2024 Ducati DesertX Rally | The new hardcore DesX takes ‘adventure’ to the next level


  • Longer travel, uprated suspension
  • Lighter, stronger wheels
  • More off-road biased stance

At a glance

Power: 110 bhp
Seat height: Tall (35.8 in / 910 mm)
Weight: Medium (494 lbs / 224 kg)


New £18,995
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The DesertX Rally is built to be a thoroughbred adventure machine, as the most hardcore (road legal) off-road machine to come from Ducati in recent history. Based heavily on the standard DesertX, the Rally comes equipped with motocross-inspired long travel suspension, more ground clearance and a host of additional tweaks, including a more durable exterior and lighter, stronger wheels.

The Rally shares the same base engine and chassis platform as the standard DesertX, which is already an impressive performer both on tarmac and dirt. In 2023, it won MCN’s prestigious hardcore sub-litre adventure test against the KTM 890 Adventure R, the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro, the Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition and the Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid.

Yet even so, Ducati wanted something even more capable, even more hardcore and even more luxurious, which would not only improve its capabilities off-road, but allow them to market the standard model to a more road-biased audience too.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally right side static

And that’s exactly what they have done. Off-road, the DesertX Rally is a sublime machine, with a suspension and chassis set-up that allows the Rally to be ridden with incredible confidence and precision. The front end is impressively connected to those big, tall bars and with just a set of dirt-biased Scorpion Rally off-road tyres (which are homologated for use on the Rally) it feels like a competition machine, with the poise and precision of a motocrosser half its weight, especially when trawling through sand or landing jumps.

Yet it still retains an impressive level of usability on-road too, thanks to its nimble nature, friendly motor and compliant suspension. There isn’t an offensive amount of dive through those incredibly long forks, while the extra height and lighter rims make for an agile beast at both high and low speeds.

The 937cc Testastretta motor is still a lovely unit on the road too, feeling soft and gentle in the lower power modes and reactive and excitable when unleashed in Sport mode, with a more direct throttle response. Mind you, the 910mm seat height is hard work if you’re lacking in the leg length department and the stand is a pain to use too, without a lug or catch to assist in getting it up or down with ease.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally turning right on tarmac

It’s expensive, it’s leg-shakingly tall and it isn’t the comfiest mile-muncher by any stretch of the imagination, but thanks to its new suspension, wheels and subtle tweaks, the DesertX Rally truly does take adventure bikes to the next level, with its unrivalled nature off-road.

For road riders, the standard model will still be the better fit, especially if seat height is an issue. However, if you want something built for heavy-duty, hardcore off-roading, Ducati have created one of the best high-capacity adventure bikes for off-roading that you can ride out of a showroom today.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The standard DesertX is absolutely no slouch, but the new KYB set-up on the Rally really takes it to the next step, when it comes to feedback and control off-road. Although the chassis is largely the same as the standard model, the suspension is vastly different; the KYB forks are now not only longer by 20mm and thicker by 2mm, but also house a closed cartridge system.

This system is common for enduro and motocross machines and maintains pressure to keep feedback constant, especially when the going gets gnarly. Alongside this, the new KYB shock comes equipped with a massive 46mm piston (up from 40mm on the standard DesertX) which has a bladder pressurised system too.

Unlike on so many heavier off-road machines, there is little impression of the weight at speed; the KYB forks and shock work in perfect unison to deliver so much support, yet somehow they’re also so progressive through the stroke. It’s like absolute magic, as even when landing big bumps and jumps it never crashes through to the stops, soaking up landings with the prowess of a motocross bike, while the new seat and reworked pegs and levers make standing a natural and comfortable affair.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally tackling a gravel corner

It’s constant too, as even after 100 miles of almost continued abuse in the Moroccan heat, there was absolutely no fade from the componentry, thanks to the consistency that a closed cartridge system offers. It’s the same set-up that Anthoine Meo claimed an Erzberg Rodeo Prologue win with, yet even at an average to slow pace, the DesertX Rally wasn’t an intimidating animal, but a confidence inspiring weapon that allows the envelope to be pushed, whether that’s crossing in and out of ruts or motoring through thick sand, in fourth and fifth gear.

In the UK where much of the green lanes are slower and more technical, it would probably be worth knocking some preload and compression of both ends, in order to utilise the full range of the suspension. But other than that? It is simply outstanding.

On tarmac, the Rally is just as impressive. The whole machine has been raised and it is incredibly light on its feet too, with a level of agility that is reminiscent of a supermoto, aided by a lighter set of wheels and less un-sprung weight for easy direction changes. Yet, thanks to the incredible tech and development that has gone into crafting the new suspension, it doesn’t feel like a ‘Rally’ machine when pushing on; where some bikes crash through the initial part of the stroke under heavy braking the Rally is well-supported, even under a big yank of those mighty Brembos.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally front brake

The addition of an Öhlins steering damper keeps things far more stable than such a tall machine has the right to be at higher speeds too, which means that even with off-road-biased rubber, the big Duke is still happy to sit at 70mph without any worries.

