Check out this video of a young man about to attempt the world record of the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe by motorcycle. The weapon of choice : a Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled ! I wish him all the very best and have donated to his charity (Movember, a great choice). He will be setting off from the Bike Shed soon and you can follow his adventure on 35000miles.com.
I have been a long time fan of Jamie Robinson and his MotoGeo channel. His enthusiasm for Adventure motorcycling and his always positive friendly outlook make his channel a joy to watch and I am a very happy subscriber to his YouTube channel. A little less than two years ago, he started an Indiegogo campaign to fund a longer film entitled “The Freedom Machine” about a trip on a Ducati Scrambler through Baja California and the people he meets along the way. That film has finally come out and I have just had the pleasure to watch it. It’s not a big departure from the typical MotoGeo fare just a bit more polished and produced (and obviously longer) but it’s absolutely worth the 2.99$ he charges for it. It will also definitely silence anyone who says the Scrambler isn’t a real scrambler :). Here’s the trailer for the film :
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 🙂
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.
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.