With a sixties desert racer vibe and genuine ‘soft road ability’ thanks to a beefier swingarm, taller seat, 50mm taller fully adjustable suspension, fat new dual-purpose Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, and a bash plate, the Desert Sled looks like the Scrambler for grown-ups. But is it? We sent our man Marc Potter to the Land of Joy in Spain and the Desert Sled’s world launch to find out. Here’s his first impressions.
For many riders the new Ducati Desert Sled is the Ducati Scrambler we’ve been waiting for. Sitting some 50mm higher on its fully adjustable front and rear suspension, with 200mm of suspension travel it certainly looks a whole lot more manly than the smaller, lower Scramblers.
New for 2017, the Desert Sled rides on new fat special-developed Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, with off-road focused spoke wheels at 19-inch front, and 17-inch rear, a bash plate. With an 860mm seat height putting it some 15mm taller than the standard Scrambler Icon it’s a Scrambler for grown-ups. Maybe. If you are shorter, an 840mm seat height is available too.
Using the standard Ducati Scrambler chassis as a basis and its Euro 4 friendly 75bhp V-twin 803cc motor, the motor puts the scramble into Scrambler. It won’t run back to its heated garage and Ducati bike cover at the site of a trail, in theory it will be able to cope with gentle off-road riding and a few decent trails.
While the five Scramblers launched before before the Desert Sled have looked the part, the low suspension and lack of any decent ground clearance meant the off-road look was just that, for looks. This is meant to do both, and Ducati say this bike can cope with some gentle off-road riding. It even gets bear claw, grippy footrests with removable rubber inserts for when you’re off-road.
To strengthen its off-road ability, the Desert Sled features a beefed-up rear swing arm with frame strengthened for off-road kicks, plus a fully adjustable Kayaba rear shock and 46mm Kayaba front forks, both adjustable for compression, rebound and pre-load.
The wheelbase is now 60mm longer at 1505mm (1445mm on the Icon), and there’s a mesh guard on the headlight as standard, a longer rear fender, a higher front mudguard and wider, tapered handlebars. There’s also a twin-exit Termignoni exhaust.
We nipped off to the ‘Land of Joy’ in the desert near Almeria in Spain for the Desert Sled’s world launch. Here’s our man, Marc Potter’s first impressions.
He said: “We've only ridden the Desert Sled off road and after just a few miles, even on standard tyres, you can feel that the Desert Sled puts the Scramble into the Scrambler, finally. It's the Scrambler that off-road Ducatisti looking to take a Ducati on gentler off road trails can now do some easy trails on. The taller suspension is good off-road, I can hear the bash plate kicking stones away from the engine and the motor is easy, with great throttle control at low revs on the sand. It still has that laid back Scrambler vibe but, apart from the look, there's nothing retro about the way it rides. It's the Scrambler I've been waiting for.”
The 2017 Ducati Desert Sled available in red with a black frame, or white with a black frame. The red bike costs £9395, the white bike costs £9495. The Desert Sled will be available in the UK at the end of March/beginning of April.
2017 DUCATI DESERT SLED CHANGES AT A GLANCE:
Desmodue twin-cylinder engine, EURO 4-compliant, black finish exhaust with dual tail pipe and black covers
Reinforced off-road frame
New aluminium swingarm
Spoked wheels, 19"at the front and 17" rear with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres; 120/70x19 front, 170/60x17 rear
New ribbed seat with a height of 860mm
Tapered handlebars with reinforcement strut
46mm Kayaba adjustable upside down fork with 200mm of travel
Adjustable Kayaba rear shock absorber with separate gas cartridge Steel teardrop fuel tank with interchangeable side panels
Front headlight with type-approved mesh guard
High front mudguard
Extended rear mudguard
DUCATI DESERT SLED TECHNICAL SPECS
803cc, V-twin, four-stroke, air-cooled
Steel trellis frame
Front: Kayaba 46mm fully-adjustable upside down front forks
Rear: Side-mounted rear shock adjustable for pre-load, compression and rebound damping
75bhp @ 8250rpm
Front: Single 330mm disc, Brembo four-piston caliper
Rear: 245mm rear disc. Brembo single-piston caliper.
Front: 120/70 x 19
Rear: 170/60 x 17
191kg dry/207kg wet
Red with black frame
White with black frame
Red Desert Sled: £9395. White Desert Sled: £9495