To build the Scrambler to it’s aggressive price, some compromises were made and the most glaring issues are woeful stock suspension and one of the worst seats I have ever experienced on a motorcycle. These two problems combined make the stock Scrambler only suitable for short rides and that is never my intent with any bike. I like to go out for the day and not come back broken ;).
This post is about suspension (more on seat later). The stock Kayaba front and rear suspension is very “brittle” and harsh. With no adjustability except for rear preload, there is not much to be done except change it all out. After 400 miles with the original suspension, I decided there was no alternative but to bite the bullet.
After some research on the internet, I found FTR suspension in Essex. They basically only do suspension work and are Ohlins specialists. I called them and they told me that they had already done quite a few Scramblers and their recommended solution was Andreani front cartridges and an Ohlins rear shock. I booked an appointment and had a beautiful ride over. FTR is located in some idyllic countryside. Some 3 hours of very patient and skilled surgery ensued (no way I could have done this myself) and my bike was transformed. In particular, the fully adjustable Andreani cartridges in the front made a massive difference, keeping the front much more planted and with way more feel. The rear Ohlins was also an improvement although less dramatic. The end result is a bike that handles much better whilst being more comfortable. Job done :).
I would like to also say that the guys at FTR Suspension were knowledgeable, friendly and efficient and that I highly recommend them. They did a great job and were an absolute pleasure to deal with.
At the time when I was ready to place my order (June 2016), there were nine variants of the Ducati Scrambler. It was easy to eliminate all the Sixty2 versions as they come with a smaller 400cc engine and I’m not a beginning rider. It was always going to be the 800 for me. That still leaves six variants and I will refer you to the official site to find out more about all the differences between them. Next post will detail which one I bought and why.
Ducati got a lot of flak for the somewhat cheesy “Land of Joy” marketing campaign (see the video above) that preceded the launch of the Ducati Scrambler. People said it catered too much to the beards and tattoo hipster crowd and that it didn’t do the bike any favours. I think Ducati got one thing right with the Scrambler and their marketing : they brought the word “fun” back to motorcycling. Land of Joy indeed.
The Ducati Scrambler a lightweight sub 200 kg motorcycle with a punchy engine and a go anywhere attitude. It doesn’t come with a gazillion horsepower, rider aids, or suspension modes. It’s a simple air-cooled bike to have fun on. And you know what ? It is fun. Riding it is a joy as it packs a punch at real world speeds, handles telepathically and seems to always invite you to come and have a blast. There is nothing remotely intimidating about it but it’s never boring.
Ducati says that the Ducati Scrambler is what the bike would look like had they never stopped manufacturing their single cylinder Scramblers of the sixties and early seventies. I think they’re right and they have done an amazing job at bringing this bike to the market. It has sold extremely well for them and I think they absolutely nailed it in terms of building the right product for the times. I want fun and adventure again and although I love all things digital, I want to bring back analog pleasures in my life. Nothing beats riding a fun bike on a twisty country lane :).
To begin this story and why this blog exists, I have to say a little bit about me (and it will be a little as this is after all the Internet).
I live in London. I am in my late forties and have a high pressure job which takes me all over the world. Very few weeks go by without me taking a plane to somewhere. It’s a constant in and out of many of the world’s cities without ever truly seeing anything. London has bad traffic and about seven years ago I started riding motorcycles to beat the traffic and avoid the jam packed public transport. Riding has become a true passion of mine.
I like all bikes. Sports bikes, adventures bikes, cruisers, nakeds, dirt bikes, you name it, I like them all. They have different personalities and are a bit like different mistresses for different occasions. A perk of having a good albeit demanding job is that I have been able to afford to sample all of the above and own quite a few bikes (and the stable is ever changing, bikes are easy to buy and easy to sell here).
I like bikers. My experience over the past seven years riding is that you constantly meet nice, varied, passionate people who all share a common love of motorcycles. It’s a true community of like-minded souls who are out and about enjoying the real world in a visceral way. It’s very un-digital. Braving the elements, out in the sun, the wind, the rain, through cities and countryside and just experiencing life mile by mile. They know the journey is the reward (in life as on a motorcycle).
I like travel. Experiencing new places, new people, new landscapes, new cultures has always been a passion of mine. I have found that the simplicity of travel by motorcycle is for me the best way to get to do this. You can’t carry much on a bike and you’re very exposed to everything : people, places, climate. You have to stop often and you have to engage with your environment. To quote Robert Persig’s fantastic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance “you’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming”.
That’s enough about me for the purpose of this blog. Next post will explain why the Ducati Scrambler.