DUCATI DESERTX (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Six riding modes, two of which are off-road specific: Enduro and Rally Mode
  • First modern Ducati with 21in front and 18in rear wheels
  • Engine is an evolution of the 937cc Testastretta unit and 1.7kg lighter than previous

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 3 out of 5 (3/5)
Power: 110 bhp
Seat height: Tall (34.4 in / 875 mm)
Weight: Medium (492 lbs / 223 kg)

Prices

New £14,095
Used N/A

Overall rating

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

The DesertX represents all new ground for Ducati. Having made tentative steps into the off-road market in recent years with its flat-track inspired Scrambler range, and a choice of ever more adventure focused Multistradas, the Borgo Panigale firm is now going all out to take a slice of the increasingly popular rally raid market with its first ever Dakar style trailie.

Having sampled the bike at its European press launch, along some of Sardinia’s most spectacular trails – everything from sandy lanes to seriously rutted and rock-strewn hillside tracks, it’s clear that Ducati’s transition into the on/off-road world has paid off. They’ve created a machine capable of satisfying serious trail riders and novices alike, as well as nailing the bike’s on road performance to a level that’ll ruffle feathers within the Rally Raid sector.

Ducati DesertX turning left

As a package, the DesertX delivers as both a road bike and a trailie. The chassis is so well balanced and the steering so slight yet accurate and assured that it’s a delight to ride on both tarmac and dirt. It’s comfy too; the seat’s good enough to be perched upon all day (Ducati say the 23-litre tank has a 250-mile range, so you can ride the DesertX without stopping for long stints.

The optional extra 8-litre tank increases range to a claimed 375 miles), and the screen does a fine job of deflecting any unwanted windblast over your lid without causing turbulence or noise. Ducati are working on a taller touring screen for taller riders, but for most owners the stock screen will prove effective enough.

Ride quality & brakes

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

Twin 320mm front discs gripped by monobloc Brembo calipers may seem overkill on a bike designed for the dirt as much as tarmac, but in practice the in-house developed ABS system is so effective – without being intrusive – that the set up inspires confidence off-road while also hauling the DesertX up brilliantly on the road when required. There is bags of braking feel in all environments, too.

The DesertX’s chassis is all new, with a slimline steel trellis frame and aluminium swingarm holding 46mm KYB forks and shock in place. Both ends are fully adjustable and offer 230mm and 220mm of travel respectively, as well as 250mm of ground clearance that comes in very handy on the trails.

Ride quality is excellent whether on tarmac or the trail; KYB have achieved a masterstroke in producing suspension that allows the DesertX to be ridden just as hard in both environments without feeling compromised in either.

Ducati DesertX front brakes

Also outstanding on the road are the Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres; the grip they offer, both cornering and under braking, is immense – dragging the pegs is easily done.

Off-road they’re good on gravel and sand, but for mud-plugging I’d recommend something chunkier. Ducati offer the option of more road-oriented rubber (Pirelli Scorpion Trail II), or tyres better suited to the dirt (Pirelli Scorpion Rally) if your riding preference leans more towards those riding types.

Ducati DesertX gravel trail

Engine

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

The DesertX was initially shown as a concept bike at the 2019 Milan Show, and that machine featured an 1100cc air-cooled motor, mainly for aesthetic appeal. In production form the DesertX is powered by a liquid-cooled Testastretta engine lifted from the Monster and Multistrada V2.

In its new home the 937cc unit benefits from lower first and second gears (Ducati say first is 14.3% lower and second reduced by 8.7% compared to the V2 Multistrada’s ratios) plus a completely reworked electronics package to aid low rpm fuelling and off-road usability.

On road, the engine is perky, tractable, smooth and free revving. Peak power is 110bhp at 9250rpm, so in Sport mode on a twisty road it’s ever tempting to spin the engine hard between bends (the redline’s at 10,000rpm).

Ducati DesertX engine

If you’re in less of a hurry, however, the engine is equally as obliging to a short shift – maximum grunt is served at 6500rpm, but the motor’s torque curve is so flat that generous helpings of off-corner drive and overtaking urge can be found right across the rev range. The quick-shifting gearbox is light and slick too, both on and off road.

Reliability & build quality

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

Ducati chose the V2 Testastretta engine partly because of its proven reliability, and the whole bike is covered by a four-year warranty. There’s a reassuring feel of quality to the whole bike – it hangs together beautifully; nothing feels like an afterthought of out of place.

