Bike Middle East travel 700 kilometres around the UAE on a Ducati Diavel as one of the first
bikes ever allowed on the famous Mille Miglia road rally
When you get a call to ask if you want to ride a Ducati on a Mille Miglia event, it’s one of those calls that requires no answer. It’s automatic. Other plans get cancelled, people put on hold, birthdays cancelled. Sometimes opportunity only knocks once.
To be clear, this wasn’t the Mille Miglia of Italian fame. Well, not as far as location was concerned anyway. But it was a genuine Mille Miglia event, as the famous rally becomes a
brand and spreads its wings into territories new.
And, as you may have already realised, the Mille Miglia never involved motorcycles. So why
As they say, change is constant, and whilst the original rally continues in Italy, still adhering to
the strict rules of entry, the brand’s forays into new regions allows it a little latitude. Sometimes by necessity brands and events have to change and morph themselves to suit their audience.
But enough of the reasoning, arguments and alterations. Whatever the cause, the effect was
that four Ducati bikes, sponsored by Carrera Sunglasses, were added to the lineup of incredible automobiles all keen to complete the two-day navigation rally and claim one of the coveted trophies.
Bike Middle East was presented with a stunning matt black Ducati Diavel 1260 by Wheels of Arabia, the local Ducati Dealer. It’s not an easy bike to describe. Part muscle bike, part cruiser,
part custom, it could fit into plenty of segments, all at once. The rear tyre is a huge 245 section, so you’re first thought is that it won’t handle at all. But that’s dispelled within a few minutes of riding. It actually turns really well and doesn’t feel the handful it perhaps should.
The engine is a joy, with so much torque you wonder when it’ll end. And it’s fast! I was told by a Ducati insider that it’ll out accelerate a Ducati V4, so people use them in the US for stock drag racing. That doesn’t surprise me, as it really feels like it’s more than capable of shaming more than a few decent sports bikes. And of course, the stealth fighter paintwork helps with its slightly evil looking demeanor.
Strictly speaking, the bikes weren’t competing with the cars. We were more along for the ride
and to experience what Octanium, the rights holder to the rally in the region, were capable of,
ahead of a full scale rally towards the end of 2022. Not having to adhere to the strict timings
and closely monitored route was a bonus for us riders, allowing a bit of extra freedom to enjoy
the incredible route the organisers pulled together.
From the flagged start at the 25hours hotel in Dubai’s One Central, tracing a line across the
Emirates to Fujeirah for the overnight stop at the Intercontinental Fujeirah Resort, the route
took in some of the very best roads of the Emirates, with very little highway to potentially bore
the competitors. Roadbook stamp stops at previously unknown locations all helped to make
day one something to savor over dinner on the beach, followed by bean bags and campfires
right by the edge of the Indian Ocean.
The Ducati proved to not only be a comfortable tourer, but also a great vantage point to admire the great cars along the route. Everything from Morgans and MGs, to classic Ferraris and Mercedes. But also some more modern vehicles, allowed into the rally to reflect the more
modern side of the UAE. Even Dubai Police’s supercars turned up to join the fun, with a
stunning R8 and Mercedes SLS taking part.
Day two headed north towards Ras Al Khaimah and the famous Jebel Jais mountain. With some of the classics struggling up the steep incline, the Diavel made an easy job of the incredible road, eating up the corners with surprising ease. Despite being more of a cruiser (with an insane 245 rear tyre) than a sports bike, the Diavel can dance when you ask it, and up the mountain it really came into its own.
After a lunch at the top, with a stunning backdrop, it was back down the mountain for more
back roads and unexplored corners of the Northern Emirates, before a blast back to Dubai and
the 25hours Hotel for the flag finish. After 700 kilometres in two days, we certainly felt the
miles, but the Diavel proved to be a capable tourer, as well as a slippery sports bike. I actually
didn’t really want to drop it back to the Ducati dealership, as I could very easily live with a bike
But despite losing the bike, the rally was far from over. That night saw a gala presentation with
food and drinks at the 25hours hotel’s Monkey Bar, which enjoys stunning views of the brand
new Museum of the Future.
But the bigger question is do motorcycles fit into a Middle East version of a historic rally not
known for its bikes. In essence yes, and no. Purists would surely turn up their noses, but then
this is not the actual Mille Miglia. That is something special in a special place for special cars.
This was the rally spreading its wings, allowing in not just bikes, but cars that wouldn’t normally be eligible to the famous rally. This is the future of brands like the Mille Miglia, and it was a future done very well indeed.
A fantastic route, great cars, cool bikes, friendly people, great organization and an experience
to remember forever. Life is all about experiences, but they don’t come along if you just sit still.
You have to get involved and engage. And that’s what a rally like this makes you do. I had as
much fun on a bike as I would have in a car, so why not include two-wheels amongst the four.
Especially something as capable as the Ducati Diavel.
And besides, why should just the car drivers have all the fun?