2023 Ducati DesertX Review Cycle News

Rennie Scaysbrook | September 2, 2022

Ducati has finally released its first purpose-built adventure motorcycle. The big question is… how does it ride?

Oh, glorious Colorado. And there’s hardly a better bike to see it than a Ducati DesertX.

Photograph by Gregor Halenda

When it comes to long-awaited motorcycles, I can’t think of one in the past five years that has generated as much anticipation as the Ducati DesertX.

Ducati intended to bring a dedicated ADV motorcycle to market long before the first prototype of the DesertX was unveiled at EICMA in 2019. The mid-size ADV segment has never been more competitive, and Ducati certainly has took its time with the development of the DesertX, creating an all-new machine that is a far cry from the dressed Scrambler 1100 we saw in 2019.

2023 Ducati DesertX left side
DesertX’s rugged looks are a definite departure from the more modern Multistrada line.

The DesertX uses a version of the 937cc 11-degree Testastretta engine found in the Monster, Supersport, Hypermotard and Multistrada V2, but with revised gear ratios from first to fifth gear to deliver off-road performance. more optimal. These shorter gears (especially in first and second gear) are like when you put your four-wheel drive in low range, allowing it to roll down hills smoothly and quietly without stalling.

Ducati claims 110 horsepower and 68 lb-ft of torque for the $17,095 DesertX, which puts it nearly on par with the KTM 890 Adventure R (103 hp/73 lb-ft) and Triumph Tiger 800 XCA (95 hp). /58 lb-ft) and ahead of the smaller capacity Yamaha Tenere 700 (74 hp / 50 lb-ft) and Aprilia Tuareg (80 hp / 51.6 lb-ft). Of course, it’s also the most expensive in this category, even surpassing the Triumph by $900, but the good thing about the Ducati is that you’re only buying one bike with no electronic locks that you have to pay to switch.

2023 Ducati DesertX with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires
The Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber handled this stuff well. More robust and you might want to start investigating the knobs.

This is the first Ducati to be developed primarily for off-road use and as such comes with a 21-inch tubeless front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber as standard. . Ducati’s four-bike-in-one machine in the Multistrada has always been designed first as a street bike and then as an off-road bike, and comes to market with a 19-inch front and 17-rear wheel setup. inches driven on the asphalt. .

The DesertX, on the other hand, is firmly in the dirt as its home of choice. Ample 9.06 inches of front wheel travel is complemented by 8.66 inches in the rear, featuring Kayaba’s estate suspension with big 46mm fully adjustable forks up front and a fully adjustable rear shock. ‘back.

Front view of the 2023 Ducati DesertX
(Left) Channeling the looks of the big Cagiva Elefant will always earn you a few admirers. (Right) The dash is a bit unique, to say the least.

The ride is plush it has to be said, and for my 200+ pound fully spec person I needed to crank everything up in terms of preload, front and rear compression and rebound, to achieve the kind of balance I wanted while climbing some truly amazing peaks in Aspen, Colorado.

As usual, Brembo supplied the brakes in dual M50 monoblock calipers that we first saw in 2016 on bikes like the Kawasaki ZX-10R, with Ducati opting not to go ahead with Stylema calipers. which first released on the Panigale V4. Despite this, the braking power is never questioned. These M50s mount to twin 320mm discs and are fitted with Brembo’s cornering ABS, as is standard on all production Ducatis on sale today. The rear brakes are made up of a twin-piston caliper clamping on a 245mm disc.

2023 Ducati DesertX with soft luggage.
All loaded with the optional soft cases.

Electronics are a big part of the DesertX. Controlled by a Bosch IMU and just like the KTM 890 Adventure R, the DesertX has nearly all the electronic bells and whistles you could hope for, including six riding modes, including dedicated off-road Enduro and Rally modes, four Full, High, Medium, and Low power modes; Engine Brake Control (EBC), Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) and three-stage cornering ABS which can be completely disabled.

Mission Control is a dashboard that looks a lot like my iPhone 13 Max. At five inches tall, it might take a bit of getting used to the layout, especially since the current trend seems to be for wider indents, not taller. Give it some time and you’ll probably get there, especially when doing turn-by-turn navigation, as that’s how most people have their phones installed in their car.

