Ducati DesertX: Best of two worlds

THERE has been so much hype on the Ducati DesertX.

Most of the reviews from around the world have given thumbs up to DesertX.

Before I get into the performance of the bike, let’s have a look at the design.

The DesertX has a strong influence from Cagiva Elefant especially the front body, twin circular LED headlamps along with the tall (non-adjustable) windscreen and the fuel tank.


The clean, modern design reflects the smart combo of the retro and the present look. Meanwhile, the rear part of the bike is clean and simple.

The rear is fitted with an oval LED taillight.

The lines on the bike are clean flowing freely from rear to front without any obstruction projecting the sportiness and ruggedness of the Italian stallion.

The DesertX is fitted with a slim 21-litre metal tank, able to give an estimated range of 400km.


The design of the slim tank allowed my knee to hug the tank at ease while standing on the footpegs.

Hence I was able to manoeuvre the bike on the offroad terrain without any restrictions.

The DesertX comes with 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheel sizes.

The large wheels clearly showed that this bike is designed for off-road with highway touring capability.


Hence, the riding position has been thought through carefully, ensuring standing on the pegs during the off-road is comfortable and not forgetting the long rides on highways.

The 937cc engine produces a claimed 110hp at 9,250rpm and torque of 92Nm at 6,400rpm.

The desmo valve check intervals are 29,000km apart, with 24,000km maintenance intervals.

The DesertX is powered by a liquid-cooled Testastretta engine that is also used in the Ducati Monster and Ducati Multistrada V2.


I was able to familiarise myself with the rider interface for the ride modes, ABS, traction control, and many others in less than 10 minutes.

Getting into the settings and changing them according to my needs were simple and fast.

The rider’s aide on this machine will not disappoint anybody.

The bike comes with six riding modes of Sport, Touring, Urban, Wet, Enduro and Rally complemented by presets for three levels of Engine Brake Control (EBC) and eight levels of Ducati Traction Control (DTC).


There are also the Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Cornering ABS and four power settings of Full, High, Medium and Low; along with the ability to set throttle response to Dynamic or Smooth.

I really liked the new 5-inch TFT colour display, which is in a vertical position (rare to find on present bikes) which makes it easier for me to read the map or any other information while standing on the pegs. A brilliant idea.

I took this bike onto a less challenging off-road terrain in Sepang and I had fun.

The weight distribution on this bike is spot on.


For the first time in my life, the bike was airborne after I prepped myself for a jump.

I was about more than a metre off the ground and landed well.

My landing was cushioned well by the KYB forks and shocks.

The long travel at 230mm from the forks and 220mm travel from the rear ensured a pleasant thump on my tailbone and a light impact on my shoulders when I landed.

During the off-road ride, I went through trails filled with rocks, pebbles and lumps of hardened mud.


I did not find it very difficult to manoeuvre through these obstacles and the bike gave me the confidence to try out more difficult terrain.

The DesertX is definitely in a class of its own where its agility and handling ensured the rider enjoyed every minute of his ride.

On the highway, the DesertX doesn't feel pressured when I was pushing the bike hard.

I rode the bike through the twisties of Frasers Hill and highways along the way.


On the highways, the power was instantaneous at every acceleration.

I did not have to grab the clutch lever, rather a light squeeze was good enough.

The power distribution is linear and the sweet spot is at 6,200rpm where I could feel the torque and power gradually giving me the acceleration needed on the highway.

This is when I felt like I was riding a Ducati, the brand well-known for speed.


The character of the 937cc L-twin on the DesertX is similar to that in the Multistrada V2 and the Monster but it is tuned differently making it easier to handle.

The windshield was definitely a big help in ensuring my head didn’t bob aimlessly at high-speed or the incoming air beat down my chest.

I wished the windshield was adjustable while keeping the design especially when one wants to enjoy the cool breeze hitting on the face.

Meanwhile, the front brake is the twin 320mm discs with Brembo callipers and the rear is the 265mm disc.


The brakes offer stopping power that met my high expectation, be it on highways or off-road.

While riding up to Frasers Hill, the bike did well in all types of twisties and corners.

I was able to flick the DesertX at all corners easily as the bike leans in effortlessly.

What is even more amazing is, the bike engages with the twisties at Frasers like it had a 19-inch rather than a 21-inch front wheel.

The long-travel suspension of this bike meant for off-road did not pose any inconvenience to me at all.


The agility of the machine made my riding on the highland memorable.

I have ridden many bikes to Frasers Hill but very few come close to how this bike has performed. Simply amazing.

The DesertX's versatility is unquestionable.

I am very sure the design of this machine would have been a great challenge to the engineers, who had to ensure that the DesertX's off-road and highway performance had to be top of the class.

This RM112,900 DesertX delivers the best of both worlds without a shadow of a doubt.

Ducati DesertX
Engine: 937cc, V-twin, DOHC, water-cooled
Maximum power: 110hp at 9,250rpm
Maximum torque: 92Nm at 6,400rpm
Transmission: Six-speed
Suspension: Front 46mm USD Kayaba forks; rear Kayaba monoshock
Brakes: Front two Brembo M50 calipers, 2X320mm discs; rear Brembo 2-pot caliper, 265mm disc
Features: Wheelie control, engine brake control, cornering ABS, cornering traction control, six riding modes
Fuel capacity: 21 Litres
Wet weight: 226kg
Price: RM112,900 (without registration, road tax and insurance)
Autos Ducati
CarSifu's Rating: 7.8