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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Last week I picked up a sweet 2019 Scrambler Desert Sled from a Apex Cycle in Cambridge ON. Canada...one of the better Ducati shops in my region. Shout out to those guys for making the process of trading in my '17 KTM 690 Enduro R an easy and pleasant one...which is more than I can say for the absolutely HORRIBLE Ducati dealer that is local to me, Powersports Canada. They are borderline criminal.


But I digress.... Been after a Desert Sled since they first came out, and personally feel this is what the Scrambler should have been from day one. I had high hopes for this bike and planned the pick up during the family vacation up at the cottage in the Great Ottawa Valley town Barry's Bay ON. IF anyone here has not yet had the pleasure, it is a veritable moto-mecca with twisty back roads for days and dirt road and trails that'd make the hardest off roader swoon with delight. Needless to say, the DS was about to get a work out.

First day was a 200-ish km run comprising of backroad twisties, Fire service roads, ATV trails and some hydro line action. I'd reckon it was about a 60/40 split between road and dirt. I left the bike set up as I got it from the dealer as I wanted to see what it handled like bone stock out of the gate. That translates to full 38-ish psi in the tires and a suspension set up that was somewhere in between the street and off-road settings. Day 2 I dropped the PSI to 20-25 and adjusted to full off road and did another 200-ish km with the majority off road, running rough ATV trails, rail beds, dirt roads and twisty back roads.

Initial impressions on the Road - Engine:
As expected, the Ducati engine was great and pulled really smoothly and consistently through all gears...in fact I was a bit surprised at how tall this bike is geared. Not too tall as to run out of juice near the top end, but I found I was able to get quite a bit out of each gear before needing/wanting to shift up. A very different experience from the 690 and 2 stroke dirtbikes I have been riding a lot lately....obviously, LOL. But it even feels taller compared to my 748 as well. Overall a very smooth and user friendly power plant. That said, I sometimes felt it was too smooth and easy...or maybe soft is a better word? It is hard to put into words, but I did find it lacked a bit of bite for my tastes, but that could be that I am coming off of high strung dirtbikes and am used to the snappy 2 stroke power. Either way, I feel a snappier throttle response, especially in 1st gear, would be beneficial. Overall though its a sweet power plant and grunts and pulls as a Ducati should.

Initial impressions on the Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings between on road and off road, the DS ate up the twisties like a champ! It really is a confidence inspiring bike when it comes to leaning into the fun stuff. As I mentioned, the Greater Ottawa Valley has some of the best twisty backroads around these parts and we did a ton of them. The DS had no problem at all holding sharp corners at speed. The Scorpion Rally tires it came with were grippy and as responsive as any pure street tire I've ever ridden on the 748, so top marks on this one.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Engine:
Despite the "softness" I mentioned earlier, the DS engine is a gem off road. Once we got onto rough and rocky ATV trails, I barely, if ever had to take it out of 2nd gear. In 2nd the DS engine was able to deliver that classic L-Twin torque evenly and predictably and at no time got out of hand... personally I feel this is where the DS engine truly shines as it will chug up steep hills and pull through obstacles when you need and want it to with out jumping up and down through the gears. Well done Ducati. Well done.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings as stated previously and full street tire pressures, it is no surprise that I felt the DS was abit harsh off road and I found the rear end was getting a bit out of hand from time to time. However, on day 2 I dropped the pressures down to about 20-25 psi in each tire and set the suspension to full off road settings. This proved much better, softening things up quite a bit and making the bike less squirrely in the rear when hitting the rough stuff at any sort of speed. As for the Scorpion Rally tires in the dirt... let me first say that I had serious doubts as to their capabilities. Many a tire manufacturer has claimed a 50/50 capability...but this thing is about the truest 50/50 tire on the market bar-none. As stated before, they eat up corners on the street like anybodies business, and it is more or less the same story off road as well. The only time I felt these tires lacking in any way off road was in deep sand and mud....Mud is a big No-No with these tires!. On dirt and gravel the front tracks like a knobby and the rear gives great traction, getting you up all but the gnarliest hill climb.

