2021 Ducati XDiavel Black Star Review
Motorcycle Test by Adam Child ‘Chad’ – Images Tim Keeton
Euro-5 compliance is upon us all, and Ducati’s 2021 XDiavel has had its fuelling revised and its exhaust changed to comply. But Ducati has also taken this opportunity to introduce two new variants to the model – a more basic XDiavel Dark, and the top-shelf XDiavel Black Star – with its stunning red accents allegedly inspired by sports cars. Well I guess Ducati does have a close relationship with Audi.
The Black Star features lightweight forged wheels, which are two kilos lighter than the normal ones. It also comes with improved Brembo M50 calipers, DLC-coated adjustable forks (like the S version), and a ‘high-grip’ suede-fabric seat.
The 2021 XDiavel Black Star is yet another step further away from the traditional air-cooled feet-forward cruiser – a process Ducati has been engaged in since the Diavel’s inception. It launched the mid-peg equipped Diavel in 2011 to widespread praise from the press, and then went feet-forward in 2016 with the XDiavel (Trev’s review of the original XDiavel here). Ducati’s new cruiser was suddenly flying high above the traditional V-twin cruiser market with its sporty handling and impressive power, brakes, and technology.
For 2021, Ducati is offering more power and torque along with a little more refinement to the bike’s sporty aspirations. And then there is the way it looks. The Black Star is one of those bikes you can just sit back and admire, its finish is indeed outstanding. It’s a bike you’ll take your time polishing and cleaning.
Is it all about money?
The Black Star lands in Australia in April for $37,590 ride-away. That could be considered a vast amount of money to spend on a bike, no matter how attractive it might be. But for the average XDiavel customer, possibly not. The standard, XDiavel Dark is $29,390, the S version is $36,100. So it’s not all sell-your-kidney stuff if you’re after an XDiavel and can do without the top-end Black Star.
When comparing the XDiavel Dark with the competition, its price is in the right ball-park. Triumph’s recently updated Rocket 3 starts at $31,990 and Harley-Davidson’s basic Fat Boy starts at $33,995. The Harley may be considerably cheaper but it can’t match the Ducati’s power, handling or technology, and it’s all-too-easy to add a few accessories to the Harley which will quickly bring the price closer to the Diavel’s. So I guess when you look at the competition, the XDiavel is reasonably priced, right?
Surprisingly good handling
A long wheelbase, relaxed rake and trail, and a huge rear 240-section rear Pirelli – all the ingredients are there for a bike that just wants to go straight. It’s an optical illusion. The XDiavel handles, and goes around corners far better than its spec’ sheet implies.
Light forged-alloy wheels on the Black Star make a significant difference as they save on un-sprung weight, allowing the XDiavel to steer with more agility, especially at speed. The suspension is composed, it controls the bike’s weight well, which, at 221 kg dry, is significantly lighter than the competition. The handing is emphatically market-leading for a feet-forward cruiser. It’s firm, yet still doesn’t jolt you out of the seat over imperfect bitumen.
What you’ll also notice at first is at slow speeds it doesn’t want to turn, then with some more determined input, it will slowly roll over its large rear Pirelli. Around town, where you will inevitably spend some time posing, the Black Star is okay, but it’s not its natural habitat.
The Black Star also features the improved Brembo M50 set up, the same as the sporty S model (as opposed to the M4.32 items on the standard Dark model). And stopping is assisted by the Bosch-Brembo 9.1MP cornering braking system, which is linked to the IMU. This set-up gives you immense confidence, and again the stopping power is class leading.
Peak power now stands at a mighty 160 horsepower at 9500 rpm, which is eight horsepower up on the previous Euro-4 model. Peak torque has also increased slightly to 127 Nm at 5000rpm.
The new exhaust now shoots towards the 240-section rear tyre. That humongous Pirelli sends out an unmistakable message about the strength and intent of this feet-forward cruiser – this is no slow-revving, laid-back American V-twin. This is from a thoroughbred Italian stable – and all those horses want to run.
So 160 horsepower from the DVT V-twin in a cruiser. Has the world gone mad? I remember when 100 horsepower was considered enough for a cruiser. And it’s not all about peak power because torque is vast, producing around 95 to 100 Nm of torque at just 2000 rpm. In fact, the XDiavel produces more peak torque at 2000 rpm than Ducati’s legendary 916 made at its peak.
I sensibly opted for the safe Urban mode, which reduces power to 100 ponies, and increases the rider aids like TC and corning ABS. But even in Urban mode it has more power than most Harleys, therefore you still need to be cautious in the wet. Once I was feeling a little courageous, I opted for the not so sensible Touring mode, which gives full power and reduces the rider aids.
Power is hugely impressive from the DVT motor, sending the traction control into overtime to control the rear wheel. Torque hits you like a punch in almost any gear. You don’t really need to rev the XDiavel; just sit in the grippy suede seat and try to hold on as you stretch that belt final-drive.
That butt-clenching power really gets to you – it’s great fun. There is even a dedicated Ducati Power Launch (DPL) if you want to be particularly childish. In Sports mode, when the rear tyre eventually hooks up, it has enough grunt to lift the front (Trev shows the previous model up on one here), something I wasn’t expecting from a long and low feet-forward cruiser. This is a quick bike, and I know from previous experience the XDiavel feels planted and solid at high speeds, but at 220 km/h-plus, it’s hard work keeping your feet on the pegs.
