Well the proof is in the pudding they say, or in this case the chocolate zabaglione, a mechanical dessert that directly competes with its Japanese and European counterparts. Why settle for plain ole pudding, when you can have a little Italian flair!
I have put almost 30,000 hard kilometers on the Enduro in a wide variety of conditions, desert to pacific northwest, -5 to 50 degrees Celsius, mud, rock, sand, and asphalt. On road Ducati’s top shelf adventure motorcycle just shines. Having owned a BMW R1200GSA and a KTM 1290SA, both exceptional motorcycles in and of themselves, I can say that the Ducati is a better motorcycle, albeit by a slim margin; which is saying a great deal. There is a reason the big bore adventure bike market is growing. Sport riding? No problem. Urban sprawl got you down? Adventure bikes have ya covered! Long hauling it across the continent? Bah, easy peasy. Do you want to explore off road? Well, now you can do it in style and comfort!
My love of the Ducati’s Enduro Adventure motorcycle on paved road is no secret, but I was not so sure about taking this Italian beauty and getting her dirty. Like the BMW and KTM it is a heavy bike, and I am not a fan of crashing. Destroying a $25,000.00 motorcycle to show you can ride off road just seems a waste to me, but I bought the Ducati to explore…so I did!
Since that decision, the Ducati has been a very dirty girl, spending at least a full third of all the riding I do on dirt roads. I live on Vancouver Island, and it is one of the few places in Canada where you can ride all year round! The Island is a magical place, rainforests abound, dirt roads that take you to stunning vistas and waterfalls, all with little to no traffic once you leave the paved road. Much of the riding I have done has been alone, but I have also ridden with groups, all of whom had smaller more dirt oriented motorcycles with knobby tires. I stayed with the original OEM Pirelli 90/10 tires, which were barely ok off road even when aired down. When those were pooched, I had a set of Avon Trailriders spooned on by my friends at Savage Cycle in Victoria. Although the Avon’s are another 90/10 tire, the deep wide grooves allow the tire to grip quite well when aired down a wee bit.
As I mentioned in my street comparo, it takes a bit to get the Ducati Suspension set up. No different than my road racing days and tailoring suspension settings to different tracks. I am not a hard-charging off-road rider, so I set the suspension on the soft side to start, but it was not long before I was bottoming out over larger bumps and rocks. The good thing about the Ducati is changing settings is literally a 1-minute job! A few presses of the left handle bar mounted adjustment switches while looking at the dash, and a few seconds later I toggled to the suspension screen and adjusted the electronic suspension. Yep, done, it’s just that easy. Soon I was riding with far more confidence and control, the suspension doing its job of keeping 500+ pounds of motorcycle in line! After many stops, I found the suspension setting sweet spot for me, and literally I have not touched the settings since.
What is it like riding the Ducati off road? I personally like a more street biased tire, so there are huge limitations when it comes to riding off road. Knobby tires would make it so much better, but I am not independently wealthy and wear out knobby tires quickly with long trips on asphalt. The compromise is slower going in some off-road sections of loose rock, mud, and soft sand. This has actually saved my bacon a few times, being able to save myself from a crash off-road on a heavy bike. In all of the off-road riding I have done, I only had one get off on White Rim Trail in Utah. Soft sand, street oriented tire, and too much throttle equals visit with cactus! I was picking needles out of my butt for the remainder of that trip! If you are a hard core off-road enthusiast, this bike can do it all, but it remains a big heavy bike, not fun to pick up or flog the crap out of it. In my opinion flogging the crap out of a $20,000 motorcycle just makes no sense. You can ride anywhere on it, she can take the flogging, but why would you do that to such a beautiful girl. Take your time, enjoy the route as well as the destination!!!
The 1200cc motor in Enduro mode pulls from a walking pace, cleanly and easily, with no bogging or surging. I found the tractability of the Italian 90 degree V-Twin perfect for my riding style. Although Enduro mode limits horsepower to 100, I never missed a single pony it is that smooth, yet insanely powerful if you decide to flog her! I was riding her up a very steep rocky path in Utah, the power delivery, and balance made it relatively easy going. It is the combination of power, tractability, balance and cockpit set-up that put the Ducati at the top of my list. Again, I am not saying the other bikes are bad, far from it, they excel. For me I knew the Ducati fit from the very first test ride, and with more seat time my impression has not changed. If anything I am more in love with my Italian beauty than before!
The off-road riding position on the Ducati Enduro is perfect for me, I lean a little bit forward and that is it. I have not had to adjust any of the controls, handlebars, foot pegs, etc. I am 6’ even and 200 pounds, so the suspension gets a great workout! The brake pedal is designed to flip over, effectively giving it a street position and an off-road position. Again, a nice touch that saves having to purchase a different rear brake pedal. The foot pegs have a hard rubber insert that can be removed by hand, leaving a nice grippy peg for each boot! Although they could be a bit bigger for my taste they work perfectly none the less, with grippy spikes that keep my feet on the pegs despite being covered in muck! With all the off-road riding I wore out the stock chain in short order. Mud, sand and rock will do that, so I opted for a top shelf D.I.D. chain with new O.E.M. sprockets front and rear. The Avons work well on asphalt and wear really well (16,000km and still going) but need to be aired down to 25psi for my type of riding and suspension settings in the dirt. I always carry a tire repair kit and a Slime air pump, just in case I get a puncture. The backroads of Vancouver Island are not a place for the faint of heart. No cell service, virtually no traffic in some areas, and vistas that scream explore me and the Enduro took me wherever I wanted to go!
From Valley of the Gods, to White Rim Trail, to Vancouver Island, the Ducati Enduro just plain works off road. If you are in the market for a big ADV bike, Ducati has you covered, no need to purchase additional “Farkles”, use that money on gas and trips, you will not be disappointed!