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Thoughts on Ducati’s New Scrambler

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In the flurry of new model introductions last week, one bike seemed particularly significant here to us at MD. The Ducati Scrambler. You can see pictures of the four versions and all the details in our earlier article.

We have been looking for a single motorcycle that appeals to both older riders interested in simple, standard-style models and younger, “hipsters” that prefer retro designs that are easily customizable. To us, the Ducati Scrambler is one of the first bikes that appears likely to appeal to both groups.

The Scrambler should offer excellent performance with a torquey 803 cc v-twin, six-speed transmission and a claimed 75 hp. The bike looks light and compact, which the specifications confirm. Just 375 pounds dry, and a reasonably low 31″ seat height (an even lower seat is available as an accessory).

The choice of a lighter, single front disc brake design appeals to us, as well. We remember fondly the old Honda Hawk 650 that stopped well with a single front disc, and the new Scrambler has a much more powerful radial four-piston caliper gripping a huge 330 mm disc. Should be plenty, and it is coupled with standard ABS.

Your reaction to styling will always be subjective, but we think Ducati really nailed it. From the steel trellis frame to the old school round headlight, this is functional simplicity. With one of the most modern air-cooled designs, the finned v-twin only adds to the charm factor.

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We like the idea of an 18″ front wheel, with a relatively narrow 110/80 profile, but perhaps Ducati got carried away with the rear tire (180 mm wide). We think a 160, or even a 150, would have been plenty of rubber out back, and been more in character with the rest of the design.

The 3.6 gallon fuel tank should provide reasonable range, even for touring. This engine should achieve 50+ mpg, providing for a good combination of spirited performance and economy.

Beginning at less than $8,500 U.S. MSRP, we think the Scrambler is priced right, as well. Ducati undoubtedly hopes you have some money left over to buy some of the accessories that will soon be available from the brand.

Can the Ducati Scrambler really appeal to baby boomers and hipsters at the same time? We think it can, and we think it’s going to be a big sales success. We can’t wait to test one.

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200 Comments

  1. Adventure Seeker says:

    Honda Hawk wasn’t a 650. This bike is not an American Scrambler. I scramble with my 1200 Sportster but it doesn’t make it a Scrambler.

  2. mark from toronto says:

    Oh yes I like it quite a but, hopefully Ducati will offer a dual sport kit for it. Air cooled Ducatis are where its at. Well done!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Oh yes I like it quite a but”

      again, this site is about motorcycles. let’s leave the Kim K. chatter for Mirror and the Sun.

  3. joe b says:

    not sure why, but these bikes don’t do anything for me?

    • Norm G. says:

      curious have you ridden one…? if you haven’t, i strongly advocate moving BEYOND simply evaluating bikes static. once upon a time, i used to make this mistake. the “visual” is but 1 dimension whereas there are actually 3.

      #2 is the “audible” component (ie. the visual plus the sound of the bike idling say with a pipe). and finally the 3rd is “motion” (ie. the sound, the throttle response, and the visual from behind the controls).

      until you’ve pulled all that together it’s easy to dismiss kit. the Bonnie’s a good example of this. visually, it doesn’t look like much, sitting idling, doesn’t sound like much. take one for a ride however, and you quickly come to realize there’s a characteristic “buzz” to Triumph’s parallel twin that makes you forget what the bike looks like…? how much it weighs…? and that it doesn’t have 2 million HP…? gear heads know what I’m talking about.

      • slipjoint says:

        As long as the seller refuses to look beyond my ability to purchase, I will demand that they meet objectives 2 and 3 while maintaining objective 1. Motorcycycles can easily made to be attractive and still have a high function level it has been done for decades. I’m sure the motorcycle may perform well, but the styling could have been used on a new sportster. I need to be able to enjoy the walk up to and from the bike before and after the ride. The only good thing about modern styling is that there really is no need to clean a bike now with styling like this it’s akin to polishing dog poo.

  4. blizzard says:

    I’m waiting for someone to do a scrambler that looks as good as the Honda CL72 250 and the CL77 305 scramblers did….

  5. Eric says:

    I dunno… A Scrambler without a high pipe or spoked wheels? Bash plate? High front fender?

  6. motowarrior says:

    OK, I really like the look and the price of this bike, but I have a real concern. A friend of mine who recently retired as a Ducati tech, said that Ducati has gone to liquid cooled bikes for a reason other than power. He said the air cooled motors run very hot, and that the engine paint flakes and discolors. Here in the Deep South, overheating is a serious problem ( I once fried a BMW boxer motor in traffic). Does anyone know about Ducati overheating issues?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I never had any issue with mine, and I caned that bike regularly. The fuel injection was tuned though, so I wasn’t running as lean as factory settings. But I don’t remember a heat issue before tuning the FI either, though that would have been emissions compliant specs from 10 years ago – not sure how much leaner the bikes have to run today to pass.

      My Buell on the other hand can initiate nuclear fission if I get caught at a long stoplight in August.

