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New Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled Means Business Off-Road

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Face it, most of the “scramblers” being introduced in the last couple of years have been glorified street bikes, i.e., bikes with street suspension and a touch of off-road style (the obligatory high pipes and semi-knobby tires). While you can do light off-roading on these bikes, expect to frequently bottom the suspension. Ducati’s new Desert Sled means to address this with a different approach.

The Scrambler Desert Sled was introduced by Ducati earlier this week in Milan as the latest addition (along with the Scambler Café Racer) to the Scrambler family. It features several unique capabilities offered by changes to the frame, swingarm, suspension and wheels.

The frame is beefed up with select reinforcements, and a new swingarm is much stronger and lengthened to increase the Desert Sled’s wheelbase (roughly 2-1/2″ longer than the standard Scrambler Icon, for instance). Bolted to the sturdier frame and swingarm is the big news … new suspension units.

The Scrambler Desert Sled features a 46 mm upside-down fork that is fully adjustable with greatly increased travel (now 7.9″ versus 5.9″ previously). New shocks, meanwhile, are also adjustable with the same, healthy 7.9″ of travel available before bottoming. Scrambler-worthy tires are mounted to spoked wheels, including a 19″ front.

The 803 cc v-twin engine makes 75 horsepower at 8,250 rpm, and 50 pound/feet of torque at 5,750 rpm.  Ducati claims a dry weight of 421 pounds.  You can find more information on the Scrambler Desert Sled web site.

Scrambler Desert Sled models will be in U.S. dealers beginning in March next year, priced at $11,395 (Red) and $11,595 (White). Take a look at the full press release from Ducati:

Directly from the desert and mountains of California comes the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled: a new version that draws its inspiration from the off-road bikes that, back in the ’60s and ’70s, made US motorcycling history.

Desert Sleds were American-born bikes that appeared in South-West California and in Mexico’s Baja California in the ’60s and ’70s. These were road bikes with engine displacements of over 500 cm3, stripped of any non-essential accessories, fitted with off-road tyres, wheels and spokes and given modified suspension systems and engine skid plates. In fact, it’s the engine skid plate – indispensable in shielding the bike from rocks, stones and the unforgiving desert terrain – that gave the Desert Sled its name.

Over the years these bikes became a motorcycle category in their own right: until their arrival, no comparable style had ever been seen.

The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled faithfully revives that spirit – but without abandoning the unique Scrambler lifestyle values – and extends the new Bologna- built brand into the “easy off-road” sector. Thanks to the modified frame and suspension, the spoked wheels (19″ at the front) and ground-breaking lines, this bike is simply perfect for those who want to be able to get off the asphalt and take a less-beaten track. The off-road capability of the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled is also evident in the type-approved headlight mesh guard, the high mudguards (specially designed for this version) and, of course, the engine skid plate.

Thanks to a higher seat (a 20 mm lower one is available as an optional), suspension with extended travel (now 200 mm) and off-road style footpegs with removable rubber pads, this Scrambler is also characterised by a new riding position. The passenger pegs – separated from the rider’s – are removable.

The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled inherits its logo from the Urban Enduro and is a natural evolution of the latter towards a more off-road style.

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Main as-standard features

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

·         Colours

  1. “White Mirage” with black frame and spoked wheels with gold rims
  2. “Red Dusk” with black frame and spoked wheels with gold rims

·         Equipment

  • Desmodue twin-cylinder engine, EURO 4-compliant with 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″ at the rear, with Pirelli SCORPION™ RALLY STR tyres, 120/70 R19 M/C 60V M+S TL at the front and 170/60 R 17 M/C 72V M+S TL at the rear
  • Dedicated seat with a height of 860 mm
  • Tapered handlebars with reinforcement strut
  • Adjustable Kayaba upside down fork with 200 mm 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
  • High plate holder

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An off-road-inspired chassis set-up

The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled features an all-new chassis set-up, perfect for “soft off-road” adventure riding.

Compared to other Ducati Scrambler 800 versions, the Desert Sled frame has been reinforced to take the punishment meted out by off-road terrain. It’s also been equipped with two side plates that hug the engine and support the new swingarm, itself reinforced and longer than those on other Scrambler 800 versions. The swingarm also gets a new chain guard and, as you’d expect with an off-road bike, a rear sprocket protection fin.

Even the fork yokes are new on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, boasting wider inter-fork clearance and an augmented offset.

