Zane has been out ripping on the DesertX on and off-road! He couldn't help but give it a good wrap... Check out all the features of this amazing bike. Photos: Impact Photography

The Ducati DesertX, the bike the adventure world never knew they needed. This machine has blown away just about every person who has had the pleasure of riding it, now it’s time to see if it can change the mind of someone who’s last pick would be an adventure machine.

A Ducati adventure bike! Who saw this coming? Zane reckons it's one of the most impressive machines he's ridden in recent times...

A Ducati adventure bike! Who saw this coming? Zane reckons it’s one of the most impressive machines he’s ridden in recent times…

I’ve always found bikes I wouldn’t normally ride easy to write about, I’ll either absolutely hate them or re-evaluate what I find enjoyable on two wheels. I found this to be the case with my recent revelation after riding the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob, I rode that thing every single day because I simply enjoyed riding it way more than I thought. The same appears to be the case for the new Ducati DesertX, considering adventure bikes have never been my taste. Much like sushi, I’m convinced that I just need to try the expensive stuff to like it.



Sitting in-front of me at Ducati Sydney is this Wall-E lookalike, futuristic and honestly, the best looking adventure bike on the market. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “that looks just like a Cagiva Elefant.” I’d probably have enough for that expensive sushi lunch. They’re right though, a nice big Lucky Strike sticker on the tank and it would easily look like the mouth-wateringly good looking Dakar machine. Up front is a retrofuturism styled fairing with circle DRL’s that just drip cool, the lines follow down to this humongous tank. The rear end is a little bland, especially compared to the awesome front-end but it does look really cool with the optional reserve tanks.



Check out Zane’s 2022 Monster review here…


Jumping off the 2022 Monster straight onto the all-new DesertX and I’ve been transported into another world. Right off the bat, this bike is bloody tall! I measure up at 184cm and I’m on my tippy toes, I can’t even remember the last time I had this happen to me. This is not a bike for short or even average height people. The side-stand is a little scary to flick down and while hopping on the bike, it sits really upright. It would be nice to see the bike lean over onto the stand more.

Zane isn't a short bloke, but check out how the Desert X suits his proportions perfectly!

Zane isn’t a short bloke, but check out how the DesertX suits his proportions perfectly!

Taking off from Ducati and I already feel like I’m the tallest thing on the road. Unlike walking on stilts, the DesertX has excellent balance, it doesn’t feel like I’m going to topple over. The first thing that comes to mind is what I’d imagine driving a sailboat from the top of the mask would feel like, you’re so high up with so much manoeuvrability but a wide base keeps you gliding along.



Something the Monster and the DesertX share is the Testastretta powerhouse, I did feel like this engine was lethargic in the Monster chassis, it’s another story bolted in the DesertX frame. Smooth, easy to ride and more than enough power for what the bike’s intended purpose is. The DesertX has a tough, metal sump guard so you can skip the bike across rocks all day. The Euro 5 approved exhaust system is a little quiet, but nothing a nice Akrapovic system can’t fix…



First course of action is hitting the twisties, I’m met with heaps more lean angle than expected. If a sportsbike is like heavy metal, chaotic and brutal, through the corners, the DesertX is more like classical music: methodical, smooth and well structured. It’s a fun-loving chassis on the road, with your feet up it feels completely weightless and easy to ride. Maybe I was wrong about adventure bikes.

Sailing through the corners, the Desert X handles the twisties way better than expected.

Sailing through the corners, the DesertX handles the twisties way better than expected.

It’s hard to decide what shines brightest: the electronics system or the suspension. In terms of suspension, up the front you have these giant 46mm fully adjustable KYB USD forks which is one of the most impressive front-ends I’ve ever ridden without electronic adjustability. I cannot stress enough how nice the front-end is, heavy braking, big potholes, rapid acceleration, mid-corner bumps, you name it and the KYB forks will soak it up.