Ducati DesertX right side

Value vs rivals

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

The DesertX returned an average of 41.6mpg on the launch – that was a mix of off-road riding and brisk on road, so a more sedate pace should return 50mpg-plus. In terms of price, the DesertX, which starts at £14,095, is £1500 more expensive than a KTM 890 Adventure R, but it’s cheaper than an Africa Twin Adventure Sports yet more sophisticated to boot.

Ducati DesertX off road

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

What brings the whole package together is the bike’s superb electronics. There are six riding modes, two of which are off-road specific. For on-road antics there is Sport, Touring, Wet and Urban, then once on the dirt you have the option of Enduro or Rally.

Enduro mode is great for less experienced off-roaders – the ABS and TC in that mode is turned up much higher than in Rally, so it’s easy to drift and stop. On top of that there are four separate power modes, ranging between the motor’s full fat 110bhp and 75bhp in Enduro mode.

Ducati has put as much thought into the bike’s ergonomics and how the controls perform and feel off-road as its engineers have in perfecting the electronics software.

Ducati DesertX left side

The bike is easily adjustable between road and dirt – and made friendly for off-road boots – by rotating the rear brake pedal and selecting the higher of two options for the gear level. The bars also come with two easily adjusted positions. Ducati’s engineers have also kept the frame slim to allow a tank that can be easily gripped by the rider’s knees whilst standing up, to further aid off-road control.

Then there’s the equipment: a neat 5in TFT dash that’s easy to read and navigate myriad functions (in off-road mode the display changes to a rally style layout, prioritising gear selection, mileage and tank range rather than speed and rpm); easy to use cruise controls, decent mirrors, and a level of finish and togetherness that feels premium rather than merely ‘off-road’.

That said, it’s too easy to knock the high beam switch with your lefthand index finger (the LED headlamps are, Ducati claim, the brightest in class so oncoming drivers won’t thank you for accidentally dazzling them…), the inside of the cockpit looks a bit unfinished, and there’s only one colour option at present.

Ducati DesertX dash

Specs

Engine size 937cc
Engine type 8v, DOHC, Desmodromic, 90°L-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 23 litres
Seat height 875mm
Bike weight 223kg
Front suspension 46mm USD KYB forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension KYB monoshock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2x320mm semi-floating discs with radial Brembos, Bosch cornering ABS
Rear brake 1x265mm floating disc with twin-piston Brembo caliper, Bosch cornering ABS
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 41.6 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost -
New price £14,095
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Four years

Top speed & performance

Max power 110 bhp
Max torque 68 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 250 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

The DesertX is an all-new model with no previous incarnations, although the idea for the bike was born in 2019 when Ducati unveiled a Dakar style concept machine at the EICMA Show in Milan. That bike created such a buzz that Ducati decided to develop the concept into reality.

Ducati has kept faithful to the concept bike in terms of styling, but that show bike featured an air-cooled 1100cc engine at its heart – primarily for aesthetic reasons. The production bike’s 937cc liquid-cooled engine is fair more practical and suitable to the bike’s dual sport purpose.

While the DesertX is Ducati’s first Rally Raid machine, the company did supply the engine for Cagiva’s Elephant 750 and 900s (when Ducati was owned by the Cagiva group) and the influence of that earlier machine, particularly in terms of styling and colour, is obvious to see.

Other versions

None

Owners' reviews for the DUCATI DESERTX (2022 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their DUCATI DESERTX (2022 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your DUCATI DESERTX (2022 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 (3/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 3 out of 5 (3/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 2 out of 5 (2/5)
3 out of 5 So nearly but not
06 May 2022 by DR Mertesdorf

Year: 2022

Strange how the journos dont mention the flimsy black side panels held on with cable ties? Overall finish is not up to the usual Ducati standard. The white livery reminds me of an icecream van - too boxy and trying to be like 1980s Paris Dakar bikes, including the ugly headlight which will defo be changed for the 2023 version

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

OK. Susp is a bit weak. Not a top level brand of forks.

Engine 5 out of 5

Just right

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Give it time. Most of these wont even go on the grass buttthose that go offroad and take a beating may struggle to survive.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

One of the cheaper Ducati ranges (just)

Equipment 2 out of 5

Extras available

Buying experience: Not available until December. Ducati seems to be in a mess with their bikes with dealers looking for new stock

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