BMW R 80 G-S and Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled print

BMW R 80 G / S and Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled print

The line is back

Air-cooled 800 twin-cylinder, zero frills, real suspension travel, studs – the BMW R 80 G / S and Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled have a lot in common, although almost 40 years separate them. Did Ducati actually build the legitimate G / S successor?

Not R 80 GS, that was later. The line is extremely important. If you will, the line marks the original idea, the central characteristic of the pioneering first boxer enduro. Go-dash-eat. If you, dear reader, belong to the generation that started in 1980 as the BMW R. 80 G / S saw the light of day, already owned a one’s rag, then you may be aware of that. For the late-born – or to freshen up – a little digression: G as in terrain, S as in road. The (slash) line indicates a connection in the sense of “and”. So the terrain AND the road. The American would call it dual sport, and that’s where the trend came from. That’s where Yamaha’s XT 500 kicked off the enduro wave at the end of the 1970s, and from then on everyone wanted to go around the world on a motorcycle on any surface, or at least be able to do so. But soon many asked for more engine, more tank, more travel than the very single cylinder XT could offer.

BMW R 80 G / S and Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled print

The line is back

Form follows function

BMW, on the other hand, wanted, no, had to have a piece of the enduro cake, as the blue-whites were in great financial distress at the time. It is only logical that one took heart and made a bad virtue out of dire need. A handful of irradiated developers had developed prototypes in off-road sports, more or less on their own, at least with the consequent exclusion of corporate strategists. The bosses got wind of it. With the help of Laverda, where the first pre-series machines were built, it went, hush, hush, to series production. Almost overnight, the Bavarians presented a new type of motorcycle to a stunned world public with the BMW R 80 G / S: 800 mm boxer bumper from the R80 / 7, tubular steel frame, long spring travel, high-level exhaust, 20- liter tank, 21- Inch front wheel, specially developed studded tires. And of course the revolutionary single-arm cardan swing arm. All of this served appropriately, zero tolerance for unnecessary frills. Form follows function, with visibly sporty roots.

The renaissance of motorcycle history

Thanks to the consistent pursuit of lightness, the BMW R 80 G / S was seriously off-road, handy, yet robust, and thanks to large tanks, luggage rack and thick boxers, it was suitable for travel and everyday use. The real travel enduro was born and BMW was saved. Because the concept took off, the rest is history. 800 became 1000, 1100, 1200 cubic, 50 became 125 HP. The 21-inch front wheel has shrunk to the 19-inch, Paralever, Telelever, four-valve, water cooler. The former "rubber cow" grew as tall as Donald’s towers, received even more equipment than this, so from an initial 196 kilos it has meanwhile become 264. G / S soon became GS, "the GS" became Germany’s best-selling motorcycle, conquered Europe, the world. A success story almost out of nowhere. But the bottom line, it disappeared from name and program. "The GS" has long stood for itself, more for travel than enduro. At best, old warriors remember the meaning of “terrain and road”. The market wanted a street motorcycle and the market is always right. This development was accompanied by the decline of the real all-purpose enduro, the dual-purpose motorcycles, apart from a few single-cylinder engines of Japanese origin. Today you either buy a hard enduro or a touring motorcycle. The class A driving license was called the Einser-Lappen at the time. That’s enough from the renaissance of motorcycle history.

Arturo Rivas

Thanks to the consistent striving for lightness, the R 80 G / S was seriously off-road, handy, robust, and thanks to large tanks, luggage rack and thick boxers, it was suitable for travel and everyday use.

Cut and jump into the modern age, where Ducati, almost 40 years after the "red devil", Laszlo Peres, Herbert Schek and four-time Dakar victory, has obviously rediscovered the all-purpose enduro theme in the form of the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled: air-cooled 800cc Two-cylinder (of course as 90-degree Vau), two-valve technology, long spring travel, minimal equipment, manageable performance (75 hp), relatively low weight (191 kg dry). Timeless, no frills, specially developed studded tires … Does it ring? The dash is back! The 19-inch front wheel alone is out of the ordinary, but what else? It even looks like an XT 500. Coincidence? Homage? That must be a declaration of intent! "Stop! It is not a world tour, but a lifestyle motorcycle!", Critical observers of the beard-care biker trend will interject, perhaps rightly. Wasn’t the BMW R 80 G / S about getting through and arriving under all conditions? And isn’t it more about having fun on the way with the Bologna climbers, arrival is a minor matter? Even nastier tongues throw in that it’s about looking good. Mocha Latte in the Dolomiti ice cream parlor instead of a day’s stage at the Dakar?

The market isn’t always right?

