TRI­UMPH’S STREET SCRAM­BLERS

Tri­umph started the whole street scram­bler thing in 1949. We try out the lat­est in­car­na­tion and the clas­sic orig­i­nal

Classic Bike (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: ALAN CATH­CART. PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: MAT­TEO CAVADINI AND ALESSIO BARBANTI

Tri­umph in­vented the genre back in 1949. We ride the lat­est in­car­na­tion along with the clas­sic orig­i­nal

‘THE 900CC MO­TOR HAS BEEN RE­TUNED FOR A GREATER SPREAD OF TORQUE’

Tri­umph re-ig­nited the fash­ion for street scram­blers in the mod­ern era with the T100-pow­ered 865cc Scram­bler of 2006. More re­cently, we’ve seen sim­i­lar ma­chines from Ducati, BMW and Moto Guzzi, but with their new-for-2017 900cc Street Scram­bler, Tri­umph have taken the genre to an­other level. The new model is based on the 900cc Street Twin in­tro­duced a year ago – the first step in the com­pany’s com­pre­hen­sive over­haul of its Bon­neville twin-cylin­der range. While de­signed and de­vel­oped in the UK at Tri­umph’s Hinck­ley base, it will be man­u­fac­tured at the com­pany’s three fac­to­ries in Thai­land. Cost­ing £8900 up­wards in the UK (in­clud­ing 20% VAT), de­pend­ing which of the three avail­able colours is cho­sen, the new Tri­umph is more ex­pen­sive than the en­try-level Ducati Scram­bler Clas­sic by £368, but less costly than Ducati’s more rugged new £9395 Desert Sled or the much more pow­er­ful BMW Rninet Scram­bler with its £10,550 start­ing price.

By the time you read this, the new Street Scram­bler should be in Tri­umph show­rooms, from which they will hope to shift them as ef­fec­tively as they have done with the out­go­ing 865cc model. In do­ing so, its en­gi­neer­ing team headed by Stu­art Wood has taken the Street Twin, in­tro­duced a year ago, and re­tuned its wa­ter­cooled par­al­lel-twin five-speed 900cc mo­tor for a greater spread of torque, and re­vamped the chas­sis for no­tional dual-pur­pose use. But with just 120mm of travel at ei­ther end from its Kayaba/kyb sus­pen­sion, and not a huge amount of ground clear­ance al­lied to a strictly cos­metic plas­tic sump guard, the new model is es­sen­tially a road bike. In a nod to rough-stuff readi­ness, the bike is shod with off-road-friendly Met­zeler Tourance tyres which proved much less noisy or vi­bra­tion­ary than the pre­vi­ous model’s chunky Bridge­stones when rid­ing the bike in town or slow traf­fic.

Even if the sus­pen­sion’s too hard and short-travel in its na­ture to cope with any se­ri­ous bumps or pot­holes, it’s per­fectly adept at han­dling loose-sur­faced dirt roads. This was proved be­yond doubt by an hour of rid­ing around the orig­i­nal Rio Tinto mine north­west of Seville dur­ing a 125-mile ride out into Spain’s south­ern prov­ince of An­dalu­sia. Iron ore, cop­per, sil­ver and gold have been mined here over the past 3000 years, and the new Tri­umph was an ideal mount to ex­plore its Tech­ni­color rock strata by rid­ing over shale tracks. The only nig­gle was that, when stand­ing up­right on

the so-called ‘Bear Trap’ ad­ven­ture-style foot­pegs, your right foot ends up be­ing pushed onto the end of the rest by the stacked high­level ex­hausts’ heat shield.

But there’s still a great sense of con­trol, aided by the light clutch lever ac­tion which also made rid­ing the bike in stop-start Seville traf­fic less of a chore than it could have been. The pre­cise, ligh­tac­tion gearchange is heaps bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous Scram­bler’s much notchier gearshift, and the pick-up from a closed throt­tle is smooth and con­trol­lable. This is a wel­come ef­fect of su­pe­rior fu­elling – es­pe­cially com­pared to the Tri­umph’s Ducati ri­val, which has a much snatchier pick-up in the bot­tom two gears. When it comes to smooth, sup­ple torque de­liv­ered in a flex­i­ble, for­giv­ing man­ner, the Tri­umph is clearly the best of the mod­ern street scram­bler bunch.

