We pit together the Ducati Diavel 1260 and Indian FTR 1200: two exotic superbikes that hate to be stereotyped, and are the absolute outlaws of the motorcycling world
Charlie Chaplin is an iconic global phenomenon. A stage persona, filmmaker, comedian, pantomimist and probably the first stand-up comic in an era when nothing of the sort even existed. It is improbable to label him as just an actor. Protagonists of our story may not be staunch followers of Chaplin but are out to tread the same uncharted path in the world of motorcycling.
Take the case of Ducati Diavel 1260. It ain't a cruiser, nor is it a muscle bike neither is it a dragster. Ducati says it's a power cruiser but we have the XDiavel to take the longer route home and thus the Diavel can do its own thing.
In the other corner, we have the Indian FTR 1200. Based on a championship winning flat-tracker, the FTR is a muscle bike for the street that can also hit the trails if and when asked to.
But which is a better bike to stand out? It's America vs Europe. Muscle cars vs superbikes. FTR 1200 vs Diavel 1260.
There's absolutely nothing road legal that looks as radical and otherworldly as the Diavel 1260 on planet earth today. Well, the Yamaha V-Max is dead and so is the V-Rod. But with more than 35,000 Diavels on the road, this Ducati is going from strength to strength. It's not about lust as there are solid reasons behind the success story of this muscle-nakedcruiser- dragster of a Ducati. It may have won the prestigious Red Dot Award 2019: Best of the Best, contesting against 5,500 global design icons but there's more to the Diavel 1260 than meets the eye.
Take the exquisitely finished casing of the Testastretta DVT 1262 L-twin for example. It looks gorgeous, chained in the tightly packaged trellis that has been completely redesigned for optimal weight balance. We have already seen the motor on the XDiavel and Multistrada 1260 but on the Diavel, there's nothing to hold back Ducati; which means that we see it in the most aggressive mode, churning out 157 horses and 129Nm. Reports suggest that it is now the second quickest production motorcycle to hit 100kmph; in just 2.5 seconds! Phew. Find a straight patch of road, switch Ducati Power Launch, whack open the throttle to max and let go of the clutch. Even Hercules would think twice after experiencing the sheer burst of acceleration on this mad, mad monster.
The way the Diavel 1260 punches through air despite weighing a hefty 244kg is just mind-boggling. While it does that, the throaty, full-bodied exhaust revitalises your senses and keeps you pushing for more, every time you wring that direct throttle. Remember, the engine is based on a superbike's and that clearly shows in the way it goes about its business. It is not happy in the low-range but once past 6,000rpm, it goes like a Batmobile. The 240mm rear tyre aids straight-line speeds but you wouldn't really complain about how it goes around corners either.
Ducati calls this a #MegaMonster and they're not lying. A dragster-like machine with the rear tyre almost as wide as a Mahindra XUV500's and you'd naturally expect it to behave like a push-rod-based Harley. But no; the Diavel is shockingly agile, even more than the FTR 1200 to a certain extent. The maximum lean angle stands at 41deg which is brilliant for a bike that's so extravagant. The large and posh saddle offers a lot of space for you to move around and the new redesigned tank also lets you hold onto it. And that's just the Italian gods showing mercy, for the naked-like riding position isn't really easy to control this monstrous machine. Thankfully, Ducati has equipped it with Brembo M50s which are epic and bring the bike to a halt without any drama whatsoever. So good are the front discs at putting down the anchors that I barely needed to tap the rear. Of course, you cannot discount the electronics package, which again is top-shelf.
Ducati's flagship motorcycles receive everything from wheelie control, to launch control and the Diavel is no different. It also gets a six-axis IMU, sourced from Bosch that dynamically measures roll and pitch angle. Ride-by-wire lets you choose between three riding modes – Urban, Touring and Sport, all of which alter the engine output, TC levels, ABS levels and wheelie control. There's electronically adjustable suspension too, sourced from Ohlins. The extra money that you're spending, over the Indian, is money well spent.
The Diavel was Ducati India's best-selling model for a while and that speaks volumes about the charm that this unique machine has to offer. It is a sportbike killer in every manner but is way too versatile to not be called a cruiser. Select Urban mode and it will chug along the crowded streets of desi metropolises while the Touring mode is apt for the highways. And then when you want to rev its nuts off, just select Sport mode and hit the racetrack. You won't be disappointed.
The FTR 1200 is not very different from the Diavel. The Diavel is Ducati's idea of a power cruiser while the FTR is a street-tracker. With the FTR, Indian Motorcycle is dipping its toes into unexplored waters, ruled by the European bigwigs. And it is a big deal for a company that has been constantly churning out dated, push-rod based baggers. The FTR 1200 maybe inspired by the double champion in American national flat-tracking – the FTR 750, but offers a lot more than just going sideways at full gas.
