Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle
Just as Ducati adds the Scrambler Sixty2 and Flat Track Pro motorcycles to its suite of metal, dirt track racer, Karen Anderson, cracks it full throttle.
…We’re probably witnessing one of the most impressive motorcycle marketing strategies in recent times. Try finding the Scrambler on Ducati’s website and you’ll be left scratching your head. But Google it and you’ll be lured to a dedicated microsite, the “Land of Joy, freedom and self-expression”.
Ducati aims its marketing of the Scrambler at a fresh audience, but one thing’s for certain: many are drawn to anything evoking a sense of rebellion, sex appeal, and freedom. And motorbikes tick those boxes.
The famous marque launched the original Scrambler back in 1962 with tweaks and upgrades along the way until production ended in 1975.
It aimed at the US market, balancing American and European schools of motorcycling. Its bold colours, black running gear, rounded lines and chrome tank were artistic and rebellious, perfectly embodying the counterculture of the era.
It was considered one of the most delightful machines of the time due to its overall good performance and easy riding position. Back then, off-road bikes differed little from those on the street.
With the modern Scrambler, Ducati draws on the best of the past to create something unique and contemporary. Unlike Triumph, with its ‘modern classics’ range, Ducati gives us “post-heritage”, that is, as if it never stopped building it. The result? A simple, fun bike with bucket loads of charm.
RIGHT ON TRACK
The Scrambler made a solid first impression on me. Its headlight plays a big part in the classic styling, with a round lens encased by a slick ultra-modern LED ring.
The flat track-inspired handlebars are wickedly wide, and lower than its Scrambler siblings for a more aggressive, purposeful stance. Its simple yet elegant tubular trellis frame is the perfect platform for the attractive steel teardrop tank. The aluminium tank side panels are interchangeable – just one of the Scrambler’s many customising options.
The engine is tucked away neatly, with all casings made of machined aluminium, and the low-slung header pipes, are simply sensual. The performance-skewed Termignoni slip-on pipe is a neat feature, but it’s little more than a polished exhaust cover and a big collector box. It gives a bit more bark than the basic item found on the cheaper Scramblers, but you’ll need to spend a further $2389 for the full Termi system for the real deal.
The Full Throttle’s race-style seat is classically shaped and sheathed in slip-resistant material. Under it is a small compartment that stores a trendy toolkit and a USB port to recharge your phone alongside it.
The LCD gauge is a single round unit, clearly displaying speed and revs. The switchblocks are shared with other Ducati models, and there’s that typical Ducati delay between hitting the starter button and the engine cranking.
The seat height is super comfortable even for my 163cm frame, putting both feet flat on the ground. This, paired with the wide handlebars, creates a relaxed vibe while still encouraging you to keep your elbows bent – flat-track style.
The Scrambler can feel a bit touchy off the line. It weighs in at 189kg with a full tank, and delivers 55kW (74hp) and 68Nm, which, combined, delivers very pleasing acceleration. It doesn’t take long to get well acquainted with the Scrambler’s punchy nature, though. The oil-cooled 90-degree 803cc ‘L-twin’ engine is inherited from the Monster 796 with a few of tweaks, and is superbly smooth.
When inner-city traffic requires countless stop-starts and tight manoeuvres, the Scrambler seems intent on making this a joy for the rider. The cable-actuated wet clutch is extremely light (and silent compared with its older dry brethren), which is a big plus as you’re often called upon to use it. This need for frequent gear changes and clutch use, in order to take full advantage of the Scrambler’s maximum torque, is a big part of the fun.
The front brake is a 330mm floating disc with a radially mounted four-piston Brembo monobloc caliper, and the rear is a 245mm disc with a single-piston caliper. With the assistance of confidence-inspiring ABS, it’s hugely effective. The chassis and fork geometry, paired with the wide handlebars, make for a sweet-handling bike that turns on a dime.
The Scrambler rolls on a set of plump Pirelli MT-60 RS dual-sport tyres, which prove extremely capable on the bitumen and dirt roads. With a 110-section front and a 180 rear, the chunky rubber also offers an abundance of grip in the rain.
Speaking of rain – you can expect to get extremely wet up your back section. Charris mentioned this in his review of the entry-level Scrambler Icon (Cafe Racer #2), and the Full Throttle is no different. There’s basically nothing to stop the splash from the rear tyre. Even when it stops raining from above, it continues from below.
Some consolation may be found in the accessories department, where you can pick up a set of aluminium mudguards for around $440. Here’s hoping they’re in line with your style preference.
Like the Icon, the Full Throttle is equipped with a set of lightweight 10-spoke alloy wheels, with an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear that owe their style to the American flat track racers. They’re black, too, as is the frame, upper fork, swingarm, handlebars, tank and all engine casings – very stealth, but hard to keep clean.
ACHES AND GAINS
On the road the Scrambler feels incredibly light helped by confidence-inspiring suspension with 150mm travel at each end. The 41mm Kayaba upside down fork and monoshock with adjustable preload at the rear offer solid stability at speed and pleasure whatever the type of corner.
Dirt roads are a joy too, especially once you’ve accepted the ABS won’t let the back slide out how you’d like. And that’s where the smooth throttle, flat tracker ergonomics and Pirellis come together to ensure the Scrambler is capable on the gentle off-road jaunts.
There isn’t much to dislike about this bike, and you have to remind yourself of its intended role anyway.
For starters, extended highway riding requires a lot of physical effort due to the open cockpit and handlebars. Also, the front of the bike feels a bit flighty when accelerating on the open road, necessitating an aggressive, weight-forward style of riding. This is easier said than done, though, as the wind buffeting at high speed forces you to pull back on the ’bars. There are bar-end weights available from the accessories shop, and they might just make a big difference.
As CHarris also noted in his review, the fuel range is only around 230km, which again isn’t problematic for its intended use. He also likened the odometer, that automatically resets itself once the low fuel light comes on, to a ‘stop the clock’ competition you hear on commercial radio where you have to answer the questions before the bomb explodes. It’s true. How about a distance-to-empty readout? It can be stressful if you’re nowhere near a fuel station. Not so much a problem around town, though.
When it came to shopping for a road bike, it wasn’t long ago that we were limited to sportsbikes, big cruisers and bloated tourers. Venturing off the beaten track? You could go for an ADR-compliant trailbike which, even if converted to a motard, still wasn’t practical for extensive highway use.
I may be wrong here, but I reckon much of the general riding public has a keen scrambler side to them. You just might not know it yet. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve looked at a dirt road wondering where it goes and wishing I was on a bike suitable enough to explore it. A scrambler is traditionally a conventional road bike with some off-road modifications, and the Ducati Scrambler is exactly that. The timing is perfect.
Despite commanding a $2000 premium over its mechanically identical entry-level sibling, the Scrambler Full Throttle (from $14,990 plus on-road costs), is still great value for money.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the Ducati Scrambler range, and now that I’ve ridden one I can see what the fuss is about. Ducati isn’t selling just a motorcycle, it’s selling a lifestyle. The Scrambler is contemporary, minimalistic, and a joy to ride. With an abundance of nostalgic references and options for customisation, it’s a fine example of self expression on two wheels.
This article by Karen Anderson appears in Motorcycle Trader #302