This is all just as well, as the Street Scram­bler is a model for which con­ve­nience and cool will ar­guably be more im­por­tant to likely cus­tomers than ac­tual per­for­mance. The zest­ful snap of the orig­i­nal Mcqueen-era TR6C dirt sled (see page 38) has here been re­placed by laid-back look-at-me boule­vard brio. That’s be­cause Tri­umph has equipped the Street Scram­bler with the low­est-spec ver­sion of its re­vamped fam­ily of par­al­lel-twin mo­tors, pro­duc­ing 54bhp at 6000rpm – but much more im­por­tant is the 59lb ft of torque. The lat­ter peaks as low as 2850rpm and holds steady un­til al­most 5000rpm, at which point it only grad­u­ally starts to fall away. This means that hold­ing third gear out of the five avail­able will take you al­most any­where you want to go, at what­ever speed, un­til you hit the open road – and I never once found my­self search­ing for a non-ex­is­tent sixth ra­tio.

The great flex­i­bil­ity of the 900cc mo­tor means that the Street Scram­bler’s true nat­u­ral habi­tat isn’t any­where off-road, but rather city streets. Its spe­cial­ity is traf­fic-clogged roads, on which you can use its easy clutch ac­tion and re­spon­sive but con­trol­lable throt­tle, com­bined with light and im­me­di­ate steer­ing aided by wide han­dle­bars and a skinny 19in front tyre, to plot an ideal course through rush-hour traf­fic. The rel­a­tively tall 792mm seat also helps in this, its height per­fectly judged to be just low enough to sling a leg over eas­ily at rest, but just high enough to see over car roofs and plan where you’re go­ing once you’re aboard.

It also has a sur­pris­ing ‘snug­gle down’ fac­tor that was miss­ing from the out­go­ing model, on which you felt overly perched-on-top of the bike and not a part of it. The new bike’s up­right rid­ing po­si­tion and taller sus­pen­sion com­pared to the Street Twin, plus the wide ’bars make it a fun and for­mi­da­ble traf­fic weapon. Just don’t ex­pect to out-ac­cel­er­ate a Suzuki Burgman away from traf­fic lights, be­cause at 213kg dry the Street Scram­bler is un­de­ni­ably heavy – even if it hides its weight well in terms of han­dling.

The sound of the Street Scram­bler is now as sat­is­fy­ing as its Scram­bler fore­bear’s muted mur­mur was dis­ap­point­ing – the

‘IT’S PER­FECTLY ADEPT AT HAN­DLING LOOSE-SUR­FACED DIRT ROADS’

stacked cross­over ex­hausts give a sat­is­fy­ingly rorty noise while si­mul­ta­ne­ously look­ing good and com­ply­ing with Euro 4 emis­sions laws. And the heat­shield pro­tects the in­side of your right leg in a way that the out­go­ing Scram­bler’s largely failed to do.

A clever com­bined kill-switch and starter but­ton sends the 900cc liq­uid-cooled mo­tor’s 270° crank spin­ning up eas­ily. How­ever, while the con­trols are very light and easy to use, the sin­gle front 310mm disc with its twin-pis­ton caliper gives merely ad­e­quate bite in stop­ping such a hefty bike from speed. The 255mm rear disc gives ef­fec­tive but not ex­ces­sive brak­ing when you step on the rugged lever (a lever which is ideal for off-road use).

Faced with the open road, the Street Scram­bler’s ex­cel­lent low­down torque lets you gear up and go, while the mid-range oomph that its pre­de­ces­sor lacked al­lows you to ac­cel­er­ate smartly into a gap in the traf­fic at 50mph. When the traf­fic clears, 75mph is the Scram­bler’s op­ti­mum cruis­ing speed, with the en­gine turn­ing over at ex­actly 4000rpm – but it will com­fort­ably do the ton if you’re re­ally pre­pared to hold on tight enough. Not many own­ers will want to do that, though – they’ll pre­fer to just go with the flow till they come to a snarl-up, then use the Scram­bler’s easy steer­ing and the ideal view ahead over cars to jink a way through traf­fic.

Out­side city lim­its the Street Scram­bler carves cor­ners with zest and brio – its steer­ing is neu­tral and pre­dictable, with the wide ’bars giv­ing plenty of lever­age as you flick it from side to side. It feels bal­anced and nim­ble in a way its pre­de­ces­sor never did, and that’s surely down to the sharper re­vised steer­ing ge­om­e­try.

So Tri­umph has set the stan­dard even higher in the street scram­bler stakes. Dirt track lanes, clogged city streets, open roads... this desert sled-styled twin is ready to ex­plore any­where.

The 792mm-high seat is a per­fect perch for peer­ing over cars. There’s even a bit of pil­lion...

Cruis­ing speed is 75mph at 4000rpm

Wide ’bars give lots of cor­ner­ing lever­age Tour off-r but n High-end style and low-down grunt are the two big at­trac­tions

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