Ducati add California inspired off-road ‘Desert Sled’ Scrambler
Directly from the desert and mountains of California comes the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – a new version that draws its inspiration from the off-road bikes that, back in the ’60s and ’70s, made US motorcycling history.
Desert Sleds were American-born bikes that appeared in South-West California and in Mexico’s Baja California in the ’60s and ’70s.
These were road bikes with engine displacements of over 500cc, stripped of any non-essential accessories, fitted with off-road tyres, wheels and spokes and given modified suspension systems and engine skid plates.
In fact, it’s the engine skid plate – indispensable in shielding the bike from rocks, stones and the unforgiving desert terrain – that gave the Desert Sled its name.
Over the years these bikes became a motorcycle category in their own right and until their arrival, no comparable style had ever been seen.
The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled faithfully revives that spirit – but without abandoning the unique Scrambler values – extending the new Bologna-built brand into the “easy off-road” sector.
Thanks to the modified frame and suspension and the spoked wheels (19in at the front), this bike is ideal for those who want to be able to get off the asphalt and take a less-beaten track.
The off-road capability of the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled is also evident in the type-approved headlight mesh guard, the high mudguards (specially designed for this version) and, of course, the engine skid plate.
Thanks to a higher seat (a 20mm lower one is available as an option), suspension with extended travel (now 200 mm) and off-road style footpegs with removable rubber pads, this Scrambler is also characterised by a new riding position. The passenger pegs – separated from the rider’s – are removable.
The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled inherits its logo from the Urban Enduro and is a natural evolution of the latter towards a more off-road style.
Colours – “White Mirage” with black frame and spoked wheels with gold rims, “Red Dusk” with black frame and spoked wheels with gold rims
Desmodue twin-cylinder engine, EURO 4-compliant with black finish
Exhaust with dual tail pipe and black covers
Reinforced off-road frame
New aluminium swingarm
Spoked wheels, 19in at the front and 17in at the rear, with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, 120/70 R19, 60V M+S TL at the front and 170/60 R 17 72V M+S TL at the rear
Dedicated seat with a height of 860 mm
Tapered handlebars with reinforcement strut
Adjustable Kayaba upside down fork with 200 mm of travel
Adjustable Kayaba rear shock absorber with separate gas cartridge
Steel teardrop fuel tank with interchangeable side panels
Front headlight with type-approved mesh guard
High front mudguard
Extended rear mudguard
High plate holder
An off-road-inspired chassis set up
Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled chassis
Compared to other Ducati Scrambler 800 versions, the Desert Sled frame has been reinforced to take the punishment meted out by off-road terrain.
It’s been equipped with two side plates that hug the engine and support the new swingarm, itself reinforced and longer than those on other Scrambler 800 versions. The swingarm also gets a new chain guard and, as you’d expect with an off-road bike, a rear sprocket protection fin.
Even the fork yokes are new on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, boasting wider inter-fork clearance and an augmented offset.
The suspension has been designed to ensure comfort and control, even when you put the asphalt behind you. That’s why front and rear suspension now have a full 200 mm of travel.
At the front, the upside-down 46 mm Kayaba forks offer spring pre-load, compression and rebound damping adjustment; at the rear the Kayaba shock absorber allows for adjustment of spring pre-load and rebound damping and is equipped with a separate gas cartridge.
This new set-up gives the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled a seat height of 860 mm and a wheelbase of 1505 mm.
The spoked wheels on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – a beefy 19″ up front and 17″ at the rear – mount the new Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, 120/70 R19 M/C 60V M+S TL at the front and 170/60 R 17 M/C 72V M+S TL at the rear.
The Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR is the new “enduro on/off” tyre specially designed for the latest generation of adventure, dual purpose and enduro street bikes.
The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled mounts a Brembo braking system featuring a Bosch 9.1 MP ABS system with pressure sensor.
Combining maximum stopping performance with minimalist styling, the front wheel has a single 330mm disc (a good 5mm thick) and a four-piston Brembo M4.32B monobloc caliper with radial attachment.
This decision to mount a powerful single-disc front braking system was taken to leave a clear view on the right side of the wheel. At the back, instead, a 245mm disc is gripped by a caliper with a 32mm diameter piston.
Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled engine
The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled mounts the EURO 4-compliant, twin-cylinder 803cc air and oil-cooled engine taken from the Icon.
Together with the new homologation comes a new throttle control and an all-new engine calibration that has made power delivery even smoother, especially at the bottom end of the rev range.
Equipped with a 6-speed gearbox, the twin-cylinder Desmodue engine on the Scrambler has been designed to favour smooth running and fluid acceleration throughout the rev range, delivering 75hp at 8,250rpm and a torque of 68Nm at 5,750rpm.
Designed to be simple and accessible, just like the Ducati Scrambler itself, it also features 12,000 km (7,500 miles) maintenance intervals.
Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled accessories
In Scrambler style, the Desert Sled comes with a dedicated accessory and apparel line, including a pad for the handlebar strut, an extra pair of front spotlights (a must on more adventurous routes), hand guards and a type-approved high exhaust.
Anyone preferring a lower seat can order an optional version with a height reduction of 20mm.
The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled line includes an eye-catching off-road Bell helmet designed by legendary Los Angeles customiser and designer Roland Sands, plus an all-new collection of off-road style gloves, sweatshirts and T-shirts.
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