Just like the Diavel, you cannot put the FTR 1200 in a specific bracket. It may not look as eccentric as the Diavel but a closer view is enough to mesmerise the artist in you. The quality is top-notch and even better than the Ducati's while the unique, retro-ish headlamp gives it a very authentic old-school charm. The attention to detail is amazing and the industrial build reminded me of Apple's products. Even the 4.3in TFT cluster is so intuitive and easy to use that you'll forget the Ducati. At least for a while. It can be operated in three ways – via the toggle switch cube on the handlebar, the touchscreen, and the buttons placed on the cluster itself.
What does not work in its favour is the awkward rider's triangle that clearly draws inspiration from the FTR 750. The seat height is a stupendous 853mm, putting it straight into ADV territory and you feel it more prominently after sitting on the lowly saddle of the Diavel 1260. Thankfully, the seat is properly wide to accommodate large Americans which means, there's ample space to move around. That's a much needed luxury, for the FTR 1200 is no slowpoke by any margin.
The V-twin on the FTR 1200 is all-new and packs in 1203 cee cees. It is one of the best motors you'll ever experience! The power delivery is not manic like the Diavel 1260 and it takes about 3.3sec to hit 100kmph, making it almost 50 per cent slower. However, the tractability is on a different planet altogether. You can hit speeds as low as 35kmph in the sixth cog. 100kmph comes at a measly 3,800rpm while you are far away from the redline which comes in at 9,000rpm. The throttle is very sharp and direct and the FTR is a proper extrovert, never knowing when to shut up. The flat-track inspired Dunlops cannot really keep up with bucketloads of American torque and tend to go sideways even in a straight line. The Diavel maybe a scorcher but the FTR 1200 is definitely more usable in the real world. The exhaust note is quite mellow when compared to the Ducati but it farts, pops and crackles too, at every given opportunity. If that doesn't inspire you enough, may I suggest the free-flowing Akrapovic that comes as standard on the Race Replica version but it'll set you back a couple of lakh rupees. The RR also gets the FTR 750-inspired colour scheme which looks even sexier.
Being tested on the streets of Spain means the FTR really handles. The handlebar is slightly away from the rider and is positioned very low which feels unnatural round corners and takes some time getting used to. It does not tip into corners very easily but staying sideways is no problem at all. The maximum lean possible is more than the Diavel, owing to its naked-like characteristics but the tyres don’t really support the cause. The 19-18in setup is great for straight line stability though. The brakes aren’t as great as the Diavel’s either but the stopping power is adequate, as the FTR is lighter than the big and muscular Diavel 1260.
But then you are not spending as much on the Indian anyway. The FTR 1200 is better built for sure but lacks big time when it comes to the electronics. It all depends on your priorities after all.
Both, the Diavel 1260 and FTR 1200 are outliers. They are icons of this generation just like Chaplin, who although he was British, was still revered by the Americans. Both of them offer an intense experience which not many motorcycles can come close to. Of course, you cannot quantify some things in terms of money and it's the same with these thoroughbred machines. It is all about making you feel 'special'.
The Indian FTR 1200 is a brilliant do-it-all machine. It feels robust and extremely well-built, has a TFT instrument cluster which is loaded with goodies including navigation. It comes loaded with a fully-adjustable suspension and a supreme chassis too. And then there’s that gem of a motor that deserves a nomination for one of the best V-twins ever produced (if there exists such an award). The motor is so usable everywhere, that you’ll barely need to shift gears and that makes up for the lack of a quick shifter. The one area where it trumps the Diavel big time is its ability to take on the bad roads. But then if you are spending more than 20 lakh rupees on a luxury motorcycle, would you really be willing to take it off the road?
And that’s why the Ducati Diavel 1260 comes out on top. The Diavel is an open canvas and thankfully Ducati has managed to make full use of it. It is a ‘no holds barred’ motorcycle with looks that could kill, combined with power that wants to kill you! Don’t get me wrong, but the Diavel reminds me of old-school Ducatis and Lamborghinis that were ready to pounce at every given opportunity to kill you. The Diavel feels special, every single time you take it for a spin. Every corner is an achievement and every successful launch is an opportunity to live another day. And while at it, the Diavel can also switch to a sophisticated mode with the flick of a button to cut the lunacy. The fat rear-tyre, the radiator shroud integrated indicators, the massive fuel tank that reminds you of its size or the semi-auto suspension that adjusts itself as per the situation – everything on the Diavel reeks of what motorcycling is all about. Some things in life are priceless they say.