2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled Preview

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

Maybe the closest thing to a dirtbike we'll see from Ducati

In stark contrast to the all-asphalt Scrambler Cafe Racer introduced by Ducati today at EICMA 2016, comes this, the Scrambler Desert Sled. Taking its roots from the Scrambler Urban Enduro – which is discontinued for model year 2017 – the Desert Sled is perfect for those who wish they were Malcolm Smith and rate On Any Sunday as their favorite movie of all time.

The Desert Sled is at home when the pavement runs out and only dirt lies ahead.

As the name would suggest, the Desert Sled is all about leaving paved roads behind. To do that, the Desert Sled gets a fully adjustable 41mm Kayaba inverted fork with two inches more travel – up to 7.9 inches from 5.9 inches. The rear shock is also new and gets a piggyback reservoir along with preload and rebound adjustability. More suspension travel means a higher saddle height – 33.9 inches for the Desert Sled – though an accessory low seat can chop that down by an inch. The frame is reinforced to better handle the rigors of off-road use, and the swingarm is both longer and sturdier than the units on the other Scrambler models. Again for better durability off-road. Wheelbase is now rated at 59.3 inches versus the 56.9 inches of the standard Scrambler Icon.

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Like the Cafe Racer, the Desert Sled ditches the 18-inch front wheel, but this time it’s replaced with a 19-incher. A 17-inch wheel is still out back, and both wheels feature wire spokes. Tires are the new Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR in 120/70-19 front, 170/60-17 rear. Other details include a wire mesh headlight cover, tapered handlebars, and high front and rear mudguards.

Most of the changes from the Scrambler Icon, in one easy-to-read picture.

Power for the Desert Sled is the standard 803cc air-oil cooled V-Twin seen in the other Scrambler models, tweaked to comply with Euro 4 rules and to provide better on/off throttle power delivery. Dual pipes are paired with black covers, and the entire underside is protected by a bash plate, which is where the Desert Sled name derived from. Oddly, for such an off-road worthy machine, the Desert Sled doesn’t feature hand guards. Of course, Ducati hasn’t forgotten this and includes hand guards, a high-mount exhaust pipe, handlebar pad, and extra spotlights in its accessory catalog, along with the low seat option.

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Available in White Mirage and Red Dusk, both come with a black frame and spoked wheels with gold rims. Pricing starts at $11,396 for the latter and $11,595 for the former.

Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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8 of 15 comments
  • TheMarvelous1310 TheMarvelous1310 on Nov 08, 2016

    The only problem with this is that it's not the only, or the original, Ducati Scrambler. Nothing else they make deserves the title, and if it does it's already got the name Multistrada.

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    • Pennswoodsed Pennswoodsed on Jun 30, 2017

      Dude , from 1960 until 2000 flying cars !

  • Born to Ride Born to Ride on Nov 09, 2016

    Anybody else notice that Ducati lists the wet weight for this bike at 456lb? Even with the reinforcement, I don't see how it added up to a 46lb weight increase. The fenders aren't even metal like they are on the Classic and Cafe. Tank capacity is the same too. They must've really beefed it up in the chassis department.

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    • Kevin Duke Kevin Duke on Jul 03, 2017

      Good observations. And the wire-spoke wheels will add a few pounds, too.