Easy on every road
There's a lot to love with the Ducati DesertX
The Ducati DesertX is a versatile bike that's been specifically developed to cope with the most demanding off-road conditions while being comfortable enough for touring purposes.
Priced at 639,000 baht, the DesertX's strengths lies in its design, advanced electronics, six riding modes (on-road and off), 937cc Testastretta engine, 250mm ground clearance, Kayaba long-stroke suspension as well as an 845mm lower seat and suspension kit.
The Ducati DesertX breaks a lot of new ground. After moving into the off-road market in recent years with its motivated Scrambler range and a choice of adventure-focused Multistradas, Ducati is now going all out to take a slice of the increasingly popular rally raid market with its first ever Dakar-style bike.
WORLD DUCATI WEEK 2022
The first time I met the DesertX was at World Ducati Week 2022 at the Misano World Circuit in July. The event consisted of three days of amazing shows and wonderful activities, exhibitions, on-track and off-track sessions, riding experiences and meetings with famous Ducati riders.
However, one of the most memorable experiences was test riding the DesertX on the mountain that is located close to the Ducati facility in Bologna. It was great to be welcomed to the Ducati DRE Adventure Academy with a training session led by instructor Andrea Rossi, who is also the technical director and test rider for Ducati. He was one of the top off-road racers in the world and is a member of the project's development team.
We warmed up at Misano World Circuit with off-road activities. The courses are designed to focus on getting to know the bike's handling and engine, which is based on the 937cc Testastretta engine platform (Multistrada 950 engine) with 21in front and 18in rear wheels. For the record, the DesertX is the first model from Ducati with these features.
Ducati claims that the DesertX has the finest technology in class. The chassis is completely new, with a slimline steel trellis frame and aluminium swingarm supporting 46mm KYB forks and shock. Both ends are fully adjustable and provide 230mm and 220mm of travel, as well as 250mm of ground clearance, which is particularly useful on the trails. The ride quality is great on the road and the trail. KYB did a great job making the suspension so that the DesertX can be ridden just as hard on both road and trail without feeling compromised.
Twin 320mm front discs gripped by Brembo monobloc calipers may appear excessive on a bike designed for both dirt and Tarmac, but the in-house developed ABS system is so effective the setup gives confidence off-road while on-road handling is simply brilliant. Also impressive on the road are the Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres. Their cornering and braking grip is excellent.
By shifting the rear brake pedal and choosing the higher of the two gear level options, the bike can be quickly converted from road to dirt and is particularly suited for off-road boots. Additionally, the bars have two easily adjustable positions. To further improve off-road control, Ducati's engineers kept the frame slim to allow a 21-litre tank that can be simply held by the rider's knees while standing up. Additional 8-litre backup tanks are available too.
The versatility of the DesertX is also reflected in the riding modes: up to six options, two of which are specifically dedicated to the off-road experience. Enduro, Rally, Sport, Touring, Urban and Wet.
Riding assistance systems
The electronic equipment is completed by the package of riding assistance systems: traction control, wheelie control, engine brake control, cornering ABS, quickshifter up and down and cruise control, to make riding on long journeys even more relaxing.
The bike's full LED equipment is of the highest level. The double front headlight has two bi-function polyellipsoidal modules with daytime running lights and has been designed to ensure excellent visibility, which is particularly important for a bike that can ride in all conditions. The rear headlight is equipped with the Ducati brake light. The system, in the event of sudden braking, automatically activates the flashing of the rear light to signal the condition of sudden slowing to following vehicles, making a further contribution to rider safety.
TFT & Connectivity
The DesertX is equipped with a high resolution 5-inch colour TFT display oriented vertically and positioned to offer the best visibility. This display is designed for integration with the Ducati Multimedia System, which allows you to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth and activate navigation by receiving directions directly on the dashboard.
I'm only 159cm tall, and my main concern was whether my feet could reach the ground while the bike is stationary. The seat height is 875cm, which is very high for me (a low seat option is available), but the manageable 202kg weight and good centre of gravity make things very easy to control. The riding position worked well for me and for tall riders also. The DesertX was like magic when it came to off-road tests. Furthermore, it also comes with three power options: 110hp, 95hp and 75hp. Engine braking can be configured to be less or more aggressive depending on your preferences.
After a little taste of dust, we returned to Bologna where the Ducati factory is located. Now that we were given the opportunity to ride on a mountain, a 170km route gave us a sense of how the DesertX performs on road surfaces.
It's obvious that Ducati's move into the on/off-road sector has paid off because it can handle everything from sandy roads to extremely rutted and rock-strewn mountain tracks. In addition to building a machine that can please both experienced trail riders and newcomers, they have also managed to raise eyebrows in the rally raid industry with the bike's on-road performance.
The DesertX is a road bike and a trail bike together. It's a pleasure to ride on both asphalt and dirt since the chassis is perfectly balanced and the steering is light but accurate. The seat is comfortable enough to spend an entire day riding.
PROS: Price, style, 21in front wheel, riding position, light weight, optional lower suspension
CONS: The seat height is quite high for the majority of Thai riders. Not many service locations are available around the nation.