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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone give a recommendation for upgrading new tires vs. new wheels and tires?

The more cost effective route would be upgrading the tires for more grab, I've been stuck a few too many times with these stock Pirellis. I'm looking at Motoz Desert H/D.

But at that, I'm like well why not upgrade to 18" - 21" Excel rims and be done with it. The cost of the rims + spoke/lacing + tires is will be well over $1.5k.

Any recommendations from people who've done either? Yes, I understand its not a dirt bike and never will be, even if I treat mine like it is.
 

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Have you ridden your DS with different tires yet? Or is this your first tire change?

My opinion would be to upgrade your tires to more aggressive tread first before exploring a wheel conversion and see if that makes enough of a difference for what you need -> unless of course you have so much money that the cost of the 18/21 conversion is no big deal for you ;)

I have only seen the Earle Motors 18/21 conversion and everything I have seen says the Desert Sled needs a swing arm extension, which becomes much more involved than just swapping the rims out. A part of me wonders if the extension is really needed though, it seems like as long as you don’t jump the bike there should be enough clearance in the back… but what do I know.

Whatever route you decide to take, report back with your findings!
 

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I thought about changing my rims but bought a set of Michelin Anakee Wild tyres instead for more off road grip and they are so much better than the OEM Pirelli in mud and sand, but not to bad on the road either. You get a bit of movement in the handle bars over 80mph and there is a lot of road noise over 50mph but I wear ear plugs so doesn’t really bother me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Have you ridden your DS with different tires yet? Or is this your first tire change?

My opinion would be to upgrade your tires to more aggressive tread first before exploring a wheel conversion and see if that makes enough of a difference for what you need -> unless of course you have so much money that the cost of the 18/21 conversion is no big deal for you ;)

I have only seen the Earle Motors 18/21 conversion and everything I have seen says the Desert Sled needs a swing arm extension, which becomes much more involved than just swapping the rims out. A part of me wonders if the extension is really needed though, it seems like as long as you don’t jump the bike there should be enough clearance in the back… but what do I know.

Whatever route you decide to take, report back with your findings!

I took the wheels off and dismounted the tires (No-Mar 100%), took the rims and hubs to a wheel guy I know.

Going with Excel 1.85x21 in the front and 3.50x18 for the rear. I arrived at these numbers based on a lot of reading and research for widths that would allow me the tires I want (Motoz Tractionator Rallz) and maintain a decent dual purpose balance vs. going full dirt which would limit my tire choices. Once we get everything in and laced I'll post the correct spoke sizes for those wanting to mirror the set up. I'm also planning on sealing the rims for a tubeless set up, we'll see how that goes. Will post pictures and more on it as I get farther along in the process.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was wondering if anyone has tried TKCs on their DS yet. Much better knobs for off but they will limit road performance. You should look into the Earle Motors extender if you are going even more dirt oriented. Wheelbase Extender for Ducati Scrambler — Earle Motors

Cant wait to see how your bike turns out!
I'm going to give these Motoz Rallz a shot. 90/90r21 and 150/70r18, wanted to go with a more narrow rear but this aspect ratio is all they offer in tubeless. They might be short enough to miss the swing arm, if not I have no issue cutting and welding a patch. I have heard about the wheelbase extenders. The only downside is the cost and chain + sprocket swap. Not too interested in changing the geometry either. That being said, I'm a big fan on his work.

My wheels should be in next week.
 

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I'm going to give these Motoz Rallz a shot. 90/90r21 and 150/70r18, wanted to go with a more narrow rear but this aspect ratio is all they offer in tubeless. They might be short enough to miss the swing arm, if not I have no issue cutting and welding a patch. I have heard about the wheelbase extenders. The only downside is the cost and chain + sprocket swap. Not too interested in changing the geometry either. That being said, I'm a big fan on his work.

My wheels should be in next week.
Awesome looking! Yeah I have a feeling that the 18" rear tire wont fit without swingarm mods. Thats the main reason for the extender. The cost is the tough part for sure. Major wheel changes will never be cheap or easy haha I just converted a KTM 350 exc to a sumo and it was way more than I thought : (
 

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I've got these on my sled, 21" front, but the rear is 150/70 x 17. It fits well, and it is somewhat taller than the AX41 Bridgestone that it replace. They have awesome grip off-road. I've haven't done too much on wet blacktop yet, so can't comment. But dry blacktop they are good.
Cheers,
Denny
 

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I've got these on my sled, 21" front, but the rear is 150/70 x 17. It fits well, and it is somewhat taller than the AX41 Bridgestone that it replace. They have awesome grip off-road. I've haven't done too much on wet blacktop yet, so can't comment. But dry blacktop they are good.
Cheers,
Denny
I am curious what a 21” front but keeping the 17” rear does to the bike geometry, and why this isn’t more common for people to do.

