One of the most successful motorcycles that Ducati will sell in 2015 won't come with Panigale badges on its sides. It won’t have electronic suspension and won’t make anything close to 205 horsepower. Ducati calls this little bike that could the Scrambler, and we’ve just got back from a full day of riding the bike in Palm Springs, CA.
Ducati says that the Scrambler project started with one simple question: “If we had not stopped making the bike (in 1975, officially) how would it look now?” The answer is, well, awesome. Four models will be available in 2015, the Icon, Urban Enduro, Full Throttle, and Classic, each with distinct personalities shaped by specific logo, wheel type, handlebar, and other nuances. In Palm Springs, we rode the Icon model, which separates itself from our next favorite model, the Full Throttle, by color, a taller handlebar, different tail section, and exhaust with an admittedly muted note.
Each of the Scrambler models make use of an 803cc desmo engine removed from the Monster 796, in addition to steel trellis frame and Kayaba suspension. The engine uses Ducati’s 11-degree valve overlap technology for optimum torque, smoothness, and fuel efficiency at low revs (read, simply: user-friendliness). The Monster’s APTC clutch, which is intended to reduce lever effort, and has a slipper clutch design for smoother engagement during down shifts, remains, plus the Scrambler is befitted with a massive 330mm front brake disc and Brembo radial-mount caliper. “So you can say it has half the brakes of a Ducati superbike,” one engineer claims.
That’s kind of a stretch, sure, but quite honestly Ducati didn’t build the Scrambler to prove its technical prowess—it’s got the 1299 Panigale and DVT-equipped Multistrada for that. The Scrambler’s sole purpose is to establish that motorcycling is, above all, fun. And the bike manages that. With aplomb.
Ergonomics on the bike, despite outwardly appearing as though they’d never suit a rider over 6-feet tall, are surprisingly pleasant. The knee angle is tight, as you’d expect for a bike with low-ish 31.1-inch seat height, but not so uncomfortable that it’ll suck the pleasure out of riding the bike. The seat is surprisingly firm, or at least it was on the relatively new bikes that we had the opportunity of riding through the Southern California desert. Maybe a few months of supporting one 210-pound derrière would change the storyline a bit. Bars are surprisingly tall, but place little-to-no strain on your wrists and are wide enough to make steering inputs a figurative walk in the park, not to mention rubber-mounted so that very few vibrations make it through to the palms of your hands.
The only other way in which the Ducati seems surprisingly gruff for newer riders is in its throttle application, which is marred by an abrupt fueling at lower revs, something we’d easily adapt to and forget about by the end of our ride. Neither the fueling nor the seat is a deal breaker, in any way.
Besides, what the seat lacks in comfort, and the fueling in sleekness, the chassis makes up for in outright adeptness. The bike weighs 410 pounds, wet, which is a surprising amount more than, for example, the 357-pound CBR300R. Even still, the Scrambler feels nimble and easy to manage at either a slow or spirited pace. Kayaba suspension is non-adjustable yet never felt like it was being taxed during aggressive riding. In fact, spring rates in both the front and rear feel a bit stiffer than we’d have expected from a bike such as the Scrambler. Maybe it’s harder for Ducati to forgo performance than you’d imagine?
We joked earlier that the Scrambler’s braking package was not “technically” half that of a superbike, but in all seriousness, the brakes work flawlessly, with great, easy-to-modulate power and feel. ABS can be switched on or off through the small-but-stylish LCD display, and never gave us any fits, another assuring indication that, while Ducati has put so much emphasis on fun, it didn’t skimp on performance where it matters most. Likewise, the Pirelli MT60 RS tires provided more feel and grip than anticipated. And this on pavement.
This is kind of the story behind the Scrambler; the bike appears (and in fact is) simple in design, but in many ways, it is more than you could ever expect it to be. That, plus a Ducati-low MSRP of just $8,495, is why this bike will be one of the most successful models the manufacturer sells in all of 2015.
The Scrambler Full Throttle, Urban Enduro, and Classic will each retail for $9,995. You can see each of those models, plus a quick look at Scrambler accessories offered by Ducati, below.
|2015 Ducati Scrambler Icon|
|Type||Air-cooled, L-twin, 2 valves/cyl.|
|Bore x stroke||88.0 x 66.0mm|
|Induction||EFI, 50mm throttle bodies, single injectors/cyl.|
|Front Tire||110/80R-18 Pirelli MT 60 RS|
|Rear Tire||180/55R-17 Pirelli Pirelli MT 60 RS|
|Rake/trail||24.0 degrees/4.4 in. (112mm)|
|Wheelbase||56.9 in. (1445mm)|
|Seat height||31.1 in. (790mm)|
|Fuel Capacity||3.6 gal. (13.5L)|
|Claimed wet weight||410 lb. (186kg)|
* Ducati Scrambler First Look