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Isle be back

1st Oct 2012 10:04 pm

We find out what makes the Isle of Man so magnetic for bike racers.

It’s the home of road racing. Of a race that’s taken place every year since 1907. It’s claimed over 220 lives, and ranks arguably amongst the most dangerous motorcycle races. We take the ill-suited Ducati Diavel for a round of the course on a rain swept day.

The Diavel looks impressive. Styling is muscular with a big fuel tank and large front forks. The rear of the big Ducati is lean, with a fat, 240 section rear tyre. Here’s a motorcycle that looks different from anything else on the road, even at the Isle of Man where exotic bikes are a common sight.

The Diavel really shines on wide, smooth motorways. Ducati knows all too well that this ‘bike without category’ has left several riders puzzled about its true purpose. But get yourself onto one, and it won’t take you long to see how well rounded and exciting it is to ride.

The exhaust soundtrack is just the beginning, with the Diavel capable of ferocious acceleration. Ducati claim a 0-100kph time of 2.6 seconds with braking just as violent, yet the bike always remains well within its rider’s control thanks to a set of Brembo brakes in front, with ABS. Despite stretching the Diavel’s legs on the 400km ride to Liverpool, we felt little fatigue, thanks largely to the bike’s excellent riding position and light controls.

A single mile into the TT course teaches you absolute awe for riders who top out at over 305kph here. These are public roads and lamp posts, mail boxes, solid stone walls and humpback bridges go past all too routinely. Barriers are often no more than a few inches away, and some sections of the famous mountain course run no barrier protection at all. 

The first Isle Of Man race held over a 100 years ago witnessed an average speed in excess of 60kph for the circuit, which could sound simple, but doing this on the Isle’s open public roads even today astride a modern supersports motorcycle makes you respect any racer who braves this challenging race.

The Diavel has a massive Desomodromic heart that makes a whopping 162bhp. The chassis is well-sorted and it doesn’t feel like there’s that much power on tap. The heavy motorcycle feels deceptively easy through the corners. Yes, a Diavel is never going to feel as flickable as a faired-in 600cc motorcycle, but it’s still very good. It’s only in the occasional slower corners that the front can feel a tad unwieldy. That said, once the Diavel is at full chat, handling lightens up and you’d never guess it has such a long wheelbase.

Sure, a full-blown superbike makes more sense on the iconic Isle Of Man course, however, the Ducati Diavel is a bike you shouldn’t ignore if looking for riding comfort on a motorway, while also indulging in the occasional spot of fun on twisty roads.

The Isle of Man is a fine mix of swooping bends, gradients, crests and straights, all adding up to make this such a fascinating, addictive challenge, all of which the Ducati Diavel reveled in and made the most of during our brief ride. 

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