So all in all it is a seriously great all-rounder. Likely the best I've ridden in recent memory and I've ridden my fair share. Out of all of the bikes I've owned since 2011 - Ducati 748 and 996 SPS, KTM 990 ADV, 640 ADV, 450 EXC, 250 CW and 200 XCW - The Desert Sled is easily one of the best AND coolest do-it-all bikes out there.

BUT... it is not all sugar and sunshine. For every Pro there is a Con and the DS is no exception. To simplify this, I'll list the pros followed by the cons as I see it:

PROS:
Engine - Sublime! Pulls well, is smooth and very user friendly without being boring. The torque is very well balanced and controlled for off road riding.
Suspension - On road it handles fast twisties like a track bike. Ergonomics are good as well and confidence inspiring. Off road it aint half bad either once dialed in.
Tires - They hold the line like slicks (ok.... maybe not exactly like slicks, but they feel great!). Surprisingly good off road...like really!
Looks - Its a Fackin' cool ass bike! No denying it!
Seat - Fairly comfortable. Design is such that is facilitates standing quite well,

CONS:
Suspension - Not sure if this is even a con or simply a limitation, but I did find that fast rutted out sections would really send the front wobbling away... the first time was a bit of a tank slapper, but after that I knew it was coming and was ready for it. That said, if I was less experienced off road, this could have resulted in a crash for sure. I almost feel a damper is needed to get the front to behave a bit better, but I will play around with the suspension settings more as it may simply need adjustment.
That said the rear end, although overall does well, still got a bit dodgy in the really rough stuff. This was almost exclusively going down hill in loose rocky tracks while trying to slow the bike down. Again, perhaps a limitation more than a con. Definitely not a deal breaker though.

Brakes - Rear: Make no mistake, the brakes are good, my only issue is with the set up and design of the rear brake pedal. I had to pretty much max it out to get it into a proper position. Even then I have to dive a bit to get it to bite properly. On the road it is more than fine, but off road it is definitely lacking a bit. Again, I will be playing with the settings and see it can be improved some. However, just like the foot pegs, the break pedal, although a good size, is very slippery and not nearly grippy enough.

Skid Plate - Its definitely great that Ducati have made a skid plate stock on the DS, but it is almost useless. At the very least Ducati could have offered an optional upgrade for a proper protection set up. Luckily there are some aftermarket options in this regard from SW Motech, Hepco-Becker and Evotech. So that will get sorted soon.

Other than those 3 items, the bikes is solid, feels well built and performs beyond what I thought it was capable of. Some of the limitations I did recognize and can certainly appreciate are the 19in front wheel not being as stable off road as a 21 in. But the pay off when you get back on the road more than makes up for this. One just needs to lean back a bit more when going down hill in the rough stuff or in sand and the DS will get through no worries. Overall I rate the 2019 Ducati Desert Sled 8.5/10*. (It would have got a 9 or a 9.5 if it had come with proper off road protection). Go buy one!!
 

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I bought a left over 18 a few months back and have the same overall impression. Good bike, does everything well nothing exceptional. I added the booster plug and dropped the CS sprocket to a 14, really woke up the bike and made it that much more fun. Still will cruise at 75mph @5.5K rpms when I get on the highway. Like the bike, good design and a bullet proof motor that will do most anything you ask of it.
 

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Last week I picked up a sweet 2019 Scrambler Desert Sled from a Apex Cycle in Cambridge ON. Canada...one of the better Ducati shops in my region. Shout out to those guys for making the process of trading in my '17 KTM 690 Enduro R an easy and pleasant one...which is more than I can say for the absolutely HORRIBLE Ducati dealer that is local to me, Powersports Canada. They are borderline criminal.


But I digress.... Been after a Desert Sled since they first came out, and personally feel this is what the Scrambler should have been from day one. I had high hopes for this bike and planned the pick up during the family vacation up at the cottage in the Great Ottawa Valley town Barry's Bay ON. IF anyone here has not yet had the pleasure, it is a veritable moto-mecca with twisty back roads for days and dirt road and trails that'd make the hardest off roader swoon with delight. Needless to say, the DS was about to get a work out.

