Still at European Cycle Sports LTD in Plano, TX I also got a freeride on an XDiavel S.
I've been wanting to ride this bike for awhile, having sat on it at two other dealers. It is a total comfort-fest in the showroom and the engine, technology, and that big tire just beg to be ridden and enjoyed. Everytime I see it, I want to buy one without even riding it. Plus, my wife always wants me to get a cruiser and in my book, this qualifies. Boy, I'm really glad Jason let me ride it.
As I pulled out of the dealer lot, up to the first stop, and out into traffic, I almost turned around immediately and told Jason, "I'll take it!" I was that enamored with it right out of the gate. Just like everyone else, I still wanted to put my feet under me, but I got the hang of it after the first two or three "tries". Let me go ahead and say what's right about this bike: the static riding position and the switchgear. First, the switchgear is brilliant and Ducati needs to dump the switchgear and display from the Monster (and all their other bikes) and make this the universal setup. It really is that good. The display is just a smaller version of what the Monster had, but it was much better. The switches are better and more intuitive and Ducati implemented cruise very well; way better than BMW and Triumph. The seating and peg position is great, comfortable, inspires confidence and just feels really cool. I've seen pictures of myself on the bike and I don't think I actually look cool, but I feel like I look cool, so I don't know which one is more important. Probably the latter, which is a good segue to what's wrong with the bike.
First, I was in lunchtime Plano/Dallas traffic some and I didn't notice anyone checking me out or staring - I mean NOTHING! I expected at least someone to turn a head to see what was that goofy thing going down the road. So the cool factor I thought I was going to impart to my fellow man never materialized. Either I'm too big for the bike so people can't really see it, or maybe it's just not that impressive. I could feel people checking me out on the red Monster. Maybe a Ducati MUST be red, I don't know. So I was a little disappointed that I garnered no attention on the XDS.
Second, now I know why Ducati has gone to great lengths to create a traveling, guided XDiavel Experience. They must plot out fantastic, smooth roads ahead of time, plan the speeds and turns, etc. because you would not want to live with this bike for more than a test ride where there are expansion joints, bumps, potholes, cracks, reflective markers, ANYTHING on the road. Take my word for it, your butt and back won't be able to take it. Unfortunately, the bike is too sharply sprung to deal with everyday life. It also bucks and broncos a lot; there was rarely a smooth moment on the bike. If this bike is trying to compete with a Softail or Sportster, they have a long way to go. I don't think you can combine sport suspension with cruiser ergos; I was beat completely to pieces on the same route that the Monster lovingly cradled me in its Italian statuesque way. In addition, the engine is a vibe-fest if you don't keep the RPMs low, so you are always shifting into higher and higher gears. Unlike the Monster, where you could ride all day in gears 2-3 and never wear the bike out. So maybe that would take a recalibration of where you run your gearing. I preferred the Monster in this area.
Third, above 45 mph you're holding on for dear life against the wind due to the sail effect of the wide drag bars. If you try to fight against that by pushing your butt up and back and sitting up a little more straight, then you don't look as cool, but don't worry, nobody else cares.
I didn't have any problem turning with the 240-section rear tire. I felt confident in a leaned over turn on this more than the Monster just because of the height difference, I think. The front end of this bike felt light at times also; it must be a Ducati trademark. Oh yeah, on both bikes, I much preferred the most aggressive map to the Touring and Rain modes. After experiencing modes for the first time on these three bikes, I'm convinced that modes are just gimmicks to persuade people they CAN go ahead and buy that bike they can't afford and should be scared of, which helps boost sales of increasingly expensive bikes. Whatevs; as long as one of the gimmick modes doesn't intrude on the full power setup, I don't have to worry about it.
I was ready to get back to the shop and get off the XDS. Bottom line... the XDS is expensive, looks great (to me), feels great (at a standstill), and sounds great; you just don't want to ride it. If I bought one, I would put it in my house and charge people a quarter to sit on it and rev the engine a few times- like a dime store ride. And I would make my daughter keep the dust off it. I told Jason that I was NOT on the fence; the Monster was definitely the Ducati for me. But I WAS on the fence relative to the Tuono and I would have to think about it. As seen above, the Tuono beats out the Monster, so Ducati is out.
So if the Tuono is a beautiful Italian woman, and the Monster is a statue of a beautiful Italian woman, then the XDS is one hundred statues of beautiful Italian women falling on you from the top of a ten story building... with no one around to see it happen.