The Desert Sled is a version of the Scrambler that Ducati claims is finally off-road worthy. The Desert Sled name dates back to the 1960s for when modified street motorcycles raced across treacherous passes in the North American deserts.
On the outside
The Desert Sled has the same basic silhouette as the base Scrambler but it's a lot taller now. It's got a nice raised front mud guard and the handlebar is more upright, while the chassis has been beefed up to handle all the impact from dirt riding. The extra tubing on the lateral edges of the frame also aid rigidity. The new swingarm is reinforced and longer, while up front, there are updated triple clamps and a widened inter-fork clearance.
As far as the suspension is concerned, there’s a fully adjustable 46mm Kayaba fork at the front, and a rebound/preload-adjustable Kayaba shock at the rear, both capable of 200mm of travel – that’s more than some larger adventure bikes. There is a 19-inch front tyre and a 17-inch rear tyre that are dual-purpose Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres. They provide more than sufficient grip and performed surprisingly well even in the rain. The tyres share a 50/50 on-road, off-road bias.
Engine and gearbox
What remains relatively unchanged is the Desmodue 803cc L-twin engine, which was only updated to meet Euro-IV emissions standards. The engine makes 73hp and 67Nm of torque. The bike is slightly heavier now, it’s 20kg heavier than the Scrambler Icon - the Sled now weighs 207kg. This is because of heavier hardware installed to meet emission norms.
From the saddle
Seat height has gone up to 860mm, but there’s a lower 840mm seat that you can option onto this bike, but it’s still quite tall for the average Indian. The new seating posture is just brilliant - the bike gives you a really commanding feel. It handles bumps and undulations without even batting an eyelid. You can ride at a quick pace over any road in the country without worrying.
The engine feels smoother on this bike courtesy the redesigned throttle tube. On the dirt is particularly where this bike is a hoot. The handlebars are raised and wide and you can lean comfortably into them thanks to the position of the footpeg. The tank is just wide enough to grip well with your knees.
The Desert Sled is just phenomenal off-road – it’s composed and it really encourages you to push it harder. It handles the rough stuff better than most larger displacement adventure bikes. The bike comes with a bash plate as standard and you can get engine guards as an accessory.
Is it worth the money?
Fit and finish is solid, as you’d expect on a Ducati. It sounds, looks, and feels great and sets the bar in most departments. You may want to consider this bike instead of a bulky larger-displacement adventure bike, if you don’t mind shelling out the ₹9.32 lakh price-tag it demands, that is.