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First Times Ride: 2015 Ducati Diavel

It's a Barcalounger blast-off, with 162HP and 92 foot-pounds of torque.
This top of the line Ducati retails at $20,995.

Ducati's Diavel for 2015 is a new configuration of one of the Italian motorcycle manufacturer's newest models.

The stylish and immaculately appointed urban assault vehicle has been given new engine and chassis elements, and been outfitted with the most aggressive backside in the Ducati lineup. It features one of the fattest -- or maybe that should be the "phattest" -- back tires I've ever seen on a motorcycle.

The word "diavel" is the Bolognese equivalent of "devil." Like the company's entry-level Monster, this machine is meant to envoke shock and awe.

And it does, in the saddle. The 162-horsepower, 1198cc Testastretta motor delivers a tooth-rattling 96 foot-pounds of torque to the massive rear tire.

That's not anything like a Ducati record. Its race-inspired bikes -- particularly the Panigale and Superleggera -- pack more punch than that.

But the ergonomics on those bikes are designed for high-speed handling and lightning-quick cornering, with the rider tucked in and down, close to the pavement.

On the Diavel, the horsepower turns the windscreen-free, laid-back chassis into a Barcalounger blastoff.

Like most Ducatis, the Diavel features very sophisticated ABS and traction control to make the power less lethal. The three riding modes -- Sport, Touring and Urban -- combine with the eight traction controls and the fully adjustable suspension to make it possible for the rider to personalize the Diavel's performance.

It's also been made rider-friendly in other ways. The seat height is just over 30 inches, and the Diavel weights only 452 pounds. That and the short wheelbase made this an easy rider.

The Diavel is also a little easier to own than other, previous Ducatis. The first valve clearance adjustment -- a wallet-whomping experience that used to come much earlier on the odometer --is now set at what Ducati calls "an owner-friendly" 18,000 miles.

The components are, of course, all Italian and all high-end, and include Brembo brakes, Marzocchi front forks, Marchesini forged wheels, and Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires.

The instrument panel is so sophisticated you can make bank deposits, while switching ride modes, changing the traction control settings and sending a text. Almost.

Ducati doesn't like the motorcycle press calling the Diavel a "cruiser." But it's not clear where to put this weaponized street machine.

Ducati, attempting to define this motorcycle, says, "The stance of the Diavel is of readiness, dominance, and confidence bordering on superiority."

That's about right. Ride it like you stole it? There's no other way. 

Now for the bad news. MRSP on the Diavel Carbon, the version I rode, is $20,995.

At that price, you might have to ride it like you stole it.

Don't worry, though. If you can hold on and stay in the saddle, no one will be able to catch you.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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