2022 Ducati DesertX First Look

New 2022 Ducati DesertX First Look

With all due respect to its Multistrada models, Ducati‘s current adventure bike offerings are better suited for paved streets with the occasional sojourn on fire roads. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, we did just pick the Multistrada V4 S as our MOBO winner for the best sport-tourig motorcycle of 2021. If you were looking for a more off-road performance from Ducati, you now have a better option in the new 2022 Ducati DesertX. With long-travel suspension, a 21-inch front wheel and a large fuel tank (plus an optional second tank), the 2022 DesertX is Ducati’s new entry to the highly competitive middleweight adventure bike segment.

Ducati originally presented the DesertX as a concept model at EICMA in 2019, with the air-cooled Scrambler providing the platform. The production model keeps the concept’s rally-inspired styling, but with Ducati’s liquid-cooled 937cc Testastretta 11° Desmodromic engine as its powerplant.

Visually, the DesertX is styled after enduro motorcycles from the ’80s. The Cagiva Elefant is an obvious inspiration with the white color scheme, dark lower section to the windscreen and twin circular LED lights, but Ducati doesn’t mention the bike by name, perhaps because of a similarly-inspired upcoming new model from another Italian manufacturer with stronger claims to the Cagiva brand.

The DesertX is equipped with a 5.54 gallon fuel tank, but for additional range, Ducati offers an accessory 2.1-gallon rear tank. The second tank is mounted to the tail, with fuel transfer switching over when the main tank drops below a certain level, with a dedicated switch on the dashboard. With the accessory tank, that’s a combined 7.64 gallons of fuel capacity, though Ducati hasn’t disclosed how much the accessory tank will add to the DesertX’s $16,795 price or claimed 492-pound wet weight.

The engine is similar to the ones powering the Monster and the Multistrada V2, but is down slightly on both horsepower and torque, with the DesertX claiming 110 hp at 9,250 rpm and 68 lb-ft. at 6,500 rpm. The engine is matched with an eight-disc slipper clutch and its own dedicated gearbox. Compared to the Multi V2, the DesertX’s transmission offers shorter ratios for first and second gear for better low-speed off-road use, plus a long sixth gear for improved fuel economy and comfort at highway speeds. An up-and-down quick shifter comes standard.

Ducati advises maintenance every 9,000 miles or 24 months, plus valve clearance checks every 18,000 miles.

The DesertX comes with six ride modes: the typical Sport, Touring, Urban, and Wet modes, plus the new Enduro and Rally modes. Enduro mode is designed for novice off-road riders, with reduced power (75 hp), quick throttle response and the option of disabling ABS. Rally mode is for more experienced riders, with full power, low traction control, ABS set to level 1 or off, and wheelie control disabled.

The chassis consists of a new steel trellis frame with a cast aluminum swingarm. Kayaba supplies the 46mm fork which offers adjustable compression, rebound and preload plus 9.06 inches of travel. The Kayaba rear shock is also adjustable for compression, rebound and preload, with 8.66 inches of travel. Ground clearance is a generous 9.84 inches.

Brembo supplies brakes, with dual M50 monoblock radial-mount four-piston front brake calipers and a twin-piston floating rear caliper. Cornering ABS comes standard.

The wire-spoke wheels are tubeless, with a large 21-inch wheel up front and an 18-inch wheel at the rear. The wheels come wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, but the DesertX is also homologated to fit more road-oriented or dirt-focused tires.

The bodywork is designed to channel heat from the openings behind the radiator. The windscreen is non-adjustable; Ducati says an accessory windscreen will provide added aerodynamic protection, but it is not yet included on the list of accessories.

Speaking of accessories, the secondary fuel tank does not seem to be compatible with the mounts for the aluminum panniers or topcase Ducati offers. Customers who want the added range and luggage capacity will have to settle for the smaller passenger seat-mounted soft bag from the accessory catalog.

It’ll be interesting to see how the DesertX fares in the middleweight adventure bike segment. The Ducati has a larger engine and higher horsepower claims than any of the bikes from our recent shootout, but its weight and price point might set it back behind a bike like the KTM 890 Adventure R.

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