In fact, the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled brings the dual sport theme into the modern era. Because not off-road tinkerers named Rudiger or Herbert, with a workshop in the Allgau, but young designers in an urban environment, named Mario and Andrea, in denim shirts, with turf in the office instead of carpet, are the parents of this machine . That is not meant badly, after all, they have managed to put the performance idea, so sacred at Ducati, as you can hear, against noteworthy resistance, for once and try something else instead. The market proved them right with the Scrambler, just as the market will agree with them with the Desert Sled, so a prognosis is daring. And the market is not always right?

Extremely intuitive on and off the road

It would be unfair to denigrate the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled as a fashion item, because it seriously shifts the idea of ​​easy going towards all-purpose enduro. The off-road insoles that you see in the picture gallery would not be possible with a scrambler (too little grip and travel) or with a 12 GS (too heavy, too big, no fresh underwear included). The BMW R 80 G / S could do that too, but we wanted to spare this darling and his restaurateur Jochen Siebenrock (thank you!). BMW’s original enduro also revealed its qualities in the overdrive: low seat height, low center of gravity, perfect balance, high stability thanks to the 21-inch model, full control – a G / S can be moved extremely intuitively on and off the road . That the boxer doesn’t get much after a brawny start, that the transmission is flattered with the description "wobbly" and that the front brake is a joke from today’s perspective? Given in the field, then on the road a sign of merciless progress.

An honest desert sledge, not a blender

Back to the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, whose fully off-road design shows courage on the part of the developers. Because this is helpful for photo productions in trade magazines (we only do this for you), but in real life, let’s be honest, it will hardly be an issue. But the surcharge of 2,200 euros for the extra chassis is steep. People who are relieved of pain can go off-road with the Desert Sled if they want to. So it’s an honest desert sledge, not a blender. Which makes it even more beautiful.

Arturo Rivas

The Desert Sled waves lightly and neutrally down to the (really) deepest slopes.

G as in terrain, S as in road anyway: the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled waves lightly and neutrally down to (really) the deepest lean angles, Pirelli’s first STR tires not only have a beautiful profile, they also have excellent grip in practically all conditions . You can bet that this tire will soon be visible on everything that even remotely looks like a cool conversion. Upright and comfortable, above all casual, the seating position, the off-road ergonomics on the high handlebars are also right. The front single disc brake pinches a bit dough, but at least satisfactorily overall. The long-legged chassis bounces softly, but never loses its shape. Scrambler siblings consider something like the angular response of the shock absorber to be authentic.

Euro-4-Desert-Sled looks a bit buttoned up

However, one thing should not be concealed: if the first Euro 3 scramblers with measured 76 hp, brisk liveliness and unabashed exhaust rattling were in full swing, the Euro 4 desert sled seems a bit buttoned up. The test bench attests to 71.3 PS, and it never goes wrong either. If you add the 20 kilos more weight compared to the Icon, you get the difference between "fetzt" and "sufficient". It’s a shame, but in the end it doesn’t matter, even if you actually consider the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sle as an all-purpose enduro – and so back to the initial question.

Ready to travel around the world

Yes, formally and ideally, the new Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled actually follows the all-round legacy of the BMW R 80 G / S. In a certain way, however, it is also their antithesis, because in contrast to what BMW wanted at the time, this motorcycle must not be judged on its utility. The following anecdote underpins this: The author rolls on a desert sledge, of course draped in proper style in jeans, leather jacket, jet helmet, sunglasses, trimmed beard, but not too accurately, at an inner-city traffic light, next to a R 1200 GS. No line, but in full Wundertech regalia, the pilot also appropriately equipped with a flip-up helmet and Gore-Tex. Ready to travel around the world.

Ambassadors of good taste on two wheels

A boy on the sidewalk sees the motorcycles, is happy, pulls out his SLR and starts taking photos – guess which motorcycle. The author is also pleased, looks to the right, where the astonished look of the GS adventurer reveals that enthusiastic passers-by have never photographed him in his motorcycle career. This kind of thing happens all the time on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, which in turn provides the decisive indication of what this motorcycle is actually about. Entire kindergarten cohorts fall into spontaneous cheers at the sight of the Tribute XT, including teachers. After half an hour in the city you feel like an ambassador of good taste on two wheels on the Desert Sled, smiling, waving, honking and greeting you almost more than driving. One can take the view that the Duc was a bit expensive for the technology offered at around 11,000 euros. But if every smile that you trigger with her is worth a fiver in a savings voucher, then the purchase price is guaranteed to have paid off after one summer. The BMW R 80 G / S is an epoch-making design. But even she can’t do this magic piece.

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