The best Scrambler ?

It’s been a long time since I posted on this site.  Life just runs along and time flies.  I have however had a good year of riding with some nice European trips and some great events in the UK.

The topic of this post though is the new scrambler I have added to my garage since last February.  I bought a Triumph Street Scrambler in jet black and I have to say I absolutely love it.  I like the classic looks, the absolutely top notch finish, the ergonomics, the sound, the comfort, the electronics (switchable ABS and traction control).  It’s a great bike for in town due to a peppy motor with plenty of low and mid range torque (no top end and low on horsepower though).  It works great on faster roads as well as it’s very stable (also through bends).  This is probably due to it’s rather substantial weight (around 220 kg wet) although frankly it feels way lighter than this figure suggests.  It has the lightest clutch pull of any bike I have ever ridden. I like that it came with beautiful spoked wheels and a set of Metzeler Tourance tires that I have fallen in love with (they work beautifully in all conditions and even off road).  I think you’re getting my gist here: I love it.  As negatives, I would say that the front brake is not strong enough and this bike could do with a bit more power (55HP is nothing to write home about from a 900cc engine) even if what it has is beautifully delivered with all the torque you need where you need it.

I have ridden all the retro Scramblers on the market and I have to say this one is my favourite both to ride and to look at.  Motogeo not withstanding, I think this is the best “freedom machine” ! I will do a comparison with my Ducati Scrambler in a later post.

On the bike I bought, I had added initially as extras the centre stand (superb quality) and beautifully integrated heated grips that work a treat.  I added further mods later but more about that in a future post.  Here’s a picture of my bike when I bought it :

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The Desert Sled Scrambler

The other release at Eicma this year on the Scrambler front is the Desert Sled.  It’s a much more off-road focused version replacing the Urban Enduro (which I regret seeing go, it was the other one I considered when I purchased my Icon).  It has much taller suspension, significantly more ground clearance, a beefed up chassis and looks that immediately bring the old Yamaha XT500 of the early eighties to mind.  I saw it in the flesh at Motorcycle Live and it’s amazing how different it looks to the rest of the family.  Jacking up the height makes it a whole lot less friendly looking, almost intimidating.  This being said, it does seem a logical move on the part of Ducati and I’m sure riders like Jamie Robinson from Motogeo will put it to great use.  In my opinion, it’s too heavy to be a real dirt bike and it will now be carrying it’s weight up high making it a lot less fun.  Definitely not a model that I would consider but each to his own.   Cool video below though 🙂

Scrambler Cafe Racer

I went to Motorcycle Live (the biggest UK motorcycle show) today and got to to see the two new Scramblers in the flesh.  What immediately struck me upon arrival is that Ducati are now definitely marketing Scrambler as an almost separate brand entirely.  They had a huge stand all in yellow dedicated to the Scrambler models and apparel and it was very much separate from the Ducati stand all in red with all the other bikes.  I don’t love this marketing approach but that’s the way they’re going.  I also don’t like the general hipster vibe that they give to the “yellow” brand.  That said both new bikes are very nice and first up we have the new road oriented Cafe Racer (see the video below).  It’s not a bike I would buy as what attracted me in the first place to the Scrambler is it’s easy go anywhere (including light off road) attitude but it does look good.

A Ducati Scrambler, yes. But which one ?

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Ducati Scrambler Models

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.

A little bit about me…

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.