The Ducati Scrambler. One of the most heavily marketed bikes in recent memory. But, is it actually any good?
Words don’t quite capture the entire experience. As I mentioned in my 1299 review, riding bikes is an emotion filled experience for me. Quite often filling my noggin with music. So you might want to put on some tight jeans and listen to this song whilst you read.
Riding the Scrambler is exactly like this song. It’s easy to ride and tonnes of fun. Girls will love it, guys will love it. Girls will love you, guys will love you. You will dance near it, make love near it, probably even get a tattoo on it. There is something about riding sports bikes and tourers that can, in my opinion, detract from the very base level of riding a bike. It’s fun, lots of fun. But, sometimes you can get wrapped up in performance issues, suspension tweaks, pressing the right button on your sat nav, screen height etc. I owned a Triumph Thruxton for 3 years and even in it’s simplicity it became about trying to trim weight from it, give it more punch… Until, i finally wised up and went and got a Triumph Daytona.
When I was given the Scrambler I wasn’t overjoyed to be honest. In my head it was for trendy hipsters just like in the marketing. The kind of pratt that spoils a house party by taking out a guitar and singing ‘meaningful’ songs instead of laying down some living room moves to Van Halen. I was wrong. So very, very wrong! There are now, in my mind, two sorts of people who ride Scramblers. Trendy hipster bell ends and people like Brad The Bullet and Julien Perret. People who get on a bike they can easily handle and exploit that for fun. Wheelies, skids, jumps that kind of thing.
1) On the Icon I rode the bars are too high. Too chopper like for me. On the Scrambler Full Throttle though, the bars are perfect. Sit astride it and you feel instantly like you can hustle.
2) It’s not a sports bike – They weren’t designed to be, they never will be. Overcome that in your head and you will love it.
3) Tyres – They are actually brilliant in the damp and wet. Bizarrely, they don’t give much feedback in the dry. It’s up to scraping the exhaust shield, followed by the pegs to get your early warnings. I’d put on some Pirelli Supercorsas and piss myself with laughter on every ride.
The Good Stuff:
I honestly hadn’t had as much fun riding a bike in a long time as the first few days I spent on the Scrambler. Yes I’ve fallen in love with the 1299 and it’s been an almost religious experience riding that beast. But this was just pure fun!
It’s the kind of feeling I really, really hope all kids get when they swing a leg over their first bicycle or mini-moto. At 35 it’s a feeling I had forgotten. A thrill that is hard to put into words but, feels to me exactly like the first time I bombed down a mountain on a downhill bike. I couldn’t believe the fun I was having, I really couldn’t. I even did a 35-mile run around the moors in the pitch dark, just to make sure the fun wasn’t short-lived.
Why is it so good?
1) Handling: It’s light and makes cornering a piece of piss with the wide bars. You might find at speed that the front gets a bit flighty, but what light, upright bike doesn’t at 80-90? The suspension is soft compared to sportsbikes, but hey you can call k-tech if you need to.
2) Weight: At a standstill it’s really light. My wife was able to push it around the drive easily without fear of dropping it. Definitely a plus.
3) Engine: It’s the 796cc engine from the last of the air-cooled Monsters. It’s now putting out 803cc and 75 horses. No real need to know that though as they’ve handily put torque everywhere from about 1500rpm to the red line. Crack the throttle and it shoots off. One thing that is hilarious is just how quickly it fires away from a standstill. Definitely quicker than any Monster I’ve ridden and possibly even the Panigales. Even my Triumph Street Triple R wasn’t this spritely. It’s easy to wheelie. The punch and power isn’t sportsbike like but there is a bit of punch.
4) Looks: They’ve got 4 versions, nope wait… scratch that…6 versions to suit lots of different tastes. For me it’s the Full Throttle. I love the looks of it. I also like that you can change the tank panels. Which for me means, in a year when I get a bit bored with the looks, I can swap them over and kind of refresh the bike. The one dial is simple, clean and gives you the info you need. I would like a gear indicator. Why do Ducati keep forgetting to put gear indicators on their bikes?
5) Noise: Hell yes! The bike I rode had the Termi with no baffle. It was flipping loud. Louder than my 899. It’s deep, like Barry White deep. Then, you get the popping as you roll off. Like someone just superheated a tonne of popcorn. It’s class! Car drivers can definitely hear you coming.
6) Fuelling: Well it is as smooth as anything. It’s a doddle to ride fast, slow and in traffic. Throttle response is crisp. Gear selection is less of an issue when cornering or riding due to the smooth fuelling and torque. Actually, come to think of it, that’s probably why they didn’t put a gear indicator on it. Tank range is roughly about 150 miles which I think is fine for a bike of this size.
So it’s good, yeah?
I really do love this bike. It would be a perfect everyday bike for commuting and even weekend blasts. If I could justify having a Panigale sat in the garage for 70% of the year at the same time as a Scrambler, I would have one now. The only time you would want more is when you want that thrill of power and speed that a sports bike gives.
One thing I know for sure there isn’t a Monster in the Ducati range that I think is this much fun. I would have one over a Bonnie or Thruxton any day, and I dare say even Street Triple riders would be surprised by its performance and handling. Whack on some sticky tyres, a steering damper and head to any track with this bike and you would be grinning ear to ear.
I had the Full Throttle for a few days and I would add this to the mix. The homologated Termis, definitely strangle the Full Throttle somewhat. It just didn’t have the throttle response, the eagerness nor the smooth fuelling of the Icon with race Termi. However, to my eye it looks better. Less Bumblebee from Transformers.
If I was buying a Scrambler though I would buy an Icon and get the Full Throttle bars and the race Termi put on. You then have a better fuelling bike, with a bit more naughtiness to it and will mostly still be under the £8395 Ducati want for the Full Throttle.
Would I buy one?
This Scrambler somehow reinvigorated me. Picked me up out of the doldrums and indifference to riding that the problems with my 899 Panigale had created. I doubt I would have enjoyed the 1299 as much had I not been having a hoot on a Scrambler before hand.
The paradox for people who may buy one of these is similar to when we set a bikes suspension up. For most people, using comfort settings on your sportsbike gives you everything you need. But, we never do that do we? This bike would be right for everyone 98% of the time. If you can just be honest about your ability, and how you would use the bike.
However, when was buying a bike ever a rational decision? I own a Panigale and do so on the basis that I do a few trackdays and go ‘scratching’ at weekends (less so since becoming a dad). I love opening the garage door and thinking ‘F**k Yes I Own That!’ Something I never had with the Triumph Thruxton, Street Triple R or Tiger. A feeling that faded with time on my Daytona 675R. I am scared that one day I would open the garage look at the Scrambler and think ‘meh!’ But then again, maybe I wouldn’t If I was sensible I would buy a Full Throttle at £8k and spend the change from the price of a Panigale on a dedicated track bike.
Go and try one. Go find some twisty roads. F**k all the guys on their sportsbikes laughing and sneering at you. It WILL make you smile. It WILL make you laugh and chances are it will make them cry as they struggle to stay with some trendy hipster ballbag on a Scrambler that costs £8k less than their crotch rocket.
New age fun with a vintage feel. Have a gander at the Scrambler line up here.