Review: The Ducati Desert X Is an Off-road Racer at Home On Malibu’s Gravel Roads

Parked in the urban jungle, the DesertX looks like a time traveler from an old school Dakar Rally trimmed with subtle nods to modernity. The body, particularly the fairing and twin round headlights, recall the Cagiva Elefant which earned the manufacturer its inaugural win at Paris-Dakar Rally in 1990, and again in 1994.

DesertX takes a commanding stance thanks to its daddy long legs suspension and knobby tires, which can make it look like a daunting bit of kit to swing a leg over. My tester rolled on tubeless Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber, whose large treadblocks make them suitable for proper off-roading — and as I would soon find out, surprisingly well-adapted for inclement weather.

Fire up the DesertX, and the big twin produces some very Italianate sounds. Though perhaps not as loud as you might expect, especially considering it’s equipped with the optional titanium Termignoni exhaust — a $3,075 option — there’s still a definitively Ducati aspect to the sound. Long live internal combustion.

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