Long before there were big two and three cylinder dual sport bikes, there were scramblers. They gained a sort of mythical status at the hands of people like Steve McQueen who rode them in a way that seemed to make them indestructible. (They weren’t.)
Various recessions, expensive choppers, crotch rockets and the aforementioned big adventure bikes took the steam – and mystique – out of scramblers. Although, Triumph kept kicking out the somewhat reliable version in their Bonneville line up.
Then came Ducati and their Scrambler. They were so intent on making this be different from anything anyone had gotten used to that bore the Duc name that they switched up the brand and the model order. It’s not a Ducati Scrambler. It’s a Scrambler Ducati. That’s how special the company considered this bike.
Well, we finally got a chance to ride one for ourselves, thanks to our friends at A&S Powersports. And now we know what all of they hype has been about.
We were able to get on what’s essentially the version next up from the base – the Scrambler Classic, priced at a fairly reasonable (by Duc standards) $10,495. For comparison, the Scrambler Icon is around $8,900 and the soon to be available Desert Sled (see below) will be around $11,500. So you can see there's literally a Scrambler for just about everyone.
The first thing you’ll notice when you get on the Scrambler is that it feels like a dirt bike. You sit up high but keep the ability to flat foot it if you have anything more than a 30 inch inseam. The flat bars give you the control you might need in a dirtier situation, and the foot pegs are what you’d find on a dirt bike.
When we pulled out of the parking lot on the group demo ride, the first thing we noticed was how quick the Scrambler pulled away from a standing start. It didn’t feel twitchy, although that seemed to be a complaint when it was introduced in 2014.
We rode mostly on surface streets, but at speeds that were decidedly over the limit. (Really, officer, I didn’t know. I was just following the guy in front of me.) This gave us an opportunity to get a feel for what the bike was capable of.
We had no problem keeping up with the lead rider who was on a Multistrada. The Scrambler weighs in at 375 lbs, and while not super powerful, the engine kicks out somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 hp. So the power to weight ratio starts to become noticeable when you really grind your wrist into the throttle. We had no problem reaching freeway speeds and then some with no noticeable buzz in the pegs or vibration in the mirrors.
Our biggest complaint? The back brake sucks. It’s a 245 mm disc with a 1-piston floating caliper. Thankfully the front brake is a more substantial 330 mm disc with 4-pistons…and the bike comes with ABS as standard equipment. A couple of sudden stops made us glad for it.
We weren’t able to take the Scrambler into dirt, so we can’t vouch for its off-pavement ability. Maybe next time. But considering it wasn’t meant to have true dirt capability, we’d probably be content to know it could at least go on the dirt roads or sand you might occasionally find yourself on to get to somewhere your street bike won’t take you.
There are two ways to look at the Scrambler Ducati. It’s either the least expensive new Duc you’ll ever own…or it’s one of what will be a growing number of scrambler models you’ll have to choose from. If you’ve always wanted to go Italian, the choice is obvious.