Ducati DesertX Discovery Adventure Tourer

With the debut of the DesertX Discovery, Ducati acknowledges the difference between adventure riding and adventure touring. The former being a hurried transit through natural surroundings, the latter a measured journey to explore and enjoy nature. Though the heart of the original DesertX beats beneath its red and black livery, the Discovery provides creature comforts, crash protection, and provision for hard luggage for “more structured off-road travel.”

Armor Up

The DesertX Discovery’s protection package prepares it for bad weather, rough riding, and the inevitable tip-overs that come with probing parts unknown. While a set of engine guards protects the bodywork and engine, a large, reinforced skid pan is ready to deflect any threats to the underbelly. The radiator has its own shield from rocks and debris thrown up by the front tire.

DesertX Discovery: Ready to Explore

Ducati ensured the Discovery rider will be safe and comfortable as well, starting with standard metal hand guards to keep fingers and levers safe from brush on tight trails. They also protect the levers should the rider and motorcycle part ways. Stock heated grips are ready for cold weather, as are the wind deflectors on the hand guards and the touring-sized windscreen. The Discovery’s stock centerstand is a bonus, chiefly for maintenance but also to facilitate packing and unpacking the bike. The standard seat is 34.4 inches high, with both taller and shorter seats available.

Honk On

DesertX Discovery riders can make their own stiff breeze by twisting the grip on the bike’s 110 horsepower Testastretta 11° desmodromic engine. The power peaks at 9,250 rpm, with 68 ft-lb of torque hitting at 6,500 rpm. A peek at the dyno chart shows 100 ponies at right around eight grand (all performance numbers were supplied by Ducati). Ride-by-wire allows five riding modes, two dedicated for off-road travel. Choose a setting for wet roads or sporty, dirt or gravel, and let the electronics adjust the horsepower, wheelie control, cornering ABS, and engine braking parameters.

Control Center

A 5-inch vertically oriented TFT color display handles the instrumentation and is oriented to be viewed with the rider sitting or standing. The always-in-view screen also displays turn-by-turn navigation in concert with Ducati’s nav app. When the road ahead is long and paved, cruise control steps in to relieve the wrist. Meantime, electric power is on tap to run or charge personal electronics via USB and 12V sockets.

DesertX Discovery Underpinnings

Ducati matches the Discovery’s strong motor and comfortable perch with suspension and rolling stock capable of exciting backroads exploration. The 46 mm Kayaba front fork provides 9.1 inches of travel, with the single rear shock bottoming at 8.7 inches. Both are fully adjustable, together creating 9.8 inches of ground clearance. The Discovery’s claimed weight is 463 pounds sans gas. Filling the 5.5-gallon tank brings that to roughly 496.

Braking the X

Stopping duties fall to 4-piston Brembo calipers and 320 mm discs on the front wheel. Out back, the rear has a single 265 mm disk and a 2-piston caliper. A slipper clutch plus a quick-shifter should make it near impossible to blow a shift on the 6-speed tranny.

The Discovery rolls on the classic combo of 21- and 18-inch front/rear rims shod with tubeless Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires. Ducati thoughtfully fitted a steering damping in the interest of keeping those wheels on track over challenging terrain.

The DesertX Discovery hits Ducati showrooms this fall with an MSRP of $19,995. Start looking at the accessory catalog, and the tab will climb. For example, the spiffy aluminum panniers run $1464, and a raised or lowered seat is $322.

Images: Ducati

Read more: DesertX Test

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Arden’s first motorcycle was a Yamaha Enduro, obtained while in high school. It set the stage for decades of off-pavement exploration on dual-sports and adventure bikes. Camping in the middle of nowhere became his favorite pursuit. As a former whitewater river guide and National Park Service seasonal employee, Arden believes in wilderness, wildlife, and being kind to the earth. A self-taught writer who barely passed English classes, he has contributed adventure stories and tested motorcycles and accessories for Rider Magazine and other outlets for nearly 30 years. In that time, he’s worn out two KLR 650s and is currently following the road to the middle of nowhere on his Ténéré 700 and an aging but reliable DR-Z 400S.