Bike Review: Ducati’s new Scrambler banks on price and nostalgia to woo buyers

If you have always wanted a Ducati, but do not consider yourself a hardcore riding enthusiast, the new Scrambler could be right up your alley.

In line with the modern retro - a modern interpretation of a classic motorcycle - the Scrambler was inspired by the manufacturer's single-cylinder models of the same name from the 1970s.

Created to attract new and younger riders to the brand, the marketing strategy for the new Scrambler was as impressive as the bike itself.

The area in which the bike was unveiled (cheekily called "Land of Joy") boasted glitzy multi-coloured lights, yellow container panels (the colour of the original Scrambler) as props, and no fewer than 50 different accessories to fully personalise your very own Scrambler.

Add to that an entire range of Scrambler apparel ranging from 1970s open-faced helmets and goggles to embossed leather belts, matching retro T-shirts and water bottles and you get yourself, as Ducati calls it, a brand within a brand.

Carefully crafted to recreate the coolness of that era, the campaign will certainly make fashionable hipsters who are looking to upgrade to a Class 2 motorcycle from, say, their restored vintage Vespas, sit up and take notice.

Whereas other manufacturers strive to stay as true as possible to the original bike, styling-wise, Ducati has adopted a more contemporary approach, with only the teardrop-shaped tank, upright riding position and round headlights of the original being the most obvious similarities.

In keeping with the times, there is a USB socket and a phone storage area under the Scrambler's seat and a large digital speedometer, which annoyingly does not include a gear indicator or a fuel gauge.

The bike is as basic as "classic" motorcycles get. Free of riding modes, traction control and the usual go-fast riding aids other high-end Ducatis usually come with, the Scrambler is all about basic, straight-up riding fun.

You do get anti-lock braking system, though.

Central to that riding experience is an 803cc 90-degree V-twin engine taken from the discontinued Ducati Monster 796, which has been detuned from 87 to 75bhp to offer a broader spread of torque. Seasoned riders might find power a little wanting, but the twin pulls cleanly from 2,000rpm and offers more than enough grunt to keep most riders happy.

The bike has non-adjustable front forks and an adjustable for preload-only rear shock which, happily, is firm from the get-go to aid handling.

Like all Ducatis, the bike is confidence-inspiring when pushed around corners. Braking, although managed only by a single brake disc upfront and another at the back, is strong and reassuring.

Taller riders will find the riding position cramped at first because of the low-slung seat and high, wide handlebars which feel too close to your chest. But the position makes the bike a treat to chuck about because of the lower sitting position and extra leverage the bars provide.

While the firm suspension and instant throttle response are useful when riding hard, pottering through the pothole-ridden towns along our test route proved that the Scrambler would have been more comfortable and less frisky if its ride was softer (the rear spring was over-sprung) and the throttle response less sharp.

But it is a small price to pay for the bike's dynamics. For while it may lack the comfort and relaxing nature of rivals such as the Triumph Scrambler and Kawasaki W800, it is streets ahead in terms of fun and engagement.

There are four versions of the Scrambler available: Icon (as tested); Urban Enduro, the most off-road oriented model with high mudguards and a headlight grille; the sportier Full Throttle variant with lower bars and a sportier muffler; and the Classic, the most accurate reflection of the original, with its spoked wheels and brown leather seat.

The Scrambler may lack the usual bells and whistles of other high-performance Ducatis, but it ticks all the right boxes in terms of style, simplicity, affordability and badge appeal. In fact, the most lifestyle-oriented Ducati yet could see riders scrambling for it when it arrives in April.

The writer is a regular contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

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