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ADV NewsNew Ducati Desert X Moves From Concept Sketch to Full-Size Bike

New Ducati Desert X Moves From Concept Sketch to Full-Size Bike

Ducati reveals its Desert X adventure bike concept in the flesh at EICMA.

Published on 11.11.2019

Ducati’s been teasing us with sketches of its Desert X Scrambler concept, positioning it as a throwback to the glory days of Paris-Dakar, circa 1990, when Edi Orioli won the race on a Ducati-powered Cagiva Elefant. And now that the Italian marque has pulled the wraps off an actual concept bike at the EICMA show, it looks like they weren’t kidding. 

First impression: there’s a lot of fuel capacity on this bike. It sports front and rear tanks, which appear to be split into left and right compartments. That means four separate gas caps, so plan a little extra time at fuel stops if this design sees production. We’ve seen reports that the tanks hold 30 liters (7.9 gallons) of gas, so at least those stops won’t be frequent. 

Ducati Desert X adventure bike concept
The Desert X is equipped with dirt-oriented 21″/18″ spoked wheels and 8.3 inches (210 mm) of suspension travel. Total fuel capacity is 30 liters (7.9 gallons).
Ducati Desert X engine
At the heart of the Desert X is a 1079cc, two-valve, air-cooled, Desmodromic L-twin pumping out 86 horsepower and 65 ft.-lbs of torque.

The tanks and fairing lend the bike a muscular, sculptured look that both honors and updates the Elefant’s aesthetics. Twin, round LED headlights are another nod to the original, as is the tall windscreen that looks like it would actually be useful at blocking wind. Videos of the reveal show a TFT display nestled behind the screen. The spot where the pillion seat would normally go is inhabited by a cargo rack. And there are no passenger footpegs on the concept bike, but we’d guess that a production model would come with a passenger seat and pegs.

Ducati Desert X fairing
Ducati Desert X wheels
The Desert X’s spoked wheels are shodded with Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires.


The engine is from the current Scrambler 1100, a 1079cc, two-valve, air-cooled, Desmodromic L-twin that produces 86 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 65 ft.-lbs of torque at 4,750 rpm. The upswept Termignoni exhaust system, a work of art in itself, terminates in a single silencer.  

Ducati has not announced official complete specs  for the bike yet, but the Italian website put the bike’s weight at 190 kilograms, just under 420 pounds. Wet weight of the current Scrambler 100 is 465 pounds, so that number may be in the ballpark. The concept has also been revealed to have 10.8 inches (275mm) of ground clearance, 8.3 inches (210mm) of suspension travel and a carbon fiber skid plate. Ducati has further reported the bike is equipped with dirt-oriented 21-inch front and 18-inch rear spoked wheels wearing Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires. 

The Desert X debuted alongside the 800cc Motard Scrambler, and both concepts are aimed at broadening Ducati’s lineup using existing platforms. Ducati seems to want input on the designs, so leave a comment below and let them know if you think they should put these bikes into production.

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby

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22 thoughts on “New Ducati Desert X Moves From Concept Sketch to Full-Size Bike

    • Why wouldn’t it? My Elefant always starts. My friends Desert Sleds always start. Italian electrics have come a long way and use the same Shindengen MOSFET regulator/rectifiers to charge the batteries as Japanese bikes.

      DesmoDue are very reliable and EASY to work on engines. I have 110,000 km on mine with the 900 motor. I prefer to do the valves on. DesmoDue before any water cooled DOHC bike where to have to remove the cams to adjust the shims.

      Throw MBP collets on the valve stems and have 18,000 miles between valve checks. Easy peasy!

    • Apparently you don’t own a Ducati and are only parroting what you read on Japanese bike websites. Have owned Ducatis for years and even on a mid eighties Ducati I own, stock are Japanese Kokusan ignition components.
      Great bikes and except for non tended bikes that sit too long, never had any problems starting one.

  1. Nice but seems a bit down on horsepower and torque compared to the competition. I realize those numbers aren’t everything but people will compare them.

  2. 2 things concern me. Both involve the single offset shock. 1. Will it create a pinch point on the rider’s leg? 2. Having the suspension on one side of the swingarm, there’s going to be a certain amount of flex and twist, in the swingarm. Will it be predictable and manageable?

    • Finally someone concerned with an offset shock. I get it, it looks cool and Ducati is all about offsetting where they can (vtwin ehhhhhmmm excuse me L twin?) I’m a big fan of symmetry when it comes to something as fundamental as suspension. I do understand that this bike will never be blasting doubles, but there’s a reason all motocross bikes have mono shocks directly in the middle. I prefer not questioning a bikes ability, especially one that will get you 400 miles in the middle of no where.

      • I own a desert sled. And I believe the logic behind the side mount shock is to make more room for other things like rear exhaust header and battery box. So that the seat hight can be lower. Same reason why the parallel twins are used. To make more room for a lower seat. The original idea behind the canted L twin was for better air cooling of the rear cylinder. It doesn’t matter with water cooling. It may lower center of gravity a bit. I blast my desert sled on dome mountain rocky roads. No complaints with the rear suspension setup.

