The more I ride the Ducati DesertX, the more I like it. There are so many excellent choices in the middleweight adventure bike segment these days that any ADV-curious motorcyclist should be able to find themselves a compatible match. The DesertX is like that one friend you know is always down for some sort of mischief – more partner-in-crime than just a partner. It’s rowdy, loud (with the Termi pipe seen above), and raucous, and it coerces you into having a good time. Since we’ve been able to pass Ducati’s latest adventure machine around amongst the staff, it’s become a crowd favorite.
For a brand best known for its exotic sportbikes, Ducati sure impressed us with the DesertX, its first modern off-road dedicated adventure bike. With its torquey 937cc engine, 21/18-inch wheel combo, and long-travel suspension, the DesertX was our runner-up for the Best Adventure Motorcycle of 2022 behind the Aprilia Tuareg 660. Thanks to an executive order published by the California Air Resources Board, we now know the DesertX will be joined by a new Rally variant for 2024.
Touring on motorcycles has always been fraught with variables, and adventure touring, with its off-road excursions, only increases them – exponentially. We’d been planning a trip to South Dakota to ride the Black Hills’ extensive road and trail system and were scheduled to hit them on the first day of the season. We weren’t going to let a little thing, like a week of rain prior to our arrival, dampen our enthusiasm. So, we were surprised when the trails were mostly dry and not muddy, with the exception of occasional mud puddles that ranged from a couple of inches to a foot – or more – in depth. With the opaque nature of the puddles, we had no choice but to venture through them blindly. What could possibly go wrong?
It was a hard choice between winner and runner-up in the Adventure category which means we’re the real winners. There are so many great options not only in the middleweight category, but also the genre as a whole. The Ducati and Aprilia are two of the latest entrants into the segment and the Tuareg managed to eke out the win for precisely the reason we’ve seen it twice now in our MOBO selection – its exceptional value proposition.
When the DesertX prototype hit the scene at EICMA in 2019, it was portrayed as a Dakar-inspired Scrambler variant – that was the initial idea anyway. As you’re likely already aware, the production DesertX is anything but. Powered by the proven 937cc Testastretta 11° Desmo engine, the 2023 Ducati Desert X has been designed from the ground up as a purpose-built adventure machine.
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.