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Review: 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC, XE
Photos: Kingdom Creative
What is it?
The Triumph Scrambler 1200 is essentially what it says on the box — an extension of the Scrambler range but with Triumph’s larger 1200cc engine. However, it isn’t just a case of taking an existing platform and mildly tweaking it to give it a different characteristic. The entire chassis — right from the frame to the suspension and brakes are new, and even the engine sourced from the Triumph Thruxton has been reworked to be more effective for the Scrambler’s dual-purpose intentions.
Right, so what’s new?
Look, the Scrambler 1200 doesn’t replace any existing product — it creates a new space for itself within Triumph’s portfolio. The Street Scrambler exists, but that sits in a very different space. This follows a similar styling, but is so much more purposeful than the Street. Triumph really went back to the drawing board with this one. The frame is new, and it gets proper off-road suspension — long-travel Showa forks in the front and Ohlins twin shocks in the rear. There’s more top-drawer kit on it like the Brembo M50s with twin 320mm discs up front. There’s a long-travel aluminium swingarm to aid with stability off road it gets spoked wheels along with Metzeler Tourance tubeless tyres.
But there are two variants — what is the difference?
Yes, the Scrambler 1200 comes in two variants — the XC and the XE. Both motorcycles are designed to be capable on road as well as off-road, but the XE gets additional kit that makes it more effective off-road.
For example, the XC’s front and rear suspension gets 200mm of travel (which is a fair bit), but the XE gets 250mm. The XE’s forks are also fatter and a little more raked out while the swingarm is longer to add to stability at speed off road. In addition to the five riding modes that the XC gets (Rain, Road, Sport, Off-road and Rider), the XE also gets a sixth ‘Off-Road Pro’ mode that turns off all electronic intervention to the ABS and traction control, giving the rider full control over the motorcycle.
Speaking of electronics, the XE also gets an IMU that allows for it to be equipped with cornering ABS and cornering traction control. The changes to the suspension and rake give it a much taller stance, causing the seat height to be higher as well. The XC looks like a proper dual-purpose motorcycle but one look at the XE and its off-road intent is clear.
Before you get all hopped up though, let me break it to you that the XE is unlikely to make it to India, and the XC is the only variant we're getting.
Is the engine the same?
Yes, both the XC and the XE share the same engine. The motor is one that we’ve seen before — it is the same High Power engine that we’ve seen in the Thruxton. In the Scrambler, it makes 89bhp and 110Nm. There have been updates to what we’ve seen in the cafe racer — the Scrambler’s engine gets a magnesium crank cover, revised clutch assembly, a new crankshaft, mass optimised engine covers and balancer shaft and a lighter alternator. It has been tuned to provide a chunk of its torque low down. Peak torque is available at 3950cc and over 100Nm is available right from 2500rpm.
What are they like off the road?
I only rode the XC off-road and that’s the one that really matters because it’s the one heading our way. The motorcycles were kitted out with Pirelli Scorpion tyres to deal with the loose surfaces. The Scrambler is supremely friendly when traction was low — the off-road mode sets up the bike really well. The engine map is aggressive giving you instant throttle reposes, while the traction control allows for a certain amount of playfulness before it cuts in and keeps things in control.
We rode on a variety of surfaces —sand, mud, slush, gravel and through a couple of water crossings to really get a feel of things. The Scrambler 1200 XC turned out to be a very forgiving motorcycle. There’s a number of reasons why — firstly, it doesn’t have the sheer bulk of an adventure tourer and this makes it immediately less intimidating to thrash around off road. The ergonomics are great, you can comfortably lock your legs in place and stand up on the bike. The handlebar is fairly high up (it is even wider and more higher up on the XE) and it feels intuitive while you’re standing up. The engine has been tuned well for off-road use — there’s such a mountain of torque low down that it’s very difficult to be caught out. If you sense things getting messy, just gas it and the surge of torque will see you through. The 200mm of suspension travel on the XC was more than adequate for the trails we were on and unless you’re attempting some really hardcore stuff, it should suffice.
I didn’t get a chance to ride the XE but the higher spec suspension and changes to the geometry should make it more effective off-road. Speaking to the guys that did ride it, I got the impression that the XE is for a more committed rider off-road, and rewards being hammered around more. The XC meanwhile is the more friendly of the two.
What about on tarmac?
Most press rides have us riding bikes on the road first, and then off road. Not this one — we first rode the Scrambler off road and the second day saw us riding on tarmac. Having experienced its raw capability off-road, I really wasn’t ready for the amount of fun these bikes are on the road. However, set the suspension up right, swap out the off-road tyres for touring ones and you’re good to go.
The Scrambler is quick — 110Nm being deployed with intent does tend to make a motorcycle move fast. You’re sitting upright so it is comfortable. What really gets you is how nimble the bike is — you just don’t expect it but it turns in so quick, and remains extremely stable through the entire corner. The XE, thanks to its altered chassis, does feel a little more lazy but the additional clearance means it can lean in more.
Rain mode dails up safety intervention and dulls the throttle, while Sport gets the throttle all aggressive and allows a little slip before traction control interferes. I found the motorcycle most enjoyable in Road mode, as Sport makes the bike a bit too jumpy. On the brilliant roads in Portugal, you just had to slot it in to third and ride the wave of torque through both the fast and slower corners. It was very easy to fall in to a comfortable rhythm and just let the bike flow along with the road.
We put in a good 200km over the length of the day and it’s very hard to fault the bike. It doesn’t have the outright touring ability of an adventure tourer — the seat is flat and can won’t keep you as happy as a nicely sculpted one, there’s absolutely no wind protection and there are a few vibrations post 5000rpm. But unless you’re trying to ride around the world, it shouldn’t bother you too much on the occasional long distance ride. These are trade offs you’re going to have to make for that gorgeous design and the classic Scrambler look, after all. I’m not complaining.
When’s it coming our way?
There’s no confirmation on a timeline yet. The Europe launch is slated for around August 2019 so you can expect it to make it to India only after that. There’s still a bit of testing going on — for example, we couldn’t use the integrated GoPro controls that allow you to control your camera from the buttons on the handlebar. Once its all done the Scrambler 1200 should open Triumph to a whole new category of buyers. It has direct competition in the form of the Ducati Scrambler 1100 and has the potential to eat in to the booming adventure tourer space, including Triumph’s own Tiger.
This is, in some ways an adventure motorcycle gone retro. It certainly as versatile — hugely capable on road, plenty fun on road and it looks drop dead gorgeous. As for the way it is priced, it will sit higher than the base Tiger 800s and right under the Tiger 1200. That’s a lot of money, but then again, this is motorcycle that is specced well, will keep a smile plastered on your face and will make your garage look like a million bucks.
Scrambler 1200 XC
Engine: 1200cc, parallel twin, 89bhp @ 7400rpm, 90Nm @ 3950rpm, 6-speed
Front suspension: Showa 45mm fully adjustable USD forks, 200mm travel
Rear suspension: Ohlins fully adjustable twin shocks, 200mm travel
Front brake: Twin 320mm discs, Brembo M50 calipers
Rear brake: Single 255mm disc, Brembo 2-piston caliper
Seat height: 840mm
Dry weight: 205kg
Fuel tank capacity: 16 litres