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.

Cos­metic tweaks

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

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