When Blake Saville realized he was never going to get comfortable on his YZF-R1, he decided it was time to buy a cruiser. But he didn’t want a run-of-the-mill Harley or even 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 years,” Saville admits. “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,” Saville says, adding that it fits his large physical stature much better than a typical supersport. “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.”
Saville bought a new Diavel in 2015, and as soon as it was run in, 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. Bezzina has been at the forefront of motorcycle turbocharging for decades and is an Australian dragracing champion who is famous for his 600-hp turbo Hayabusa ‘no bar’ outlaw drag bike.
“It was a massive job, let me tell you,” Bezzina says. “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. So 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, while gasses exit via a polished S&R Pro 3-inch dump pipe, and man, is it loud! Check out the video…
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On the intake side, the big snail sucks air through a custom made K&N pod filter and pressurizes a custom S&R Pro CNC-machined aluminum 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.
Fueling the beast is taken care of by a custom-made injection system that Bezzina 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. Fueling and ignition is controlled by a custom Microtech MF-1 and a Bazzaz Z-Fi TC. Bezzina 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 utilizing a VDO oil scavenge pump with a return feed to the clutch cover.
The set-up is, like many of Bezzina’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. A quickshifter was added and gearing was left standard.
“The end result was not about outright horsepower, but good reliability and lots of torque,” smiles Saville, “which we have achieved. The bike is 225 horsepower and 206 lb-ft. at the wheel.”
Once the engine was done, work began on the chassis. The fork was 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,” Saville raves.
Ducati Performance billet wheels are fitted, wearing sticky Pirelli tires. The factory paint is clear vinyl wrapped for protection, and Saville has fitted a bunch of Ducati Performance carbon-fiber 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? In short, it is off the planet – 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 off TC, and that’s when the fun started. It spins up and lays rubber from first gear through to top gear no problem!
And yet 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 the motor gets to the limiter almost instantly after starting to build rpm.
I also rode the bike through my favorite 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? Saville’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 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,” Saville continues. “I love the power and how the torque builds up and as it’s wheelspinning it is trying to throw me off the back!
What a bike. What a day. What good use of rear tire!
Turbocharged 2015 Ducati Diavel Specifications Engine Type Liquid-cooled Testastretta 11-degree, L-Twin cylinder, four-valve per cylinder, Desmodromic valves Displacement 1198.4cc Bore x Stroke 106 x 67.9mm Compression Ratio 12.5:1 Horsepower 224.9 rwhp hp (with 3.6 psi of boost) Torque 206 lb-ft. (with 3.6 psi of boost) ECU Custom Microtech MF-1 Engine Modifications 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 Transmission six-speed gearbox Clutch wet multiplate with hydraulic control, self-servo action on drive Frame Tubular steel Trellis Swingarm aluminum single-sided Front Suspension 50mm Marzocchi DLC-coated, fully adjustable USD forks set up by Teknic Penrith Rear Suspension fully adjustable Sachs monoshock set up by Teknic Penrith, progressive linkage Front Brakes Dual four-piston Brembo Monobloc radial calipers, 320mm semi-floating rotors, ABS Rear Brakes Brembo two-piston floating caliper, 265mm rotor, ABS Front Wheel Marchesini forged and machined nine-spoke wheels, 3.50 x 17in. front, 8.00 x 17in. rear. Tires Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 120/70 ZR17 front, 240/45 ZR17 rear Other Modifications Ducati Performance mirrors, frame plugs, clutch cover and rear hugger, Koso wideband AF meter, Autometer boost gauge, factory paint clear vinyl wrapped.