The suspension has been designed to ensure comfort and control, even when you put the asphalt behind you. That’s why front and rear suspension now have a full 200 mm of travel. At the front, the upside-down 46 mm Kayaba forks offer spring pre-load, compression and rebound damping adjustment; at the rear the Kayaba shock absorber allows for adjustment of spring pre-load and rebound damping and is equipped with a separate gas cartridge.

This new set-up gives the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled a seat height of 860 mm and  a wheelbase of 1505 mm.

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19″ front wheel: fun everywhere

The spoked wheels on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – a beefy 19″ up front and  17″ at the rear – mount the new Pirelli SCORPION™ RALLY STR tyres, 120/70 R19 M/C 60V M+S TL at the front and 170/60 R 17 M/C 72V M+S TL at the rear.

The Pirelli SCORPION™ RALLY STR is the new “enduro on/off” tyre specially designed for the latest generation of adventure, dual purpose and enduro street bikes. The SCORPION™ RALLY STR revolutionises the tyre world as it successfully combines the performance of a top-flight off-road tyre with that of an enduro street one.

The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled mounts a Brembo braking system featuring a Bosch 9.1 MP ABS system with pressure sensor. Combining maximum stopping performance with minimalist styling, the front wheel has a single 330 mm disc (a good 5 mm thick) and a 4-piston Brembo M4.32B monobloc caliper with radial attachment. This decision to mount a powerful single-disc front braking system was taken to leave a clear view on the right side of the wheel. At the back, instead, a 245 mm disc is gripped by a caliper with a 32 mm diameter piston.

Engine

The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled mounts the EURO 4-compliant, twin-cylinder 803 cm3 air and oil-cooled engine taken from the Icon. Together with the new homologation comes a new throttle control and an all-new engine calibration that has made power delivery even smoother, especially at the bottom end of the rev range.

Equipped with a 6-speed gearbox, the twin-cylinder Desmodue engine on the Scrambler has been designed to favour smooth running and fluid acceleration throughout the  rev range, delivering 75 hp at 8,250 rpm and a torque of 68 Nm at 5,750 rpm. Designed to be simple and accessible, just like the Ducati Scrambler itself, it  also features 12,000 km (7,500 miles) maintenance intervals.

Dirt, Fun & Style

In perfect Scrambler style, the Desert Sled comes with a dedicated accessory and apparel line, including a pad for the handlebar strut, an extra pair of front spotlights (a must on more adventurous routes), hand  guards and a type-approved high exhaust. Moreover, anyone preferring a lower seat can order an optional version with a height reduction of 20 mm.

The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled line includes an eye-catching off-road Bell  helmet designed by legendary Los Angeles customiser and designer Roland Sands, plus  an all-new collection of off-road style gloves, sweatshirts and T-shirts.

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78 Comments

  1. Dan says:

    Very interresting bike ..

    What I like the most is the offroad look/capabilities and the higher displacement of the suspensions. The price is ok for a Ducati.
    After seeing the specs, the weight is a disapointment. It’s just too heavy
    for having fun offroad. A smaller engine (max. 500cc) would be better.
    Air cooled engine .. ok .. I would prefer liquid cooled engine but that’s me.

  2. John says:

    This is a very tempting bike but I see it as too expensive and too heavy, as well as slightly too tall. It is coming in with the wet weight of an F800GS, it seems. I don’t know why these guys can’t figure out how to do this properly. Light weight is critical. If I had a ton of money and multiple bikes, sure, why not? I think it’s a great idea, just not done well enough.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I suspect that had they started with the desert sled from scratch that they could have done a better job with the weight. It is hard to set something up after the fact so that people like me are less likely to break something expensive without adding weight.

      Still, an 800cc bike is only going to be so light.

  3. Dirty Bob says:

    “Desert Sleds were American-born bikes that appeared in South-West California and in Mexico’s Baja California in the ’60s and ’70s. These were road bikes with engine displacements of over 500 cm3, stripped of any non-essential accessories, fitted with off-road tyres, wheels and spokes and given modified suspension systems and engine skid plates. In fact, it’s the engine skid plate – indispensable in shielding the bike from rocks, stones and the unforgiving desert terrain – that gave the Desert Sled its name.”
    In 1969 I built a Suzuki to ride in Baja, San Felepi to the coast. It was a 250 Scramble with a steel skid plate and everything else here. I changed the counter sprocket for the rocks and sand. The two cycle gave it torque for climbing rocks. This Ducati wouldn’t be half as comfortable on or off road.

  4. CrazyJoe says:

    Could Honda do this to the NC750S or x. I see these as a cure to bikes to close to the ground not for motor cross or real off road but places where you can scrape bottom. Even if you dont go off road you can use to get to the sevice road. A very popular move fo suv’s and pickup’s in Houston when there’s a traffic jam.

