2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos

Tuned from the bottom up for real adventure riding

LISTEN 11:12

The Ducati adventure bike family continues to evolve, and this progress comes in the form of the new DesertX. Truly a model for every surface, the DesertX rocks a tough-looking build supported by a robust frame, driven by a torquey twin, and backed up by a sweet electronics suite to manage it all.

  • 2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
  • Year:
    2022
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    L-Twin
  • Displacement:
    937 cc
  • Price:
    16795
  • Price:

2022 Ducati DesertX Performance and Capability

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Six separate Riding Modes allow for quick personality changes and two are set up specifically for off-road work to truly give this machine multiple personalities.

The factory ran with a 937 cc L-Twin engine in the DesertX that powers a number of other models, but sent it to fat camp over the summer to drop 3.7 pounds from the engine’s overall mass. This 90-degree V-twin comes tuned for off-road use but its meant to deliver tractable power on the street as well.

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Toward that end, the factory-installed a robust electronics suite that starts out with an inertial measurement unit that informs the rest of the system. Traction and Wheelie control helps with stability under heavy acceleration, while the Engine Brake Control helps mitigate back-torque in the drivetrain before it can cause the rear end to break loose. Last but not least, a stock Quickshifter lets you bang your way both up and down the range quickly, unerringly, and with nary a touch of the lever or roll-off at the throttle.

If this sounds like a lot to manage, it is, but Duc has your back with six separate Riding Modes for quick personality changes, and of those, two are set up specifically for off-road work to truly give this machine multiple personalities.

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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This is a Testastretta engine, so of course, it comes with Desmodromic valve actuation that replaces the pull-closed spring with a pull-closed cam for positive poppet closure. This feature prevents valve float for safe operation at high revs, but it does incur special maintenance every 18,500 miles or roughly every two oil changes.

As for power, the 2022 Ducati Desert X, puts out a generous 110 horsepower at 9,250 with 67.5 pounds o’ grunt on tap at 6,500 rpm. The six-speed transmission comes with the first five gears on a short ratio for off-road work with a long sixth gear for highway work. Ducati DesertX top speed clocks in at about 130 mph.

Engine & Drivetrain
Engine: Ducati Testastretta 11°, L-Twin cylinders, Desmodromic valvetrain, 4 valves per cylinder, liquid cooled
Displacement: 937 cc
Bore x Stroke: 94 x 67.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 13.3:1
Power: 110 hp (81 kW) @ 9,250 rpm
Torque: 68 lb-ft (92 Nm) @ 6,500 rpm
Fuel Injection: Bosch electronic fuel injection system, Ø53 mm throttle bodies with ride-by-wire system
Exhaust: Stainless steel single mufler, catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes
Gearbox: 6 speeds
Primary drive: Straight cut gears, ratio 1.85 : 1
Ratio: 1=38/14, 2=31/17, 28=28/20, 4=26/22, 5=24/23, 6=23/25
Final drive: Chain, front sprocket Z15, rear sprocket Z49
Clutch: Slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control

Design

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The overall look of the DesertX effectively channels the spirit of the Dakar Rally, like a sort of rolling homage piece.

Ducati all but abandoned its typical design for the DesertX and went with what could best be described as a rally-style setup instead borrowed heavily from the Cagiva Elefant, winner of the Paris Dakar Rally from 1990 through 1994. The heavy-dutifulness is apparent right out of the gate in the beefy front fender. Having the fender uprights pull double duty as a spoiler for the forks is nothing new, but these uprights wrap partially around the lower fork tube for more complete coverage and protection from grit and flying-object damage.

Minimal bodywork forms up a blunt entry on the front fairing with dual, round LED headlights that come complete with DRL rings for good two-way visibility in a variety of lighting conditions. There’s a nifty little detail in the fairing, the large vent on both sides that pull fresh air and direct it to the rider’s legs while the waste heat vents out downward, well away from pilot and passenger.

