2014 Ducati Diavel Strada Makes Itself Useful

The 2014 Ducati Diavel Strada brings Italian performance to an urban, utilitarian motorcycle design.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

The 2014 Ducati Diavel Strada takes away a little power and adds some urban utility.

In the world of Ducati, even more utilitarian motorcycles are fun.

The standard Ducati Diavel is a $18,995, upscale sport bike. Best taken in red and fed with feathered power, the Diavel base serves up a liquid cooled Testrastretta engine and 162 horsepower flowing out of a lightweight, technologically advanced frame.

Recent variations of the Diavel, including the Carbon and Cromo, take that sport bike base and play on variations of additional rider position and power.

I’m a particular fan of the Cromo – a meaty, powerful and silly fast motorcycle with a reassuring center of gravity that invites the rider to roll the throttle aggressively.

The Diavel Strada throws a change up at the line by taking the Diavel’s power and balance and adding a more upright seating position and saddle bag options Essentially, the Strada offers up a sporty option for useful urban transport.

For $19.495, the Diavel Strada offers a similar engine to the standard Diavel, while acknowledging the Strada’s intention for shorter urban trips by putting out less horsepower (100).

The challenge for Ducati engineers was to keep the sporty tingle of the original Diavel and import it to a motorcycle equipped for briefer touring rides and individual urban transport use. Regardless of the reduced horsepower numbers, the Strada is amply powered. The traditional, up/down ergonomics make it more traditional for street riding.

The riding experience is still fun for experience riders. The balance and center of gravity is excellent, the throttle light and responsive. The bright, colorful onboard electronic aids monitor rider settings (…I left it in Sports mode all the way because it’s a Ducati…) and provides milage data, trip counters, etc. As far as that monitor screen goes, Ducati was ahead of the tech curve in keeping with its ride by wire tradition.

In a very informal survey of both Ducati-centric consumer riders and media, the Diavel Street earns mixed reviews. There are those who agree with me — that the bike is a good effort to forge an urban, functional motorcycle with a lighter, more nimble sport bike. The opposing camp objects to the bags and the more upright ergonomics of the ride — describing them as clunky.

I don’t have an issue with the Strada's more up and down, BMW-ish riding stance, I would argue that Ducati is allowed to diversify their line in an effort to hit different demographics and market segments. Every bike made in Italy doesn’t have to be a certified crotch rocket. You don’t have to be tight straddling a tank and laying your bread basket over a motorcycle and 100 mph to enjoy some two-wheeled Italian pep and vigor.

As to the saddle bags, they might distract from the motorcycle’s otherwise high sprung, aggressive haunches, but a quick bike for quick city riding needs the ability to bear a little burden.

Basically, there’s nothing wrong with being able to transport a few jars of Bolognese on a bike made in Bologna.

See what I did there?