Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
Off-road style and dedication
Drawing inspiration from the Californian desert racers, the Desert Sled is far more than a Scrambler model made to look a bit off-roady. That’s what the previous Scrambler Urban Enduro model was guilty of and was why it failed to capture riders’ imaginations. No, the Desert Sled is a fairly full-on off-road machine and it rides as well as it looks.
Neeves agreed: “When you see an old Yamaha XT500 you have this impression of what it will be like to ride, all upright and cool with bags of power, but the reality is you are on a vibrating and gutless single. The Desert Sled rides as you imagine and hope the XT would,” And that’s the charm of the new arrival.
When you follow a Sled, the rider appears perched up on high like they are riding a crosser on the road, which is a cool look. When you are siting on it, this seating position gives a lovely aggressive stance that really works, helping you feel like the king of the road. The seat height of 860mm is a bit tall for shorter riders and the long travel suspension rocks a bit in bends, but that’s the compromise you get when you build a bike with plenty of ground clearance and genuine offroad potential. Which is exactly what Ducati have done with the Sled.
Most scramblers’ only off-road focus is their styling, but the Sled has actually been designed to work on the rough stuff. You can fire up a gravel path on the Sled and it doesn’t clang as the suspension bottoms out over ruts, you can happily drift it on the loose stuff and its light overall weight stops it getting out of control. It’s no motocrosser, but it is a capable offroad machine that’s great fun sliding sideways or exploring a rutted byway on. But if you are considering a Sled you do need to be honest with yourself.
While the Sled looks fantastic, its off-road ability does slightly compromise its on-road manners. The seat is a touch firm, the soft suspension rocks back and forth when you brake and accelerate and there is that stratospheric seat height.
We all loved the Sled, but if you aren’t too fussed about off-roading, there is another scrambler option that may suit you better for a lot less money (an Icon is under £8k).
‘It’s no crosser, but is a capable off-road machine and great fun’
The Sled is slightly compromised as a road bike, but still has a lot to offer