While you may be too old to be eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa’s sleigh, you may still be excited to find today’s Nice Price or No Dice Ducati Desert Sled as this year’s holiday gift. Let’s see whether this Scrambler’s price makes it a cup of good cheer.
There’s a certain episode of MythBusters that has stuck with me over the years. No, it’s not the one in which they 3D-printed Kari Byron’s butt. It’s the episode in which they actually managed to polish a turd. I like it because the end result was so successful and remarkably, so damn attractive.
The same can’t be said for yesterday’s 1986 Ford Tempo LX which, while a well-preserved example of ’80s car kitsch, was, is, and always will be a turd of an automobile. That fact was not lost on the majority of you who gave the car’s $3,200 asking price a 75 percent No Dice loss.
It’s a shame that yesterday’s Tempo fared so poorly, not just in our contest but also in its overall place in history. Ford’s reputation was built on family cars. and to build one with as little appeal as the Tempo sadly tarnished that reputation.
There are companies that stay within their comfort zone, doing what they do best and honing that business to an art. Other companies stretch the boundaries of their business, often finding new niches in which to thrive. Sometimes, however, those explorations end up fruitless, or worse, they sully the company’s overall stature.
One such move from comfort zone to dusty trail adventure is embodied in today’s 2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled. Ducati has long been known for its street bikes, but less so for dual-purpose machines. Considered by many to be the “Ferrari of motorcycles,” Ducati builds bikes that are well known for their performance on both the track and on the road. The Scrambler series pushes that reputation to the dirt as well.
Ducati first offered a Scrambler-style motorcycle in the early ’60s, a time when such bikes were gaining traction (see what I did there?) in the lucrative U.S. market. That original line of dual-purpose bikes was retired in the mid-’70s as Ducati narrowed its focus to larger displacement roadgoing and racing motorcycles.
The Scrambler name was revived in 2015 with the introduction of a series of retro-styled dual-sport bikes built around Ducati’s legendary desmodromic valve V-twin.
This one is a Desert Sled, a name pulled from the dirt and desert racers of the American Southwest. It generally describes a dirt-capable bike that has been fitted with skid plates and tools and denuded of any extraneous gewgaws, all in the effort to get the bike across an uncompromising and inhospitable desert landscape.
This Duck is a bit more refined than that, but it does maintain a Kayaba adjustable fork up front and an extended trailing arm with monoshock springing in the back. Both the 803cc engine and its up-turned exhaust ride high and are protected by a small skidplate to boot. The LED headlamp is likewise secured behind a brush- and rock-deterring cage.
This is all encased in a triangulated trellis frame and topped with a tank and seat that evoke a dirt track aesthetic. That look is backed up by the bike’s mechanicals too. The V-twin is good for 73 horsepower, which gets routed through the six-speed gearbox and via a traditional chain to the fat Pirelli Scorpion tire in the back. The front end gets a smaller but equally aggressive tread, and the whole shebang is pulled down by an ABS-controlled single disc at each end.
This ’17 model shows a mere 4,800 miles and is described by its seller as being “Like New.” The red-and-white color scheme looks fresh and contemporary and pairs well with the gold anodized wire-spoke wheels. The turn signals have apparently been switched out for smaller LED units, but the bike appears to be otherwise stock.
The title is clean and the bike comes with an $8,500 asking price. That’s a good bit off the $12K that a new edition would cost you. And, with just 4,800 miles under its belt and over that skid plate, this one is appreciably new enough outside of its lack of a factory warranty.
The question for this Christmas eve, however, is whether it’s worth that $8,500 asking. What do you think, is that a price that would have you scrambling to buy this Desert Sled? Or, does that make this a Ducati that you would duck?
Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at email@example.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.