In terms of comfort, the seat isn’t the softest unit for a long ride and although there’s little buffeting, the screen is pretty small in its coverage from the elements, and non-adjustable.


Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Rally houses the exact same 937cc L-twin motor as the standard DesertX, which is also seen in the Ducati Multistrada V2, the Ducati Supersport and the Ducati Monster. However, like with the standard model it’s geared shorter with different ratios, in order to aid in in acceleration and off-road prowess, while fifth and sixth gear act as an overdrive.

On tarmac, the L-twin motor is as sublime as it always has been. In Urban and Touring modes with a softer application of power, the 937cc motor is impressively docile, which makes it happy to bimble along at single digits, and still smooth to operate at single digit speeds. The quickshifter is a pleasure to use at all speeds too, and in Sport mode there’s an impressive level of urgency from the Testastretta motor, yet thanks to the long, high gears, it’s not too buzzy at motorway pace either.

As with the standard DesertX, the motor lends itself to being a corker on the dirt, offering up very different experiences dependant on the riding mode selection, and the application of riding aids too. In Enduro mode with the riding aids dialled up and the power softened, the Rally offers up a really calm and sensible delivery of power, feeling both controlled and composed.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally left side static

On the flipside, in Enduro mode with everything switched off and with full power on tap? It’s an exciting, uncaged beast that is just as happy pinging of the limiter and firing itself sideways and forwards as it is climbing out of slow, technical sections a gear or two too high. Because of the sheer amount of torque on offer, you can be lazy with the gearbox too.

It’s quite a thirsty motor though, and being heavy handed with the throttle will result in fuel consumption figures in the low 30s where MPG is concerned, which isn’t ideal on those longer stints in the saddle.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Up close, the finish and build quality of the Desert X Rally looks good, with premium kit and lovely detailing, from the etching on the top yokes to the stitching on the seat. One element that may deter people slightly is the application of the graphics, which are thick PVC in order to be more durable. Mind you, it’s easily customisable and does give it a racer-esque, rugged nature that is appealing in its own right.

Although there have been a few owner quibbles here and there, the 937cc motor is resilient and the alterations to make the components (such as the plastics and stickers) a little more durable are welcome, especially if you fancy going off-road.

Frustratingly though, the air filter is still located under the tank which makes it a pain to clean if you really do like to go extreme – according to Ducati, in order to relocate it they would have to redesign near enough the whole of the chassis, tank and airbox layout to accommodate.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally tank

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Let’s look at this two ways. Even with its updated, pricey components and heightened abilities, £18,995 is a hefty asking price for a sub-litre adventure bike – especially when you consider that the standard DesertX with the same engine and pretty much the same electronics package is a whopping £4000 cheaper, costing £14,995.

With that in mind, it could be compared to KTM’s reasonably bare but off-road focussed 890 Adventure R which starts at £13,999, but that sort of misses the point.

More pertinently, it needs to be compared to KTM’s hardcore 890 Adventure R Rally, which has a comparable level of updates – and even though it’s a limited run, the KTM costs an eye-watering £20,899. Liken it to specialised off-road machinery (for example KTM’s 450 Rally Replica is £31,990, for a 450cc single) and the DesertX Rally actually looks like reasonable value for money, if you truly are dedicated to the off-road world.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally jumping off-road


4 out of 5 (4/5)

Equipped with the monstrously impressive KYB suspension set-up, an Öhlins steering damper, high-specification wheels and a host of other goodies including Brembo brakes, the Rally is not short of bling when it comes to hardware.

In terms of electronics it’s much of the same story, as the Rally comes equipped with the same interface as the standard DesertX, including six rider modes and just about every rider aid under the sun. There are four road modes with two for off-roading: Enduro mode which I had at 75bhp and a direct throttle response, alongside Rally mode which is the beastly full power mode, and a limited amount of electronic intervention. The algorithms have been updated slightly for the Rally, allowing for more precise intervention on more off-road biased tyres.

However, it would’ve been nice to have heated grips as standard (especially as the button is already equipped) alongside a slightly bigger tank than the base model. An 8 litre auxiliary tank is available as an optional extra.

2024 Ducati DesertX Rally steering damper


Engine size 937cc
Engine type Liquid cooled, 8 valve Desmodromic L-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 21 litres
Seat height 910mm
Bike weight 224kg
Front suspension Fully adjustable KYB 48mm USD forks with 250mm of travel
Rear suspension Fully adjustable KYB shock, with 240mm of travel
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with Brembo four piston radial monobloc calipers
Rear brake 265mm disc with Brembo two piston caliper and cornering ABS
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price £18,995
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 110 bhp
Max torque 68 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 200 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Ducati released their DesertX to the world in 2022, after first appearing at the EICMA show back in 2019. It is Ducati’s first modern machine to come equipped with a 21” front wheel, and an 18” rear wheel, in order to be a proper, Dakar-inspired rally raid machine.

Other versions

Ducati DesertX – Standard model, equipped with different, lower specification suspension.

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