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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A compact, rally-style screen joins with stock handguards to complete the pilot’s protection and form the cockpit. Tucked behind the glass is a sharp, color TFT display that measures five inches corner-to-corner. Designed for high visibility, it doesn’t matter if you are sitting or operating from a standing position.

Since this is the only location for all the instrumentation, all of the pertinent metrics seen here along with the ride control electronics interface. Plus, it’s ready to receive the Ducati Multimedia System that networks with your smartphone through a Bluetooth connection for navigation support – just the thing for far-flung adventures.

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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A short-rise handlebar puts the pilot’s hands in a position that, relative to the rest of the rider’s triangle, allows for both a sitting and standing riding position with plenty of room for somebody English in between. To allow fore-and-aft movement along the bench, the pillion pad has a somewhat diminished offset so as not to impede weight shifts when doing technical work.

A simple grabrail provides some protection for the high-mount LED taillight, but the real story lies within the light controls. When you apply the brakes, the taillight flashes. The frequency of the flashes conveys your braking status to the traffic immediately behind you. This does require a certain amount of faith in the intelligence of said traffic, and their ability to work out what the lights mean quickly in an ever-changing environment, so keep that in mind. Still, it’s a cool feature to be sure.

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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All of the lighting, front and rear are LEDs for the long life and visibility they bring to the table. A plateholder/mudguard finishes the gear in the rear with a high-and-tight build that keeps it out of harm’s way. Along the bottom of the bike, the molded bash plate and upswept muffler protect the engine and exhaust system from terrain-strike damage. The overall look effectively channels the spirit of the Dakar Rally like a sort of rolling homage piece.

Ducati Desert X Specs
Seat Height: 34.4 in (875 mm)
Wheelbase: 63.3 in (1,608 mm)
Dry Weight: 445 lb (202 kg)
Curb Weight: 492 lb (223 kg)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.54 gals (21 l)
Number of Seats: 2

Chassis

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Kayaba stems float the DesertX on the full trinity of tweaks at both ends to give you absolute and incremental control over the ride quality.

Off-road bikes take a beating – no way around it really – so the factory built a beefy set of bones for its globetrotting DesertX. It rocks 9.8 inches of ground clearance to accommodate the 9 inches of travel in the front end and 8.6 inches out back.

Laced wheels round out the rolling chassis with a 21-inch rim ahead of an 18-incher out back, and all these factors in together for a DesertX seat height at a lofty 34.4 inches that will certainly tax shorter riders, but is a necessary evil at the end of the day. If it’s a problem, you can get that down to 31.1 inches off the deck through the accessories catalog.

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
- image 1062797

Kayaba stems float the DesertX on the full trinity of tweaks at both ends to give you absolute and incremental control over the ride quality. Tubular steel makes up the perimeter frame, but the engineered swingarm is aluminum to keep unsprung weight down and the rear suspension nice and supple.

The 5.5-gallon fuel tank makes for a nice long range on the stock bike. But, add on the accessory fuel tank and you can factor in another 2.1 gallons o’ pusholine for extra safety and peace of mind when operating in a fuel desert.

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Brembo provides the brakes with 317.5 mm, dual front discs, and four-bore M50 monobloc anchors to haul down the front wheel. Out back, a 265 mm disc and twin-pot Brembo binder take care of business, while corner-sensitive ABS stands to watch over both ends.

The wire-laced rims come lined with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR hoops, molded with a stealth-knobby tread that performs well on asphalt and soft surfaces alike. Rake and trail measure at 27.5-degrees and 4.8-inches long to give the DesertX some much-needed stability in soft materials.