    Husky was building a super moto(?) that wasn’t as long legged as enduro. Not much of a looker compared to this and triumphs scrambler but just as pricy. Why do super moto’s have such long suspension we they race them on a flat track?

  5. David G. says:

    I like them both … Don’t know which I like better … the Ducati Scrambler Husqvarna WR Edition,(needs round air cleaner) or the Yamaha TT 500 edition. I like them both.

  6. Don says:

    Definitely a good looking bike. I’m sure I could get rid of that red trim on the tank of the white one to make it really look good. That price though… I’d probably go XSR900 for $2k less.

  7. James Geske says:

    UGLY
    UGLY
    UGLY
    If you don’t care what it looks like, pull that trigger. Surely form followed function. Odd little ducks. No thank you.

  8. dave911 says:

    My kinda UJM (errr UIM)! I’d buy this over ANYTHING on the market, but not at that price. $9K would be a stretch. Reminds me of my MZ Baghira Black Panther.

  9. Vic Hedges says:

    I like this bike especially given the frame reinforcement and the longer wheelbase. About 1505mm or 60 inches is good for this layout as it places more weight on the front wheel while exiting fast bumpy turns on rough payment or gravel roads especially as upright position catches the air on the rider’s chest. I say this as a monster owner – very low or clip-ons, rearsets – fairing A-OK for short WB!

  10. Vrooom says:

    Unlike a lot of the posts on here I like it. Looks perfect for a good dirt road, no it won’t survive on trails, but really, are you going to ride a Scrambler on trails anyway? Oregon has a done of appropriate dirt roads for this, the problem is our wet weather really requires a windscreen or it’s limited to 3 months of use.

  11. WJF says:

    so by the time Ducati gets done with you, it will be 13k out the door….whatever

  12. Fred_M. says:

    At $11.6K, the Scrambler Desert Sled pricing is crazy. You can get a KTM 690 Enduro R for about a grand less and it is a much more capable motorcycle. The KTM is also more than 100 pounds lighter.

    Sure, the styling of this is cool and retro, but I ride my motorcycle — I don’t pose on it.

    • Stratkat says:

      the beauty is you dont have to pose on this one, you could actually have some legit fun! and this is from a diehard KTM owner, ive owned 3. i put TKCs on my Super Duke and had an absolute blast!

      • Fred_M. says:

        But I could have a lot more fun on a KTM 690 Enduro R and have an extra thousand in my pocket. If the Scrambler Desert Sled was priced at $8K-$9K, I could see the appeal, but we’re quickly approaching Honda Africa Twin prices.

  13. Mick says:

    I find it odd that they didn’t fix the thing that actually broke when people were testing Scramblers off road. Have a good look at the top photo and you can see that the spring for he exhaust is still totally vulnerable to the first log you go over.

    45 additional pounds at $11k+? The rush to market shows.

  14. Rod says:

    A couple of days ago I test rode a used BMW XMoto (I once owned a new XMoto and a new XChallenge). Transmission issues = no sale. Next on my list to was a 2016 KTM Duke to go along with my CB1100. Nice, but pricey for a second bike. Both the XMoto and KTM have ABS. New plan… Goodby CB1100 and XMoto/Duke, hello Ducati HD Scrambler. A little porky, but the CB has been a good training bike in that arena.

  15. Randy in Ridgecrest says:

    I wonder why it’s 40-45 pounds heavier than the regular Scrambler? I just don’t see how Ducati did that. Is the skid plate made of lead? Oh well, probably a neat bike. A friend has an Icon, it’s a fun bike but not very good offroad. We weighed it at 405 pounds filled up – it modded to have about 10 pounds less than stock.

  16. azi says:

    Who is this made for? Where do you ride a bike like this? (I’m honestly curious)

    • mickey says:

      Other than the street there is nowhere around me one could ride anything dirt oriented without knowing a farmer who would let you rip around on his farm. No desert in Ohio, or forest roads in my part of the state.

      Being basically a street bike though I suppose I could ride it to where there is desert or forest roads.. At least the engine is big enough for that.

      • Joe from Canada says:

        You could look at the cafe version.

        • mickey says:

          I was just responding to the who is this for, where do you ride it question. Personally I have no desire to own this bike, or any Ducati for that matter. My dad had one, my son has one and a nephew had one, and although people have said they had years of trouble free service that has not been our experience. If someone else wants one, that’s their business, but I will never buy one. Too bad because I think that 950 Multi is beautiful, but I will buy something else.

