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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
  • 2013: I decided to commute with a motorcyle. My '92 Superlight wasn't the best tool for the job, so ended up with a new Triumph Street Triple (best bang for my budget at the time). I enjoyed riding it. Smooth and easy bike, fast enough and never let me down. But never realy took it for a spin during weekens, it missed something to want to ride it during weekends. To much 'neck wringing' required to feel fun. It always made me long for my Superlight: not that fast, but it felt fast: bottom end grunt and shaking and thumping.
  • 2016: bike got totalled in an accident. Triumph dealer got me a good deal on a new Street Triple R. Better suspension, better brakes. Why not? Again, seemed the best bang for my buck.
    2016 was also the year I got fired and stopped commuting on a motorcyle.
  • 2020: still have the Street Triple R. It's got 3,500 km's on the clock. Yeah, 3,500...
    I never realy gelled with that bike, just to harsh to ride. So I decided to have the suspension done professionaly, finally!
    However, that would still leave me with a bike that is fast and smooth to ride. But nothing more.
Since I'm not commuting, I think I'm better of with something that I actually enjoy riding. Something fun to ride, that feels fast but realy isn't. Something that looks good.
Yes, I still have the Superlight and will bring her back to life. But also planned a full rebuild on that bike... so I need something else too.

Enter the Desert Sled.

  • I like the retro and basic rugged look of the thing. I almost decided on building a 900SS cafe racer, but decided I don't need more time in the garage... need more time in the saddle! Just to say, I like a bit of old school feel to things.
    Owning a Triumph now, I looked into the Street Twin/Scrambler, hoping on a good deal when trading in the Street Triple. They look good, but a little too nice if you know what I mean. I stop and look if I see one, but it wont make me drop my jaw or make me uncomfortable in the trouser department. I want something I can stare at in the garage, a bike that makes you want to open the garage door everytime you walk by just to have a little look at it (or sit on it for 5 minutes until the misses starts shouting "What the hell is taking that long? I asked you to get some milk from the storage room. You're not sitting on that bike again are you?").
  • I like that you can take a dirt road. I'm no adventure rider by any means, but I hate having to make a U-turn because the tarmac ends. Cross country riding is something a like with a MTB, think I'll like it even more on a motorcycle. But it needs to fit its purpose. I off-roaded the Street Triple a couple of times, tip-toeing along the way. But it felt like doing something wrong which could end up in costing alot of money...
    The look of adventure really apeals to me. Seeing the Desert Sled going all over Europe already, with me in the saddle. Smiling.
  • It's a 2-cylinder bike. Triumph taught me less is more when it comes to cylinders.
    I like an engine that feels alive more or less from the moment you disengage the clutch and doesn't come with a nasty surprise higher up the bandwith. That's what I loved about the Superlight. It justed pulled from the go (well, from 3,000 RPM anyway) until it was out of breath around 7-8k RPM. Treating you to a booming soundtrack all the way making you grin from ear to ear. Nothing like the Street Triple... party only starts around 6k with the engine screaming in a high pitch tune. Most of the time that just left me feeling like a wanna-be-racer-boi; which I'm not. Just check my kneesliders... even virgins have seen more action.
    I don't have a need for speed, I can enjoy myself slightly over the speed limit. Most of my riding I do alone, I don't need to match anybody else's speed.
"Go for a test ride!"
I would say the exact same thing... but you might as wel just give me a signed check before I walk in. A new bike is always a temptation. I would cheat on the Street Triple in a heartbeat, only to possibly regret not checking any other options. Yep, I'm that easy. Sales people love me for it...

Thanks for making it this far through my halfwit story.
I guess the below will be more "on-topic".

How does this new 2V engine compare to the old school 904cc from my Superlight?
I suspect it will be a bit more refined, but does it still rumble and pull from low RPM's?
How about fuel efficiency? That tank seems rather small...
Can you spend a whole day riding it?

Anybody able to compare the Desert Sled with a regular Srambler?
Or god forbid, a Triumph Street Scrambler? Or a Yamaha XSR700 while we're at it?

145 Posts
There are a couple of guys in my club that have one and they report that they love it. I can't add any more than that.

