Jonathan Rea reveals his thoughts on latest WSB title
Will cunning tweaks be enough to keep the best-selling Ducati Scrambler Icon on top?
Launched in 2015 the Scrambler 800 Icon was an instant success. It went on to be Ducati’s best-selling bike in Italy and sold 55,000 units worldwide. I first rode the bike in Palm Springs, California, and immediately realised Ducati were onto a winner. Forget the marketing hype and hipster image; it was handsome, simple, easy-to-ride and at just under £7000, cleverly priced. In a bid to keep the sales rolling Ducati are revamping all four 800 Scrambler models for 2019, starting with the Icon, which gets updated styling, revised suspension, new clocks and switchgear and the addition of cornering ABS.
The basic outline has remained unchanged as Ducati didn’t feel the Icon needed a drastic makeover, so the paint scheme (now also available in this ‘Atomic Tango’) is refreshed; there are new interchangeable sidepanels; the cylinder heads get a black finish with aluminium-finished cooling fins; and the cam belt covers are treated to a machined finish. The end result is a crisper, more sophisticatedsleek, looking Scrambler.
The seat is completely new: flatter, to allow the rider to move freely up and down the bike, and 8mm higher with thicker and slightly wider seat foam to improve comfort. Shorter riders should not be perturbed as the softer suspension (with more travel) still allows smaller riders to touch feet down with ease.
2 DRLs and LEDs
The headlight is the same shape as before but much revised thanks to the welcome addition of DRL (daytime running lights). The clever part is the new LED self-cancelling indictors which are linked to the IMU as per much pricier models in the Ducati range. After you’ve made your turn and started accelerating again, the IMU takes a look at the Icon’s lean angle and wheel speed and automatically self-cancels.
3 Suspension upgrade
The Kayaba suspension looks unchanged but the rear shock spring is new, giving 5mm more static sag and a softer ride, reducing jolting over bumps, and instilling a calmer ride. Increased suspension travel hasn’t affected stability, but the bike has more of tendency to sit on the rear spring when ridden aggressively or twoa up, reducing ground clearance when you are going for it.
4 Extra info
A criticism of the older bike was its lack of a gear position indicator, which would have been particularly useful for newer riders, and the absence of a fuel gauge. Ducati have listened to customer feedback and, while at first glance the off-set clocks appear identical to the old model, they now feature a gear indicator and… (drum roll) a fuel gauge.
Revamped 5 rider aids
Ducati have installed cornering ABS, which means they’ve also added an IMU (internal measurement unit) to measure the bike’s lean angle. The single disc front Brembo arrangement is subtle and unobtrusive; you can only feel the new system intervening when you venture offroad. But, despite the IMU, there’s still no traction control. Ducati say they wanted to keep the Icon “simple, to allow the rider to jump on and ride,” but it’s possible they’ve missed a trick, especially when the likes of Moto Guzzi’s V7 and or Triumph’s Street Scrambler come with TC as standard.
Engine extras 6
The 803cc air-cooled V-twin remains fundamentally unchanged, although quoted peak power is a fraction down at 72.4bhp. Ducati have played around with the fuelling and added a hydraulic clutch instead of a cable, otherwise it’s unchanged, while a new longer-action throttle gives the impression of an engine made smoother. The fuelling is precise, and the low to mid-range grunt of the Icon is more than enough for the road. Like the older model, performance tails off before the redline and lacks a little character, especially given the disappointing soundtrack from the exhaust.
‘It’s a desirable bike, now just a little bit better’
The headlight has a had a handsome makeover
There’s cornering ABS but no TC
The exhaust’s had a cosmetic tweak but is still a bit quiet on the Icon models