DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Desert Sled (2017-on) Review

Published: 06 March 2017

Finally, the Scrambler we’ve been waiting for

DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Desert Sled (2017-on)

Finally, the Scrambler we’ve been waiting for

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Even though the Desert Sled technically belongs to the Scrambler family, it doesn’t. It’s a genuine off-road capable bike in retro form, currently the only bike of its kind on the market. If you fancy the Scrambler style but don’t like the idea of going off-road, then this isn’t for you. Ducati has put serious effort into the Sled’s off-road credentials, and they’ve done a brilliant job of delivering a first true homage to the ‘Scrambler’ name.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The most important revisions are the all new KYB suspension systems and reinforced frame. Ducati swapped out the 41mm non-adjustable front fork for chunkier 46mm fully-adjustable (preload, rebound and compression) stanchions. The rear trades the standard steel shock for KYB’s enduro aluminium unit with a heftier piston and is now preload and rebound adjustable too. Both are completely new bits of kit with longer travel (200mm front and rear) and specifically set-up for dirt riding. As a result, Ducati has reinforced the frame and extended the swingarm. The swingarm is now fixed to the frame directly instead of the engine so it can take harder impacts and has also been lengthened for stability and to compensate for the longer travel suspension.

Flying over ruts, spitting sand and locking up the rear wheel (thanks to the switchable ABS) is easy peasy. Off-roading is so much easier than it should be on the Sled. In fact, it handles better and is more accomplished on the rough stuff than most middleweight adventure bikes. 

And that’s because it’s more of a big dirt bike than a retro styled pretender. It’s a half-way house and belongs in the mid-displacement adventure bike market more so than the current crop of Scrambler offerings. This one’s not just designed to look like an off-roader, like its predecessor- the Ducati Urban Enduro, but built specifically to go off-road.  Customers have been calling out for a retro styled bike with real dirt going capabilities. It’s not going to win any enduro races, but it does offer a decluttered, stylish alternative to the conventional dual-purpose machine and is the only proper dual-purpose scrambler on the market. And it’s seriously good fun, too. 

Engine 4 out of 5

The Desert Sled still belongs to Ducati’s Scrambler family and uses the same 803cc air-cooled motor. To make it even easier to ride the throttle response has been softened too (thanks to Euro4 compliant revisions) and the pokey twin is excellent for easy going riding. It’s friendly low down with plenty of tractable power, won’t excite fast riders, but offers enough of a kick to keep even the itchiest of wrists happy. 

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The Scrambler family has proved reliable since its inception and quality and finish is excellent. 

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The Sled is priced at £9,395 for the red model and £9,495 for the white model.

Equipment 4 out of 5

It gets a new headlamp grill, mudguards front and rear, new posh exhaust system, detachable rear pillion pegs and the bashplate from the Urban Enduro model. So far so good. The Sled gets the Multistrada Enduro’s posh grippy pegs with removable rubber inserts, they’re positioned lower and further forward. And it’s also pinched the Scrambler Full Throttle’s low motocross style handlebar, which has been rolled forward and treated to a brace. The Sled also gets a new larger 19” front wheel, and both the front and rear tyre widths have been slimmed down to help the rubber cut through the rough stuff.

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Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2017
Year discontinued -
New price £9,395
Used price £6,500 to £11,300
Warranty term 3yrs
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £85
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 75 bhp
Max torque 50 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12 secs
Average fuel consumption 52 mpg
Tank range 154 miles
Specification
Engine size 803cc
Engine type Air-cooled, L-twin 2valve four stroke
Frame type Tubular steel Trellis
Fuel capacity 13.5 litres
Seat height 860mm
Bike weight 207kg
Front suspension 46mm fully adjustable USD forks
Rear suspension Single Kayaba rear shock. Preload and rebound adjustable.
Front brake 330 mm disc, radial 4-piston calliper, ABS
Rear brake 245 mm disc, 1-piston floating calliper, ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 R19
Rear tyre size 170/60 R17

Photo Gallery

  • DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Desert Sled (2017-on)
  • DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Desert Sled (2017-on)
  • DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Desert Sled (2017-on)
  • DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Desert Sled (2017-on)
  • DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Desert Sled (2017-on)
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