I test rode one when they first hit the market and was reasonably impressed. But I wanted to wait to see what other Scrambler options came along, well.... I've been very disappointed, especially with the Triumph Scrambler. I did more research on the Desert Sled and there is very little negative comments to be found. So yesterday I went back for a 2nd test ride and liked it even more. I ended up pulling the trigger on a new 2017 red Sled.
I'd agree with much of what Lunschi stated and will add my comments and thoughts. As a back ground I'm very much a dirt/street rider. I grew up in the dirt and progressed to the street and have been riding both for a long time. I have a range of bikes and this bike fits in the middle somewhere.
I think the engine is very nice, it's smooth and well fueled and pulls pretty good when the throttle cam kicks in. It doesn't have the massive torque my Sport Classic has but for an 800 it's not bad and it's smoother than the 1000 in my SC. What I think is misleading on the Sled is the the lazy feel that comes from the overly tamed throttle cam. The original Scrambler throttle cam was a bit too quick off the bottom and they went too far on the Sled cam. I plan to reprofile mine to quicken up the response starting around 1/3 throttle progressing more rapidly to WOT but in a more linear curve. You can see the difference in this photo with the Sled cam being the black one.
The transmission ratios/spread seem just about perfect and the final gearing is very close to ideal also. I suspect 1 or 2 more teeth on the rear could be better for more dirt riding and add a little more snap, but I'll see how it works out. I might not be willing to give up too much for the freeway.
I totally agree the fork dampening is too stiff, it's silly. I will play with the clickers but I suspect they aren't even in range of where it should be. The shock might be better though I really wish it had adjustable compression dampening, why cheese on that Ducati??? I suspect some suspension work will be in the works for sure.
The handling is good though the steering is kinda sluggish which I believe is a function of the low profile front tire. I think a narrower/taller profile would be much better. Fortunately Ducati used 17/19 rims so tire selection should be pretty good, I just wish they were tubeless. I need to see about converting them to tubeless by sealing the spokes up one way or another.
I think the brakes are fine for this type of bike. Anything much more powerful would be horrible in the dirt and I didn't have much of an issue with them in the canyons. They aren't like full on sport bike brakes but I don't want them to be either for true dual purpose riding.
The ergos are good though I will move the bars back maybe 3/4" - 1" and possibly up just a bit. I'm not sure on up yet as I want to finalize the footpegs and see how the standing position works out first. It's not bad stock for me. The seat will need a mod or replacement, there's too much of a bucket feel that's not quite right and I suspect the longer the ride the more not right it will be. I don't get why companies can't do better stock seats unless it's all about selling the better one later after the sale, grrrr.
Things I plan on right away;
Barkbusters hand guards. I opted for the OEM heated grips as part of the bike purchase.
Some sort of better mirrors, the stock mirrors suck, I accidentally broke one just trying to adjust it, WTF? Even the tech admitted they are sucky weak.
A small wind screen of some type.
A tail rack and racks for soft luggage. Though my Mosko Moto Reckless 40L should fit w/o racks but it's on the small side. One of the Wofman tank bags I have fits perfectly.
It needs a better skid plate badly but I know this is a weak area for these bikes so I may have to fab my own.
A Leo Vince GP slip-on pipe.
Probably a folding tip shift lever