First day was a 200-ish km run comprising of backroad twisties, Fire service roads, ATV trails and some hydro line action. I'd reckon it was about a 60/40 split between road and dirt. I left the bike set up as I got it from the dealer as I wanted to see what it handled like bone stock out of the gate. That translates to full 38-ish psi in the tires and a suspension set up that was somewhere in between the street and off-road settings. Day 2 I dropped the PSI to 20-25 and adjusted to full off road and did another 200-ish km with the majority off road, running rough ATV trails, rail beds, dirt roads and twisty back roads.

Initial impressions on the Road - Engine:
As expected, the Ducati engine was great and pulled really smoothly and consistently through all gears...in fact I was a bit surprised at how tall this bike is geared. Not too tall as to run out of juice near the top end, but I found I was able to get quite a bit out of each gear before needing/wanting to shift up. A very different experience from the 690 and 2 stroke dirtbikes I have been riding a lot lately....obviously, LOL. But it even feels taller compared to my 748 as well. Overall a very smooth and user friendly power plant. That said, I sometimes felt it was too smooth and easy...or maybe soft is a better word? It is hard to put into words, but I did find it lacked a bit of bite for my tastes, but that could be that I am coming off of high strung dirtbikes and am used to the snappy 2 stroke power. Either way, I feel a snappier throttle response, especially in 1st gear, would be beneficial. Overall though its a sweet power plant and grunts and pulls as a Ducati should.

Initial impressions on the Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings between on road and off road, the DS ate up the twisties like a champ! It really is a confidence inspiring bike when it comes to leaning into the fun stuff. As I mentioned, the Greater Ottawa Valley has some of the best twisty backroads around these parts and we did a ton of them. The DS had no problem at all holding sharp corners at speed. The Scorpion Rally tires it came with were grippy and as responsive as any pure street tire I've ever ridden on the 748, so top marks on this one.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Engine:
Despite the "softness" I mentioned earlier, the DS engine is a gem off road. Once we got onto rough and rocky ATV trails, I barely, if ever had to take it out of 2nd gear. In 2nd the DS engine was able to deliver that classic L-Twin torque evenly and predictably and at no time got out of hand... personally I feel this is where the DS engine truly shines as it will chug up steep hills and pull through obstacles when you need and want it to with out jumping up and down through the gears. Well done Ducati. Well done.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings as stated previously and full street tire pressures, it is no surprise that I felt the DS was abit harsh off road and I found the rear end was getting a bit out of hand from time to time. However, on day 2 I dropped the pressures down to about 20-25 psi in each tire and set the suspension to full off road settings. This proved much better, softening things up quite a bit and making the bike less squirrely in the rear when hitting the rough stuff at any sort of speed. As for the Scorpion Rally tires in the dirt... let me first say that I had serious doubts as to their capabilities. Many a tire manufacturer has claimed a 50/50 capability...but this thing is about the truest 50/50 tire on the market bar-none. As stated before, they eat up corners on the street like anybodies business, and it is more or less the same story off road as well. The only time I felt these tires lacking in any way off road was in deep sand and mud....Mud is a big No-No with these tires!. On dirt and gravel the front tracks like a knobby and the rear gives great traction, getting you up all but the gnarliest hill climb.

So all in all it is a seriously great all-rounder. Likely the best I've ridden in recent memory and I've ridden my fair share. Out of all of the bikes I've owned since 2011 - Ducati 748 and 996 SPS, KTM 990 ADV, 640 ADV, 450 EXC, 250 CW and 200 XCW - The Desert Sled is easily one of the best AND coolest do-it-all bikes out there.

