Custom: Turbo’d Super Cruiser – Ducati Diavel
Blake's Ducati Diavel takes the bike to the next level, with a turbo and almost double the standard torque figure! Words: Jeff Ware, Photography: Heather Ware
When Blake Saville realised he was never going to get comfortable on his YZF-R1, despite trying, he decided it was time to buy a cruiser. He didn’t want a boring Harley, or a Rocket III, he wanted something with sportbike performance. The Ducati Diavel was the perfect choice, with the addition, of course, of a massive turbocharger!
“I have only been into bikes for about five year,” admits Blake, a giant of a man, “Before that I was into cars but I lost interest. I started on a Monster 659, which is a Learner special here in the Australian market, and then I stepped up to a 2008 YZF-R1, the last of the screamer engines.
“I loved the R1 but just could not fit on it, so I had to find something else that would give me the same buzz while taking my weight. Out of all of the muscle cruisers, the Diavel was the best from a performance point of view. It stops really well like a Panigale, turns pretty well for a cruiser, has decent ground clearance, is very comfortable and has all of the electronics that a sportbike has. It also looks great and I love the Ducati quality”.
Blake bought the 2015 Diavel brand new and as soon as it was run it, he dropped it to S&R Pro to be boosted. Jamie Bezzina, who had previously become the first person in the world to turbocharge a Diavel, did the job.
Jamie has been at the forefront of motorcycle turbocharging for decades and is an Australian drag racing champion who is famous for his 600hp turbo Hayabusa ‘no bar’ outlaw drag bike.
“It was a massive job, let me tell you,” admits Jamie, “The electronics are the hard thing on these bikes, they are complex and we had to make our own electronic system basically”.
The engine itself is amazingly stock internally, as this was a low boost job and Blake did not want to change the pistons, camshafts or alter the compression ratio.
The crankcases, crankshaft, pistons, valves and head are all standard as is the 12.5:1 compression ratio. Even the gearbox and, amazingly, the clutch are stock standard. But that is where the stock stuff ends…
The turbocharger itself is a GT3582r custom-made dual ceramic ball bearing item. It has a .57 A/R exhaust housing, T3 flange. The turbo is mounted to custom S&R Pro turbo headers and gasses exit via a polished S&R Pro 3in dump pipe and man, is it loud! Check out the video…
On the intake side, the big snail sucks air through a custom made K&N pod filter and pressurises a custom made S&R Pro CNC machined aluminium plenum chamber. A Tial blow off valve provides the cool PSsshhh noise and a Tial wastegate regulates boost.
S&R Pro made all of the stunning turbo plumbing and piping and associated brackets.
Fuelling the beast is taken care of by a custom-made injection system that Jamie designed. It runs modified OEM injectors plus four additional shower type injectors in the plenum chamber that are activated on boost. There is one injector above each throttle-body.
Fuelling and ignition is controlled by a custom made Microtech MF-1 and a Bazzaz Z-Fi TC. Jamie works closely with Ammar Bazzaz on many turbo and tuning projects.
Oil supply was a big issue, so oil supply for the turbo was taken off the original oil cooler utilising a VDO oil scavenge pump with a return feed to the clutch cover.
The set-up is, like many of Jamie’s jobs, factory-neat. Once final tuning was done, the bike was running like it came from the factory this way. In fact, I think it runs better.
“The end result was not about outright horsepower, but good reliability and lots of torque,” smiles Blake, “Which we have achieved. The bike is 225hp at the wheel and 206ft-lbs at the wheel”.
A quickshifter was added and gearing was left standard. Once the engine was done, work began on the chassis. The forks were revalved and resprung to suit by TeKnic Suspension, as was the Ohlins DU110 shock. “I have to say a special thanks to Nick Dole from TeKnic, who set the bike up just right for me,” Blake explained.
Ducati Performance billet wheels are fitted, wearing sticky Pirelli tires. The factory paint is clear vinyl wrapped for protection and Blake has fitted a bunch of Ducati Performance carbon-fibre along with frame plugs, mirrors, clutch cover and hugger.
Up front there is an Autometer boost gauge in PSI and a Koso wideband air fuel ratio meter joining the factory tank mounted dash.
So, what is the bike like to ride? You can check out our video to see for yourself abut in short, it is off the planet! It is what it is – a Diavel with double the power and double the torque so it is insane! I did some straight-line runs at first, with the traction control on, until I got a feel for the bike and the power delivery.
I was soon comfortable enough to switch it off and that’s when the fun started! It spins up and lays rubber from first gear through to top gear no problem! But it is surprisingly subtle in delivery and feels factory-like in the smoothness of the throttle and the way the low boost big snail comes on. The quickshifter is needed as when the bike started to build rpm, it gets to the limiter almost instantly!
I also rode the bike through my favourite twisty mountain pass and aside from almost highsiding (I’d forgotten to turn the TC back on and got a little eager on the gas off a slippery corner); I was impressed by the rideability of the bike. Off boost it behaves like any Diavel but between corners it is crazy fast! Definitely one of the best turbo bikes I have ridden.
So, what did it cost and was it worth the effort? Blake’s smile probably says it all…
“The build was over 200 hours work as so much was one-off custom. It has cost me $45,000.00 USD including the bike purchase. But it has been worth it.
“I would do it again and I would not change a thing. I love it. It puts the biggest smile on my face when I ride it and it turns so many heads. I love the power and how the torque builds up and as it’s wheelspinning it is trying to throw me off the back!
“The next step is a low compression engine and more boost, plus BST wheels and 330mm rotors,” grins Blake…
What a bike. What a day. What good use of rear tyre!
Custom S&R Pro Turbo Ducati Diavel Specifications
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, Testastretta 11, L-Twin cylinder, four-valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, 1198.4cc, 106 x 67.9mm bore x stroke, 12.5:1 compression, Custom Microtech MF-1 ECU, Bazzaz ZiFi TC with QS, Mitsubishi EFI, Mikuni elliptical throttle bodies, S&R Pro fuel system with GSX-R1000 secondary shower type injectors on boost, with RbW, S&R Pro CNC plenum chamber, K&N custom airfilter, GT3582r dual ceramic ball bearing turbo, .57 a/r exhaust housing, T3 flange, V-Band dump pipe and compressor outlet, ceramic coated exhaust housing, S&R Pro turbo headers and 3in stainless dump pipe, VDO oil scavenge pump, modified oil cooler for turbo oil supply, std six-speed gearbox, std wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control, self-servo action on drive.
CHASSIS: Tubular steel Trellis frame, aluminium single-sided swingarm, 50mm Marzocchi DLC-coated, fully adjustable USD forks set up by Teknic Penrith, fully adjustable Sachs monoshock set up by Teknic Penrith, progressive linkage, ABS, dual four-piston Brembo Monobloc radial calipers, 320mm semi-floating rotors, Brembo two-piston floating caliper, 265mm rotor, Marchesini forged and machined nine-spoke wheels, 3.50 x 17in, 8.00 x 17in, Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 120/70 ZR17, 240/45 ZR17, Ducati Performance mirrors, frame plugs, clutch cover and rear hugger, Koso wideband AF meter, Autometer boost gauge, factory paint clear vinyl wrapped.
PERFORMANCE: firstname.lastname@example.org, 250Nm@3.6psi.