The Ducati Desert X is in the concept stage and may never progress beyond that, but the question we ponder here and now is: should this bike exist at any point in the future? Does the world really need a Desert X?
Look, the answer is yes. The answer is hell yes. It’s Oh my God are you shitting me, just take my money and give it to Ducati.
Do I need one? Nope.
But motorcycles are about expressions of individual tastes and desires. The Desert X looks like nothing else on the market and ignores a marketing team’s pleadings for something with a ‘broader appeal.’ I don’t need it, but I want one.
Let’s face the harsh reality here, not all adventure bikes are attractive. The Tenere 1200 isn’t exactly the Sophia Vergara of motorcycles. The KLR 650 looks like a DR650 suffering an allergic reaction to tree nuts. I could go on….so I will. The 790 Adventure R has a front end like an alien insect, the SWM Superdual X looks like Pablo Picasso designed it and Harley’s Pan America looks like a 1970’s vacuum cleaner.
That’s not to say they aren’t perfectly good motorcycles in their own right. I’ve publicly expressed my love or at least admiration for all but the Harley Davidson (which I haven’t ridden), in the past, but I’ve never felt a stirring in the loins from a glance at the KLR. I know it’s a great bike and I’d be happy to own one. I absolutely loved my 2003 R 1150 GS, even though it looked like it was born from a family that had suffered through decades of inbreeding.
The Desert X concept machine shows a sharp, concise and purposeful design. Its intentions are clear. It was designed in the Ducati Scrambler Brand Unit by Ducati’s French wunderkind, Jeremy Faraud, who stated, “Our objective was to push this minimalist aspect to its peak while keeping the iconic and technical soul of the rally raid motorcycles from the early 1990s. The result is a retro-technologic bike that lives out of time and fashion.”
The styling is an homage to the iconic Cagiva Elefant Dakar bike that ran the immediately recognizable red and white ‘Luck Explorer’ cigarettes livery, while the presence of dual tanks and the windscreen shows consideration was given to range and comfort beyond what the base Scrambler could offer. Given a great platform to build from in the Scrambler 1100, Faraud gifted the Desert X a 21/18-inch wheelset as well as 210 mm of suspension travel which puts it immediately on the dirty side of the road.
The Desert X scrambler/adventure concept was unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in 2019 and it grabbed attention straight away. Concept bikes have a rocky history with either going into production but ending up looking nothing like the original hotness, or not going into production at all.
If Italians know one thing though, it’s how to build a beautiful looking bike, and Ducati isn’t shy in making aesthetic leaps. Let’s hope this bike sees the light of a dirty day in much the same shape it’s in now, albeit with some real-world modifications, like a seat designed for the human bum.