BUT... it is not all sugar and sunshine. For every Pro there is a Con and the DS is no exception. To simplify this, I'll list the pros followed by the cons as I see it:

PROS:
Engine - Sublime! Pulls well, is smooth and very user friendly without being boring. The torque is very well balanced and controlled for off road riding.
Suspension - On road it handles fast twisties like a track bike. Ergonomics are good as well and confidence inspiring. Off road it aint half bad either once dialed in.
Tires - They hold the line like slicks (ok.... maybe not exactly like slicks, but they feel great!). Surprisingly good off road...like really!
Looks - Its a Fackin' cool ass bike! No denying it!
Seat - Fairly comfortable. Design is such that is facilitates standing quite well,

CONS:
Suspension - Not sure if this is even a con or simply a limitation, but I did find that fast rutted out sections would really send the front wobbling away... the first time was a bit of a tank slapper, but after that I knew it was coming and was ready for it. That said, if I was less experienced off road, this could have resulted in a crash for sure. I almost feel a damper is needed to get the front to behave a bit better, but I will play around with the suspension settings more as it may simply need adjustment.
That said the rear end, although overall does well, still got a bit dodgy in the really rough stuff. This was almost exclusively going down hill in loose rocky tracks while trying to slow the bike down. Again, perhaps a limitation more than a con. Definitely not a deal breaker though.

Brakes - Rear: Make no mistake, the brakes are good, my only issue is with the set up and design of the rear brake pedal. I had to pretty much max it out to get it into a proper position. Even then I have to dive a bit to get it to bite properly. On the road it is more than fine, but off road it is definitely lacking a bit. Again, I will be playing with the settings and see it can be improved some. However, just like the foot pegs, the break pedal, although a good size, is very slippery and not nearly grippy enough.

Skid Plate - Its definitely great that Ducati have made a skid plate stock on the DS, but it is almost useless. At the very least Ducati could have offered an optional upgrade for a proper protection set up. Luckily there are some aftermarket options in this regard from SW Motech, Hepco-Becker and Evotech. So that will get sorted soon.

Other than those 3 items, the bikes is solid, feels well built and performs beyond what I thought it was capable of. Some of the limitations I did recognize and can certainly appreciate are the 19in front wheel not being as stable off road as a 21 in. But the pay off when you get back on the road more than makes up for this. One just needs to lean back a bit more when going down hill in the rough stuff or in sand and the DS will get through no worries. Overall I rate the 2019 Ducati Desert Sled 8.5/10*. (It would have got a 9 or a 9.5 if it had come with proper off road protection). Go buy one!!
Last week I picked up a sweet 2019 Scrambler Desert Sled from a Apex Cycle in Cambridge ON. Canada...one of the better Ducati shops in my region. Shout out to those guys for making the process of trading in my '17 KTM 690 Enduro R an easy and pleasant one...which is more than I can say for the absolutely HORRIBLE Ducati dealer that is local to me, Powersports Canada. They are borderline criminal.


But I digress.... Been after a Desert Sled since they first came out, and personally feel this is what the Scrambler should have been from day one. I had high hopes for this bike and planned the pick up during the family vacation up at the cottage in the Great Ottawa Valley town Barry's Bay ON. IF anyone here has not yet had the pleasure, it is a veritable moto-mecca with twisty back roads for days and dirt road and trails that'd make the hardest off roader swoon with delight. Needless to say, the DS was about to get a work out.

First day was a 200-ish km run comprising of backroad twisties, Fire service roads, ATV trails and some hydro line action. I'd reckon it was about a 60/40 split between road and dirt. I left the bike set up as I got it from the dealer as I wanted to see what it handled like bone stock out of the gate. That translates to full 38-ish psi in the tires and a suspension set up that was somewhere in between the street and off-road settings. Day 2 I dropped the PSI to 20-25 and adjusted to full off road and did another 200-ish km with the majority off road, running rough ATV trails, rail beds, dirt roads and twisty back roads.

Initial impressions on the Road - Engine:
As expected, the Ducati engine was great and pulled really smoothly and consistently through all gears...in fact I was a bit surprised at how tall this bike is geared. Not too tall as to run out of juice near the top end, but I found I was able to get quite a bit out of each gear before needing/wanting to shift up. A very different experience from the 690 and 2 stroke dirtbikes I have been riding a lot lately....obviously, LOL. But it even feels taller compared to my 748 as well. Overall a very smooth and user friendly power plant. That said, I sometimes felt it was too smooth and easy...or maybe soft is a better word? It is hard to put into words, but I did find it lacked a bit of bite for my tastes, but that could be that I am coming off of high strung dirtbikes and am used to the snappy 2 stroke power. Either way, I feel a snappier throttle response, especially in 1st gear, would be beneficial. Overall though its a sweet power plant and grunts and pulls as a Ducati should.

