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Who will be first with a Diavel rival?

Ducati's new bike almost sits in its own sector. Who's in?

IT'S fair to say the Ducati Diavel has been something of a surprise. Throughout it's much-spied development even the most dedicated Ducati fans struggled to believe that a long, low, cruiser-style bike could live up to the Ducati reputation for performance and handling.

Even now it's hard to believe it, but everyone who's ridden the bike is in agreement; it has exceeded every expectation.

That's two out of two for Ducati. Last year it performed the same trick with the Multistrada, achieving superbike levels of performance and handling from a machine that didn't look like it should be able to do it. Rivals have been falling over themselves to mimic the Multistrada double-quick – whether it's Aprilia's Dorsoduro 1200, Honda's Crossrunner or any one of a host of yet-to-be-launched bikes that are under development to rival it – and already they're finding Ducati has moved the goalposts in another market.

So, who's going to be first with a Diavel rival? Here, Ducati's rivals have an even bigger problem than they did with Multistrada. The first hurdle is the engine; a big trailie can use just about anything – a V-twin, boxer twin, triple or four-cylinder – but even though the Diavel throws most of the old cruiser preconceptions away, it still has a V-twin at its heart. And few other firms have a modern, high-powered, lightweight V-twin engine to offer. Aprilia's 1200 motor can't match the Ducati's on performance, and while KTM's might, that firm isn't about to enter the cruiser battle. All the Japanese turned their backs on performance V-twins years ago, and Harley certainly has nothing to offer.

One thing is certain; come the big bike shows later this year, you'll see some machines with remarkable similarities to the Diavel.