      • mickey says:

        My son has never had an over heating issue with his Ducati Monster. Lots of other issues, like recurring oil leaks, electrical problems and a locked up transmission, but to it’s credit it has not over heated.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          When I said I never had an issue, I was referring to engine heat / flaking. I definitely had other issues!

    • TF says:

      They run lean (and hot) as delivered so that they can meet the stupid Euro emissions standards. They are certainly rideable though and I never saw my 1100evo even come close to over heating even when stock. I did notice quite a difference in engine temp when I changed my ECU (to add more fuel). The dry clutch engines run even cooler, especially with an open cover. I would not be concerned, they are fun and reliable engines.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “He said the air cooled motors run very hot, and that the engine paint flakes and discolors.”

      I’ve seen this on a friend’s 2v. it’s a modern one (lean Fi) and he does a lot of miles. it wasn’t flaking so much as it puckered. never seen this on any of the old school carby’s (rich conditions aid cooling). not that I was necessarily looking for it, but they used to be every where. don’t know if this is the finish that they’re using, but I’ve seen cured powder coat re-liquify when subjected to enough heat.

      • Norm G. says:

        BEHOLD BEHOLDERS…!!! the friend’s 2V.

        http://tinyurl.com/l3qbslc

        left side cover. notice the popcorn effect.

        http://tinyurl.com/mrmg48n

        front cylinder head. here we have CARAMEL popcorn (mmmnn). it’s really just the dirt embedded into the coating after it molted and then cooled.

        http://tinyurl.com/kxawcc4

        here we have just plain ol’ road grime. no don’t take away from these pics, that the bike is a wreck. these are just close up shots of areas in question, the bike is actually a quite proper and clean red framed/white wheeled S2R 1000 ducati with arrow canisters.

        however, instead of spending umpteen hours “finger f%@#in” the thing…? he actually goes out and rides/commutes on it. he’s never once complained about the heating of the finish as competing in the next “biker build-off” is not his intent.

        not to say that it isn’t a problem…? it’s just not a problem for HIM. a fashionable gent (as much as the next man) just not a Hipster, not an Exterior Decorator.

    • stradakat says:

      No worries about the Ducati twins overheating. Owned a PASO 750 with fully enclosed body work. If it got real hot in summer rush hour traffic, it would start to run rough from fuel boiling in the float bowls but the engine handled the heat fine.

      Ducati air cooled twins are nearly bullet proof. And sound wonderful. Get one.

  7. slimlidlicker says:

    The price is great. The look is a bit funny. Not sure why they even call it a scrambler. I like my vintage BSA/triumph/XS650 desert sleds so I am not timid around heavy things off road, but this thing just looks like it will smash to bits if I were to do something rough with it. Its just a nice regular bike with odd looks and a good price. Definitely not a scrambler by my definition.

  8. Roberto says:

    Ducati manufactures L-twins, not V-twins. You mention that you like the idea of an 18 inch front tire but you didn’t say why? There are a lot more choices with 17 inch tires. I think that Ducati will sell boat loads of these bikes and people will have a blast on them. I noticed that Ducati doesn’t attempt to showcase their engines, not necessarily a showstopper for me, just an observation. The GT1000 was the same, bad timing for that bike. Bravo Ducati, you did well!

    • Dave says:

      Re: “Ducati manufactures L-twins, not V-twins. ”

      They manufacture 90* V-twins (like other brands have and do) and call them L-twins. It’s marketing terminology, nothing more.

      • Ducman says:

        From Wikipedia: “The most prevalent V angle for a V8 is 90” Please tell Detroit, Germany etc, to start referring to 90 deg V-8’s as L-8’s. Referring to 90 degree V-twins as L-Twins is undoubtedly another misguided Harley Lifestyle fabrication.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Is one cylinder longer than the other? I think not. I’m going with V-twin on this one. I leave the L-twins to the brochure writers. ūüôā

      • Roberto says:

        The letter “V” or “L” denotes the cylinder angle degree, not the cylinder length. In the Ducati engine design, it is 90 degrees, hence the “L” denotation.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I am aware as to why Ducati people likes to use the “L.” I just think it is dumb. Going by that kind of logic, only companies running a 45¬į V-twin could use the “V”. Most V8’s are 90¬į, but nobody calls them L8’s.

          See? Dumb. Just my opinion.

          • mickey says:

            So is a Moto Guzzi technically a transverse L , and not a transverse V since the cylinders are splayed at 90 degrees? I’m confused lol

        • DaveA says:

          Ya, um no, it doesn’t. The overwhelming majority of people everywhere, including Ducati themselves, refer to them as V twins in regular conversation (everywhere except the brochure). This is a silly argument devoid of any relevance whatsoever.

          • Jeff says:

            I think it’s the way the engine sits in the frame. One cylinder almost vertical, the other almost horizontal… makes an L…

            That said, I agree, it’s still a gimmick.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I think it‚Äôs the way the engine sits in the frame. One cylinder almost vertical, the other almost horizontal‚Ķ makes an L”

            YAHHTZZEE…!!!

            lose the V (vertical) cylinder and you have neither an L-twin or a V-twin, but a PW50.

