Ducati DesertX Rally Takes on the Hardest of Hard Enduros… And Wins

The Erzbergrodeo is one of the toughest motorcycle races in the world, not exactly the place you’d normally expect to find a Ducati

Antoine Meo on Ducati DesertX Rally, Ezerbergrodeo

The Ducati DesertX Rally is the most hardcore off-road bike that currently rolls off the production lines in Borgo Panigale, so Ducati took it to the most hardcore hard enduro event on the planet.

Ordinarily, the bottom of a quarry, the slippery tracks of a dampened forest, or the impossible roughness of a rock garden would be unnatural territory for something as luxurious and posey as a Ducati. Yet, here we are.

The DesertX, when it launched a couple of years ago, marked a new era for Ducati, much like how the Panigale V4 did in 2019. The Panigale introduced Ducati to engines with four cylinders, and the DesertX took the Bologna brand to the dirt. 

Now, sure, you could take a Multistrada off-road, but it wouldn’t be long before it was looking for the nearest patch of asphalt. The Ducati DesertX, in comparison, is far more comfortable on the loose stuff, as we found at the Sweet Lamb DRE Adventure Academy, and the DesertX Rally is a step further than that.

To highlight this point, Ducati headed to Austria, and to the Erzbergrodeo. 1,300 riders signed up for the 2024 edition, and all of them had to qualify through the Iron Road Prologue - even eventual and three-time winner Mani Lettenbichler.

Ducati won the Prologue in the twin-cylinder class with its rider Antoine Meo, who rode through the Erzbergrodeo itself until the course became “prohibitive to the twins,” as Ducati puts it.

It was Ducati’s second time in Erzberg, which it says “confirms Ducati’s growing commitment to off-road racing competition.” Keep in mind that Ducati revealed its Desmo450 MX motocross bike earlier this year, and is expected to make its debut in the MXGP class of the Motocross World Championship in 2025, before expanding its motocross programme to the US in 2026

The DesertX Rally meanwhile uses the same 937cc liquid-cooled Testastretta desmodromic twin-cylinder engine as the standard DesertX with 110bhp at 9,250 rpm and a maximum torque of 68lb ft. A 21-litre fuel tank ensures strong longevity on its own, but an auxiliary tank of eight litres is also available.

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