The rear has me absolutely stoked, the fully adjustable KYB monoshock performs well on the road as well as off. My road side of the test saw supreme comfort while commuting, blasting along the freeway at 110km/h feels like riding an arm-chair, floating along the road with no panic if you don’t miss dodging a pothole. The twisties see a dialled in and predictable rear end, no sudden slingshot preload! Overall, a spectacular setup for the road at the front and rear.

"The rear has me absolutely stoked beyond belief, the fully adjustable KYB monoshock solution glistens on the road as well as off."

“The rear has me absolutely stoked, the fully adjustable KYB monoshock performs well on the road as well as off.”

Right up the top of the scoring chart are the electronics on this bike. Absolutely spectacular system, all the way down to the software for the TFT dash. This is one of the few bikes I’ve ridden that allows for riding mode changes without needing to be stopped. The DesertX allows you to go from a wild and fun mode like “Sport” to a tamer option like “Touring” where the power goes down and the assists go up, then to a complete bare-bones, off-roading experience in “Rally” just by rolling off the throttle and clicking a button on the ‘bars, similar to a Suzuki set-up.



For the road, I found “Touring” to be the best mode. It’s an awesome all-rounder for daily riding, the bike feels plush on the freeway as you just sail along, but it’s an extra level of protection through the twisties, considering you’re not going to be leaning the bike over too far on the dual-sport hoops. Sport is an obvious second choice, the pre-set allowed for a heap of fun slamming on the brakes coming into a corner and even allow a little bit of slip into a bend for a Hypermotard-style slide.

"For the road, I found “Touring” to be the best mode. It’s an awesome all-rounder for daily riding, the mode feels plush on the freeway as you just sail along."

“For the road, I found “Touring” to be the best mode. It’s an awesome all-rounder for daily riding, the bike feels plush on the freeway as you just sail along.”

The front brakes appear to be another system carried over from the Monster, the setup was my favourite thing on the new Monster by far and it works just as well on the DesertX. Despite a slight increase in weight over the Monster, the Brembo monobloc calipers grip the 320mm discs on the front of the DesertX with such force that I doubt you’ll ever run out of stopping power. The rear brake sees an increase in disc size compared to the Monster but allow for more than enough control at slow speed and the aforementioned, rear brake slide action.



Enough road talk, time to hit some dirt. Having the DesertX for two weeks made me realised that despite the fact I live an hour and a half from the city, there is nowhere to ride off-road legally. Instead, an hour ride up to the Southern Highlands paid off, ahead of me are hundreds of kilometres on dirt and my stead that has impressed me far beyond my imagination.

Off-road, the Desert X comes alive. The suspension and electronic systems for dirt/gravel roads are simply unmatched.

Off-road, the DesertX comes alive. The suspension and electronic systems for dirt/gravel roads are simply unmatched.

Hitting the dirt roads for the first time, I didn’t realise that I had left the bike in a Road mode, definitely not recommended. No worries though, I just had to coast and I switched into the less wild of the two off-road modes, “Enduro”. This thing is spectacular on the dirt, so much fun to crank the throttle in third and have the rear wheel spit bits of gravel up behind me, soaking up all the imperfections in the un-paved road.

"Rally" mode unlocks a whole other level of wickedness. Full power, minimal assists... at this point you're just holding on for dear life.

“Rally” mode unlocks a whole other level of wickedness. Full power, minimal assists… at this point you’re just holding on for dear life.

I thought I’d give the “Rally” mode a go and the words “it has too much power” have never left my mouth until switching into this mode. It’s a raw, full power experience that is borderline overwhelming, granted I’m not the most seasoned off-road rider but there aren’t any situations I can find that you’d have the throttle pinned in full-power mode other than in open dirt roads and outback area. There is still a very minimal level of intervention that saved my ass a few times, but it allows for a huge amount of rear wheel slip while hard on the gas [Watch out Toby Price, a Ducati is coming through! – Ed].



