NEW Ducati DesertX Review 2022


For a few years there’s been a fad for 1970s-inspired retro bikes leading to an overload of models taking their cues from 50-year-old designs that few of today’s riders experienced first time around. Now the trend has accelerated into the 1980s and even 1990s with a spate of recent machines that hark back to the glory days of the Paris-Dakar rally – and the new 2022 DesertX is Ducati’s attempt at taking the lead in this new recent-retro category.

From a marketing perspective, it makes sense. The Dakar’s golden era, when it was dominated by large-capacity twins capable of unimaginable speeds across the dunes, tugs at the heartstrings of 40-somethings upwards – old enough to recall those races, and to have plenty of disposable cash, but not so ancient as to be hanging up their helmets.

Ducati hinted at its intentions back in 2019, showing the Scrambler DesertX concept, inspired by the Ducati-engined Cagiva Elefant, but the 2022 production DesertX – carrying similar styling but on a completely different platform – doesn’t have the market to itself. In the same section of the market, it’s facing MV Agusta’s new Lucky Explorer 9.5 (also borrowing inspiration from the Cagiva Elefant), plus the Moto Guzzi V85TT and of course the BMW R NineT Urban G/S, while simultaneously having to combat modern-styled off-road adventurers like the Triumph Tiger 900.



Power and torque

What’s changed from the 2019 concept? The biggest element is the engine. Back in 2019 the Scramber DesertX concept took its greasy bits from the air-cooled Scrambler 1100; a layout that would have graced it with around 86hp. For the production version – simply called DesertX as its Scrambler roots have been excised – that’s all changed, with power now coming from the 937cc Testastretta 11° that’s already the heart of a host of Ducatis; the Hypermotard 950, Monster, Multistrada V2 and Supersport 950 all use it already.

In the DesertX, the DOHC, water-cooled, Desmo-valved V-twin makes 110hp at 9250rpm and 92Nm (67.86lbft) at 6500rpm. That puts it into the middle of the Dakar-inspired class, beating the 79hp Moto Guzzi V85TT, roughly matching the 109hp BMW R NineT Urban G/S and falling behind the new MV Agusta Lucky Explore 9.5, which claims 123hp from a 931cc triple.



Engine, gearbox, and exhaust

The DesertX’s engine isn’t substantially changed from the latest, Euro5-complient version of the same motor seen in other Ducatis, with recent improvements to the clutch and gearbox to reduce weight by 1.7kg over earlier iterations. However, the DesertX’s gear ratios have been chosen specifically for the new model, with shorter ratios from 1st to 5th, improving acceleration, allied to a long, overdrive-style, sixth gear to improve economy and comfort at high speed.

As with most Ducatis, there’s the chance to improve performance further by dipping into the accessories catalogue and adding a homologated Termignoni pipe, bolstering power and torque by a claimed 7% (which should equate to around 118hp and 98 lbft of torque) when allied to a remapped ECU.



Handling, suspension, and weight

The Testastretta engine is slotted into a completely new, steel trellis frame for the DesertX, which is Ducati’s most off-road-oriented adventure bike yet.

With a 21in wire front wheel and 18in rear, both suited to tubeless tyres and fitted as standard with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber – 90/90-21 front, 150/70-18 rear – the bike is intended to have real ability away from the asphalt. The front is fitted to 46mm USD Kayaba forks with 230mm of travel, while the rear monoshock comes from the same maker and gives 220mm of wheel movement, and both ends are fully adjustable for compression, rebound and preload. There’s 250mm of ground clearance, so rough ground shouldn’t pose a problem provided you’ve got the strength and skill to cope with the DesertX’s not inconsiderable 202kg (dry) weight.



Ducati DesertX (2022) - Comfort and economy

That weight rises higher, of course, when the fuel tank is filled. As standard there’s 21 litres of capacity, but the DesertX’s options range introduces an intriguing addition in the form of a secondary fuel tank, mounted at the back, that adds an extra 8 litres. It’s plumbed into the bike so fuel can be transferred from the rear to the front once the main tank level drops below a pre-set level, with an on-dash control to start the transfer.

