After a couple of years of teasing, it’s here—Ducati’s most dirt-worthy motorcycle since the 1971 450 R/T. While not a pure dirt bike by any means, the 2022 Ducati DesertX skews toward the off-road/rally end of the adventure bike spectrum. Let’s look more closely at Ducati’s shot across the bow of the KTM 890 Adventure R.
The 2022 Ducati DesertX’s Testastretta 11° motor is based on the engine used in the Multistrada V2 and Monster. The 937cc V-twin with desmodromically actuated valves pump out 110 horsepower at 9250 rpm and 68 ft-lbs of torque at an approachable 6500 rpm. Changes to the clutch and gearbox improve shifting and save nearly four pounds. A quickshifter is standard for the six-speed transmission. 1st and 2nd gears are considerably lower than on the Multistrada V2, with the 3rd through 5th speeds geared incrementally lower. Sixth gear remains a touring-friendly overdrive.
Off-road bona fides come via a 21-/18-inch wheel combo, long-travel suspension, and sub-500-pound curb weight. “It is noteworthy that the new DesertX featuresunprecedented tire sizes for a Ducati—21-inch at the front and 18-inch at the rear,” Ducati claims, but that wheel pairing was used on the R/T. Regardless, those are the rim sizes off-road riders want to see. Aggressive Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tubeless tires are mounted on the wire-spoked rims. The fully adjustable KYB suspension provides around nine inches of wheel travel at both ends. The fork is a 46mm inverted unit, while the piggyback-reservoir shock is cantilevered, rather than linkage-assisted. The DesertX tips the scales at 492 pounds with the 5.5-gallon fuel tank topped off. An optional 2.1-gallon auxiliary fuel tank mounted near the rear fender extends the DesertX’s range considerably.
Seat height is 34.4 inches, and the ergonomics are friendly for standing. Ducati says it has kept the midsection slim to make it easier for the rider to grasp the motorcycle when riding off-road and get the rider’s boots to the ground. Initially soft suspension keeps the rider closer to the ground, cutting into the 9.8 inches of ground clearance. An accessory lower seat is available, though that will impact the relative position of the grips and footpegs.
Plenty of modes and rider-aid options allow riders to tailor the DesertX for preferences and conditions. There are six ride modes, plus four Power Modes. For the first time, a Ducati motorcycle has a Rally mode, which goes with the Enduro, Sport, Touring, Urban, and Wet modes. The four power modes—Full, High, Medium, and Low—adjust throttle response and power output. IMU-supported adjustable rider aids include traction control, wheelie control, electronic engine braking adjustment, and cornering-aware ABS. The DesertX’s ABS also has three levels with the cornering function, plus Enduro and Rally, which defeat the cornering utility.
The Enduro mode is intended to aid less-experienced off-road riders, while the Rally mode is there for the most aggressive dirt riders. Enduro mode reduces power and ramps up the electronic aids, while the Rally mode unleashes Full power and minimizes the intrusion of electronics.
Brembo handles braking duties. A pair of radially mounted Brembo M50 monobloc calipers grasp the 320mm disc. The front brake master cylinder is a direct axial-pump design, and the lever is adjustable. The 265mm rear disc gets a two-piston floating Brembo caliper.
The dashboard is rally-inspired. The five-inch TFT display is mounted vertically to make it easier for riders to read while standing. There are two viewing modes—Standard and Rally. The Rally mode is designed to facilitate navigation by mimicking the tripmaster display used by rally bikes. Unfortunately, GPS is not part of the system. The optional Ducati Multimedia System pairs with your smartphone, providing turn-by-turn navigation. If you like listening to music or talking on the phone while rally raiding, the DMS will make that happen.
The passenger seat is optimized for comfort, with the rider’s seat more performance-oriented.
A larger optional windshield is available for riders more focused on touring than off-roading.
Optional cases allow for nearly 120 liters of storage.
Ducati Centro Stile took care of the appearance of the DesertX. Terms such as “Dakarian style” and “lines of the Enduro motorcycles of the ’80s” are thrown around. Regardless of how they got there, the designers came up with a striking motorcycle.
There will be lots of apparel to match the DesertX—both casual and technical. You can see the off-road gear in the action photos.
You’ll have to wait until June to pick up a 2022 Ducati DesertX. The MSRP is $16,795, making it almost $2600 more than last year’s KTM 890 Adventure R. You can have the DesertX in any color you like, as long as it’s Star White Silk.
2022 DucatiDesertX SpecsENGINE
Type: Testastretta 11° L-twin
Bore x stroke: 94 x 67.5mm
Compression ratio: 13.3:1
Maximum power: 110 horsepower @ 9250 rpm
Maximum torque: 68 ft/lbs @ 6500 rpm
Fuel delivery: Bosch EFI w/ two 53mm throttle bodies
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Motos and Friends—the weekly Podcast brought to you by the editorial team at Ultimate Motorcycling.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
In this week’s first segment, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the much anticipated Yamaha MT-10 SP. That’s the model with the Ohlins semi-active suspension. It’s only been available in Europe for the last couple of years, but finally the good news is, that it’s coming to America. The big question is, whether the extra 3k you’re going to have to pony up for the Ohlins is actually worth it, or perhaps there’s just not that much improvement over the stock KYB suspension that has suited the Yamaha MT-10 so well until now?
In the second segment, Associate Editor Teejay Adams chats with Val Collins. Val grew up on motorcycles and learned to love speed, however her real love is Formula 1 tunnel-boat racing. These are the guys and gals that are strapped into a tiny cockpit and then hurtle down the straights at 120 mile per hour and pull 5G in the corners. We attended the recent season finale in Lake Havasu and watched our friend Mike Quindazzi try to take the win. Val chats with Teejay about her love for two-wheels and tunnel-boats. Yeah, it’s crazy stuff.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode and have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!