Ducati Desmo450 MX debuts as brand’s first dirt bike

The Ducati Desmo450 MX dirt bike has been publicly revealed for the first time, ahead of the bike’s debut in the Italian Championship this year

Ducati Desmo450 MX

Ducati’s new motocross bike has been given a public debut alongside the Bologna brand’s MotoGP and WorldSBK team launches in Italy.

At the launch, the Campioni in Pista event in Madonna di Campiglio, Ducati revealed the bike’s name as Desmo450 MX, which certainly strays from the ‘numbers and letters’ naming convention of established dirt bike brands which results in ‘450 SX-F’ and ‘YZ450F’, for example.

Ducati hasn’t revealed many technical details about the bike, which is still not available for the public to buy, but there are some things we can glean from the images. Notably, that suspension comes from Showa, which isn’t a surprise in itself, but rumours of KYB and even Ohlins had been circulating. Galfer, a brand with a significant presence in the MXGP World Championship, provides the brake discs, and Brembo the callipers.

The use of ‘Desmo’ in the name of course points to Ducati’s favoured engine valve system, desmodromic, which it uses in engines from its Desmosedici MotoGP bike to its Diavel V4 performance cruiser, and from the Panigale V4 supersports bike to the new single-cylinder Hypermotard 698 Mono. Ducati hasn’t said anything about the engine that the Desmo450 MX will use, but the name suggests that desmodromic valves, which in basic terms allow an engine to rev higher, will be used on the bike’s 450cc engine.

Ducati Desmo450 MX in competition

Ducati says that the bike won’t go into production until the second half of 2025. This is an important point not only for public anticipation, especially as it means we likely won’t know any firm technical details about the bike until next year, but also for competition, because the production rule in US motocross and supercross racing means that bikes must pass a homologation assessment in order to be eligible to compete. If the Desmo is not going into production until the second half of 2025, it won’t be able to race in the US until 2026 at the earliest.

In the meantime, Ducati will compete in the 2024 Italian Motocross Pro series in the Prestige MX1 class under the team name ‘Ducati Corse R&D - Factory MX Team’ managed by Corrado and Marco Maddii. The season will start in Mantova on 16-17 March with an emphasis on data gathering for this year, but with former MXGP rider and 2021 Motocross of Nations winner Alessandro Lupino racing the bike there might be some standout results to come, too. 

Further, the final round of the 2024 MXGP World Championship is set for a currently unconfirmed location in Italy. It won’t be Riola Sardo, Maggiora, or Trentino, because these three venues are already confirmed on the MXGP calendar for 2024, but there are other possibilities in Italy.

Notably, Mantova, which hosted seven FIM motocross races between 2019 and 2021, including an MXGP triple header in 2020 and a season-ending double (which bizarrely saw the season conclude on a Wednesday) the following year, when Jeffrey Herlings beat Romain Febvre to the world title in the final race of the season. Another option would potentially be Monte Coralli, which is now known as the 04park Monte Coralli and owned by former Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso, but the track is set to host the final round of the Italian Motocross Pro championship on 21-22 September, a week before the final MXGP race is scheduled, which could be a hurdle. But, a final round in Italy presents an opportunity for Ducati, and perhaps for its star test rider Antonio Cairoli, to showcase the Desmo450 MX on the world stage before the end of the year.

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