Between espresso and mud: we rode Ducati's machine
The Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati really doesn't call dirt bikes, then it brings out the Desert X and makes lesbians sing, until the price...
Reuven Savio, photo: Tal Shimoni, Reuven Savio, manufacturer
Friday, August 5, 2022, 07:30 Updated: 07:50
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Bringing to life a history that never existed (Photo: Tal Shimoni)
Saturday morning, the sun has not yet fully risen, I am cruising on road number 1 towards Beit Shemesh and am delighted by the cool morning air and the feeling of security and power, which the Ducati Desert X under me provides.
There is something special about the riding experience that is obtained from the combination between an upright riding position on a large and stable motorcycle, and an engine that gives a tremendous feeling of power every time the throttle is opened.
It's a feeling that encouraged me to ride confidently on routes and at a pace that I didn't think I'd reach in such a short time of getting to know each other, certainly not on a test motorcycle.
What makes the new Ducati give the rider so much pleasure and safety on the road and off-road?
How and what is it composed of?
What is the price, not only financial, that the rider had to pay for all this goodness?
These and many other questions will be answered later in the article.
Those whose time is short and want everything quickly and now, can skip to the summary paragraph, to the list of advantages, disadvantages and price.
For anyone who has patience, I will try not to go too deep into technical issues and focus on what is special about this new motorcycle, and there is a lot.
High seat and upright riding position (Photo: Reuven Savio)
A little history, to better understand the present
About ten years ago, the Audi company bought Ducati, by the way, after it also bought Lamborghini.
The German owners knew how to invest in two main areas that until then prevented Ducati from becoming what it is today.
The first area is the attention to the quality of the final product, from which comes the reliability and of course the satisfaction of the customers.
Of course it starts with the design and selection of the parts and continues with the quality control process in production and assembly.
Indeed, within a few years, the Germans raised Ducati very high in the field.
As evidence, the customer satisfaction data published on many websites in the world, the matter of the four-year warranty for the new tools, with no limit of kilometers.
And the maintenance interval is 15,000 km, compared to 10,000, or even 6,000 for other manufacturers.
The second area is marketing, with an emphasis on developing motorcycles that will best meet the riders' requirements and not continue to believe that the rider is the one who needs to adapt to the motorcycle.
Along with these changes,
The Germans have been able to preserve the uniqueness of Ducati motorcycles and highlight those features, or the DNA of Ducati motorcycles as many call it, since time immemorial.
The results were not long in coming and Ducati soared in the sales figures all over the world and along with that came success on the racetracks which has only been increasing ever since.
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The Germans made the Italians understand that the motorcycle should understand the customer and not the other way around (photo: manufacturer's website)
The new Desert X model best illustrates Ducati's development in recent years.
This is a completely new model, aimed at the market segment of large off-road adventure motorcycles, which has been growing at a dizzying pace in recent years.
At Ducati, they knew how to use design motifs taken from the racing history of Ducati/Cajiva in the 80s and 90s of the last century, with the aim of building a motorcycle that will make every biker turn their head in its direction.
The design of the motorcycle is taken directly from the world of rally racing, succeeding on the one hand in attracting the attention of the young riders and on the other hand, also of those who at the end of the last century pasted on the wall in their room cut-out pictures with Orioli's motorcycle from the Dakar race.
Underneath the design hides an engine with all the indulgences of the last generation, taken from Ducati's sporty road models, after undergoing many changes, to suit the new use.
The design of the chassis and the selection of the assemblies were done very carefully, in order to provide high off-road capabilities, but without giving up the sweeping road behavior, which has characterized Ducati motorcycles since time immemorial.
Lots of confidence and ability on the winding road (Photo: Tal Shimoni)
Feels safe, becomes exciting
Despite the lumpiness of the Scorpion STR tires, I quickly settled into the Desert X and felt confident enough on it to switch the control system to sport mode which makes use of all 110 horses the engine has to offer.
The feeling of security comes mainly from the precision of the engine's operation, the sensitive and powerful Brembo brakes and the riding position that gives the rider control and comfort at a very high level.
Along with confidence, the pace increases and you get to those situations that, after they have passed safely, you ask yourself "is it me or the motorcycle?"
