Ducati desert sled test

Can’t get sufficient Ducati Scrambler? over there are jetzt 10 various versions von the hip cycle – yes, ten! – and it appears Ducati blieb can’t do enough. Jeff slung his tight-denim foot over ns most off-road-ready von them all to bring you the goods, and all was going an excellent until that crashed…

The sun-scorched southerly California desert zu sein a huge area littered v rocks, sand und gravel, and aside indigenous some major freeways, it’s not in easy place to get around. It’s so just ns place zum thrill-seeking riders to kick up dust clouds weist high-speed.

Du schaust: Ducati desert sled test

In ns 1980s, riders would certainly take every little thing standard-style bikes they can get their hands on, und modify them with longer-travel suspension, skid plates und knobby tires to create what to be referred to as Desert Sleds to rip around the arid terrain.

The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled it s okay ready zu play in Jeff’s rückseitig 40. Or some place he stumbled onto, anyway.

It’s so what Ducati has actually done through this Desert Sled. It’s ns latest iteration of the wildly well-known Scrambler heat up des hipster-friendly, fashion pieces, used zum zipping roughly urban centres, and it’s ns most off-road capable. Sie read about the new Icon tonnage week, i m sorry Zac rode bei Tuscany; jetzt it’s my turn kommen sie tell you about the Scrambler, but sadly, notfall from anywhere so exotic.

There aren’t any type of deserts near where ich live, but there space some staubig farm-access roads that vary from decent, two-track dust road, zu “did a trace used zu go through this shrub?” there are also plenty of great espresso bars zum showing off.

Let’s face it, we’ve all seen a sizable number von Ducatis – not nur Scramblers – offered primarily weil das image improvement tools, no matt how an excellent their really performance. It’s zum good reason, too, since those Italians do know how zu make a damned fine-looking motorcycle. This Desert sleds version of Ducati’s interpretation von a classic standard-style bike ist arguably ns most arresting, particularly in this black Edition repaint scheme.

It aussehen stripped down und ready from this angle, with ns yellow monoshock poised to absorb all die extra weight from Jeff’s second helping des chips.

I’m notfall alone an that assertion. Few machines (including some correctly exotic ones) schutz generated ns same universally positive social media prayer as when i posted a photo von this Desert Sled. People loved the retro color scheme. Really, if freundin don’t uncover those gold, spoked wheels downright sexy, sie ought zu clean your glasses and look again.

In profile, die proportions are spot-on with adequate clearance that appears as if it can actually execute some reasonable work off-road (and far from ns barista’s adoring gaze). Ns right side has Ducati’s acquainted pair of exhaust serpents winding native each des the L-oriented cylinder banks, merging right into one, und back kommen sie a pair of stubby schwarze farbe end pipes. The left side of the bike shows off ns bright yellow Kayaba monoshock.


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If that all aussehen a wenig more get an impressive up and serious than the other Scramblers, well, that sort of is. Both die rear suspension und the pair of inverted 46 mm prior forks are fully adjustable und provide 200 mm of wheel travel. The swing arm and frame oase been beefed up to handhaben the stresses von repeated off-road impacts, and there ist a useful skid plate too.

On paper, this all sounds like die Desert Sled is more than just a macho styling exercise, favor BMW’s RnineT metropolitan G/S.

Still not spotted über Farmer Giles, Jeff takes a momente to admire exactly how good ns Desert sledge’s looks bei the soft light, und appreciate the shape of its gear lever.

In riding roughly town and commuting on the highway, i became an extremely aware des potholes und pavement heaves – the stiffness von the suspension belied ns Desert Sled’s off-road looks. I oase to admit, die on-road speak didn’t give me viel confidence the this device would be an ext off-road capable than the Urban G/S, besides having better stretch to its suspension.

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The upside to ns stiffness was a Scrambler that was fun und well-composed zum on-road cornering. Even much more impressive, die tread pattern von the pirelli Scorpion Rally str tires features broad blocks instead von the much more traditional square knobs, und they provide impressive pavement tight without die pucker-causing squirm of most knobbies.


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In fact, buyers that pick up a Desert sled simply zum commuting und coffee riegel posing must be very happy with your purchase, due to the fact that it walk well hinweisen both tasks. Die wide bars and upright riding position make it easy for low-speed manoeuvering approximately town, too.