The giant 21in front wheel and 18in rear are an awesome choice by Ducati. More than enough rolling-diameter to allow for superb stability, it also allows the bike to go through ruts without the brake discs taking a hit from the ground. I can’t speak highly enough of the Pirelli Scorpions that the spoked wheels are wrapped in, such an excellent hoop and seems to absolutely catapult the handle scores of every bike I’ve ridden with them on. On-road or dirt, they’re simply just best all-round tyre I’ve experienced.

"The ergonomics are excellent while standing up. Despite having a high seat, there weren’t any instances of it getting in the way while bouncing off little jumps."

“The ergonomics are excellent while standing up. Despite having a high seat, there weren’t any instances of it getting in the way while bouncing off little jumps.”

The ergonomics are excellent while standing up. Despite having a high seat, there aren’t any instances of it getting in the way while bouncing off little jumps. Not only this, but the tank and frame are quite slim, allowing me to move around on the bike plenty. There aren’t any “ouch my knee just wacked something” moments taking it off-road, like I’ve had on other off-road/adventure machines. It’s simply just a very well thought-out design with the rider in mind.



Strain on the wrist and ankles are almost non-existent, this is thanks to the nice tall ‘bars and perfectly placed footpegs. Despite my foot measuring in at a size 11, getting my foot under the shifter with my big off-roading boots on saw no issues, I can’t see smaller feet being an issue while shifting gears standing up. Those aggressive metal footpegs will grip the sole of your boot and not let go unless you want it to, the motocross style setup is often overlooked by manufacturers but make the ride off-road so much better.

The proportions are suited perfectly for stand-up riding. Even riding hours on end saw minimal stain!

The proportions are suited perfectly for stand-up riding for my height. Even riding hours on end saw minimal strain!

The steering damper did make a noticeable difference while traveling a bit quicker across loose surfaces. I don’t doubt that after hitting a few potholes that I would’ve gotten the death-wobbles. It’s been developed perfectly for the DesertX though as the steering is still nice and light until heavy/fast steering input.


“The chassis loves the rear brakes being slammed on and drifted through loose roads, no overwhelming feeling of the bike hitting the deck, just a comfortable ride right on the limit.”


The brakes on gravel gave plenty of feedback. In Rally mode, you have very minimal ABS so it’s super important that the bike gives you manual feedback. The chassis loves the rear brakes being slammed on and drifted through loose roads, no overwhelming feeling of the bike hitting the deck, just a comfortable ride right on the limit.



The suspension on the loose stuff is just as excellent off-road as it is on the road. The front-end is just that little bit too soft to tackle big jumps and deep potholes at high speeds without the front bottoming out, hitting the potholes quite hard warranted a stop to check that the front wheel wasn’t buckled but those tough wheels handled it. For those looking to take the DesertX on more serious miles off-road than on, I’d be looking at playing with the fully-adjustable forks, there is plenty of adjustment to muck around with, I’m talking out of the box settings as tested.

Planning on tackling some tougher sections? It might be worth setting the suspension up for the job. Luckily, the Desert X has plenty of adjustment.

Planning on tackling some tougher sections? It might be worth setting the suspension up for the job. Luckily, the DesertX has plenty of adjustment.

Ducati have thought to chuck a vertical TFT dash on that can be seen clearly while standing up. Such an important design feature has been overlooked by many manufacturers in the past, in “Rally” mode the display becomes even simpler, showing only the bare essentials!



The clutch and quick-shifter work really well together. The slipper and assist system make for easy, slow-speed riding but also eliminated a rear wheel lock-up on the road and dirt. The clutch lever feeling is superb, no stress if you drop the bike too as Ducati have added knuckle guards.

There are few bikes that can impress as much as they do on paved surfaces as they do on loose roads. The Desert X seems to really tick all of the boxes.

There are few bikes that can impress as much as they do on paved surfaces as they do on loose roads. The DesertX seems to really tick all of the boxes.

I did manage to get roughly 6.0L/100km with a mixture of off and on-road riding throughout the test. Around average for an engine this size, getting around the 350km mark per 21L tank. There weren’t any moments where I was worried about running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere, but I did fill up fully prior to heading out. I would absolutely opt for the reserve tank genuine accessory, no only for a few extra range but it just looks cool!

