IN 1962, Ducati reached the pinnacle of its popularity at the time when the Italian brand launched its original Scrambler model. What was initially spawned as a US-only novelty model quickly became a hit the world over, solidifying the Scrambler’s place in the heart and minds of many until its production ceased in 1975.

Little did many know, it would take Ducati no less than four decades to finally develop the Scrambler’s eventual successor that debuted at INTERMOT last year. With this ‘new’ Scrambler, Ducati has not only revived a legend from its glorious past, it has set out to re-establish itself now using an entirely new approach altogether, targeting the Scrambler towards the less serious but equally fun-loving ‘lifestyle’ enthusiasts quarter of the biking community.

So, when the offer came to test-ride this modern interpretation of Ducati’s popular classic in its regional press ride in Thailand, we immediately packed our bags and geared ourselves up to give this retro revival a go. While there are four variants available, we were limited to just the Icon version in our preview ride. Amongst the four, Ducati chose the Icon variant for us, reasoning that it is the perfect representation of what the new Scrambler is all about. And, after what appeared to be an extensive and unorthodox presentation by its development team, we’re starting to agree with the Italian brand.

 

 

Firstly because the Scrambler Icon we test-rode actually looks good, especially in the yellow hue with contrasting black frame, wheel, and accents our test bike dons. Overall, the Scrambler looks more fitting to join in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride convoy pack than being parked in the pit garages of a track if we were honest, making it one of the coolest bike around than most.

What oozes some ‘cool’ here is the balance between ‘retro’ and modern elements. Highlights here include the classic teardrop fuel tank design, the single round-shaped LCD instrument dial, the long and almost flat bench-like seat, not to mention the modern LED tail lights and LED guide lights integrated in the classic-inspired round headlamp design, as well as the under-seat USB charging port for smartphones and various devices alike.

While it doesn’t appear so, the Scrambler is in fact a very compact bike in terms of size and mass. It boasts a low seat height of 790mm, matched by a tall and wide handlebar design that dictates a more upright riding position, welcoming just about any type of rider, ladies included. On the move, the bike’s light 186kg weight is relatively easy to manage, whilst the short wheelbase of 1,445mm also adds further to the Scrambler’s naturally agility.

While all these are great, the biggest contributor to the Scrambler’s fun-to-ride characteristics comes from the fact that it has a well-balanced engine and chassis package. Encased in the steel trellis frame scaffolding is an air-cooled 803cc Desmodromic L-twin mill lifted from the Monster 796, but retuned with 75hp and 68Nm of peak torque instead. It doesn’t sound like much, but the light and compact Scrambler doesn’t need a lot to get moving.

We love this L-twin mill’s smooth delivery, as well as its very rich low-end and mid-range torque. Furthermore, the Scrambler’s rationale at being a bike capable of both on and off-road dictated the need for its lightness to be matched with a torque-rich engine. The only niggle with the powertrain is perhaps the slightly oversensitive throttle that takes some getting used to.

You’d be glad to know though that the clutch pedal’s pull felt well balanced, and this Scrambler’s specially tuned six-speed gearbox felt just as easy to manage as well. Despite having to keep an eye on the gear indicator on the LCD dial, the box’s mechanisms does not take rocket science to master, and finding ‘Neutral’ with it was surprisingly easy – a characteristic that sees the Scrambler favouring newbies and amateurs.

     

Next comes the excellent chassis suspension setup. Up front is where we find a pair of upsidedown 41mm forks, matched with a single preload adjustable unit mounted off-set in the rear, both sourced from Kayaba. The damping and spring setup leans heavily towards the softer side, aimed for a smoother feel when riding either on or off road. The entire setup does feel sporty to a certain degree, but it is a comfortable ride altogether nonetheless.

Tasked with stopping the bike is a large semi-floating 330mm single disc brake upfront primed with quad-piston caliper, paired with a 245mm disc in the rear with a single piston caliper set, both supplied by Brembo. Given the aforementioned light weight, the single front and rear disc brake setup proved adequate to stop the Scrambler, not to mention the standard-equipped ABS suite keeping the bike’s composure at all times – a very reassuring package altogether.

Should you feel the need to hit the beach, or perhaps take the unpaved dirt or gravel roads, the Scrambler will oblige effortlessly. This is made possible thanks again to its light weight and balanced suspension setup, but the most critical element for this ‘dual-sport’ ability lie in the specially designed Pirelli MT60 tyres wrapped in those 17-inch wheels front and aft. Don’t let the looks of the tyre’s knobby grooves fool you, these Pirelli rubber on the Scrambler work rather smoothly and well when cruising at speeds or tackling corners on the black top. Even when on dirt or gravel, they provide adequate grip and traction, inspiring a lot of confidence for amateur off-roaders like us during our test-ride.

The only other worry is perhaps that small 13.5-litre tank size, which leaves the Scrambler’s ability at being a tourer in doubt. But this alone should not stop you from wanting one, especially if you’re in the market for a bike that is fun to handle and that sports the most style.

 

For us though, the best part about the Scrambler is the fact that Ducati have gone the extra mile for you to immerse in self-expression. Ducati not only revived a fun and stylish classic, the firm brought along with it the full lifestyle package that includes various customisation parts for the bikes, as well as a very extensive collection of lifestyle products to match.

Ducati Malaysia (Next Bike Sdn Bhd) is set the roll the Scrambler into our market sometime later this year. With the Malaysian-bound Scrambler being assembled locally (CKD) in Thailand, it comes as no surprise that our sources inside Ducati Malaysia are hinting us of a price tag hovering around the RM50,000 mark. This, however, remains to be seen. But we are sure that when it finally arrives, many serious and non-serious bikers alike will desire to own one. THORIQ AZMI

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