Review: 2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo

If you can’t ride a motor, it’s difficult to describe the sensation of riding the 2012 Ducati Diavel Cromo. Still, that’s my job, so I’ll give it a try.

If you’ve never sat astride any crotch rocket – especially a seasoned Italian dish like the Cromo – imagine riding a horse that will run you through the sidewall of a barn if you spur it too hard. Imagine taking a bicycle down a ski jump. Imagine rollerblades – rocket-packed like the model Wile E. Coyote orders from Acme.

And then imagine any of those created with enough engineering and technology to make such speed not only safe, but entirely manageable and enjoyable by the rider.

There. That should do it.

I had a week-long test ride of the Cromo, and I hope to enjoy a longer period with the bike later this Fall as no bike I’ve ever ridden drew more sharp inhales from me or more envious stares from folks on the LA streets. Ducati delivered the bike in glossy black. It’s massive rear tire cuts an imposing figure from the rear, while its angular, tapered styling looks (if I may use a well-aimed cliche) like its moving while standing still.

The ergonomics are comfortable – with a wide, countered seat that other manufacturers should study closely.

I often describe the 2012 Ducati Panigale as a professional racing bike available for mere mortals to purchase. It’s a terrifyingly fast motorcycle. The Cromo is just a notch slower, so let’s put it in the “brutally” fast category with a projected top speed of 175+. No, this reviewer went nowhere that redline for self-preservation reasons. This is a motorcycle to be deeply respected.

With a liquid cooled Testastretta engine generating a staggering 162 horsepower, The cromo knocks down 60 mph in third gear, leaving three more gears for you to misbehave with thanks to its light action, wet transmission.

As would seem fitting for this raging black beauty, a complete set Brembo brakes front and back absorb all of that speed. On that wide rear tire, a huge 265mm disc takes the load. A very active ABS system gives you a welcome hand in controlling the refined speedster.

Before the bike roars into life, a sophisticated computer system welcomes the rider with a bright display just above the fuel tank. The Cromo’s three handling settings – Sport, Cruise and Touirng – are controlled from that screen, as well as readouts on trip distance, time, fuel consumption, etc. It’s a worthy tech display for a bike that’s so hyper-engineered.

To control the Cromo is an exercise in subtly that strangely counters the raw, ferocious power of the bike. The slightest forward twitch of the throttle shoots you forward. The lightest squeeze of the brakes slows you down again. The exquisite balance of all components allows the rider to slip in and out of traffic and to hand a knee or two around big corners.

The Cromo retails for around $19,000, and that might strike some as pricey for any motorcycle. But for a thrilling, precise ride like this, it feels like a bargain. Honestly, the Cromo rides like a $30,000 dollar motorcycle.

While the Ducati Cromo may not be the hardcore, traditional motorcycle rider’s choice because of its price and reliability on modern technology, it is an impressive engineering achievement and a joyous romp to ride.