In the case of the Desert X, there is no doubt that the motorcycle's role in getting out of dangerous situations is significant.
A host of control systems that intervene during acceleration, braking and swinging the front wheel, which are also assisted by tilt sensors, are very helpful in those moments when the rider is not exactly ready, or exaggerates.
In addition to this, the clutch with a mechanism to prevent wheel slippage during braking is very helpful in staying in a sequence of movement in cases where when entering turns, after aggressively downshifting, the rear wheel begins to lock.
The narrow structure makes it easy to hug the motorcycle while standing (Photo: Tal Shimoni)
The excellent braking ability, together with the stability provided by the brakes and the chassis, allow the rider to ride in a way that is very close to the world of sports road riding.
In addition, the strong engine response starting at 4000 rpm together with the engine's ability to climb to very high rpm give the rider a feeling of competence that translates into an exciting riding experience on the asphalt, which will soon include late braking and extremely sharp steering commands.
After a few tens of kilometers on highway 6, I realized that Ducati worked a lot on the right combination between the steering angle, the dimensions of the wheels and the chassis and the calibration of the steering damper.
The Desert X's ability on the one hand to be quick and precise in every steering command and on the other hand to maintain stability on the highway, surprised me very positively.
In urban traffic I easily weaved between the cars thanks to the angle of the handlebar and despite its considerable dimensions, it feels surprisingly small.
In terms of day-to-day usability, especially when riding in the city, there is no doubt that I would prefer a smaller motorcycle that heats up less in the leg area, but unfortunately I have to point out that these are the kind of thoughts that only started with me after the age of 50.
The wind protection of the original visor was definitely enough, even when riding with a jacket and an Advance helmet and the feeling is that it significantly reduces the load on the neck, but still allows enough air to the shoulder area for the benefit of cooling the body.
Pebbles, sand or rocks - he takes care of everything (Photo: Tal Shimoni)
Match the suit to the occasion
The feeling on the Desert X in the field is much closer to a doe, than to the camel feeling that characterizes many of the great adventure motorcycles
After the body calmed down from the rapid changes of direction and the strong accelerations on the side roads leading to Jerusalem, I arrived in the field.
In order to adapt the motorcycle for off-road riding, several changes must be made, as shown in the collage image.
removing the rubber pads from the rider's feet to reveal teeth that grip the off-road boots better, rotating the brake pedal head (again to accommodate off-road boots), raising the gear shifter to off-road position, turning the handlebars forward and moving the control system to the relaxed "enduro" position, or The more aggressive "Rally".
I increased the front and rear spring load by a few clicks, to reduce suspension sag on jumpy landings and entering grooves at high speed and it worked well for a rider weight of 95 kg including equipment.
Finally, you need to lower the air pressure in the tubeless tires to 20 ISP in order to allow the tires to be softer and help absorb the stones.
In order to adapt the Desert X to aggressive off-road riding, it is possible to mount side guards, a belly guard more massive than the original, a long single seat and a pair of plastic fuel tanks that connect instead of the side luggage, as befits professional rally motorcycles.
An additional fuel tank is optional, for the price and a side luggage waiver (photo: manufacturer's website)
The control system, not that complicated...
Despite the poor grip that characterizes the off-road conditions in the summer in Israel, I quickly realized that with Pirelli Scorpion STR tires and careful operation of the gas lever, it is possible to transfer the grip and braking control to minimal intervention mode and enjoy the tail slips during acceleration and braking almost like with an off-road motorcycle, of course as long as you don't overdo it the tilt angle.
One of the things I really liked about the riding mode management system is that no matter which parameter we want to change, the degree of intervention of the system is always directly proportional to the number we choose.
Therefore the operation of the system, which in many other cases drove me crazy, requires in the first stage only the selection of the riding mode and in the second stage, after a test ride, the selection of the intervention mode in all parameters.
For example, on the first descent into the terrain, I switched to enduro mode and very quickly realized that this is the most relaxed mode for off-road riding.
That's why I went into the parameters of the ABS, the grip control and the front wheel swing and in all of them I reduced the number that indicates the degree of intervention of the system.
It is important to note,
Narrow body structure, like that of an enduro motorcycle (Photo: Reuven Savio)
With the right suit, much easier
After a few minutes of riding, I felt so confident that I started trying to hit obstacles more suited to the professional off-road crickets.