Initial impressions on the Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings between on road and off road, the DS ate up the twisties like a champ! It really is a confidence inspiring bike when it comes to leaning into the fun stuff. As I mentioned, the Greater Ottawa Valley has some of the best twisty backroads around these parts and we did a ton of them. The DS had no problem at all holding sharp corners at speed. The Scorpion Rally tires it came with were grippy and as responsive as any pure street tire I've ever ridden on the 748, so top marks on this one.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Engine:
Despite the "softness" I mentioned earlier, the DS engine is a gem off road. Once we got onto rough and rocky ATV trails, I barely, if ever had to take it out of 2nd gear. In 2nd the DS engine was able to deliver that classic L-Twin torque evenly and predictably and at no time got out of hand... personally I feel this is where the DS engine truly shines as it will chug up steep hills and pull through obstacles when you need and want it to with out jumping up and down through the gears. Well done Ducati. Well done.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings as stated previously and full street tire pressures, it is no surprise that I felt the DS was abit harsh off road and I found the rear end was getting a bit out of hand from time to time. However, on day 2 I dropped the pressures down to about 20-25 psi in each tire and set the suspension to full off road settings. This proved much better, softening things up quite a bit and making the bike less squirrely in the rear when hitting the rough stuff at any sort of speed. As for the Scorpion Rally tires in the dirt... let me first say that I had serious doubts as to their capabilities. Many a tire manufacturer has claimed a 50/50 capability...but this thing is about the truest 50/50 tire on the market bar-none. As stated before, they eat up corners on the street like anybodies business, and it is more or less the same story off road as well. The only time I felt these tires lacking in any way off road was in deep sand and mud....Mud is a big No-No with these tires!. On dirt and gravel the front tracks like a knobby and the rear gives great traction, getting you up all but the gnarliest hill climb.

So all in all it is a seriously great all-rounder. Likely the best I've ridden in recent memory and I've ridden my fair share. Out of all of the bikes I've owned since 2011 - Ducati 748 and 996 SPS, KTM 990 ADV, 640 ADV, 450 EXC, 250 CW and 200 XCW - The Desert Sled is easily one of the best AND coolest do-it-all bikes out there.

BUT... it is not all sugar and sunshine. For every Pro there is a Con and the DS is no exception. To simplify this, I'll list the pros followed by the cons as I see it:

PROS:
Engine - Sublime! Pulls well, is smooth and very user friendly without being boring. The torque is very well balanced and controlled for off road riding.
Suspension - On road it handles fast twisties like a track bike. Ergonomics are good as well and confidence inspiring. Off road it aint half bad either once dialed in.
Tires - They hold the line like slicks (ok.... maybe not exactly like slicks, but they feel great!). Surprisingly good off road...like really!
Looks - Its a Fackin' cool ass bike! No denying it!
Seat - Fairly comfortable. Design is such that is facilitates standing quite well,

CONS:
Suspension - Not sure if this is even a con or simply a limitation, but I did find that fast rutted out sections would really send the front wobbling away... the first time was a bit of a tank slapper, but after that I knew it was coming and was ready for it. That said, if I was less experienced off road, this could have resulted in a crash for sure. I almost feel a damper is needed to get the front to behave a bit better, but I will play around with the suspension settings more as it may simply need adjustment.
That said the rear end, although overall does well, still got a bit dodgy in the really rough stuff. This was almost exclusively going down hill in loose rocky tracks while trying to slow the bike down. Again, perhaps a limitation more than a con. Definitely not a deal breaker though.

Brakes - Rear: Make no mistake, the brakes are good, my only issue is with the set up and design of the rear brake pedal. I had to pretty much max it out to get it into a proper position. Even then I have to dive a bit to get it to bite properly. On the road it is more than fine, but off road it is definitely lacking a bit. Again, I will be playing with the settings and see it can be improved some. However, just like the foot pegs, the break pedal, although a good size, is very slippery and not nearly grippy enough.

