leaning with the bike, I’m ramping up the speed and noticing the Diavel’s fine points – seamless shifting, comfortable seating position and rear view mirrors that display traffic instead of shoulders and elbows.
11:40 a.m. – Dave passes me on Route 8, gets off in Waterbury and pulls into a restaurant for lunch. After ordering a turkey melt, I check my iPhone to review the video. No video. Only two still shots. Should have read the instructions. Or been a little more patient before asking Jack to talk about the bike. Guess I was really nervous.
12:30 p.m. – Back on Route 8 northbound and all awkwardness with the Diavel is gone. It’s really a point and ride muscle machine, a beast with a nice roar. A guy in a Nissan “Z” passes and give a thumbs up. Damn, this bike is an eye-catcher.
3 p.m. – Having gotten home safely, done some grocery shopping and other errands, it’s time for another ride. This time it’s with friend Gary Randall. We go to Avon and then out to Cornwall to see friend Will Paley, and don’t get home until 7 p.m. Total mileage today – roughing 200 miles.
9 p.m. Saturday – It has been a long day. Tomorrow morning, it’s off to Toymaker’s Cafe in Falls Village and then down to Kent. The game plan is to be at Toymaker’s from roughly 10 a.m. to noon and in Kent from 12:30 to 2 p.m. If you happen to be in either place, please stop and give the Diavel a look. That’s one of the reasons it got loaned, I’m sure. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll figure out how to shoot video and get up the stones to try the Tour mode.