Ducati describes the Scrambler as accessible, essential, and “a return to the pure essence of motorcycling”. It’s a modern take on an old idea: motorcycling is fun, simple, and inclusive. Put your Termignoni exhaust note aside, your superior weight-to-horsepower ratio, and your sexy Italian supermodel good looks. The Scrambler is a bike for the people. All the people.
I was graciously invited to Ducati North America’s Cupertino headquarters to experience the Scrambler Icon. I sat on the ’62 Yellow Icon and immediately noticed the relaxed, casual riding stance. My arms and hands were extended at a natural angle. My back was almost vertical. My feet were more forward than I was used to on my ’13 Monster 796. Putting the Scrambler in gear, I pulled away from the parked bikes as the others in my party prepared to depart. A quick loop around the parking lot familiarized myself with the Scrambler’s light clutch, commanding gearshift, and easy throttle.
Though my initial read of the Scrambler’s demeanor was positive, I felt the bike’s communication center to be lacking. The retro-styled LCD dashboard seemed cluttered and hard to read as I glanced at it before pulling onto the road. The engine’s RPMs are graphed around the perimeter of the gauge and I had to take a closer look to determine the readout. Scrolling through the gauge’s special features wasn’t intuitive and resetting the trip meter later after re-fueling took extra time while sitting at the pump.
The relaxed ergonomics remained a prominent feature along my ride. The Scrambler’s friendly suspension absorbed road bumps with ease, but the upright riding stance allowed me to focus on traffic and less on the road conditions. With less of my body weight hanging over the fuel tank, I didn’t need to brace or prepare for road bumps. At stops, the low center of gravity and 31-inch seat height allowed both of my feet to rest comfortably on the pavement.
Using a 75-horsepower version of the Monster 796’s 803cc engine, I found the Scrambler’s throttle and re-tuned demeanor smooth and forgiving. Perhaps due to the upright ergonomics, the Scrambler’s throttle was smooth and precise. Its clutch pull was light, which made shifting and throttle matching easy. The Scrambler’s refined engine felt at home in stop-and-go traffic with minimal protest at low speeds or low RPMs. While my Monster 796 would growl and grumble when being held to speeds under 40 MPH, the Scrambler’s engine seemed to be perfectly tuned to handle a crowded city street.
A calm demeanor in traffic doesn’t mean the Scrambler was a slouch on the open roads. When the situation called for it, the Scrambler easily picked up speed and passed slow- moving vehicles. It seemed equally at ease flying along Highway 1 with the sparkling Pacific to your right and rolling California foothills to your left as in caged city traffic.
The Ducati Scrambler is a new direction for the brand and its lineup. With new offerings in the Panigale lineup, the all-new Multistrada, and a re-imagined Monster collection, Ducati’s motorcycles have focused on the exclusive, eye-catching exotic. Much like its signature yellow color, the Scrambler is a departure from Ducati’s norm. The Scrambler is inclusive with its welcoming styling, easy riding manners, and lifestyle brand.
Ducati sees the Scrambler appealing to many different riders. “The Scrambler rider is anyone who wants to jump on two wheels and enjoy the spirit of motorcycling. It’s not a product that takes itself too seriously and we don’t expect the owners will either,” said Ducati North America’s Marketing Director Arrick Maurice.
“Traditional Ducati products have been and continue to be developed around the idea of pushing the boundaries of design, technology and performance to deliver an experience that is truly moving,” said Maurice. “The Scrambler was developed with a much simpler goal in mind: deliver a Ducati offering that embodies the joy of riding motorcycles. The end result is a product that possesses the soul of a Ducati in a package that is incredibly fun and more approachable to a broader audience.”
When I got back home and took a quick ride on my Monster 796, I knew the Scrambler could never be a replacement for the Monster’s naked aggression. But the Scrambler would make you think twice when choosing a bike for the day. An easy, sunny ride on the Scrambler? Or a grumbling, untamed ride on the Monster? It’s your decision...
Story by Ryan G aka "Little Ms Moto": Instagram