Well, the much awaited article on Paul and Pau’s trip through the Scottish Highlands has been published in issue 14 of Motorcycle Explorer Magazine and it doesn’t disappoint. A great article with Paul’s very well explained “Road to Damascus” moment on why smaller lighter bikes bring us back to the joy of riding. Also a great and detailed packing list for the Scrambler. I was particularly happy to read that even with 80 litres of luggage on the bike, the Scrambler remained a joy to ride. This is a must read for anyone interested in Adventure riding and who wants to hear about alternatives to the giant bikes that all manufacturers now make following the (admittedly well deserved) success of the BMW R1200GS.
One of my favourite bloggers of all time, Horcamoto, has just embarked on a Ducati Scrambler adventure doing exactly what I hope one day to do too. For those of you who don’t know the site, it’s a blog/website that tells the tales of two true adventure riders, Paul and his girlfriend Pau. It’s one of the very best sites out there. I don’t think anything/anyone has inspired me more than they have. I particularly recommend their “The way we roll” video series which I have watched countless times but their articles are great too ! They have just embarked on a trip through Scotland on Ducati Scramblers and already have an introductory article and a pictorial up on the site. They will also soon be publishing an article in Motorcycle Explorer Magazine to which they’re both contributors. I can’t wait to read their thoughts and tales !
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.
Ducati has a big range of accessories for the Scrambler. You can find out all about it here. The ones I added to mine (for now) are :
- Belly pan, to protect some vitals when going off-road
- Heated grips, remarkably integrated on the Scrambler with no separate switches and three settings; they work very well.
- Fly-screen, tiny but again remarkably effective; makes high speeds much more bearable.
- Grill for headlight, I like the look…
- Handlebar bag, always useful…
There is more to come.
It was, to be honest, a difficult choice. I like all the versions of the 800. I ended up choosing the Red Icon because :
- It was the cheapest and I have a lot of stuff I want to customise on the bike so it makes sense to not spend too much up front
- I love the Ducati red. Beautiful iconic color (pun intended) that does remind me that this bike is a Ducati.
- I didn’t want wire wheels (although they’re better off-road). The cast wheels run tubeless tires which are both safer and easier to repair in case of puncture.
Next post I will start detailing the accessories that I fitted.
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 :).