The short gear ratios in the first and second gears compared to road models with the same engine and the tremendous torque allow riding at very low speed uphill, even when assembled, without using a clutch and thanks to this you can overcome particularly long and difficult uphill climbs.
The standing riding position is excellent, with the entire area above the footrests being very narrow and allowing excellent hugging and forward and backward movement of the motorcycle between the legs.
Riding on a course of pebbles, narrow singles and even climbing rock steps becomes possible and logical and does not require riding at a crawling speed.
Compared to the living world, the feeling on the Desert X in the field is much closer to a doe, than to the camel feeling that characterizes many of the great adventure motorcycles.
The suspensions absorb the various stones excellently and together with the very large belly space, in relation to an adventure motorcycle, we have here an excellent recipe for a real and safe time in the field.
The option to completely cancel the ABS front and rear is a very welcome addition, which allows a skilled climber to successfully deal with steep slopes on a particularly problematic route.
Can be adjusted for real off-road riding (Photo: Reuven Savio)
Pros: design, performance on the road and off-road, comfort during prolonged riding, the control and safety systems, the possibility of adjusting the assemblies for off-road riding, standing riding position, quality of assemblies, treatment intervals and manufacturer's warranty
I was pleasantly surprised by his ability to handle riding in deep sand and this is due in my opinion to a number of main reasons.
The riding position in a standing position that allows riding while transferring weight to the rear in a very comfortable way, the possibility of canceling/adjusting the control system to the needs, the after-direction suspensions become stiff enough and of course the Pirelli Scorpion STR tires.
What bothered me about off-road riding was the thought of what would happen to the fuel tank after a long off-road ride, when the knee pads plus sand and mud would rub the metal fuel tank, not to mention a case of falling and crushing the tank.
I do not understand the choice of a metal fuel tank for such a motorcycle and I am sure that in the near future it will be possible to purchase a plastic fuel tank as an addition.
Throughout the entire off-road riding episode, which lasted for several days in a variety of conditions, I did not feel limited by the size, or the mass on the contrary, the Desert X flows smoothly and encourages the rider to dare, supporting almost any madness you put in front of him.
Definitely a challenger in this field to the other leading motorcycles in the large off-road adventure category.
The dashboard is also used as a touch screen (photo: manufacturer's website)
Is there anything new here?
Against: metallic fuel tank, foot heating in urban traffic, supply of spare accessories, seat height for short riders
After a few days with the Desert Desert, I started while riding to imagine the same charts published by the various tire manufacturers, to illustrate the capabilities of their tires in a variety of conditions and uses.
According to the same method, the diagram of the Desert X, already in its original state, pulls further in many significant parameters, such as road performance, terrain, quality of assemblies and accessories.
So, if you look at how it expands the envelope of performance in many areas, there is definitely something new here, which takes this area one big step forward.
An attraction for adults and young people (Photo: Reuven Savio)
Cost of treatments (including VAT)
Maintenance 1,000 km - NIS 959
Maintenance 15,000 km - NIS 1,121
Maintenance 30,000 km - NIS 3,758
Maintenance 45,000 km - NIS 1,121
On the technical side: Ducati Desert X
L-Twin Desmo, 4 valves per cylinder, liquid cooling
110 hp at 9,250 rpm
9.4 kgm at 6,500 rpm
• Service interval :
Trellis tube chassis
• Front suspension:
KYB 46 mm inverted fork with full adjustment including spring load
• Front suspension travel:
• Front wheel:
21 inch spoked wheel with tire Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR 90/90
• Rear suspension:
double-sided aluminum arm, KYB shock absorber with full adjustment, quick direction for spring load
• Rear suspension travel:
• Rear wheel:
18 inch diameter spoked wheelWith Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR 150/70 tire
• Front brake:
pair of 320 mm semi-floating discs, radial Brembo calipers, Bosch Cornering ABS
• Rear brake:
single 265 mm disc, floating Brembo caliper, Bosch Cornering ABS
• Fuel tank capacity:
• Wet weight:
• Dry weight:
• Seat height:
875 mm (can be lowered to 835 mm)
• Fork angle:
120,000 NIS H on the road