Chassis & Suspension
Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame
Front suspension/ Travel: KYB Ø 46 mm upside-down fork, fully adjustable/ 9.06 in (230 mm)
Rear suspension/ Travel: KYB mono-shock, fully adjustable, remote preload adjustment, aluminum double-sided swingarm/ 8.66 in (220 mm)
Rake: 27.6°
Trail: 4.8 in (122 mm)
Front Wheel: Cross-spoked, tubeless, 2.15’’x21’’
Rear Wheel: Cross-spoked, tubeless, 4.5’’x18’’
Front Tire: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR 90/90 - 21 M/C 54V M+S TL (A)
Rear Tire: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR 150/70 R18 M/C 70V M+S TL
Front Brake: Dual Ø 320 mm aluminum flange semi-floating discs, Radial mount Brembo monobloc 4-pistons calipers, Bosch Cornering ABS
Rear Brake: Ø 265 mm disc, Brembo floating 2 pistons caliper, Bosch Cornering ABS

2022 Ducati Desert X Price

2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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MSRP on the new DesertX is $16.8k in Matt Star White Silk.

The DesertX finally makes it to U.S. shores with a debut sticker of $16,795. It looks like the Star White Silk livery is the only paint to be had at launch, scheduled for the beginning of June ’22.

Pricing & Equipment
Instrumentation: Five-inch color TFT display
Safety Equipment: Cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control
Standard Equipment: Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Engine Brake Control (EBC), Ducati Quick Shift up/down (DQS), Cruise control, full LED lighting system, DRL, Ducati brake light (DBL), USB power socket, 12V socket, self-canceling turn indicators, Steering damper
Ready for: Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), Anti-theft system, Turn by turn navigation via app, fog lights, heated grips, auxiliary fuel tank
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited mileage
Color: Matt Star White Silk
Price: $16,795

Competitors

2020 Honda Africa Twin
- image 866632
2022 Ducati DesertX - Performance, Price, and Photos
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There’s just no way around it. When it comes to Dakar Rally-inspired bikes, Honda comes right to the top of the list with its Africa Twin platform.

Honda Africa Twin

2020 Honda Africa Twin
- image 866619
Big Red grabs a win in the drivetrain with one of the few, full-size automatic transmissions in the motorcycle world.

Honda set the tone with its Africa Twin CRF1100L design, so it’s fair to say that the Ducati DesertX looks like the Honda, and not the other way around. That said, looks play a little part in the overall scheme of things. These are bona fide globetrotters, and as such, form takes a back seat to function as a matter of course.

Honda brings a comparable level of fandanglery with a stacked electronics suite that, more or less, matches the Duc point by point. Honda wins again in the instrumentation with a 6.5-inch TFT screen that’s 1.5-inches longer than the Duc, corner-to-corner, with the same infotainment support.

Honda powers its Africa Twin with a 1,084 cc engine that generates 101 ponies with 77 pounds o’ grunt on tap against 110/67.5 for a trade-off that’s mainly due to the fact that Honda runs a parallel-twin against Ducati’s L-twin configuration. Big Red grabs a win in the drivetrain with one of the few, full-size automatic transmissions in the motorcycle world. That’s right sports fans; it’s a twist-and-go system that takes the clutch and shifter action right out of the equation.

To put the Honda in your garage, expect a starting price of $14,499 for the base model and $15,299 for the DCT version. That alone may be enough to turn folks to the ranks of the Red Riders.

He Said

“Yep, gotta say I’m feeling the new DesertX model. It brings unassuming looks to the table, but backs them up with true dual-purpose DNA and the heart of a champion. The electronics place the DesertX at the top tier of fandanglery, but the real test, the actual crucible, will be the Dakar Rally itself.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “So yes, this is the engine in the Multistrada V2, just tuned for actual off-road Long Way Down-type adventure work. It benefits from the same engine updates we saw in the V2 as well as the Monster over the previous version, so think lighter weight, smoother shifting, and a lightweight clutch. The gearing is special, too. You have a really short-ratio first and second gear for technical work, an ordinary short ratio for third through fifth gears, and then a nice tall-ratio sixth gear for paved adventures. I know folks love those street-oriented adventure bikes, but to me, this is what an adventure bike should be.”

Further Reading

Ducati

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Read more Ducati news.

Source: DesertX | Dream Wilder

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

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