I am obviously regarded as a fashion pioneer by my friends and family.
The Grunge, Metrosexual and Hipster movements owe a lot to my lead. I have shirts that were derided in the 80’s – and still are, I shop at The Red Cross and my eye for colour coordination is to die for (socially anyway)
So when I had the opportunity to spend some time with an icon of 21st century fashion I jumped right in.
The Scrambler has done a lot in its few years – almost doubling Ducati’s sales, and more importantly getting large parts of the Soho crowd off those repugnant scooters.
It did quite a lot for me too. I am certainly not the only person that appreciates a nicely shaped naked bike, but never before have I had people outside pubs shouting their appreciation for the sight and sound of my ride. It turned the heads of all ages, whether they were riders or not. And so it should.
The Scrambler is a compact bike, not much bigger than a Dutch Bicycle, but that light little body, which feels much less than its 180Kg, is both modern and classic, with smart but not flamboyant paintwork and some mighty fine detailing. A single headlight and clock match the70’s tank, which in turn flows to a (mostly) sumptuous seat (which hides a phone tray and USB socket)and swooping tail. We had the bike during Northamptonshire’s monsoon season, which provided ample opportunity to confirm that the old Ducati bugbear of weak electrics is truly a thing of the past.
The 800cc air/oil cooled V-twin sits in a simple trellis frame and dominates the ride but not the aesthetic.
Ducati engines have a long tradition of pulling like a train, having a good spread of torque and a meaty distinctive engine note. This lump is no exception to the above, but often delivered its generous power in rather oversized portions. I spent a lot of effort metering my throttle openings, especially when pulling away, but it still had the traits of an off/on switch and would throw little wheelies or spins at rather inappropriate times – this is now a thing of the past however as a meatier spring upgrade has improved throttle feel and control.
There was none of this behaviour in the brakes however, the single front disc could stop the diminutive bike and very average rider in short order without drama – unless you wanted it – stoppies were almost as easy as on my BMX, but way more fun.
Once you had the bike settled in the road everything got great. On the move the power delivery was strong and predictable making for trouble-free overtakes and pulling out of corners with just the right amount of lightness to the front wheel. If you did get a bit “teenager” the great balance and very low weight meant you could generally get your knickers untwisted without looking like too much of a plum.
Of course an addictive engine can have a negative effect on your fuel economy and on one frisky ride my MPG did in fact drop down into the 50’s, but mostly it was 60-70mpg all day. A figure that shames many smaller slower commuters and even a couple of machines touted as “eco”.
A naked bike is not usually the weapon of choice for longer rides; they lack the everyday practicality of a dual purpose or touring machine and high speed cruising is limited by your profile and upper body strength, but don’t expect to sit above 90mph all day without some shoulder ache on any unfaired bike, also, although the proportions of the bike were just right for my average frame, there is a slight step within the saddle at exactly the point my butt wanted to be so, after an hour, fidgeting ensued. Even so, 120 miles came and went in one hit without any significant complaints – except maybe sore cheek muscles from the constant inane grin that the power to weight ratio forces on you.
For me the ultimate test on any review is the final question – would I want one? I have tested a good bunch of machines, but this is only the third time that I can answer with a definite YES – with the throttle spring upgrade – other yesses were the Honda NC700 and the Suzuki V-Strom 650.
I bought the Suzuki, but I do love the Scrambler…
Price – £8,395
Power – 75Hp
Torque – 68Nm
Top Speed – 130mph
0-60mph – 3.4
Economy – 63mpg on test
words & pics – Mark Wolens