Away from tearing up the rear tyre, all that torque makes the variable-valved engine incredibly functional. The XDiavel potters around in any gear and accelerates hard out of 60 km/h zones, even in a high gear. In slightly tricky riding conditions, I didn’t really feel the need for extra oomph. However, the power felt a little flatter than I remember, and very progressive. Only a back-to-back test will let us know for sure.
I spent the majority of the test flicking between modes, controlling the power and torque with a button as much as the throttle. I tapped into the Urban mode when grip levels became tricky and leaned on the electronic rider aids.
This did highlight one issue: the small dash. Yes, it is full-colour and TFT, but I’d like something larger, more obvious, and not hidden away under the wide bars. In today’s world, we are used to generous iPad-size screens that are easy to read – which the XDiavel clocks are not.
Touring – time for some miles
Embarking on some serious miles shouldn’t be an issue, just forget about a pillion – they would have to be miniature and brave. The riding position is adjustable, and I opted to have the pegs closer to the seat, while taller riders may prefer the pegs further forward.
Ducati claims 5.5 L/100 km, whereas I managed 6.0 L/100 km. I know from familiarity that can soon drop with some intense throttle action, but most riders are going to average close to the claimed consumption, which therefore offers a theoretical touring range of around 290-300 km, or 240 before range anxiety sets in. Again, it would be nice to have a larger clock and display…
Quality, but at a price
As you would expect, the Black Star has the full complement of rider aids and three riding modes: Sport, Touring and Urban. There is Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Power Launch (DPL) plus the aforementioned cornering ABS. Cruise control, keyless ignition (annoyingly not the fuel cap), DRL headlight, backlight switchgear and Bluetooth connectivity add to the practicality of the package.
If you are feeling flush, accessories are plentiful. Racing cans will set you back around $4100, and centrally mounted pegs, $1500. There is a host of carbon goodies, most of them expensive, with a front hugger for example priced at $670. Start ticking some accessories boxes, not to mention some clothing boxes, and your final bill could go much higher than $37,590.
The new Black Star looks stunning in the flesh. It feels special, looks special, and it is special. Ducati didn’t need to give the XDiavel and its 1262cc Testastretta engine more power, or improve the bike’s handling with lighter wheels, but it has, and for that it has to be applauded.
This is a spectacular feet-forward cruiser, albeit one that might be a little too extreme for some. Forget about the lack of pillion seat and that the dash is not really up to 2021 spec, because the Black Star is still a very special bike.
2021 Ducati XDiavel Black Star Specifications
|2021 Ducati XDiavel Black Star Specifications|
|Type||Testastretta Dvt 1262, V2 – 90°, 4 Valves Per Cylinder, Desmodromic Variable Timing, Dual Spark, Liquid Cooled (Euro5)|
|Bore X Stroke||106 mm X 71.5 mm|
|Power||160 hp (118 kw) @ 9,500 rpm|
|Torque||13.0 kgm (127 nm, 93.7 lb ft) @ 5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Injection||Electronic Fuel Injection System, Øeq 56 Mm Elliptical Throttle Bodies With Ride-By-Wire System|
|Exhaust||Stainless Steel Muffler, Catalytic Converter And 2 Lambda Probes|
|Primary Drive||Straight Cut Gears, Ratio 1.84:1|
|Ratio||1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25|
|Final Drive||Belt, Front Sprocket Z28, Rear Sprocket Z80|
|Clutch||Slipper And Self-Servo Wet Multiplate Clutch With Hydraulic Control|
|Frame||Tubular Steel Trellis Frame|
|Front Suspension||Adjustable Ø 50 mm Usd Fork With DLC Treatment|
|Front Wheel||Light Alloy, Forged And Machined, 3.5″X17″|
|Front Tyre||Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120/70 Zr17|
|Rear Suspension||Preload And Rebound Adjustable Monoshock, Remote Reservoir, Single-Sided Cast/Trellis Frame Swingarm|
|Rear Wheel||Light Alloy, Forged And Machined, 8.0″ X 17″|
|Rear Tyre||Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 240/45 Zr17|
|Wheel Travel (Front/Rear)||120 mm / 110 mm|
|Front Brake||2 X Ø 320 mm Semi floating Discs, Radial Mounted Brembo Monobloc 4-Piston M50 Callipers, Pr16/19 Radial Master Cylinder, Cornering Abs|
|Rear Brake||Ø 265 mm Disc, Brembo 2-Piston Floating Calliper, Cornering Abs|
|Instrumentation||3.5″ TFT Colour Display And Dedicated Warning Light Display|
|Dry Weight||221 kg|
|Kerb Weight*||247 kg|
|Seat Height||755 mm|
|Rake / Trail||30° / 130 mm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||18 L|
|Safety Equipment||Riding Modes, Power Modes, Cornering Abs, Ducati Traction Control, Full-Led Lighting System**, Daytime Running Light**|
|Standard Equipment||Ducati Power Launch, Cruise Control, Hands-Free, Backlit Handlebar Switches, 3.5″ Tft Colour Display, Ducati Multimedia System, Forged Rims|
|Warranty||24 Months, Unlimited Mileage|
|Maintenance Service Intervals||15,000 km (9,000 Mi) / 12 Months|
|Desmoservice||30,000 km (18,000 Mi)|
|Co2 Emissions||129 G/km|
|Consumption||5.5 L/100 km|
|RRP||$37,590 Ride Away|