Hardcore offroad machine with Hypermotard engine and 1980s Dakar rally styling
Ducati has a reasonable offering in terms of adventure and soft off-road machinery. Its Multistrada range comes in 950 V-twin and 1200 V4 forms and the Scrambler comes in some mild retro off-road forms. There’s also the Hypermotard, which has the skinny profile and long-travel suspension of a dirtbike, albeit with road tyres and wheels.
But since the Multistrada Enduro was discontinued, it’s not really had a proper hardcore dirt-biased bike. You could put dirt tyres on a Multistrada 950 of course, and tackle mild dirt roads and the like without too much trouble.
But with bikes like the Yamaha Ténéré 700, KYM 890 Adventure and even Honda’s Africa Twin pushing the adventure sector more into the offroad side of things, there was a bit of a gap opening up there.
Enter the new 2022 DesertX. It’s a typically Ducati take on things, with stunning styling on top of a high-end engine and chassis combo, packed with electronics, and also comes with genuine offroad rally kit.
The engine is a variant of the 11° Testastretta 937cc motor used in the Hypermotard and Multistrada 950, putting out 110bhp, but with a modified transmission. The six-speed gearbox has lower ratios in all first five gears, with first and second even lower, aimed at improving off-road flexibility. The selector drum also has a new ball-bearing mount for smoother changes and stronger mechanism, and the whole engine is now 1.7kg lighter too.
The chassis is all-new, with a tough steel tube trellis frame and dual-sided braced aluminium swingarm. Suspension is proper kit as well: the beefy 46mm USD KYB forks are fully adjustable with 230mm travel, and the rear KYB shock is also fully adjustable, with 220mm travel. The fuel tank holds 21 litres – and there’s an optional rear-fit saddle tank which adds another eight litres, and is probably the coolest accessory we’ve seen this year…
Brakes are Brembo, with M50 calipers and dual 320mm front discs, and the wheels are proper aluminium-rimmed wire-spoked dirt parts, with a 21” front and 18” rear. Tyres are Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR, with much more hardcore dirt fitments also available in those sizes.
The styling is one of the DesertX’s real highpoints. The twin full-LED headlamps echo the look of the huge twin CIBIE halogen lights used on the original Dakar racers, and there’s more than a nod to the Ducati-powered Cagiva Elefant Lucky Strike racebike. There’s only this white paint job at the moment – and it’s spot-on for the bike.
Ducati’s also given the DesertX a full suite of electronics and rider aids – cornering ABS and traction control, Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Wheelie Control, Engine Brake Control, Ducati Quick Shift up/down, cruise control, full LED lighting system, DRL, Ducati brake light (DBL), USB power socket, 12V socket and self-cancelling indicators. It’s all controlled via new switchgear and a portrait rally-style 5” TFT LCD colour dashboard, which has a special ‘Rally’ display mode, and can be linked to your phone for navigation and media functions.
The new Ducati DesertX isn’t cheap of course, with a RRP of around £13,800. It’s a lot of bike for that cash though, and according to Ducati, it’s as good a road bike as it is on the desert photoshoot from the launch video. The performance is a cut above the likes of the Ténéré 700, and it’s also more powerful and lighter than the BMW F850 GS Adventure – but those bikes are a fair bit cheaper. As ever, the best way to find out if it’s for you is to book a test ride.
More info: www.ducati.com
Ducati DesertX Specs
o 937 cc Testastretta 11° engine, 110 hp at 9,250 rpm and 92 Nm at 6,500 rpm *
o Exhaust with single silencer
o Tubular steel trellis frame with cast aluminium double-sided swingarm
o 21-litre fuel tank capacity
o 202kg dry weight (223kg wet)
o Tubeless spoke rims with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres in sizes 90/90-21 front and 150/70 R18 rear
o KYB 46 mm fully adjustable front fork with 230 mm travel
o KYB fully adjustable shock absorber with 220mm travel
o Six customizable Riding Modes (Sport, Touring, Urban, Wet, Enduro, Rally) o 4 power modes on 3 power levels
o Bosch ABS Cornering three levels
o DTC eight levels
o Ducati Wheelie Control
o Engine Brake Control
o 5” TFT colour instrumentation
o Ducati Brake Light
o Ducati Quick Shift Up & Down (DQS)
o Ducati Cruise Control
o Full LED lighting
o Dedicated livery in “Star White Silk” coloration