Behind the tank, the seat is a lofty 875mm high as standard, although Ducati says it’s slim enough to make reaching the ground relatively easy. A lower version can be specified, too, along with an additional lowering kit if that’s still too high.

Although designed to be comfortable when ridden off-road, standing on the pegs, the bike’s seat also promises touring comfort for rider and pillion, while the screen can be replaced with a taller version if you want more protection from wind blast.



It’s a Ducati, so the brakes are Brembos, with M50 monobloc calipers at the front on 320mm discs and a two-pot caliper and 265mm disc at the back. Cornering ABS is standard, as on all modern Ducatis.


DesertX | Dream Wilder

The wildest travel dreams come true with the Ducati DesertX: a bike born to enhance the adventure thrill, wherever in the world you can dream of.


Rider aids, extra equipment, and accessories

The electronics are typically high end, with six riding modes – Sport, Touring, Urban, Wet, Enduro and Rally – and four power settings, simply named Full, High, Medium and Low. Similarly, the cornering ABS can be set to three levels and even deactivated entirely in Rally and Enduro modes.

A Bosch IMU informs the cornering ABS and the lean-sensitive traction control, as well as the wheelie control system, while other tech includes engine brake control and an up/down quickshifter.

The 5in TFT screen is in line with expectations from Ducati and gets two display modes – Standard and Rally – with the former offering more road-oriented information and the latter putting the emphasis on trip information.

Accessories include the Termignoni pipe and additional fuel tank, mentioned above, and of course you can add luggage – totalling up to 117 litres – as well as additional lights, a centre stand and heated grips.

A lower-powered, A2 licence legal version of the bike will also be offered, with the ability to be restricted to 47hp to suit that licence category.



Here’s a high-level comparison chart:


Ducati DesertX

MV Agusta Lucky Explorer

BMW R NineT Urban G/S

Moto Guzzi V85TT


937cc V-twin

931cc triple

1170cc boxer twin

853cc V-twin


110hp (82kW) @ 9250rpm

123hp (90.5kW)@ 10,000rpm

109hp (80kW) @ 7250rpm

79hp (59kW) @ 7750rpm


92Nm (68lbft) @ 6500rpm

102Nm (75lbft) @ 7000rpm

116Nm (85.5lbft) @ 6000rpm

80Nm (59lbft) @ 5000rpm


202kg (dry)

220kg (wet)

223kg (wet)

229kg (wet)

Seat Height


850mm to 870mm









Ducati DesertX (2022) Technical Specification

New price




Bore x Stroke

94mm x 67.5mm

Engine layout


Engine details

DOHC, water-cooled, Desmo valves


110bhp (82kW) @ 9250rpm


92Nm (68 ftlbs) @ 6400rpm

Top speed



6 speed, up/down quickshifter

Average fuel consumption

Claimed: 5.6 l/100km

Tank size

21 litres (plus 8 litres in rear tank if fitted)

Max range to empty


Rider aids

Wheelie control, engine brake control, cornering ABS, cornering traction control, six riding modes


Steel trellis

Front suspension

46mm USD Kayaba forks

Front suspension adjustment

Rebound, compression and preload

Rear suspension

Kayaba monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Rebound, compression and preload

Front brake

2x Brembo M50 calipers, 320mm discs

Rear brake

Brembo 2-pot caliper, 265mm disc

Front wheel / tyre

21" tubeless wire wheel, 90/90-21 Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

Rear wheel / tyre

18" tubeless wire wheel, 150/70-18 Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

Dimensions (l x w x h)




Seat height


Ground clearance



202kg (dry)

MCIA Secured rating

Not yet listed


24 months/unlimited mileage





2022 Ducati DesertX Review Price Spec (60)


What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.