The Ducati ‘Desert Sled’, is the latest ‘Scrambler’ entrant, to the ‘Land of Joy’. Land of Joy indeed; since going on sale, Ducati has allegedly sold in excess of 30,000 Scrambler units, making it by far the most popular model for the marque.
The Scrambler that Ducati should have built first?
Some argue, that this is the scrambler Ducati should have built first, as it’s the only variant with truly off-road capability. Conversely, it could be argued that Ducati’s approach of initially building a fanbase for the scrambler, by targeting a broader segment of bikers i.e. those who love the scrambler look but wouldn’t necessarily head off into the desert or woods every weekend, was the more logical way to go.
By approaching development this way, Ducati created a success base that made the development of the ‘Desert Sled’ viable, with no doubt, deeper coffers for R&D; in-turn the ability to create an Enduro model which will likely appeal to the everyday rider and maybe even the purist.
According to Ducati, virtually everything on this bike has been redesigned or reengineered to meet the challenges of the off-road environment, including the 803cc engine.
From the technical specifications sheet, what you’ll first notice about the bike is that it’s bigger, way bigger. The fact that the bike has a longer Kayaba rear shock (which is pre-load and rebound adjustable), combined with a massive rise in seat height of 70mm; up from 790mm to 860mm, may intimidate smaller riders.
The front-end has also been jacked up with the installation of 46mm fully adjustable upside-down forks and new Pirelli ScorpionTM Rally STR tyres, which were specifically designed for this model. Instead of cast wheels, you’ll find a spoked 19” wheel at the front and a slim 17” at the rear. The frame and swing-arm have also received the Desert Sled treatment, through reinforcement.
Desert Racing / Desert Sledding
So why “Desert Sled“? Aside from a more robustly built bike, to deal with the challenges of off-roading, Ducati says that this bike takes its name from the Californian bike fad in the 60s and 70s. Bike builders in California modified their bikes (usually road heavy, 500cc+ Harleys, Indians and later Triumphs), adding knobbly tyres, skid plates, reinforcing suspension etc. and then they raced!
Steve McQueen raced (of course) and even Elvis in his slimmer years, was once photographed on a desert sled, adding to the appeal of the sport. Whether Elvis ever raced, is uncertain. What is more certain (based on the reviews so far) is that the Desert Sled is likely to be a success and unlikely to be the last variant of the ever popular scrambler.
The Desert Sled will be available in two colours; Red Dusk and White Mirage – (red and white to you and me). Priced at £9,395 and £9,495 respectively.