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If you had told me a few years ago that Ducati would build a cruiser-segment motorcycle, I probably would have called you a couple cylinders short of a v-twin. Make no mistake, the 2011 Ducati Diavel is a controversial motorcycle…and that’s putting things lightly (at worst it’s a complete dilution of the Ducati brand). If the Diavel is Ducati’s deal with the Devil, then let me play the Devil’s advocate for a moment, and put forth the business case about why this motorcycle had to be built, and what it means to the Ducati brand — minus the pandering to the Ducati faithful.

Things will be a little slow on Asphalt & Rubber today, as we’re in Los Angeles testing the new Ducati Diavel. We’ll be spending most of the day figuring out how to turn with a 240mm rear tire, and getting rocketed by the Diavel’s 162hp reported power figure. You can follow our thoughts on the bike via Twitter, and our last five tweets will automatically post here on this post. While we ride The Devil, the press photos of the Diavel after the jump should tide you over until we finish our ride report.

Tomorrow Asphalt & Rubber must make the trek down from perfect Northern California, to SoCal and the pits of Los Angeles, where dreams go to die. As we descend down through the lower rings of Dante’s ladder and into hell that is the perpetually sunny and warm Los Angeles, our final destination will in fact bring us face-to-face with The Devil himself. Riding the latest creation from Bologna, the American motorcycle press will get its first chance at the highly anticipated Ducati Diavel.

Since we’ll be bringing you live coverage from the event, and writing a few pieces on Ducati’s stab at the performance cruiser segment throughout the rest of the week, we thought it best to start with a primer on the motorcycle. Find after the jump the 2011 Ducati Diavel‘s technical specs, photographs, and design synthesis, and features.

Here’s a cool time-lapse video put together by MCN that follows the 2011 Ducati Diavel power cruiser getting built at Ducati’s Bologna factory. Ducati is currently building 40 Diavel’s per day on its rolling assembly line, but that number is set to increase by 50% in the coming weeks as the Italian company predicts strong sales in the summer months. As was seen last year with the Multistrada 1200, Ducati expects the Diavel to lead the company’s sales in 2011.

Amidst all the fanfare over seeing Valentino Rossi wearing Rosso Corsa and sporting his new Dainese leathers, which surprisingly aren’t being sponsored by McDonald’s, one announcement has gotten little attention (and no, we’re not talking about Nicky Hayden). The 2011 Wrooom event signals the end of a three-year strategic plan that’s been going on internally at Ducati, which has seen the Italian company release 12 new models, increase sales across the board, and ship 36,200 motorcycles in 2010 alone.

For the past two weeks, Ducati has been taking feedback online and at motorcycle shows on the new 2011 Ducati Diavel power cruiser. The Bologna brand has clearly taken some of the constructive criticism to heart, as it’s begun tinkering with the design of the Diavel. Replacing the the white version of the Diavel, Ducati has released photos of the Ducati Diavel Diamond Black, an all-black version of the Diavel that has a black anodized headlamp and air intakes.

Confirming what we already told you last month, Ducati has officially announced the pricing on the 2011 Ducati Diavel power cruiser. With the base Diavel costing $16,995, Ducatisti can spend an extra $3,000 for the Diavel Carbon, which costs $19,995, or purchase the Diavel Carbon “Red” (named for its red frame and rally stripe) for $20,395. Is the Ducati Diavel not your cup of tea? In an interesting move, Ducati has setup a feature on its Diavel mirco-site for people to sound off their opinions on the new Italian machine by filling out a questionnaire. You can catch the Ducati Diavel, and many of the other recently released motorcycles, in person at the International Motorcycle Show through March. Source: Ducati North America

Are you one of the loyal Ducatisti who is not so crazy about the new Ducati Diavel? Don’t worry, because Nicky Hayden feels your pain, and went as far as to create his own concept bike for Ducati’s newly released performance cruiser. Based off the 800cc V4 motor of the Ducati Desmosedici GP10, Hayden’s low-riding two-wheeled vision uses an all carbon frame, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo monoblocs. It also comes fitted stock with Bridgestone’s top-of-the-line performance tires, and has numerous carbon fiber bits and pieces, not to mention traction control, launch control, wheelie control, but no ABS. Available only in Rosso Corsa for now, we hear a one-off limited edition white paint scheme may also be available later next year. No word on price, but the above model comes slightly used. Source: Alex Hofmann (Twitter) via Ducati News Today

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If you fall into the camp of people who love the Ducati Diavel, we’ve got a special treat for you as there are 80 hi-res photos waiting after the jump (there’s a video too if you haven’t seen that already). However if the new performance cruiser from Ducati isn’t your cup of tea, well…here is a movie about rejection (so you can understand how the Diavel feels about your position) and a photo of a basket full of puppies, which should make everyone feel a lot better (who doesn’t like puppies?).

Want to see how the Ducati Diavel‘s 240mm wide rear-wheel handles the tarmac? The Bologna company has a video for that. With it we get a better idea of what the Diavel will look like in motion, along with a glimpse at the bike’s other features (keep an eye out for the secondary dash).

While there is parts of the bike that we are still coming to terms with, there is certainly aspects of the Diavel that come across as pure genius, one of which has to be the signal integration into the bodywork.

After looking at the Diavel, every other bike on the planet looks out of date with its black plastic Christmas tree hanging off the tail section, and boring orange marker lights up front. You’ll know the scene we’re talking about when you see it, after the jump.

The 2011 Ducati Diavel has leaked ahead of its debut in a few hours at EICMA, showing us the final lines of Ducati’s performance cruiser. Performance is the key word here with the Ducati Diavel boasting features like: 162hp Testastretta 11º engine, 94 lbs•ft of torque, 456lbs (carbon) / 463lbs (base), radial brakes, ABS, traction control, ride-by-wire, and three riding modes. Other features include keyless ignition (as found on the Multistrada 1200), a split dash (as we revealed earlier), fold-up passenger pegs, and a carbon version of the Diavel (aptly named the Diavel Carbon) which sheds 7lbs of weight over the base model by adding carbon fiber body panels and forged Marchesini rims.