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On Trend with Tradition

March 1, 2015

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Review of the Ducati Scrambler

Those sporting skinny jeans, manicured beards and tattoo sleeves are the target as Ducati sets its Scrambler sights on the hipster lifestyle

Story by Costa Mouzouris

Scramblers were the predecessors of modern-day dirt bikes, first appearing around the early 1960s. They were essentially factory-modified versions of street bikes designed for better off-road capability. They were distinguishable by their higher, wider handlebars, high-mounted exhaust pipes, shortened fenders and knobbier tires. Honda produced the CL-series Scrambler throughout the 1960s; Suzuki had the X6 Scrambler in the latter part of that decade; while the first Sportster to brandish a peanut gas tank, the 1959 XLCH, was a high-performance, off-road version of the XLH, with a high pipe, short fenders and semi-knobby tires.

Motorcycles have come a long way since then, becoming more specialized and purpose built from scratch, relegating the modern scrambler to more of a retro styling exercise than an actual off-road bike. Until now, only the Triumph Scrambler maintained the essence of those original off-road bikes, at least in spirit. The latest motorcycle to sport the moniker is the 2015 Ducati Scrambler, and true to the essence of those original machines, it’s a fundamentally simple machine.

Geared to the Hipster

Ducati Scrambler gas tankLike the café racer, the scrambler has seen a resurgence of late, with renewed interest coming from a younger, hipper rider. Yes, the hipster, who’s responsible for the recent rise in stock of facial grooming products and skinny jeans, is also responsible for the new-found interest in these bygone motorcycling genres. The first thing you need to understand about the Ducati Scrambler is that a big part of it is about the lifestyle. And that would be the hipster lifestyle.

Ducati is the latest motorcycle company to capitalize on this phenomenon, resurrecting the style with the introduction of the 2015 Scrambler. The Scrambler is the dirtier version of the café racer, and it’s simple, svelte and customizable, and a perfect hipster fit. A clear picture of Ducati’s target market could be drawn up by just looking at the media invited to the bike’s press launch, which took place in Palm Springs, California. About half the attendees were traditional motorcycle journos; the rest were younger, and yes, hipper riders, and very much into the lifestyle, as hinted by the numerous sleeve tattoos, thick-rimmed glasses and thick, well-groomed beards, and skinny jeans.

The Scrambler name is not new to Ducati, the Italian company having built its first in 1962. It was powered by a 250 cc single, and it enjoyed quite a long run, growing to 350, then to 450 cc, as well as being offered in some smaller displacements before production ended in 1974.

More than a Single Model

Drive test review of the Ducati ScramblerActually, Ducati is introducing four Scrambler models, all of them sharing engines, chassis, suspension and brakes, a single offset gauge, LED taillights and 13.5-litre fuel tanks, though each model has its own, distinct fuel tank emblem and various cycle parts that alter the look. Seat height across the models is 790 mm. The headlight is a unique item that has an LED ring circling the halogen centre bulb.

The Icon ($9,299) comes in red or yellow with a black seat, and has a tall, wide handlebar, and shorty fenders front and rear; it rolls on cast-aluminum wheels. The Full Throttle ($9,995) is black with a sculpted two-tone seat and has a tapered, dirt-track-style handlebar, no rear fender to speak of, and a shorter-than-shorty front fender that hugs the front wheel. It’s also the only Scrambler model to use a Termignoni exhaust with twin outlets: all others use a single-outlet exhaust. It, too, rolls on cast wheels.

The Classic ($10,995) is available in orange, and features a brown, vintage-style seat with diamond stitching, the same tall handlebar as on the Icon, aluminum fenders and spoke wheels. The Urban Enduro ($10,995), meanwhile, is green with a ribbed brown seat and also rolls on spoke wheels. It has a motocross-style crossbar handlebar, mini-skid plate, headlight grille, high-mounted plastic front fender and shorty rear fender, and fork protectors – all items meant to increase its off-road worthiness.

Backyard bike builders will appreciate that all parts on all models are…

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