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The Devil is in (the detail)

autos Updated: May 03, 2012 23:02 IST
K Hari Warrier
K Hari Warrier
Hindustan Times
K Hari Warrier

Pigeon poop on the visor. Yuck! But that's the sacrifice one has to make if one wants to take the new pet out for a spin and give it room to stretch itself.

And when that pet is is Ducati's monstrous Diavel… it needs LOTS of room.

The 1200 cc engine, the 160-odd BHP, the 94 foot-pound of torque --- putting it through city traffic is like bringing up a Dobermann in a flat. It just is not cricket.

The visor wiped out, one heads out on to the highway for a luxurious spin. These are a few observations.

What hits you, literally, is the body-shape. It is almost like an Arnold Schwarzenegger moulded into a bike. The tank is one mighty torso, the front tyre a delicate 120/70, the seat virtually moulds around your back (it has a removable cover that converts it into a single seat) --- and then comes the rear tyre. Ducati engineers have planted a 240/45 piece of rubber back there, and it looks as though they built the rest of the bike around it! http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/5/04_05_12-buss25.jpg

The Diavel sports the lowest seating stance in the Ducati stable (ok, the Monster too). The handles are wide, the stance is almost of a cruiser. The footpegs are just that - pegs. Positioned so that if one wants to crouch into the wind at 150 kph, it is not too bad (though tall people may have a problem). On a long drive, it would be a good idea to wear proper biking boots with sufficient padding and support.

The engine has three pre-set modes - sport, cruise and urban. Power and performance change dramatically, even the Ducati growl show off distinctly different intonations. Sport is full power, sprightly, 0-100 in under 3 seconds (it works, though one doesn't look at the watch obviously!). Urban retains the power, but the revs settle down noticeably. Ideal for long stretches of 100-plus kph. Urban is, well, urban. Power drops to 100BHP, revs are medium, handling set for brake-and-throttle conditions. The right setting to get familiar with the beast.

Ducati Traction Control (DTC), which detects rear tyre-slide, also changes, with maximum traction available in the Urban mode and the minimum in sport. It can be manually set, too.

The hydraulic wet clutch is admirable and smooth, headlight always-on, LED much in evidence. All that makes it a 3-in-1 bike, somewhere in between a cruiser and a sportsbike, with the best of both worlds. The bike is one nifty piece of engineering, and if they really did build it around that back tyre, they’ve done a wonderful job. We love it.

BUT… The question remains. Where are you going to drive it, in India? Weekends on highways nosing around trucks doesn't seem a very attractive proposition. The beast moans for a twisty, hilly and relatively peaceful stretch of road, maybe 50-100 kms. Does such a thing exist in our country?

Apparently it does, because despite the hefty R21-26 lakh price tag, Ducati says they have been selling about five bikes a month since it was launched last year. They brought it to India within weeks of its international launch --- smart strategy, considering that we seem to have plenty of people with purchasing power. But if you are the middle-class, aspirational, EMI type, this may not be the one for you.