        • peter harris says:

          Well – L came into because they cant the engine forward – more “L”ish than “V”ish. I’m feeling silly-ish getting involved-ish.

    • JBozZRX says:

      Maybe old radial engines should be called “asterisk 5’s” or “asterisk 7’s”, maybe “double asterisk 14’s”?

  9. Mars says:

    Wow HS1 – – – – that’s a lot of psychology based on something as thin as what kind of bike a persosn might like. Shallow nonsense, is what I read. So, whoever makes such distinctions and characterizations is, IMO, not worth the consideration. I do not give a crap what some office dorks think of me (in that hypothetical way that many people think A LOT about other people (always, seemingly, “worse” than themselves)). Small minds think about things and people, big minds think about ideas.

    • KenHoward says:

      Nonsense is right: I’m 62, powerfully drawn to this bike (currently own a Bonneville SE), and _still_ don’t even really know what a “hipster” is. Maybe, at my age, it would be a complement to be labeled as one? Or, maybe I’m beyond caring.

  10. Mike says:

    I want to like this bike, but I just can’t get comfortable with it. A lower seat height would help (lower than the 30.x “low seat”). As would a version (there are 4, what’s another one), that is more street oriented – where they will all be ridden anyways. 17 inch front, non-dual sport tires, some wind protection, etc. $8500 + TTL is still a large hunk of change too. We’ll see how it goes in the market with the hipsters and whether they have any cash/credit left after student loans.

    Perhaps I’ll pick one up in a few years for $3500 and put a lowered suspension on it, and make it more street oriented.

  11. Philip says:

    I think the Kawasaki W800 would do more for uniting boomers and hipsters than this bike. I know Kawasaki
    got burnt on the W650, but that was 12 years ago, times have changed.

    • RD350 says:

      Agreed .. they could easily sell a nice scrambler/street tracker or cafe racer based on the W800. I like them better than the Triumphs.

  12. Pete says:

    I want to like it but I don’t really like it. I think it’s the tank. Me no like tank.

  13. Neil says:

    It looks fun. I think that’s the point. The Monster seat, and peg position were horrid. Sport bikes are cramped. Cruisers are boat anchors. Having owned several standards like this, they make you want to ride. They make car drivers want to ride! Young people. Old people. “Can I take that for a spin?” – And if it sells well, I would not be surprised to see an 1100. Watch the video at scramblerducati.com – Looks like a hoot to me. And if these 2d pictures look good. This thing is gonna look pissa in person. (old 70s term for great!)

  14. HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

    I’m interested in the real world answer to the question of whether this bike can appeal to boomers and hipsters. We get a lot of college and post-college age summer employees at my workplace. A few of us regulars talk bikes and they join in out of interest or just being a captive audience. This is their assessment, not mine, of Harley guys. I share not to bash Harley guys, but to show a perspective that the cruiser market might be peaked. They consider them either scheezy old guys or dorky old guys wanting to be seen as scheezy. I asked about young guys on Harley’s and the image appears to be “young, creapy guys wanting to impress old scheezy guys”. Sport bike riders are either engineering geeks or short, comic book loving guys. They don’t really know much about adventure bike riders (some know about The Long Way Down), but when several were pointed out, they thought intense, introverted loners. I’m not sure I get any of these characterizations, but if they are widespread it shows that the narrow niches that are so prevalent have kind of marginalized motorcyclists in general. We have lots of turnover from year to year of seasonal employees and these stereotypes have been independently expressed by employees from different states and college backgrounds. Maybe the Ducati scrambler can bring back what Honda was marketing with their “you meet the nicest people” campaign. I don’t think we are seen as being ” not nice people”, Rather, just as being a little odd in a way that younger people don’t want to emulate. Whatever the reasons, I don’t think motorcycling is as mainstream as it was thirty years ago. I think the hipster, retro thing is some younger people breaking away from the aforementioned stereotypes.

    • Dave says:

      Re: ” I think the hipster, retro thing is some younger people breaking away from the aforementioned stereotypes”

      A convenient part of the hipster aesthetic is that for the most part, retro is cheap. Besides, the hipsters who can afford this will be called posers by the rest who can’t.

      Hipsters started the same way as most youthful fashion movements. A small group distinguished themselves as unique and different (looking) and millions of others have been trying to be included ever since.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      Having lived in an epicenter of hipsterdom (Austin’s East Side), I can tell you that the most bleeding edge, non-conformist would not buy this bike (a black Bonneville will win each time for a non-custom). And that is ok because this type of hipster represents the vanguard of a larger youth movement which would buy this bike. So I think its ok to dispense with the term hipster all together and refer to them as millennials. Will this bike appeal to both millenials and geezers (I am one at 46) I think so.

    • Provologna says:

      One word: paragraphs

      Try it someday.

      • peter harris says:

        another word: punctuation

        Something’s missing – a semi colon, a period – something. It’s driving me crazy.

        I’m starting a new paragraph – this is an ellipse….

    • todd says:

      Wow, an HS1. I own one of those 90cc twins. Not many other people do.