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Ducati Scrambler: The All-Rounder

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Blinding speeds through highway straights. Check. Ability to change directions at will. Check. Off-road capabilities. Check. Head turning capabilities. Double check. Good!

After being one of the most awaited motorcycles of 2015, the Ducati Scrambler had set our hopes high. Ducati put fears to rest when they unveiled their offering at the Intermot show in Germany. “A contemporary bike that expresses the pure essence of motorcycling,” the Ducati Scrambler is a different breed. And it doesn’t look like something you’d expect from the normally meticulous Italian makers, but not in a bad way of course. That’s because Scrambler’s heritage goes back to the early 1960s when Berliner Motor Corporation-Ducati’s USA importers at the time-conceived the original (Ducati) Scrambler for the USA market. The first Scrambler went into production in 1962 and was modified uninterruptedly until 1968, when the real “long engine cover” Scramblers appeared, followed by the 250 and 350 versions and, in 1969, the 450. The first Scrambler model is universally acknowledged as the meeting point between the American and European schools of motorcycling.DucatiScrambler-4449Its functionality, though, stems from the scramble races of 1920’s England, where riders raced from one point to the other favoring speed over rules. It was pretty simple: get from start to finish in the quickest way possible over whatever terrain that lay before you. In order to comply with the demands of these races, riders had to convert their commercial everyday motorcycles into grass churning, dirt hungry, raw machines that could handle anything thrown their way.

DucatiScrambler-4302Now, correct me if I am wrong, but abrupt and unforeseen changes in terrain seem to hold uncanny resemblance to our very own roads. So, on paper, this should be the most suitable Ducati for our roads?

Ducati claims that their new machine isn’t only that, but a new brand. So, it’s not a Ducati Scrambler, but a Scrambler Ducati. New brand or not, we got our hands on the Icon- the most vanilla of the 4 offerings of the Scrambler- and ripped through the Capital.DucatiScrambler-4094

STYLING

The Icon is a beautiful fusion of retro styling and modern engineering which gives the traditional bikes of the 70’s a present-day touch. A few of the style components stay true to its original, such as the die-cast aluminium of the rear swingarm and the steel of the teardrop tank and frame. These have been integrated with modern but simplistic parts including LEDs around the central bulb of a conventionally round headlight, an LCD instrument that we simply loved.

DucatiScrambler-4608DucatiScrambler-4610Although yellow might be the favorite color, the one we got in Ducati Red seemed to turn just as many heads. The black twin spar steel trellis frame harnesses the dark L-twin air-cooled 803cc engine. Upfront it has a 10-spoke aluminum 18-inch wheel while the rear sports a 17-inch wheel shod with Pirelli MT60 tires made exclusively for the Scrambler. The front suspension is an inverted 41mm fork from Kayaba, while a banana-shaped aluminum swingarm directly actuates a cantilevered Kayaba shock absorber in back.DucatiScrambler-4615A classic, single, round, fully digital gauge displays speed on top and rpm on the bottom. Other displays include two trip odometers, standard odometer, trip fuel indicator, ambient temperature, maintenance reminders, time, and warning lights for fuel reserve and ABS. Other lights are for oil pressure, high beam, neutral, blinkers, and warnings for redline.

DucatiScrambler-4612

To enforce the stopping capabilities, the duties are put on the shoulders of a single 330mm brake rotor, teamed with a radial-mount four-piston caliper up front. In the back, the task is undertaken by a 245mm disc clamped by a singlepiston floating caliper. Braking is by Brembo, which should put the riders’ mind at ease.DucatiScrambler-4626The Icon also features a wide steel handlebar and plush low seating for a comfortable ride. Under the seat you will find some space for storage and a USB port for your convenience.

PERFORMANCE

When it comes to high caliber engines dedicated to propelling a machine on two wheels, it always starts out with a mix of emotions: the anticipation when you straddle the machine, the surging rush of excitement once you start the engine and then the adrenaline that pumps through your veins when you shift into gear and unleash the unbridled power. Along with the excitement comes a fair amount of intimidation; albeit a welcome intimidation that you get when you go from knot to 60 in under 5 seconds.

DucatiScrambler-4405However, with the Scrambler, you don’t have to keep your butt clenched for as hard for as long. Of course that does not mean that it fails to exhilarate the rider. The Icon has a wide up-swept single piece bar and a low wide seat which provides you with an upright riding position but a comfortable ride. Point it to the horizon and you can watch the kilometers roll without having to skimp on the comfort of the ride.

DucatiScrambler-4370Now, before you take the Scrambler for a lethargic kilometer muncher, remember: it hails from an ancestry of fast, ready-for-anything machines. Its shared engine is a detuned version of the SOHC, 90-degree desmo unit from the discontinued Monster 796, its maximum output reduced from 87 to 75bhp by changes including new camshafts and exhaust system. Push the revs and the engine comes to life to prove its competence. On highway straights the Scrambler picks up pace fast with a crisp throttle that can feel sharp on initial openings, so you have to be sure you maintain control. It doesn’t belt like a mean loud monster but it is quick to reassure its position as a serious contender by planting itself on the ground and bolting for the horizon. Shove your shoulder into corners and the Pirelli tires allow you to kiss the apex and follow through without much worry.

DucatiScrambler-4210And it is unbelievably fun and easy to maneuver. As good as it is at prancing from point to point, its ability to change directions on command is equally good. It feels surefooted and nimble on its feet, a talent it showed off aplenty when we lugged it through the tight alleys of Bhaktapur. However, brick paved roads, or any uneven surface for that matter, is not the Scrambler’s home ground. There is a considerable amount of vibration and it really takes a toll on the arms and body after a while.

DucatiScrambler-4604Stopping power is very reassuring, too, due largely to the big, ABS-equipped single front disc and its four-piston Brembo radial caliper.

The Scrambler proved good for long journeys, quick blinding sprints, slaloming through traffic, carving tight corners and making long sweeping corners. In its heart, the Scrambler was built to take anything that is thrown its way. To make sure it stood up to the task, we tested its poise on light-medium off road tracks and it passed with flying colours. It feels at home slipping and sliding through lose dirt and does not lose composure over tougher off road stretches either.DucatiScrambler-4587

VERDICT

Ducati have made the Scrambler anything but fussy. It has no rideby- wire fuelling, alternative power modes or traction control. Yes, serious motorcycle aficionados might prefer something with more horsepower and additional accouterments, but for anyone who just loves riding a motorcycle, the Ducati Scrambler fits the bill. It is a fun and easy bike to ride which is built for all terrain fun. If you fancy a ride across the country, you can get on the Scrambler ride it through the East to West highway and not feel like you’ve been through an endurance test from hell. It’ll be more like the refreshing and meditational tour you wanted it to be.DucatiScrambler-4143Everything about the Scrambler is simple but brilliant. It retains the old school feel without compromising on the modern aesthetics and necessities. Because it is such an easy motorcycle to ride, it is perfect for nervous big bike beginners. But it is also an all-rounder that easily settles into any motorcyclist’s hearts.

The Icon is the basic of the four offerings that the Scrambler comes in. And it won’t sear a hole as big in your wallet as other Ducatis would. When you take all things into consideration, it might even be as practical as a Ducati can get for our roads.

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