Skid Plate - Its definitely great that Ducati have made a skid plate stock on the DS, but it is almost useless. At the very least Ducati could have offered an optional upgrade for a proper protection set up. Luckily there are some aftermarket options in this regard from SW Motech, Hepco-Becker and Evotech. So that will get sorted soon.

Other than those 3 items, the bikes is solid, feels well built and performs beyond what I thought it was capable of. Some of the limitations I did recognize and can certainly appreciate are the 19in front wheel not being as stable off road as a 21 in. But the pay off when you get back on the road more than makes up for this. One just needs to lean back a bit more when going down hill in the rough stuff or in sand and the DS will get through no worries. Overall I rate the 2019 Ducati Desert Sled 8.5/10*. (It would have got a 9 or a 9.5 if it had come with proper off road protection). Go buy one!!
Last week I picked up a sweet 2019 Scrambler Desert Sled from a Apex Cycle in Cambridge ON. Canada...one of the better Ducati shops in my region. Shout out to those guys for making the process of trading in my '17 KTM 690 Enduro R an easy and pleasant one...which is more than I can say for the absolutely HORRIBLE Ducati dealer that is local to me, Powersports Canada. They are borderline criminal.


But I digress.... Been after a Desert Sled since they first came out, and personally feel this is what the Scrambler should have been from day one. I had high hopes for this bike and planned the pick up during the family vacation up at the cottage in the Great Ottawa Valley town Barry's Bay ON. IF anyone here has not yet had the pleasure, it is a veritable moto-mecca with twisty back roads for days and dirt road and trails that'd make the hardest off roader swoon with delight. Needless to say, the DS was about to get a work out.

First day was a 200-ish km run comprising of backroad twisties, Fire service roads, ATV trails and some hydro line action. I'd reckon it was about a 60/40 split between road and dirt. I left the bike set up as I got it from the dealer as I wanted to see what it handled like bone stock out of the gate. That translates to full 38-ish psi in the tires and a suspension set up that was somewhere in between the street and off-road settings. Day 2 I dropped the PSI to 20-25 and adjusted to full off road and did another 200-ish km with the majority off road, running rough ATV trails, rail beds, dirt roads and twisty back roads.

Initial impressions on the Road - Engine:
As expected, the Ducati engine was great and pulled really smoothly and consistently through all gears...in fact I was a bit surprised at how tall this bike is geared. Not too tall as to run out of juice near the top end, but I found I was able to get quite a bit out of each gear before needing/wanting to shift up. A very different experience from the 690 and 2 stroke dirtbikes I have been riding a lot lately....obviously, LOL. But it even feels taller compared to my 748 as well. Overall a very smooth and user friendly power plant. That said, I sometimes felt it was too smooth and easy...or maybe soft is a better word? It is hard to put into words, but I did find it lacked a bit of bite for my tastes, but that could be that I am coming off of high strung dirtbikes and am used to the snappy 2 stroke power. Either way, I feel a snappier throttle response, especially in 1st gear, would be beneficial. Overall though its a sweet power plant and grunts and pulls as a Ducati should.

Initial impressions on the Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings between on road and off road, the DS ate up the twisties like a champ! It really is a confidence inspiring bike when it comes to leaning into the fun stuff. As I mentioned, the Greater Ottawa Valley has some of the best twisty backroads around these parts and we did a ton of them. The DS had no problem at all holding sharp corners at speed. The Scorpion Rally tires it came with were grippy and as responsive as any pure street tire I've ever ridden on the 748, so top marks on this one.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Engine:
Despite the "softness" I mentioned earlier, the DS engine is a gem off road. Once we got onto rough and rocky ATV trails, I barely, if ever had to take it out of 2nd gear. In 2nd the DS engine was able to deliver that classic L-Twin torque evenly and predictably and at no time got out of hand... personally I feel this is where the DS engine truly shines as it will chug up steep hills and pull through obstacles when you need and want it to with out jumping up and down through the gears. Well done Ducati. Well done.

