By Jonathan Welsh
Ducati released a teaser photo of the Diavel, a new model it plans to unveil during next month's EICMA International Motorcycle Show. In some ways, the stripped-down machine recalls the original Ducati Monster 900, a lightweight bike, elegant in its simplicity, that essentially saved the company nearly two decades ago.
The new motorcycle is sure to excite longtime Ducati fans, especially those who long for the form-follows-function approach the company took to bike design in the 1970s and 1980s. Unlike many bikes nowadays, the Diavel looks more like a horse and less like a two-wheeled car. Still it is loaded with modern performance and safety features.
Its name comes from the "Devil" in Bolognese dialect, and is pronounced dee-AH-vel. The company says when an early prototype was assembled and shown to group of Ducati engineers and technicians, one person said: "Ignurànt comm' al diavel!" that's Bolognese for, "Evil, like the devil!"
While it has some of the dirt-tracker looks of a Harley-Davidson XR1200, it also reminds me of the recent wave of high-tech musclebikes from the Yamaha V-Rod to the BMW K 1200 R. The new Ducati, which is scheduled to go on sale in late winter or early spring of 2011, uses the same Testastretta engine used in the company's top-of-the-line superbikes. The Diavel will also offer anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronically adjustable riding modes aimed at increasing safety and comfort. The latter attribute is one those decades-old Ducatis often ignored.