2023 Ducati DesertX on the pavement
On-road manners are excellent for a bike clearly intended for off-roading.

The dash works as standard or rally – the former is more useful for the general road information you expect, such as remaining fuel and trip information, while rally mode focuses on the maps you expect. would normally play in an actual rally race. Great.

As impressive as all that technology is, it doesn’t mean much if the bike itself isn’t good. This is not the case with the DesertX. At first glance, the DesertX’s ergonomics are ideally configured for true off-roading. Tall bars are matched with a seat height of 34.4 inches, giving riders from 6’6” up to five-foot-tall whippets more than enough room to move around.

Ducati DesertX crash bars 2023
Bumpers thankfully come standard, so you won’t scratch that beautiful pearl white color scheme so easily.

It has a bit of an old-school feel to the handlebars, much like the Tenere 700 in that the gas tank is not mounted low like on the KTM. Interestingly, Ducati has developed an auxiliary tank which sits on the back of the passenger seat and takes the capacity from 5.54 gallons to 7.6 gallons and is activated by a switch on the dashboard once the level of the main tank falls below a certain level.

Driving out of town and straight into the dirt, it’s easy to see how well-suited this engine is to the rigors of ADV riding. The overpower of the V4 Multistrada is quickly forgotten as this 11-degree Testastretta climbs rocky hills as easily as the highway passes with more than enough low-end torque for the rough stuff.

2023 Ducati DesertX skid plate
Underbody protection is plentiful.

Electronics help tremendously here. You can increase or decrease as many interventions as you want in terms of traction and power maps, but I found the best performance was achieved by simply disabling TC and wheel control. That says how good the base model Ducati is because you can afford it to just be a big dirt bike, the suspension lapping up and not getting tangled up when the electronics start cutting the power .

The DesertX is light, nimble and extremely fun when you start attacking your favorite dirt sections. It’s a Ducati, after all, and leans more than a little towards the sporty side of the riding equation. Once I had the same fork and shock settings as Ducati’s desert race rat, Jordan Graham, the DesertX was incredibly fun to ride. The combination of that engine, recoil electronics, roomy ergonomics and dial-up KYB suspension made for one hell of an afternoon on the Aspen snowfields that were, thankfully, devoid of snow. Slow, rocky climbs were easily tackled, while powering through them.

Ducati DesertX dual sport 2023
Look where you want to go and do it. That’s the beauty of ADV riding.

In style befitting the great Dakar Rally Lucky Strike Cagivas of the late ’80s and early ’90s, owned by then Ducati subsidiary Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni, the DesertX is a great machine to produce for a beginner. Yes, it’s definitely pricey, and you’re paying a premium for the badge on the tank, but when it looks this good and fits this good, it’s hard to argue with the price.NC

VIDEO | First test of the Ducati DesertX

2023 Ducati Desert X Specifications

2023 Ducati Desert X Specifications

MSRP: $17,095
Engine: Ducati Testastretta 11°, L-twin
Valve train: Desmodromic valvetrain, 4 valves per cylinder
Shift: 937cc
Bore x stroke: 94×67.5mm
Compression ratio: 13.3:1
Cooling system: Liquid
Fuel system: Bosch electronic fuel injection system, 53mm throttle body with ride-by-wire system
Exhaust: 2-2-1
Transmission: 6 speeds
Electronic: Riding Modes (6), Power Modes (4), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Engine Brake Control (EBC), Ducati Quick Shift up/down (DQS), Cruise Control, Full LED Lighting System, Daylight Position Lamp ( DRL), Ducati brake light (DBL), USB power socket, 12V socket, Auto-cancelling indicators
Frame: Chassis: tubular steel trellis
Front suspension: KYB 46mm fork, fully adjustable.
Rear suspension: KYB shock absorber, fully adjustable
Front wheel travel: 9.06 in.
Rear wheel travel: 8.66 in.
Front brake: Double monobloc M5, radial mount 4-piston caliper, 320mm disc, cornering ABS
Rear brake: 2 pistons, fixed caliper, 265mm disc, cornering ABS
Front tire: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR 90/90 – 21 M/C 54V
Rear wheel: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR 150/70 R18 M/C 70V
Rake: 27.6°
Track: 4.8 inches
Wheelbase: 63.3 in.
Seat height : 34.4 in.
Fuel capacity: 5.54 gal.
Weight (empty, claimed): 492 pounds.
Color: Mat Star White Silk

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2023 Ducati DesertX Test Cycle News

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