Scrambler 1100

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Review: Ducati Scrambler 1100

Driven September 2018

Review: Ducati Scrambler 1100

What’s this?
This is the Scrambler 1100, the Big Brother to the Scrambler 800, and no, this isn’t just a case of replacing the smaller engine with a bigger one. The Scrambler 1100 is a whole new motorcycle with a new chassis, a bigger tank, new suspension, and a flurry of electronic aids that promise to make your saddle time a lot easier and enjoyable than before. The 1100 can be had in three variants; the base standard 1100 which you can see here, the mid-spec Special and the top-end Sport. In all variants, power output remains the same – it’s more about styling and attitude.

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What’s new on the 1100?
Okay, let’s have a quick comparison between the 800 and the 1100 Scramblers. Although the elder sibling has put on an extra 20 kilos, it follows the 800’s ideology of simplicity and unfussiness, which is why they have a similar silhouette. However, look closely and you’ll be able to spot the differences. For instance, park them side-by-side and you’ll realise how much bigger the Scrambler 1100 is. From the fatter front tyre to the chunkier forks and handlebar to the bigger fuel tank and tailpipes, there’s a natural progression in the 1100’s styling and it’s sure to offend none. Then there are new headlamp elements and the offset instrument cluster gains a new tiny oval screen that throws up additional information.

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The engine is a heavily modified 1079cc L-twin unit from the older Monster 1100 that makes 86bhp and 88Nm of torque, which is 13bhp and 21Nm jump in numbers compared to the 800. However, the talking point is the addition of a new electronics package that now introduces four stage traction control, cornering ABS, and three rider modes. In terms of chassis, there’s a new trellis frame with aluminium sub-frame, new fully adjustable 45mm Marzocchi forks up front and Kayaba monoshock at the rear that can be adjusted for preload and rebound. A bigger bike with more power calls for an improved brake setup and that’s what the 1100 gets; a dual 320mm discs up front and a 245mm disc at the rear. The front tyre too is now 120/70 R18 compared to 110 of the 800, while the rear stays the same at 180/55 R17.

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How’s it to ride?
One of the best bits about the 800 is how easy it feels to ride from the word go, and that’s a trait even the 1100 possesses. Despite the slight bump in weight, overall dimensions and seat height (810mm, 20mm higher), the Scrambler 1100 doesn’t feel intimidating at all. The hydraulic clutch feels lighter to operate and even a 5.7ft rider won’t find himself tip-toeing in stop-go conditions. But the most impressive bit is the calm and composed manner in which the power is delivered. That twitchiness of the 800’s throttle is nowhere to be seen, which is a great start. And while the 1100 doesn’t feel rapid, it has enough grunt to keep things interesting. Yes, I did expect the 1100 to sort of blow me away with its initial acceleration, but then it trades spiky performance with a more dare-I-say linear increase of velocity. It doesn’t feel hurried.

The 1079cc motor has a flat, fat torque curve which translates into great rideability from 2000rpm to 6000rpm, pulling cleanly without any hiccups whatsoever. There isn’t much beyond 6000rpm and vibrations from the footpegs and handlebar begin to spoil the party as you inch closer to its redline of 8000rpm. Although our rendezvous with the Scrambler 1100 was a short one in Bangalore, we rode it from the outskirts of the city to the famous Nandi Hills. And while the short highway ride was inconclusive for its touring capabilities, the B-roads made for some decent riding. The bad roads leading up to the hills allowed us to put the new suspension to test and while there’s an underlying firmness to the overall ride, things aren’t as jarring as on the 800. Only sharp edges make themselves felt while you can comfortably glide over the smaller rough patches without any fuss. Also, you can easily tune the suspension to match the road conditions and we’re sure you wouldn’t have much to complain about on that front. Yes, a neo-retro Triumph would be more comfortable under similar conditions, but compared to the 800, the ride on the 1100 feels a lot better.

