Back to the Future
I really tried to get my head around the whole Land of Joy thing but I just can’t. But then I suppose it’s not aimed at me, I’m too old, I don’t surf and I don’t have tousle-haired friends on identical bikes. As a concept, it’s a little cringeworthy, as a marketing tool to launch and propagate their new Scrambler series, it was devilishly clever.
So clever in fact, that Ducati’s dwindling sales were boosted virtually overnight. The Scrambler was launched in early 2015, by the end of that year the Bologna factory posted its best financial year ever. Not only was the Scrambler its top-selling bike, it also placed in the top ten of global bike sales. Another first for Ducati.
So why is the Scrambler so popular? Well obviously, it did have a lot to do with its high-profile Land of Joy campaign. But the simple truth is, the Scrambler is just an awesome motorcycle and the new Ducati Desert Sled is all set to add to that reputation.
The air-cooled 803cc engine lifted from the Monster, forms the basis of the six strong Scrambler range. But rather than just giving a passing nod to their own 1962 model scrambler and the desert-storming Californian dirt bikes that gave it its name, the Desert Sled actually has some serious off-road credentials.
Unlike many other manufacturers whose ‘Scrambler’ models would be upset on a manicured lawn, Ducati actually wants you to enjoy thrashing the Desert Sled on the rough stuff. Ok, it's not going to be wonderful on the most technical of trails, it's a bit too heavy for that but sand, hard packed dirt, shale, rocks and even small jumps, are taken with gusto.
To handle this, extra frame tubes have been added to the outside edges of the frame, while new reinforcing plates are fitted to the junction points of the frame, swinging arm and engine mounting.
The aluminum swinging arm is also new, being longer and slightly more arched than the original, adding an extra three inches to the wheelbase. Up front, rake and trail remain the same, but forks are beefed up to 46mm Kayaba USD’s with 7.9 inches of travel.
The pokey 75hp Desmo engine is probably the only item on the bike that remains the same as its more road orientated stablemates and its six-speed transmission driving through a wet clutch gives smooth gear changes.
Although the new Sled had to conform to Euro 4 standards, this hasn’t come at the detriment of the engines torque, smoothness and fuel efficiency.
The Desert Sled provides all the fun you’re going to need on the road and enough poke on the dirt to make it interesting without being a handful. A so-called dual-sport bike with genuine off road ability, who’d have thought it. Well done Ducati, maybe this is the Land of Joy after all.
Image source: scramblerducati.com