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Review: Ducati Scrambler Icon
We first saw the Scrambler at the 2014 EICMA Motor Show, and have been waiting to ride it ever since. The Scrambler is a significant departure from your regular Ducatis. In fact, Ducati calls the Scrambler a sub-brand of sorts which is more focused on the fun element than outright performance.
The motorcycle will be the new entry-level product in the company’s line-up, and has been positioned to appeal to a generic audience. Now is a good time to mention that the bike is equipped with a USB charger for your phone, or tablet, or whatever, and that should give you an idea of the kind of audience it is aimed at (read social-media obsessed, yuppie-ish…you get the drift).
The styling of this dual-purpose motorcycle takes its cues from the original Scrambler. The LED daytime running lights, which border the headlight, have been split into four parts to form an ‘X’. This is one of the Scrambler’s signature design elements, but Ducati has been wise enough to treat it with subtlety.
The base Icon variant we rode comes with 10-spoke alloys. Carrying the on-off road theme are the dual-purpose Pirelli MT 60 RS tyres. The beautifully-designed tank does not feature the Ducati logo. In fact, ‘Ducati’ is positioned below ‘Scrambler’. So, what does this mean? Well, like we mentioned, the Scrambler is a sub-brand. Unlike regular Ducs, the Scrambler is about kicking back and relaxing. And, that philosophy is evident in the choice of engine as well.
Ducati has recommissioned the 803cc air-cooled L-twin motor from the discontinued Monster 796. The engine has been detuned to make 74bhp (about a dozen less than the 796) and 68Nm of torque, and it is mated to a six-speed transmission. The drop in power can be attributed to riding licence rules which are in place in many countries. While the power rating might not sound impressive, the 170kg (dry) Scrambler makes good on the power-to-weight front. This is pretty evident from the start itself.
The Scrambler feels like a Ducati from the word go. The torquey L-twin engine feels eager to get going no matter which gear you are in, thanks to the short gear ratios.
This 803cc motor is all about low- and mid-range performance, and feels happiest between 4000rpm and 6000rpm. The exhaust note sounds the best in this range as well. But, the engine doesn’t like to be revved hard. Vibrations start creeping in past the 6000rpm mark, and around 8000, the engine sounds stressed. Take it up a notch higher, and the limiter comes into play. Despite that, the 803cc motor is quite versatile. It is up to the rider to choose between some good old-fashioned hooligan-ish riding, or simply coasting down an open road.
As you would expect from any Ducati, the Scrambler handles like a dream. The Pirellis do a good job of handling most road surfaces. Add to that, the short turning radius, and the Scrambler can not only take corners well, but can also pull off quick U-turns on crowded streets.
What should be made clear here is that the Scrambler is more of a soft-roader than a proper off-road machine. This is evident in the way it manages surface undulations. The suspension is stiff. The front is non-adjustable, while the Kayaba monoshock at the rear is preload-adjustable. The rear suspension on our test bike was set to medium, and could be adjusted for a plusher ride.
Overall the Scrambler is a likeable motorcycle; but there are a few things that could have been done differently. The upright riding position doesn’t take time getting used to. The handlebar and foot pegs are within easy reach. Sitting like this might be good for short trips, but on longer rides, it could get tiring.
Ducati will be offering the Scrambler in four flavours. Apart from the Icon variant that will be available in red and yellow, there will also be an Urban Enduro variant that comes only in green and is aimed at folks who love touring. The Enduro features a high front mudguard, engine sump guard, headlight guard, and cross strut handlebars. The Full Throttle variant is themed around a flat-tracker, and comes in all black with a Termignoni slip-on exhaust and a lower, tapered handlebar. The top-of-the-line Classic is the most minimalist in its approach, with wire-spoke wheels and aluminium mudguards at the front and rear. Ducati has a range of accessories if you want to customise the bike.
In a world where bikes are defined by the cutting-edge tech they’re equipped with, unbelievable power ratings and insane top speeds, the Scrambler comes across as a breath of fresh air. The Scrambler is not trying to be the fastest, or the most technologically advanced machine on the block. It is a relatively simple machine that just wants you to get on it and have fun.
2cyl L-twin, air-cooled, 803cc, 74bhp, 68Nm, 6-speed manual, 170kg (dry), ?7.72 lakh (on-road, Delhi)
A fun motorcycle from a serious manufacturer that will appeal to bikers and non-bikers alike.