First look: Ducati DesertX Rally edition – Antoine’s baby breaks cover
Ducati have announced the 2024 DesertX Rally edition adventure bike, the higher-spec model developed (and raced at Erzbergrodeo) by Antoine Meo with serious off-road credentials.
“Adventure without limits” is the strap line Ducati is pushing behind the announcement of their new DesertX Rally.
It’s the bike which comes as no surprise as we already saw in off-road compeition at the 2023 Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, plus Antoine Meo took part in the Bassella Race in Spain alongside some serious Adventure bike rivals including Pol Tarres on his modified Yamaha Tenere.
It’s a bike with very distinctive looks when compared to any bike let alone the standard DesertX model which spawned it, and very much apes the Rally-Raid look.
Higher front mudguard, closed cartridge KYB forks and overall longer travel suspension, stronger wheels and a narrow off-road style seat show it means business and promises to be more than just a show pony.
DesertX Rally standard equipment:
- Testastretta 11° 937 cc engine with 110 hp at 9,250 rpm and 92 Nm at 6,500 rpm
- Tubular steel trellis frame with cast aluminium double-sided swingarm
- Tank capacity 21 litres
- High front mudguard with split brake line *
- Spoked rims with billet hubs 21” x 2.15” and 18” x 4”, carbon steel spokes and high-strength Takasago Excel rims with inner tube *
- Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres in sizes 90/90-21 at the front and 150/70 R18 at the rear (alternatively: Pirelli Scorpion Rally, Pirelli Scorpion Trail II)
- KYB Ø 48 mm closed cartridge fork, 250 mm travel, adjustable compression and rebound, Kashima Coating treatments on the fork tubes and DLC on the sliders *
- Fork clamps machined from solid *
- KYB shock absorber with 46 mm piston, 240 mm travel, adjustable in compression at high and low speeds, in rebound and preload *
- Ground clearance of 280 mm *
- Adjustable Öhlins steering damper fixed to the handlebar *
- 6 customizable Riding Modes (Sport, Touring, Urban, Wet, Enduro, Rally)
- 4 Power Modes on 3 power levels
- ABS Cornering Bosch adjustable on 3 levels
- Ducati Traction Control adjustable on 8 levels
- Ducati Wheelie Control
- Engine Brake Control
- Ducati Cruise Control
- 5" colour TFT instrumentation with Ducati Link App support and turn-by-turn navigation
- Utility Bar
- Ducati Brake Light
- Ducati Quick Shift Up & Down (DQS)
- Full LED lighting system
- Dedicated Iron Giant livery *
- Adjustable brake and gear pedals machined from solid *
*Equipment and features exclusive to DesertX Rally
“A real off-road motorbike”
Meo’s development and Iron Road Prologue win at Erzberg should be enough to persuade you this is not your usual Adventure bike with some token parts thrown at it to meet the style, but without the substance.
Longer travel KYB suspension alone is a significant bolt-on upgrade which’ll meet most that anyone would dare throw at a bike this heavy on the dirt.
21onch front, 18-inch rear spoked wheels together with a forged carbon sump guard, gear and rear brake levers machined from solid, mark it out as a serious bike and certainly a rival to the rally-spec ADV bikes from other manufacturers including KTM.
We love teh almost retro look to the rear fender and tail light, it reminds us of 90s enduro bikes...
At the front end, the DesertX Rally is equipped with new billet aluminium clmps, rigid and light. The fork is a closed cartridge KYB, a technology commonly used on motocross and enduro bikes.
The fork tubes have a Kashima Coating and the sliders with DLC surface treatment. Wheel travel increases by 20mm, for a total of 250mm up front.
The rear end has an aluminium swingarm with a different attachment point compared to the standard DesertX. A fully adjustable shock absorber has a larger piston to improve the bike’s behaviour in off-road use. Rear wheel travel increases by 20mm also for a total of 240mm.
The new suspension means increased ground clearance, now 280mm (30mm more than standard). There’s also an adjustable Ohlins steering damper, fixed directly to the handlebars with supports machined from solid.
The DesertX Rally’s wheels are “more robust and lighter” with hubs machined from solid, carbon steel central spokes and high-strength Takasago Excel rims which use inner tubes and Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR as original equipment tyres – Ducati say it is possible to mount Scorpion Rally or Scorpion Trail II if you’re more keen on street riding.
The DesertX Rally has a dry weight of just one kilogram more than the standard model despite the increase in length and size of the suspension.
Engine and Electronics
The DesertX Rally comes with the 937cc Ducati Testastretta, 11°, twin-cylinder desmodromic engine. Maximum power is a claimed 110hp at 9,250rpm with a maximum claimed torque of 92Nm at 6,500rpm.
This engine is characterised by “manageable power” they say, nice and smooth basically with a lot of low-down precision to help with the off-road riding. Ducati say there is a dedicated final ratio though we cannot see what that actually is from the info given.
There are six riding modes to play with: Sport, Touring, Urban, Wet, Enduro, Rally plus you have cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) recalibrated according to the new chassis and to suit more challenging off-road use.
The electronic functions are managed through the high-resolution 5" colour TFT display which they say is positioned to offer optimal visibility even when riding standing.
The display is designed for integration with the Ducati Multimedia System which allows you to connect your smartphone, activate functions such as music control, call people and ‘Turn by Turn’ navigation (optional). There’s also a utility bar as standard for mounting a satnav.
Service intervals for the DesertX Rally are every 15,000km or 24 months, with valve clearance checks every 30,000km. DesertX Rally will also be available in a 35KW version for A2 license holders.
There’s naturally a heap of accessories from riding kit to bolt-on parts for the bike. As we already mentioned, Ducati say the DesertX Rally will be available in dealers from February 2024.
More information: www.ducati.com