Jay Leno and a Ducati XDiavel S Take to the Canyons
The first cruiser from the Italian motorcycle masters is a devilish win.
Jay Leno is diehard Ducati fan, evident by the quartet of the brand’s greatest hits in his garage. There’s a 1964 Monza, a 1980 900 SS, and a 1984 Mike Hailwood 900 Replica, each glorious rockets in their own right. On this week’s episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, Leno gets up close with their latest offering, the 2016 Ducati XDiavel S, which boasts a number of firsts for the company.
The XDiavel—translation: “Devil”—is Ducati's first official entry into the cruiser market. Jason Chinnock, CEO of Ducati North America, tells Leno they’d been noodling on this style of bike for ages, but wanted to imbue it with true Ducati DNA, meaning style, power and performance alongside a cruiser’s comfort. The result is a fast sweeper that you can crank over and find that, not only does it hold the line thanks to a long wheel base, but it won't stop pulling.
The 1263cc, 4-valve liquid cooled engine helps get the XDiavel steaming like a freight train, generating 156 horsepower and 95 lb-ft of torque. Chinnock notes that this bike was tuned for the low end yank, with optimal twist coming at 5,000 revs. That’s lower than the usual Ducati peak of about seven grand. “We did this so you can roll on and hold it there without worrying about too many shifts,” Chinnock explains, adding the power application is very fluid, thanks to a first-ever factory application of a belt drive. “You’ll still get that power whip synonymous with Ducati, but in a smoother delivery.”
The feet forward stance, another departure from Ducati norms, has Leno a bit skeptical. Chinnock admits to initially feeling similarly, but assures the comic it’ll handle like his stable of elderly Ducatis when leaned over. That 30-inch seat height means it’s low enough to feel the road without being disconnected. The passenger “seat” is minuscule, drawing a quip from Leno: “You’re not going to get any Kardashians on there.” Not that they'd accept the invite.
Last among the new features is Power Launch. The system utilizes inertia control, which takes pitch and roll into consideration, as well as speed and elevation variation to calculate precisely what’s required for optimal traction. Looking to let the back step out a bit for some fun flat-track action? No problem. Toggle between the riding mode—Urban, Sport, and Touring—and you’ll find some slippage in Sport, which unlinks the brakes and gives ABS to only the front tire’s Brembo. This mode, per Chinnock, is best for riding it like you stole it—music to any biker’s ears.
On the road test, the XDiavel sounds deep and throaty, though Leno wouldn’t mind a bit more noise. Of the cruiser stance, Leno says you get used to the foot position quickly, finding comfort. It feels nimble, and Leno thinks it contains the spirit of a sport bike, a huge plus. Is the Ducati Leno's next bike? Not unlikely.