You'll be looking at about 350km per tank! Make sure you plan out your journeys so you don't get stuck in the middle of nowhere.

You’ll be looking at about 350km per tank! Make sure you plan out your journeys so you don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no fuel.

Overall, I’m pretty damn chuffed with the 2022 Ducati DesertX, what a breath-taking ride. Like I said at the start, I find bikes that I wouldn’t normally ride easy to write about because the basis is “would I buy one?’. The all-important verdict for the DesertX is… absolutely, without a doubt. I can see myself daily riding this thing and spending plenty of time off-road.



The 2022 DesertX will set you back $26,400 rideaway, a couple grand more than contenders like the Triumph Tiger 900 Pro, BMW F 850 GS Adventure and the Yamaha Ténéré 700. I dare say all those bikes can tackle the same amount of tough terrain as the DesertX, but the Ducati is such a nice machine that I wouldn’t have too many reservations handing over the extra few grand. If you’re going for the max amount of bang-for-buck and not paying a little extra for the name then the Ducati isn’t the one for you.


“…it’s like there was a shift in attitude at the factory from “It’s a Ducati, you get what you get and you will like it” to actually creating this flawless motorcycle.”


This is one of those bike’s I’ve been left wondering what would actually make it better besides a new exhaust system and a couple of bucks off the rideaway price, I don’t think there is anything!

DUCATI MULTISTRADA DesertX Tech Talk

The chassis layout of the new Ducati DesertX includes a new steel trellis frame, which works with long travel suspension and dedicated settings. The optimisation of all components led to an efficient bike, all packed in 202kg (dry weight).

The chassis layout of the new Ducati DesertX includes a new steel trellis frame, which works with long travel suspension and dedicated settings.

The chassis layout of the new Ducati DesertX includes a new steel trellis frame, which works with long travel suspension and dedicated settings.

The DesertX comes with a 46mm upside-down Kayaba fork with 230mm of travel and a Kayaba monoshock at the rear. Both front and rear are adjustable in compression, rebound and preload. The Kayaba monoshock is married to the aluminium swingarm and allows a rear wheel travel of 220mm. In addition, the new DesertX has a generous 250mm ground clearance. Ducati have also fitted it with a 21in wheel at the front and 18in at the rear, wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR, 90/90-21 and 150/70 R18 tyres…



Like all Ducati motorcycles the braking system of this new bike benefits from ABS Cornering function. The front features Brembo M50 monobloc radial calipers with four 30mm diameter pistons, axial pump with adjustable levers and double 320mm discs with aluminium flanges. At the rear there is a single 265mm diameter disc on which works a twin-piston floating Brembo caliper. 

The admired 937cc liquid-cooled Testastretta 11° Desmodromic engine is the heart of the DesertX. Delivering 110hp@9,250rpm and 92Nm@6,500rpm in Euro5 configuration.

The admired 937cc liquid-cooled Testastretta 11° Desmodromic engine is the heart of the DesertX. Delivering 110hp@9,250rpm and 92Nm@6,500rpm in Euro5 configuration.

The admired 937cc liquid-cooled Testastretta 11° Desmodromic engine is the heart of the DesertX. Delivering 110hp@9,250rpm and 92Nm@6,500rpm in Euro5 configuration. The engine can count on all the improvements already seen on the Monster and Multistrada V2, including the extremely light and compact 8-disc clutch. To offer the best performance in off-road riding and in various uses, the Testastretta 11° has been specifically optimised. 

A secondary tank can be added at the rear of the DesertX for longer journeys, supplying an extra 8 litres!

A secondary tank can be added at the rear of the DesertX for longer journeys, supplying an extra 8 litres!

Proper range to face longer journeys is guaranteed by the fuel tank with over 21L of capacity and offering the opportunity of mounting a second tank (available as accessory) in the rear area, adding further 8L of fuel. Fuel transfer from the rear to the front tank is enabled when the fuel level in the main tank falls below a certain level and can be activated from the dashboard. 

