2021 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
The 2021 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled returns for the 2021 model year with minor updates, but its fun factor is left unchanged.
- Wide, well-positioned handlebars offer good leverage for turns and off-road riding
- Easy-to-ride bike for many skill levels with its light clutch and easygoing engine
- Low-speed handling, decent suspension, 19-/17-inch spoked wheels, and its slide- and skid-ability make it a blast on the dirt
- Rad new paint scheme
- Slippery pegs despite removing the rubber
- Could benefit from the larger 1100 engine
The Desert Sled is Ducati’s more off-road-capable scrambler that is easy to ride and fun to slide. The paint may have changed, but the fun factor did not.
The 2021 Ducati Desert Sled is reminiscent of scramblers that laid claim to the rugged Southern California and Baja terrain in the ’60s and ’70s. It offers throwback styling, modern tech, and even genuine off-road capability. It features a high fender, 19-/17-inch rims, and adjustable suspension, paired with handling that makes it an easy-to-ride and fun-loving standard.
Updates for 2021
About that nod to yesteryear, the new livery pays homage to enduro bikes from the ’80s. The seat is also new with an anti-slip lining that helps keep the rider in place when the roads get rough.
Pricing and Variants
The Desert Sled retails at $11,995, which is the highest price among its fellow 803cc Ducati Scrambler street-oriented siblings such as the new Nightshift ($10,995) and Icon ($9,695).
Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Propelling the Sled is the 803cc air-cooled L-twin. This engine produces a claimed 73 hp at 8,250 rpm and 48.9 pound-feet at 5,750 rpm. It is described by test rider Chris Northover as being an engine that “has enough power to be entertaining without being overwhelming for newer riders or too aggressive in nasty off-road situations.”
Clutch pull is light so the rider can click through the six-speed gearbox easily.
In his test ride, Northover said the bike is “great fun in a relaxed kind of way.” Supporting comments refer to the bike’s chassis and how it doesn’t necessarily dart into the corners, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of persuasion to make a turn either. The chassis “follows obediently without shaking its head or resisting.”
The fully adjustable fork and preload/rebound-adjustable shock provide 7.9 inches of travel.
A large 330mm front disc and four-piston caliper is effective in bringing the bike to a stop. Pushing the bike supermoto-style, however, may require a little more power. The rear unit is situated with a 245mm disc and single-piston floating caliper.
Stopping in midcorner turns is mitigated by cornering ABS and comes standard at both ends.
Fuel Economy and Real-world MPG
A reasonable 3.6 gallons of fuel can be loaded up in the tank. Fuel economy and real-world mpg is currently unrecorded.
Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility
The wide and tall handlebars offer leverage for tossing the bike from turn to turn. The seat is at a tallish 33.9 inches, but those who require something shorter, there is the 33-inch option. The seat’s flat base and anti-slip cover limit the rider from sliding around. Let’s leave the sliding to the gravel roads to the Off-Road ride mode, 19- and 17-inch wheels, and Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires.
The Scrambler Desert Sled has modern electronics including cornering ABS, Journey and Off-Road riding modes, LED lighting, and is compatible with the Ducati Multimedia System (i.e., smartphone connectivity).
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
A two-year unlimited mileage warranty is included.
Minor changes with the striking new paint scheme and new seat may not seem like a lot, but this bike provides a good deal of fun both on and off-road with tidy top-shelf quality that Ducati is known for.
2021 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled Claimed Specifications
|Engine:||803cc air-cooled L-twin; 2 valves/cyl.|
|Bore x Stroke:||88.0 x 66.0mm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Electronic fuel injection w/ 50mm throttle body|
|Clutch:||Slipper and self-servo wet multiplate; hydraulically actuated|
|Frame:||Tubular steel trellis frame|
|Front Suspension:||46mm USD fork, fully adjustable; 7.9 in. travel|
|Rear Suspension:||KYB shock, preload and rebound adjustable; 7.9 in. travel|
|Front Brake:||Radial 4-piston caliper, 330mm disc w/ Bosch Cornering ABS|
|Rear Brake:||1-piston floating caliper, 245mm disc w/ Bosch Cornering ABS|
|Wheels, Front/Rear:||Spoked aluminum; 19 x 3.0 in. / 17 x 4.5 in.|
|Tires, Front/Rear:||Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR; 120/70R-19 / 170/60R-17|
|Seat Height:||33.9 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||3.6 gal.|
|Wet Weight:||461 lb.|