      • Yes L twin. Fabio Taglioni who developed the first twins for Ducati called it an Ltwin to differentiate it from Vtwins of the day because most then like Harley were at less than 90° appearing as a V when mounted in the frame.
        Taglioni 90° twins were mounted so the front cylinder was horizontal and rear vertical appearing like an L when mounted in frames. V vs L
        Today this is very relevant for them because of their modern era V4 MotoGP engines which are rotated back a bit for various suspension and dimensional reasons.
        Most modern Ducatis model still use the classic Ltwin in either water or air cooled Desmodromic configurations.
        More recently the entirely new ground up designed non Desmo chain driven cams Vmounted v4 of the Multi Strada.
        Late 60’s as well Ducati had developed a pushrod V4 engine to meet requirements for potential contracts with US police departments mounted in a Harley looking cop bike called the Apollo but at 100hp, was too powerful for tire and brake technology at the time so unfortunately was canned. Also would have been the most powerful production motorcycle on the market and was ugly as sin.
        That engine was rotated back slightly and why they called it a V instead of L.

  3. KTM makes a Euro 5, 2-stroke that rips ; so 2T can be done with oil injection and no pre-mix and meet regs – I wish KTM or Ducati would now make a smooth balanced 2 Stroke parallel twin 600cc ADV, 140kg that is Euro 5 compliant and ditch the heavy fourstroke adv unicorns. Water cooling is not the problem, in fact it’s the solution as it permits much higher HP output. Air-cooled bikes meh.

  4. I own four Elefants. I’ve been using them hard, for both serious off-road, and long-distance international travel since I bought my first one in 1989. As other adventure bikes have joined the market, I’ve tried each of them, and have not found one that I preferred to the Elefants, though these rides on others have prompted me to upgrade my suspensions, and modify the engines for more power output. The Desert X, if it makes production and stays faithful to the prototype, stands a very good chance of being the bike that finally prompts me to move on from the Elefants. I think I’d keep one very special one, ad sell the other three to help fund the purchase of Desert X. To keep me interested, it would need to retain the air cooling, and keep the weight down. 420 pounds would make me happy, as that’s what my oldest Elefant (a 650) weighs. My 900s claimed 420, but are actually 460 on the scale, and my late 750 is just a bit lighter, so even mid-400s would be acceptable.

  5. It would be ideal if there was a shield or plate covering the coolers at the front above the engine. As cool as it is about the rear fuel tanks, it may prohibit use of panniers, which most people would likely use for a bike like this. Other than that, it seems like a great design. I especially love the air-cooled reliability factor (even with what appears to be an oil cooler).

  6. As I own 2 Ducati / Cagiva Elefants the second one built from the ground up with Ohlins forks larger Brembo front brake and a 750 desmo from a `87 Paso. Stock steel gas tank, all body work is handmade aluminum, all lighting is LED and exhaust is by cone engineering. The wet weight ( ~ 1 gal gas ) incl. tool roll is 400 lbs ! I would love to see the 1100 Desert X go into production !

  7. I don’t they’ll put it into production. It’s not that much different than the Sled when you get right down to it. What WOULD be cool is if they offered a Desert X upgrade kit to Sled owners. Having said that, the 790 Adventure is getting rave reviews and from what i understand, is selling really well. If the Yamaha 700 Tenere takes off in the U.S., Ducati might want to try and get a piece of that pie with the Desert X. I can’t really see it though. That’s an awesome looking bike though!

    To the guys talking about weight…I highly, highly, doubt this thing can be 420lbs. My 2017 Desert Sled weighs 450lbs with the smaller 803cc motor, smaller wheels and tires, and of course, much smaller/less bodywork. With only 86 horsepower, this would compete with the aformentioned bikes but both of those are much lighter than the 450lbs + this Desert X would weigh.

  8. This would make a good long distance adventure bike. But personally I would prefer a desert sled with an updated 1100cc engine, bigger bore and shorter stroke, 8 valves for more top end power. 120 hp would be nice. Keep it air oil cooled for better aerodynamics. Power can be electronically limited when oil temperature goes too high. Aluminum frame that doubles as oil tank like the xr650r. 300 mm of suspension travel. 21 and 18 inch wheels. Narrow polished aluminum tank for weight reduction. Replace plastic fenders with aluminum. No fancy traction control riding modes. Analog tac and speedo. wide ratio gear box. Low 1st for scrambling and high 6th for 140 mph. And please don’t put a speed governor like ktm husky and Triumph does on their off road bikes

  9. Pingback: 7 Adventure Bike Concepts We Can't Wait To Get Here | | Canada Electric Bike

  10. Pingback: Ducati Launches Limited-Edition Desert Sled ‘Fasthouse’ – Bikers Connection

  11. Pingback: Ducati shows its Scramblers with two new exciting designs –


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