          • Stratkat says:

            oh man, around here there are always areas, you can even have a blast riding through a new construction site. also just goofing around with good suspension is a blast, wheelies, hoping off curbs, cutting through your own back yard or a good friends. yeah you can do that on anything, but its more fun on something with actual suspension.

      • azi says:

        Yes I find the factory scrambler thing really baffling. They are too heavy and lack the suspension travel for proper dirt riding and yet they have tiny fuel tanks so you can’t really tour on them. Then you have the agnostic tyres that don’t give you proper grip on any surface, and high exhausts that will melt your saddlebags.

        Dual sports are much cheaper and are actually useful.

        • mickey says:

          Well there are places in the western United States where you can ride out of your garage into territory suitable for bikes like this. Where my one nephew lives in Nevada, it’s literally 100 yards to prime riding for a bike like this, desert, flatish dirt roads, slight uphills to ride over, blm roads. So there are places a bike like this is useful.

      • MGNorge says:

        I remember all too well the many spots we could ride before growth took over almost all available vacant lots and open fields, etc. Fire roads became closed to motorcycles as were roads below power lines. No trespassing signs posted everywhere. Forestry roads were gated or chained over likewise.
        Too bad, I really enjoyed those days.

      • TexinOhio says:

        Mickey, you think this thing could survive Wayne National? Never been there but hear about it all the time.

        • mickey says:

          Don’t know. I’ve ridden thru Wayne National on the paved roads. Not familiar with the unpaved ones. Is that where they have ATV riding trails? That’s about 3 hours from me.

          • TexinOhio says:

            Man I just know there are trails out there lol!

            People around work are always talking about it, but since I don’t ride off road I never really get into the conversations.

            I know it’s about 2 hours from me here in Columbus, buts that’s about it.

      • todd says:

        I remember when Redwood Road between Castro Valley and Oakland had all sorts of open trails to ride. They are all closed now – have been for around 30 years but you can still see some of the ruts we created.

        • mickey says:

          Used to be that way here todd. Back in the early 70’s you could ride your DT Yamahas all over the place. No fences, no restrictions, lots of places to ride even though it was almost all private land. Now that land is closed off, fenced in and posted. Can’t ride, can’t hunt anywhere it seems. We had a giant state park here, well still do, that you used to be able to ride and hunt in, but riding was banned and hunting severely limited to the point it’s hardly worth going there. Now it’s all closed off for hiking trails, pic nic areas, and for boating and fishing.

    • Chrisgo says:

      There are lots of dirt roads in Idaho where I live that would be fun on this bike. Unfortunately, there are no Ducati dealers within reasonable range so I will stick with my eminently crashable DRZ for now. Kinda like the looks though, would love to borrow one.

  17. Doc says:

    Funny, when I look at the right front 3/4 view and the bottom picture of the white bike, it reminds me of the ’77 or ’78 Yamaha TT500. Also, back in the day, Honda scramblers were really nothing more than a high exhaust and on the CL350 and CL450 a drum front brake replacing the disc on the CB350 and CB450. I like this Ducati but I think it is just a tad overpriced.

    • MGNorge says:

      My CB350 did have a drum front brake! 🙂

    • MGNorge says:

      Oh, and also, CL and eventually SL variants had slightly detuned engines, different gearing and the suspenders were different. But yes, basically differently styled CB’s that could be taken off-road more uneventfully than a CB. In practice they served to just be differently styled street bikes which gave us more choice. Rather than only seeing hoards of just CB’s running around you had CL’s and SL’s too.

    • rokster says:

      I was waiting for someone to say TT500 (well, actually the famous XT500 was in my head).

  18. WSHart says:

    Not worth the money to me. Pass. Let’s see if those that say “Sold!” are indicative of what the motorcycling populace actually buys. Like the Triumph Scrambler, it is a beauty.

    • Stratkat says:

      the Triumph would be a handful off road though. its still a total street bike with no ground clearance or suspension. this would actually be a lot of fun!

  19. Butch says:

    Finally,
    A modern scrambler done right.
    Pretty too.

  20. Rich Melaun says:

    I think they missed a big chance to name it the Scrambler Scrambler.

  21. bmbktmracer says:

    The red one does it for me. I’m buying one.

  22. teelee says:

    A good looking bike, can’t wait to ride one.

  23. xLaYN says:

    “Face it, most of the “scramblers” being introduced in the last couple of years have been glorified street bikes”

    let that sink for a minute…

    —————————–

    Ironically the bike that’s actually meant to be off road doesn’t have a video of it…..