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How did it tackle the twisty roads?
Surprisingly, very well. We rode the base 1100 and in stock settings, the Scrambler felt quite happy to take to the mountain roads. The tall and wider handlebar felt quite neutral while changing directions and things were fairly positive leaning into corners. That firmly sprung suspension doing its magic here. And even when ridden in the spiciest rider mode, a twist of the throttle didn’t threaten to unsettle the 1100 easily, which goes to show how good a job the cornering ABS and TC did. We did swap the 1100 with the Sport for exactly a couple of minutes, and while the advantage between the Marzocchi and the Ohilins around a set of twisties were small, the ride certainly felt a bit firmer on the stock Ohlins. So in terms of pure handling performance, I didn’t feel the Sport had Rs 65,000 worth of an advantage over the 1100. Or maybe we need to spend some more time with these Italians to tell them apart. A piece of advice though, the optional Rs 1.75 lakh worth Termignoni exhaust that the Sport came with didn’t add up to the aural pleasure we were hoping for. In fact, the stock 1100 exhaust sounded better in every rev range.

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Anything you’ve missed?
The brakes performed well considering it has 206 kilos of mass to take care of, and while it was a very short ride, the seat didn’t give us reasons to complain about. Rider modes are a welcome addition wherein the City mode with 75bhp and muted throttle map is apt for urban riding. Journey with 86bhp and a relaxed throttle map should be great for those long highway rides, while the Active mode with full power and instant throttle response is for times when you particularly feel like being in the fast lane, constantly overtaking fast-paced vehicles. But be wary of wind blast at high speeds, you are on your own with no aero aid whatsoever.

And then there’s the whole idea of having a sportier Scrambler that I find difficult to digest. You see, if I wanted to have a sportier motorcycle, I doubt if I would even look at a neo-retro motorcycle that is the Scrambler. As mentioned, this is a Scrambler and not a scrambler, and hence, the standard 1100 with a more relaxed riding position and a calmer demeanour fits the bill of a touring motorcycle better than the Sport (lower handlebar and sport suspension) or even the Special (lower handlebar). So if I ever had to buy a Scrambler 1100, I would ignore the Special and the Sport variants and go in for a Yellow 1100, and save that money for customisation.

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Your final thoughts
The whole idea of minimalism seems lost with the bigger and heavier Scrambler, but let’s face it, this is a motorcycle brand Scrambler and not the scrambler motorcycle category. So it was never meant to scramble around the dirt trails or help you go deeper into the wilderness, except for the Desert Sled to an extent. The brand Scrambler was always an easy-to-ride retro-styled motorcycle for the road and the new 1100 only takes that ideology to the next level. It’s got more power than before, it’s a lot smoother to ride than before, it feels a lot more premium than before, and sounds fantastic even with the stock exhaust.

The Scrambler 1100 brings in a level of sophistication associated with “big and premium” motorcycles that was missing from the Scrambler 800. Be it fit and finish, features or its road mannerisms, the 1100 feels a lot more matured in every aspect and we like it for that. If there’s anything that would stop you from riding the Scrambler 1100 out of the showroom on your very first visit, it could be its optimistic price tag of Rs 13.75 lakh, on-road, Mumbai. Yes, it’s been steeply priced and how, but so is the 800. Okay, the 800 Icon is more than Rs 4 lakh cheaper than the standard 1100, but for that money you get better performance, electronics and overall riding comfort is far better than the smaller Scrambler. So in that comparison, the Scrambler 1100 is a lot more motorcycle for your money. Plus, it now looks and feels like a premium Italian motorcycle should.

Specs:
Scrambler 1100: 1079cc, L-twin, 86bhp, 88Nm, 6M, 206kg, seat height: 810mm, fuel tank: 15 litres, Price: Rs 13.75 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)

Verdict:
Looks better, feels premium and we’re glad it has matured with age. Performance and exhaust note will surely keep things interesting, we’re afraid if its price tag can generate enough interest.






Devesh Shobha

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