Updates to the powerplant also contribute to a reduction to the weight of the engine by 1.7kg over to the last version.

Updates to the powerplant also contribute to a reduction to the weight of the engine by 1.7kg over to the last version.

The DesertX comes with six Riding Modes working in combination with four Power Modes – Full, High, Medium, Low. The main new features are specific settings for the Enduro Riding Mode and the introduction of the new Rally Riding Mode, in addition to Sport, Touring, Urban and Wet. The Enduro Riding Mode allows the rider to tackle the most demanding dirt roads with greater safety and makes it easier for less experienced users to ride off-road. The Rally Riding Mode, on the other hand, with full engine power and reduced electronic controls, is designed for more experienced riders who want to make the most of DesertX’s off-road performance. 

"Each Riding Mode, also thanks to the presence of the Bosch IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), can change the character of the bike according to the rider’s input."

“Each Riding Mode, also thanks to the presence of the Bosch IMU, can change the character of the bike according to the rider’s input.”

Each Riding Mode, also thanks to the presence of the Bosch IMU, can change the character of the bike according to the rider’s input, by acting on the intervention levels of the various electronic controls: Engine Brake Control (EBC), Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) Up & Down and ABS Cornering.  ABS Cornering can be set on 3 levels to be able to adapt to whatever situation and rider skill. In the Riding Modes dedicated to off-road (Enduro and Rally), ABS Cornering can also be completely deactivated via the switch cube with a specific button.



The dashboard of the DesertX, vertically oriented and positioned to offer clear information also in stand-up riding, features a high resolution 5” full-TFT colour display. The instrumentation integrates the Ducati Multimedia System which allows the rider to connect the phone, thus activating new functions such as music and incoming/outgoing calls or Turn-by-Turn navigation (optional), which displays directions directly on the dashboard. 


 

Kawasaki
 

2022 Ducati DesertX Specifications

ducati.com.au

Price: $26,400 rideaway
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometre
Colours: DesertX White
Claimed power: 81kW@9250rpm
Claimed torque: 92Nm@6500rpm
Dry weight: 202kg
Fuel capacity: 21L
Fuel Consumption Claimed: N/A
Fuel Consumption (measured): N/A


Engine: Ducati Testastretta 11°, L-Twin cylinders, Desmodromic valvetrain, 4 valves per cylinder, liquid cooled, 94 x 67.5mm bore x stroke, 13.3:1 compression, Bosch electronic fuel injection system, 53mm throttle bodies with ride-by-wire system, Stainless steel single mufler, catalytic converter. Gearbox: Six speed, DQS EVO2 quickshifter Straight cut gears; 1=38/14, 2=31/17, 28=28/20, 4=26/22, 5=24/23, 6=23/25 Clutch: Slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control Final drive: Chain


Chassis: Tubular steel trellis frame
Rake: 27.6 degrees Trail: 122mm
Suspension: KYB 46mm upside-down fork, fully adjustable (f), KYB monoshock, fully adjustable, remote preload adjustment, aluminium double-sided swingarm (r)
Brakes: 320mm Brembo rotors, Brembo four-piston monobloc calipers, ABS, 265mm rear rotor, twin-piston caliper. Bosch cornering ABS
Wheels & Tyres: Cross spoked, Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR 150/70 R18 M/C 70V M+S TL


DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 1608mm
Seat Height: 875mm
Ground Clearance: N/A
Overall Length: N/A
Overall Width: N/A
Overall Height: N/A


Instruments & Equipment: 5in TFT colour display , Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Engine Brake Control (EBC), Ducati Quick Shift up/down (DQS), Cruise control, full LED lighting system, DRL, Ducati brake light (DBL), USB power socket, 12V socket, self canceling turn indicators, Steering damper.


Editor’s Note: If you are reading this article on any website other than BikeReview.com.au, please report it to BikeReview via our contact page, as it has been stolen or re-published without authority.


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