Why is the 18” rear tire such an important factor in this conversation usually?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Finally got my wheels back. trued and laced. Rims and spokes were made by DUBYA USA, let me wheel guy figure it all out. After getting them back I sealed up using the typical 3M sealant and tape. Made sure to really clean and wipe all the cutting oil and grease out of the drop center and nipples. Even though everything was new, I could see the oil on the nipples and where it had made its way onto the rim. Let it sit for 24 hours to cure, then mounted and air them up. VERY shocked they seated and did not leak. Still holding air btw.

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I spent a lot of time trying to find the right valves for the rim. Tons of options out there but I needed two things, 8.3mm stem and 90 degree bend for easy access. I went with these as they seemed to fit my needs. So far happy with the choice. Rear wheel balanced out very easily using Amazon brass spoke weights.The front was already balanced, lucky maybe.

Next I had to remove the swing arm which required some specific tools in unusual sizes. Most notably was this - made the whole thing so much easier. Over all the process was simple and 100% easier than other swing arms I've removed and installed on other bikes.

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At this point I had the swing arm on the bench/vice and put the wheel and axel in to get an idea of what I needed to cut. I took out more than my tire required, I'm anticipating getting taller tires in future, perhaps. Then I proceeded to cut my $12K swing arm without prejudice.

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Next I used a flap disc to even and smooth out the surface for my patch. Note if you cut back far enough you'll run into the casting pillar, I did a bit but smoothed it down with no issues using the flap disc again. I used a piece of paper to make my imprint which I then cut and shaped into my template. I laid that my aluminum plate ( 1/8th" - 6061) and cut it out. Then it was a long process of beating, bending and clamping to get the plate to fit with the least amount of gap.


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After I got it fit in there I clamped and tacked it all the way around. This took a long time because I did not want to over heat the swing arm. The final weld passes took even longer for said reason. I was concerned about warpage but also the integrity of the bearings and seals up front.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
After it was done and cleaned it and threw some rubberized undercoating on the bare aluminum and reassembled it all. The wheel fits now at its stock position with plenty of room for expansion later.

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So far I'm very satisfied with the results, handling has improved immensely on both street and dirt. Still pushing it off-road with some desert trips planned later this year. Beach this weekend to see how it fairs in the sand. Will post a full picture later. One other thing to note is the ride height has increased a bit. I'm 6'3" and am on my toes when standing, which is all I've ever wanted from a bike. I also machined two .5" risers for the handlebars so overall the position and comfortability is more in line with what I need. Over and out.
 

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👏👏👏

Wow, Well done! There aren’t that many that have the skills to do what you just accomplished, and even less of those that would cut up the swing arm of a Ducati. It looks like it turned out really well, and I am glad you documented and shared it so the next person can move forward with confidence!

You mentioned that you feel it has improved handling both on and off the street, which I have read going to a 21”/18” will make street handling worse or harder to turn in. Do you suppose that you aren’t feeling that because you didn’t extend the swing arm? Or is it more of a personal preference of yours?

I can’t wait to see footage of you riding around on the new setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hey thanks man. I'm not really sure, but I suspect its more rider preference. To me the front end feels lighter, more nimble and responsive on the road. Maybe some people prefer more a rigid or solid feeling front end, which the sled had with that bigger front tire. But now on the other side I like the way it feels, I don't feel the weight of the bike like I did before BUT maybe its all just the placebo effect. Theres definitely something going on with my new riding position that is effecting that as well. The .5" riser made a lot of difference for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Spent some time in the National Forest near Houston, Tx and can report the my wheel set up is working nicely. Had a bit of everything other there, sand, mud, gravel, water. The ground was pretty wet but the tires dug in nicely which kept the bike from laying down.

Two things I recommend are risers, which helped with fatigue and also from a practical stand point, a longer rear fender. The cut down version standard on the Sled looks good but its useless for the most part. I found a 2015 Scrambler Classic on ebay which mounted up with minimal modifications. The only down side being that its made from aluminum, would prefer plastic for the weight and ability to not bend in a drop. These guys sell a nice kit but I got mine cheap and within a few days.


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I don't use swingarm externders. The swingarm extender make the wheelbase larger. It is possible but not so good for the driving experience. The bike dosen't go so well on the rear wheel anymore. To drive a wheelie is more difficult.
I change the axle position and take a part of the swingarm. The ABS works. First driving test I got no errors.

Some pics from my dealer. I still swap the indicators, handguards, a lighter battery. The weight after all changes are approx 195 kg with a full gas tank.

It is enough space for chain adjustment. I think it is no problem.

In germany it is not so easy to modify my bike, because we had a very strict car inspection.

Front: 21 x 1.85 TKC 80 90/90
Rear: 18 x 3.00 TKC 80 140/80


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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yeah I thought about not cutting my swing arm but I wanted to retain stock axel position plus give myself a little room if I wanted taller tires in the future. I agree on the extenders. I do not like the way it makes the bike look nor do I think the geometry is better. The cost is also ridiculous.

Nice bike, glad you found a solution that works for you.
 
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