2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled First Look Review From EICMA

This is definitely the bike we should have ridden in the Rockies!

2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled hipster bike
Ducati’s Desert Sled: destined to get dusty! The Sled isn’t just gussied up to look the part, it’s actually equipped to romp off road.Photo: Ducati

If you're lost in the flurry of new Ducati Scrambler models, we feel ya. There are a ton of new hipster rides to keep track of, but this bike—the Desert Sled—is the one we're most excited about. And that's not just because it looks 100-percent badass with its spoke wheels, long-travel suspension, and vintage-motocross fenders, but because in a world of wannabe off-roaders (like the BMW RnineT Scrambler and Yamaha SCR950) the Sled is actually designed to romp in the dirt. Or at least that's what it seems like based on the press info.

Ducati Scramblers
Yowza, that’s a lot of bikes! Ducati has positioned the Scrambler lineup is a separate brand. Color options included, there are now 12 Scramblers to choose from.Photo: Ducati

Ducati unveiled the Multistrada 1200 Enduro earlier this year, and at first glance we figured it was just another poser ADV. But after raging the thing around the mountains of Sardinia in Italy we discovered that Ducati had done its research when designing the Enduro. And it appears that Ducati has applied the same disciplined approach to the Desert Sled, which replaces the Urban Enduro in the ever-expanding Scrambler lineup.

2017 Desert Sled handlebars
Mission control for your future off-road adventures. That handlebar is classic motocross. Note the fork caps with their compression, rebound, spring-preload adjustments.Photo: Ducati

Let’s start with the wheels. Sure, the Urban Enduro had spoke wheels and somewhat blocky tires, but the Sled features a bigger, enduro-sized 19-inch front wheel and more aggressive Pirelli Scorpion Rally rubber—the same tires that come on the trail-shredding Mulitstrada Enduro.

2017 Ducati Sled
Ready to rumble? The Sled is. That high front fender has a lip that looks to be replaceable, and that headlight guard comes standard.Photo: Ducati

Those sexy gold hoops are supported by a model-specific fork and a piggyback shock that boost suspension travel to 7.9 inches—again, the same as on Multistrada Enduro, which means plenty of stroke to suck up rough terrain. The fork is fully adjustable while the shock offers adjustable preload and rebound damping. Clearly, this bike is meant to be ridden hard and take some abuse. Good thing, because we intend to tackle some gnarly terrain as soon as we get our hands on one.

And to make sure it survives that abuse (because some of the original Icons came to untimely ends with structural failures after they were jumped repeatedly) the Desert Sled even has a “reinforced off-road frame” and a new swingarm. We don’t know exactly how the frame was reinforced, but it likely has extra gusseting at the tube joints. The swingarm is visibly thicker and beefier than the one fitted on the other Scrambler models, though we don’t know if it’s any longer. At 59.3 inches the wheelbase is several inches longer than on other Scrambler models, but we’re in the dark as to whether that’s due to a longer swingarm, the taller suspension, or both. In any case, lengthening the wheelbase is also something Ducati did to the Multi Enduro, and it paid big dividends when power-sliding the thing.

2017 Scrambler Desert Sled in red
When has a Ducati not been offered in red? As with other Scramblers the tank sides are interchangeable (you can even get wood-grain or flannel-colored inserts, gag...), and there are loads of other “ingredients” available to customize the bikes.Photo: Ducati

Atop the fork is a moto-style aluminum handlebar with a crossbar to help keep the thing from bending when you send your Sled off gnarly jumps. The Desert Sled has it’s own special ribbed seat, emulating the saddles found on properly old enduros, and that seat is a full 33.9 inches off the ground. Shorter riders should look to one of the lower Scrambler models or roll around with a step stool.

Other model-specific parts that make the Desert Sled look drop-dead sexy are the high front and rear fenders, the headlight guard, and the shotgun mufflers it shares with the Full Throttle and the Cafe Racer models. (Although these mufflers have a simpler perforated heat shield.)

2017 Scrambler swingarm
See the shock’s piggyback reservoir under the seat? The Sled has upgraded, long-travel suspension, plus a reinforced frame and a beefier swingarm.Photo: Ducati

Needless to say we’re pretty enamored with this bike, and we haven’t even ridden it yet! You better believe we’ll have a full written review and video as soon as humanly possible.

The Desert Sled is set to arrive in dealerships in March. It’ll cost the same as the new Cafe Racer at $11,399, though at a claimed 456 lb. with a full tank it’s about 40 lbs. heavier than the Racer and other Scramblers. Oh well, that just means more stability when you’re sailing through the air!