Scrambler Desert Sled, the most off and fun Ducati in Borgo Panigale, is renewed and proves to be a truly versatile bike on and off-road.
I admit, I'm not a fan of the modern maxi enduro look. Thus, reflecting on Henry Crew's adventures around the world and the victory of the Desert Sled at Mint 400, we decided to try it to see if it can be a valid alternative to the “less sexy” crossovers and similar ones.
So we got in the saddle for a long day around the highway, state and dirt roads to understand if the Desert Sled is just beautiful or capable of anything!
On a beautiful and warm spring day, we are in Castel San Giovanni with our friends from Blue Bike Camp, Daniele Madrigali and his right arm "Givi", off-road specialists and our guides on the most beautiful roads in Piacentino and Alta Val Tidone, on asphalt and dirt roads.
As for the novelties from the previous version, the new Scrambler Desert Sled is obviously Euro 5 homologated and the engine from the performance point of view does not present any news, confirming its well-known performance and smooth handling over the entire rev range. .
The most important novelty is given by the Bosch ABS Cornering, which can be deactivated for driving in off mode, which significantly raises the level of safety under braking. There motorcycle It "rests" on solid and adjustable Kayaba suspensions and on the Pirelli Scorpion ST. From an aesthetic point of view, we have a very 80s coloring with a slightly longer rear fender, LED lighting, complete and clearly legible instrumentation, new controls and upright levers on the handlebar with crossbar, definitely “off”.
If your concern is 86 centimeters high saddle, you are wrong, one with short legs tells you. The number might scare the shorter ones, who can still for a 2 cm lower saddle sold as an accessory, but in my opinion take a ride first, get familiar and you will probably find yourself investing that money in others. accessories more useful. The riding position is upright with an excellent feeling of control on the bike, also thanks to the slightly wide and “cross-like” handlebar.
The ride is comfortable both sitting and standing, even if the saddle is not the softest (perhaps because it is new). The footpegs have detachable rubber pads for driving off with stivali dedicated. The hands and fingers immediately find the controls, very intuitive, and the adjustable levers act well on the clutch, very soft, and on the very reactive and modular brake. Only the change betrays us a couple of times in the search for the insane, not very precise.
After a short drive into town, where the scrambler runs like a scooter, therefore perfect for those who want a motorcycle that can also be used every day for leisure or to go to work, we take the motorway, towards the Piacenza hills.
Obviously the air is felt immediately, for this reason we recommend a small deflector or windshield for those who intend to travel or make a little longer trips, especially in the cold. But the cruising speed between 120 and 130 km / h is sustained without any problem, with a bike that remains stable even in strong winds or in turbulence when overtaking trucks. The load capacity is not the best, you have to add a luggage rack and two side brackets for soft bags, more than enough for a solo trip, a bit scarce for a weekend for two.
Leaving the always boring highway, we take the Desert Sled to “its home”, that is, between the curves of the state roads and provincial roads in the countryside. Here you enter to all intents and purposes the "Land of Joy". The engine revs up without tearing or joking, always remaining present in every situation. The twin cylinder gives that wonderful feeling of driving pleasure, in all conditions, from the relaxed one of a walk in the hills to the aggressive one in search of bends and hairpin bends.
The chassis is truly the flagship of Borgo Panigale and you never feel that feeling of uncertainty, not even in the tightest corners, on the contrary, one often wonders where they have set the limit. The tires are certainly excellent on asphalt, we will see in offs. Tight mixed is really the realm of this bike and the Scrambler range in general, which once again proves that it is not just an appearance but a lot of substance.
Having ascertained the extreme fun that the Desert Sled offers on the road, we couldn't wait to get dirty and understand how good it could be off. Not having tires with real knobs, we cannot go into the more technical routes and we limit ourselves to climbs and descents on the hardest and most stony terrains. Here is that the small twin makes us immediately understand how much he wants to have fun.
As on asphalt, once standing you lose the perception of the dry weight of 193 kilos and you find yourself riding an agile and manageable bike on any terrain and slope. Tightened the tank between the legs, we disengage the ABS to have more feeling of ride and the bike does not break down by a millimeter. The engine never gives up and never makes jokes, even at slower speeds. The chassis, although not regulated by us, turns out to be valid even on the most battered terrain. The Pirellis perform well, even in the steepest passages, even better if you deflate a little. In short, a great fun and not a fatigue. Only the turning radius limits the tightest maneuvers a little but it never turns out to be a limit to our explorations.
We return to the base, honestly pleasantly surprised ready to sum up a full day of everything: city, highway, state, off-road. We are aware that you cannot make a comparison with clearly different bikes, but often when you have to choose a bike, in addition to the technical details, passion is the first input.
Pro: manoeuvrable and easy to drive, perfect engine and always present, light and performing in tight mixed conditions and off-road.
Cons: I change occasionally imprecise in the search for the insane, saddle a bit stiff after some time, limited load capacity.
I never thought that such a "city" bike could be one of my 5 favorites. We also wanted to test this bike to understand if it could be a valid alternative to maxi-enduros and crossovers, certainly practical, well-equipped and very comfortable, but honestly very unattractive and, as we know, the eye also wants its part.
In my opinion it is the ideal bike for those looking for a true all-rounder as long as you accept some limits: it is very comfortable in the city, with a low center of gravity and smaller dimensions than a maxi of the same displacement; it is fine on the motorway but will never be as hospitable as a crossover on long journeys; it will make you have a lot of fun in the curves, even if you can't fit a trio of rigid suitcases (luckily!); it will take you to the most inaccessible terrains, leaving behind friends with maxis who are afraid of dust; it has few frills and few accessories but at the traffic lights and at the bar they will look at you, not your friends; they will arrive home less tired and cleaner, but they will not have your smile when you start it and when you go to wash it.
So if you don't plan to go to the North Cape in ten days (but maybe twenty), if you don't need to take the house with you (because you don't need it) and if you want to do some Adventure Touring events with a lighter and more beautiful bike average, go and try it!