Initial impressions OFF Road - Suspension and Tires:
With the dealer settings as stated previously and full street tire pressures, it is no surprise that I felt the DS was abit harsh off road and I found the rear end was getting a bit out of hand from time to time. However, on day 2 I dropped the pressures down to about 20-25 psi in each tire and set the suspension to full off road settings. This proved much better, softening things up quite a bit and making the bike less squirrely in the rear when hitting the rough stuff at any sort of speed. As for the Scorpion Rally tires in the dirt... let me first say that I had serious doubts as to their capabilities. Many a tire manufacturer has claimed a 50/50 capability...but this thing is about the truest 50/50 tire on the market bar-none. As stated before, they eat up corners on the street like anybodies business, and it is more or less the same story off road as well. The only time I felt these tires lacking in any way off road was in deep sand and mud....Mud is a big No-No with these tires!. On dirt and gravel the front tracks like a knobby and the rear gives great traction, getting you up all but the gnarliest hill climb.

So all in all it is a seriously great all-rounder. Likely the best I've ridden in recent memory and I've ridden my fair share. Out of all of the bikes I've owned since 2011 - Ducati 748 and 996 SPS, KTM 990 ADV, 640 ADV, 450 EXC, 250 CW and 200 XCW - The Desert Sled is easily one of the best AND coolest do-it-all bikes out there.

BUT... it is not all sugar and sunshine. For every Pro there is a Con and the DS is no exception. To simplify this, I'll list the pros followed by the cons as I see it:

PROS:
Engine - Sublime! Pulls well, is smooth and very user friendly without being boring. The torque is very well balanced and controlled for off road riding.
Suspension - On road it handles fast twisties like a track bike. Ergonomics are good as well and confidence inspiring. Off road it aint half bad either once dialed in.
Tires - They hold the line like slicks (ok.... maybe not exactly like slicks, but they feel great!). Surprisingly good off road...like really!
Looks - Its a Fackin' cool ass bike! No denying it!
Seat - Fairly comfortable. Design is such that is facilitates standing quite well,

CONS:
Suspension - Not sure if this is even a con or simply a limitation, but I did find that fast rutted out sections would really send the front wobbling away... the first time was a bit of a tank slapper, but after that I knew it was coming and was ready for it. That said, if I was less experienced off road, this could have resulted in a crash for sure. I almost feel a damper is needed to get the front to behave a bit better, but I will play around with the suspension settings more as it may simply need adjustment.
That said the rear end, although overall does well, still got a bit dodgy in the really rough stuff. This was almost exclusively going down hill in loose rocky tracks while trying to slow the bike down. Again, perhaps a limitation more than a con. Definitely not a deal breaker though.

Brakes - Rear: Make no mistake, the brakes are good, my only issue is with the set up and design of the rear brake pedal. I had to pretty much max it out to get it into a proper position. Even then I have to dive a bit to get it to bite properly. On the road it is more than fine, but off road it is definitely lacking a bit. Again, I will be playing with the settings and see it can be improved some. However, just like the foot pegs, the break pedal, although a good size, is very slippery and not nearly grippy enough.

Skid Plate - Its definitely great that Ducati have made a skid plate stock on the DS, but it is almost useless. At the very least Ducati could have offered an optional upgrade for a proper protection set up. Luckily there are some aftermarket options in this regard from SW Motech, Hepco-Becker and Evotech. So that will get sorted soon.

Other than those 3 items, the bikes is solid, feels well built and performs beyond what I thought it was capable of. Some of the limitations I did recognize and can certainly appreciate are the 19in front wheel not being as stable off road as a 21 in. But the pay off when you get back on the road more than makes up for this. One just needs to lean back a bit more when going down hill in the rough stuff or in sand and the DS will get through no worries. Overall I rate the 2019 Ducati Desert Sled 8.5/10*. (It would have got a 9 or a 9.5 if it had come with proper off road protection). Go buy one!!

Great review, it's a truly a challenging review from the "off-road" perspective this hybrid for lack of better terms. What should we expect for the bike made for all roads? I've raced moto- X for many years as a teen and young adult and never had a street bike so my perspective will be from the dirt first then translating to the street. Can't wait to test it out..need to wait a couple weeks for the delivery so it will be a tough May 2020.
 
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