When it comes to dirt biking, the first names that come to mind are KTM, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Husqvarna but on the higher end of the spectrum, you shouldn’t discount the capabilities of Ducati dirt bikes. The Italian brand has established a reputation for taking the latest technology and infusing it into bits and pieces from other model designs to craft high-performing bikes for dirt and track, and some of them are even tweaked to be street legal, ascending to the status of dual purpose. Here are the five best Ducati dirt bikes of all time for your enjoyment and consideration.
1. Ducati Superleggera V4
Gear Patrol gives the Superleggera its vote as a real screamer. It’s Ducati’s super light (as indicated by the name) dirt bike that is as close to a track racer as you can get with the addition of legit and legal license plates. The bike achieves its ultra-light profile from the use of carbon-fiber materials for the body. It’s a beauty from an aesthetic point of view, but it’s also a screamer when you unleash it on the track. The engine is a 998 cc V4 that cranks out 224 horsepower along with 85.6 lb-ft of torque for more than adequate acceleration and rev presence. The total dry weight of the Superleggera V4 is between 335 and 350 pounds, depending on whether you choose the race kit version. The bike is as comfortable on the road as it is in the dirt or on the track.
2. 2018 Ducati ScramblerDesert Sled
Motor Biscuit highlights the 2018 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled as one of the top dirt bikes ever made by the brand. The reviewers on staff point out the exceptional ground clearance of the bike with more suspension travel than the standard Scrambler version with an increase from 5 inches to just shy of 8 inches. The Desert Scrambler can take on rugged terrain and hilly track conditions, ruts, and other off-road scenarios with less concern. Other improvements that made the Desert Sled a good dirt bike include the reinforced handlebar and strengthening of the frame and the swingarm of the bike. The tougher construction of these components prepared this model for off-road use. Other features that promote the Desert Sled as a top Ducati bike for the dirt include the skid plate, mudguards, and the proper off-road tires that come stock with the bike. Although it’s one of the heavier versions of the Scrambler at 456 lbs, it’s because of the modifications that meet the requirements for it to fit into the Scrambler category. In test rides, the bike does a good job on dirt roads or rolling through the sand better than its performance over rocky terrain. It’s capable of tackling forest trails as well as muddy roads. You might want to watch the mirrors, shift lever, and aluminum footpegs though.
3. Ducati 125 Regolarita
MC News provides the details on Ducati’s dirt bike from the 1970s era. The Regolarita was produced between 1975 through 1979. It was the largest capacity two-stroke made by the brand. Ducati was and remains best known for producing road bikes and the 125 Regolarita was a bike that was tweaked from a road version to gain competence off-road. The bike was designed in-house with a 123.7 cc capacity fitted with a Dell ‘Orto PHB 30 mm carburetor for its piston-port motor. The fiberglass fuel tank held a petrol/oil premix with no injection and an output of 21.8 horsepower at 9,000 rpm. It was an attempt on the part of Ducati to produce an off-road bike but it didn’t catch on as the company had hoped. They produced a total of 3,500 of these machines with half sold in France and the rest in Italy. The bike summarized the rather unsuccessful 2-stroke history of Ducati ending in a less than successful campaign for entering the off-road market. It was, however, one of the better attempts on the part of Ducati. While there was nothing inherently wrong with the motorcycle, consumers were not disposed to purchase a Ducati for taking off-road at that time in history. We can include it as one of Ducati’s best efforts even though its merit wasn’t recognized at the time.
4. Ducati 450 R/T Desmo
Motocross Action highlights the 450 R/T Desmo as one of the best dirt bikes ever made by Ducati. At first glance, it radiates the personality and capability of a true off-road bike. Berliner Motors made a request to Ducati for a load of the 1971 models for sale to the American sector of off-road riders. This model was the only motocross bike to receive Taglioni’s Desmodromic valve system. This was one of the few Ducati bikes that were made expressly for track and trail riding. This model was made specifically for the United States market. The production run lasted for just one year. A few hundred of these bikes were sold in North America, and if you find one today you have a real collector’s item on your hands.
5. Ducati 350 Desmo
Motocross Action also reminded us of the track eating Ducati 350 Desmo model. A version of the 450 Desmo, the 350 model won the Baja 500 event ridden by Doug McClure. This was another example of Ducati’s ability to turn out exceptional off-road bikes. Although technically it was a motocross bike, the two activities are compatible. History tells us that this was another successful dirt bike in the brand’s lineup. The Desmo’s were just a few of the more appreciated dirt bikes from Ducati. Incidentally, Ducati would never miss out on the opportunity to produce a street version of a popular bike. They also created a 250 cc edition of the Desmo which was marketed heavily in Europe.