    —————————-

    I do truly like it!, maybe more than the BMW homage..

    • mickey says:

      Let this sink in for a minute.. the original scramblers WERE street bikes modified for riding in the dirt.

  24. SPEED RACER says:

    Nice lil bike but whats the price!Benelli has a 300 with 38 hp and very competitive @ 3999.00.

  25. peter h says:

    It looks great – the only fly in the ointment is the weigh; at 450lbs, it’s as heavy as a watercooled hyperstrada. How did it get there.

  26. Ducman says:

    all ducks should be red but the white is spectacular. have a bunch of elephants but with the new tech goodies, i’m tempted. at 61, I need the lower seat height. a corbin seat away from adding this to the ducati stable. multistrada, st2, 750ss, mh900e, 748, etc.

  27. Bob says:

    Perfect! Just one thing I’m curious about. The copy says “The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled faithfully revives that spirit – but without abandoning the unique Scrambler lifestyle values” Scrambler lifestyle values? Huh?

    • Scott the Aussie says:

      yeah them lifestyle values like £10 for a bar of chocolate, beard conditioner, flanno shirts worn “ironically” and civet coffee hand ground in Upacumbucca West.

  28. dman says:

    I think they’ve finally nailed it, style-wise. And functional specs look pretty good too. After a lot of recent Ducati stuff that has been more miss than hit, this one is a pleasant surprise. For reference I own an older Monster and a DR650 and a Wee Storm.

  29. Scott says:

    See, if Yamaha had taken the FZ07 and done THIS to it, they would have a hit on their hands! The Bolt/Scrambler? Pssshhh…

    • red says:

      Google yamaha T7 concept.. it could be The One

    • Dave says:

      The Ducati revolution of the late 90’s was when they sold the underpowered 916 better than the Japanese superbikes at +$5k. If this thing causes FZ07’s to sit on the floor at $11k vs $7k (have you seen the new Honda cb650’s?), it’s a hit. If not, it’s just another passing fascination.

  30. falcodoug says:

    Wow, best looking scrambler yet. For a Ducati it is pretty cool. Wonder what the weight comes in at and of course the cost?

  31. Jeremy in TX says:

    Now this I really like.

  32. Bigshankhank says:

    Now, THIS is a bike I can definitely get excited about. The stock Scrambler was such a meh-machine, but in this skin and with the right road I would chub up a bit.
    Yamaha, sorry but the weird scrambler/Bolt thing you released has been rendered obsolete.

    • Stratkat says:

      i feel the same this is gonna be a blast!

    • Joe from Canada says:

      The Yamaha Bolt looks terrible with a V-twin engine. What were they thinking….They should have taken the FZ07 and made a bike like the DT500 of the 70s I believe. I can never understand the Japanese? I’ve been into bikes since 4 years old with my Honda mini trail, Yamaha MX175 and YZ125 and then my street bikes. I’m 54 now… Styling has never been the Japanese strong suit. They make great engines but dumb styling too them. A few have been hits but a lot of misses..

        • Scott says:

          That’s the right idea with the chassis, but who wants an ugly ass Dakar Rally looking thing? Ducati got it right!

          • Joe from Canada says:

            Funny, I just went to motorcycle.com and saw the T7. I think Yamaha can also make a retro scrambler with the 750 engine. It would be more original than the Ducati, but Ducati beat Yamaha to the punch. Both bikes would be for 2 different audiences. Do they actually believe scrambler/bolt will sell?

          • Fivespeed302 says:

            Wow, I just looked at that link. I really wanted to like the Yamaha but damn, that’s uglier than the Kawi KLR. No thanks.

        • todd says:

          I want that Yamaha – first “Adventure Bike” I’ve ever said that about. Well, I had always wished we could have gotten the XT660 but this would do.

          Oh, wait. I think I did (and still do) want the Husqvarna Terra too.

          • mickey says:

            It’s supposedly 75 hp and under 400 pounds.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Happens to be a pretty nice Terra for sale in SoCal right now. Actually, it is a Strada that has been Terra-fied. So you get a set of 21/18 spoked wheels and 19/17 mags for the best of both worlds. What are you waiting for?

      • Don says:

        I think they could have made the Bolt into a nice unique Standard, but it seems like a stupid choice for a Scrambler. Heavy, short travel, and that tiny little tank. What’s the point? Just so you can use tires that suck on the road on a bike that will suck off road? IMO, this bike does it better, except for the price…