Discover The BMW R nineT Racer

Outsider: Hardening up the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
If there’s a spiritual heir to the go-anywhere machines of the 1960s, it’s the Scrambler Ducati Desert Sled. Unlike most modern-day scramblers, the Duc is happy in the rough stuff. Even if it’s unlikely to be thrashed as much as the 1963 Bonneville that Bud Ekins built for Steve McQueen.

When our man Matt rode the Desert Sled a year ago at the launch in Spain, he was impressed: “The Desert Sled is the scrambliest scrambler money can buy,” he said. But of course, some people will always want to push things further—and one of those folks is former Paris-Dakar Rally racer Fabio Marcaccini.

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
Fabio now runs Unit Garage from his base in a small town near the Adriatic coast, on the eastern seaboard of Italy. Working with his partner/designer Michiel Verstockt, he makes kits that amp up the offroad performance of modern-day BMWs, Triumphs and Moto Guzzis.

And he doesn’t sell farkles—he raced the Dakar five years in a row for Yamaha, so he knows what works and what doesn’t.

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
This prototype machine is called Fuoriluogo, which loosely translates to ‘outsider’ or ‘out of place,’ and Ducati supplied a Desert Sled to kick the project off.

The original idea came from Italian motojournalist Roberto Ungaro, formerly of the Italian magazine Riders. He suggested that Unit Garage developed a bike based on the Desert Sled—but Fabio decided to take the project a step further.

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
Instead of building a one-off, he proposed an easy-to-assemble kit that could go into production, and lift the off-road capabilities of the Ducati to new heights. Termignoni agreed to produce a new exhaust, and the project was green-lighted.

“The bike is more ‘off’ and less ‘on’ road,” Fabio explains. “Because if you call a motorcycle a Desert Sled, sooner or later you’ll find someone who’ll go into the desert!”

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
“It’s easier to ride because it has a shorter tank that allows a better riding position. You can get up to six centimeters [2.3 inches] closer to the handlebars, which dramatically improves the feeling when riding off-road.”

For this hand-made prototype tank, Unit Garage used steel. They’ve kept the lower part of the original tank, so it uses the same mounting points and fits the standard fuel pump.

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
But despite being shorter, it holds two or three liters more fuel than the OEM tank. And since it’s a replacement tank, it uses the same plastic on the front section and the same fuel cap.

The new seat is divided into two parts, and has a dual purpose. It can be used for two-up touring, because there’s a cushion inside the rear section. But the cushion can also be removed if you’re traveling alone, releasing a little extra space for small essentials.

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
The planned kit will also include a side bag, with a quick release system and a dedicated subframe. This will fit all Ducati Scrambler models, and uses an existing canvas bag from the Unit Garage range.

There’s also a small toolbox that can fit under the swingarm, close to the engine. Fabio designed a similar system for his 1990 Paris-Dakar bike, and it’s big enough to contain a small repair kit to fix broken chains and punctured tires. A tough new aluminum bash plate protects the engine.

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
For such a practical machine, Unit Garage’s Scrambler looks exceptionally good. The lines, color and aluminum side panels echo what Fabio calls the regolarità (enduro) motorcycles of the 1970s and 1980s.

Granted, the kit won’t turn the Desert Sled into a Dakar contender, but it makes it even more adept off-road. Right now, the parts are being 3D scanned, so they can be easily replicated. (In the event of production, the bodywork would be reproduced in lightweight ABS plastic.)

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
It’s worth noting that this kit will fit all models of Ducati Scrambler, not just the Desert Sled. So let’s do a little market research here: who reckons Unit Garage (or even Ducati) should put this one into production?

Unit Garage | Facebook | Instagram

PS: Just for laughs, here’s a different exhaust that Termignoni knocked up. Inside the ‘expansion chamber’ is regular four-stroke tubing. That’s perhaps taking the ‘outsider’ concept a little too far …

Outsider: Unit Garage makes an off-road kit for the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
READ NEXT