2017 Ducati Desert Sled Gets Dirty, Italian Style
As Ducati’s Scrambler roster has expanded, it now closes in on a more accurate representation of the name with the Desert Sled. While the original sleds were chunky British Singles and Twins modified for the rigors of western enduros, they were eventually put to pasture by the invasion of European two-strokes before returning a half century later as part of the latest retro bike phase. The new Ducati Desert Sled looks to have more in common with early street scramblers like the Triumph Trophy Trail, and Ducati’s own 450 RT Single of the early 70s than those old homegrown Baja racers.
“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.”
Bologna has beefed up the frame and suspension, and added spoke wheels (19" at the front), and a skid plate. The high fenders and mesh headlight guard add some function and complete the form. With added suspension travel comes a higher seat (a 20mm lower one is available as an option), and off-road style footpegs with removable rubber pads. This Scrambler is also characterized by a new off-road biased riding position, and the passenger pegs are removable so you can quickly save a few pounds before hitting the dirt.
“The Desert Sled inherits its logo from the Urban Enduro, and is a natural evolution of the latter towards a more off-road style.” The frame has been reinforced at key points to withstand some abuse in off-road terrain, and two side plates enclose the engine and support a stronger and longer swingarm, which is also reinforced and longer than those on other Scrambler 800 versions. More trail-worthy items include a new chain guard and a rear sprocket protection fin.
Wider triple clamps support the front end, “boasting wider inter-fork clearance and an augmented offset.” The front and rear suspension now have a full 8-inches (200mm) of travel. The inverted 46mm Kayaba fork offers spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment; the Kayaba rear shock is adjustable for 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 34-inches (860mm) and a wheelbase of 59.25-inches (1505mm). The 19-inch front wheel comes with a 120/70R-19 front, and a 170/60R17 Pirelli Scorpion Rally tire at the rear. These are Pirelli’s new “enduro on/off road” tires specially designed for the latest generation of enduro, dual purpose and adventure bikes.
The DS uses 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 330mm disc and a 4-piston Brembo M4.32B monobloc caliper with radial attachment. At the back a 245mm disc is gripped by a caliper with a 32mm diameter piston.
The 803cc air- and oil-cooled engine is derived from the Scrambler 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 Desmodue Twin favors smooth running and fluid acceleration throughout the rev range, delivering 75hp at 8,250 rpm and torque of 68Nm at 5,750 rpm. Designed to be simple and accessible, it also features 12,000 km (7,500 miles) maintenance intervals.
The DS 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. The accessory line also includes an eye-catching off-road Bell helmet designed by legendary Los Angeles-based designer Roland Sands, plus an all new collection of off-road style gloves, sweatshirts and T-shirts.