Ducati’s acquainted 803 cc L-twin, air-cooled engine generates a modest, however wholly-usable 73 hp punkt 8,250 rpms, and 49 lb-ft des torque hinweisen 5,750. It’s gott that unique Ducati-twin growl kommen sie it too, which zu sein just loud enough to be noticed, but not dafür much to be obnoxious. A high-mounted Termignoni pipe is available as bei accessory. Acceleration zu sein sufficient to keep the Scrambler ahead von the cagers when pulling away from a stop light, but punkt highway speeds, ns engine doesn’t schutz much extra poke without dropping down a gear or two.

The transmission ist a 6-speed v straight-cut gears. Shifts space met with a severe Ka-THUNK, though my test bike had a definite aversion zu neutral.

A bit von “dramatic effect” here. Grad how an extremely clean und unscratched die Desert Sled aussehen to be.

Braking ist handled by a 330 mm single front disc v a 4-piston Brembo caliper. The rear has actually a 245 mm disc through a single-piston floating caliper. ABS zu sein standard (and defeatable zum off-road fun), but ns overall brake feel ist average. On-road, I’d prefer higher bite and immediacy than die Desert Sled’s brakes provided.

When i finally uncovered time kommen sie leave the pavement und hit a two-lane track that degraded kommen sie a wildly pock-marked und undulating trail, die Desert sledge’s proved zu be easier kommen sie manage und more capable than i had expected. With an ext time, I’d have dialed rückseitig the suspension stiffness, but even in a roden set-up that plainly favours road handling, it wasn’t too bad for my 160 lbs.

After grabbing a couple of photos, i pushed ns Scrambler a little bit harder and then a bit harder still. Ich grew much more confident, until die 19” front wheel slid into a particularly gnarly rut and upset die bike, punting me off. Die Desert Sled came away unscathed except zum a now-pretzel-shaped shifter. Unsurprisingly, this walk no favours zum the bike’s struggles kommen sie find neutral.


Picking it rückseitig up and out des the rut, ich wished all die extra rigidity developed into the Desert sledge’s didn’t have to bring along die extra 21 kg or deshalb of mass end a regular Ducati Scrambler, boosting ns curb weight kommen sie a hefty 207 kg (456 lbs). It absolutely has an ext mass 보다 its dirt-bike appearance lasst uns on.

The seat height zu sein 860 mm (33.9 in), though there ist a low-seat option at 840 mm, und the taller, broader bars and skinny seat-and-tank width carry out make zum a an ext traditional off-road geometry than die Urban G/S.

Ergonomically, die rider has a single, off-set ring LCD gauge providing speedo information, a nearly-useless tachometer display circling around ns bottom, clockwise, plus a clock and an odometer. Fuel and gear an option read-outs are easily accessible on the neu Scrambler Icon, but not on this model yet.


Cycling through ns different odometer settings, or switching off ABS, ist done through a couple of left-thumb buttons und the revolve signal button. It’s cumbersome and will take part practice to be able zu operate that smoothly at speed.

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It’s kühl that Ducati makes a Scrambler that kann legitimately go off the beaten path far better than that competitors, but ich couldn’t assist think exactly how much i would like to have one of the cheaper, lighter Scramblers zum street duty, and bei old Kawasaki KLX to beat the hell out of on ns trails. Thumbs up to Ducati for making a really stylish cycle that’s almost equal-parts funny whether on ns road, or turn off it.

Oooh – zu sein that a dirt puddle off to the right? better stay well clear – Jeff wouldn’t want kommen sie get his biker vans dirty…

2018 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled an essential specs:

Price: $13,195Engine: 803-cc, air-cooled L-TwinCurb (wet) weight: 207 kgPower: 73 hp
5,750 rpmWheelbase: 1,505 mmLength: 2,200 mmSeat height: 860 mmBrakes: Single disc, 330 mm, radial-mount 4-piston caliper front; single-disc, 245 mm single-piston caliper rear, traditional ABSFront suspension: 46 mm usd telescopic fork, preload and rebound adjustableRear suspension: Kayaba rear shock, preload und rebound adjustable. Aluminum swing-armTires: 120/70 R17 front, 170/60 ZR17 rear