270 Posts
Hmmm, I think I can help out a bit. I own a Desert Sled, a 2002 Speed Triple, and have ridden the Street Triple, the first gen Triumph Scrambler and the XSR700. I also own a Ducati Sport Classic so I have a pretty good idea of what you super light feels. I've also ridden a couple standard Ducati Scramblers while trying to decide on a Scrambler to buy. I recently rode the Triumph 1200 Scrambler to see how it compares to my Sled.

Here's my thoughts on where the Desert Sled fits in. The 800 twin engine feels about half way between the grunty and kinda roucus older/larger Ducati air cooled twins and a 675 Triple. The 800 is smoother than my 1000 twin but doesn't have the massive grunt. It as a more refined rumbly feel which I like. The Triumph twins are a further step in that direction but heavier feeling.

A "problem" with the Sled in particular is the stock throttle cam on the twist grip has a very lame and lazy feeling design to it. Ducati wanted to make it smoother responding down low and they went overboard with it. It's also about 40 lbs heavier than a standard Duc Scrambler which has a faster acting throttle cam. So, the standard Scrambler feels more responsive and more nimble in comparison. You can swap throttle tubes to change the cam profile so it's not too hard to fix that. The weight is there because Ducati beefed up a lot of stuff on the Sled with the pretty wheels being too heavy.

In comparison to the Triumph Scramblers it's lighter than the 1200 and close to the 900 in weight and size wise about in the middle of those two. Performance wise is also in the middle, more than the weakly tuned 900, but not as much as the 1200.

The XRS700 feels lighter and much smaller, closer to a std Duc Scrambler with similar speed. It's a bit more refined feeling, not as grunty/rumbly, but with a much nicer clutch and trans feel, typical Japanese. The Triumph clutch/trans feels is better than the 800 Ducati in my opinion. Ducati didn't do very well with the clutch on the Scramblers they tend to drag some making the shifting notchy feeling. My Sport Classic is better in that regard.

So, where I am with mine is I've made a few changes that definitely improved the responsive feel of the engine to where I'm happy with it. I changed the throttle cam and did a slip-on pipe which removed the CAT, plus an intake kit. It no longer feels lazy, it feels more like a proper Ducati.

The suspension on the Sled can feel on the harsh side but it handles very well and has a generally light feel overall depending on the reference bike. It will feel heavier than your Street Triple or a XRS700 for sure, it also feels larger, which I prefer.

A bike you might want to consider also is the Ducati Scrambler 1100 which I believe might be exactly what you are looking for.

But I would try to test ride a std Scrambler, the Sled, and a Triumph Scrambler. My second choice personally might be the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC, the lower version as the XE is stupid tall or a Duc Scrambler 1100. I think the Sled is better off-road than either of those.

BTW, the XRS900 is a hoot to ride but feels closer to a Cafe Racer than a Scrambler. I quite liked riding that bike. That 900 triple is a seriously fun and torquey engine. If you've never ridden a Speed Triple you should, lots of torquey grunt.

In conclusion, if you get to ride a Sled don't be too put off by the lazy feeling engine, it can be much better and you should ride a std Scrambler to compare, you may like it better.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk
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Reactions: Dukerdr

Premium Member
6,162 Posts
I cant compare all of those bikes but I just had a desert sled in the shop to lower for a customer and I like the bike. The 800 motor would be plenty for me and if I wanted to liven it up that is not impossible. I did not get it on the dyno but most 800's are just a bit lower in power than a 900 carby. the light clutch pull on the 800 would almost make you not miss the dry clutch noises on your 900.

My only fear with the desert sled is yet to come as I have not had to tear one down for a major service and things look tight under the tank. If you normally pay for that stuff expect a higher bill than a 900ss but if you do it yourself just plan on more time to do things. more emissions hardware will help it run hotter as will new emission settings mandated , O2 sensors keep it from melting down but equal a very lean bike.

Would I own one? Yes I thought it a pretty fun bike, with looks as well. Would I leave it alone? I bet 20-30 lbs wold be gone pretty fast and then it would be all about getting the motor the fuel it wants . Proper (lower) gearing and a light flywheel and i would be very happy. Made me consider dropping a 800 into my 650 elefant just for kicks.
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