NEW DUCATI v BMW v TRIUMPH
Are modern scramblers all style over substance or can they really do what their names suggest?
‘Are these bikes all fluff & nonsense or is there actually substance too?’
When I hear the term ‘scrambler’ my heart sinks slightly. It seems nowadays no manufacturer’s range is complete without at least one model branded in this way and as such we have the Triumph Street Scrambler, BMW R ninet Scrambler, Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled (which is technically a double use of the term scrambler), Yamaha SCR950 (with SCR standing for, yes, you’ve guessed it), Moto Guzzi Stornello, Benelli Leoncino and many more besides. So just what is it about scramblers that seems to be sending everyone into meltdown?
Much of it is down to fashion. Custom bike builders started the trend for stripped-back café racers and when the mainstream world copied their lead they looked for a new style direction, leading to scrambler models which combined a minimalist look with chunky tyres and an off-road image. Once again, the mainstream has hopped on the bandwagon and here we are, stood in front of three machines all aimed at the fashionable urban scrambler market. But are Ducati, BMW and Triumph’s retro scrambler offerings all fluff and nonsense or is there substance behind their trendy façades?
Triumph Street Scrambler Scrambler by name, not nature
The clue is in the name when it comes to Triumphõs Street Scrambler. This is a scrambler in badge only and while you can venture off-road thanks to its chunky tyres and spoked wheels, it doesnõt really appreciate it and quite soon you feel guilty as the forks bottom out and stones start to ping off the beautiful detailing. Keep it on the road, however, and it delivers a far more rewarding ride.
Based around Triumphõs 900cc water-cooled parallel twin motor, the Street Scrambler once again demonstrates the British firmõs keen eye for detail. Itõs a lovely-looking bike and also the cheapest on this test, despite
it coming fully-loaded with traction control, ride-by-wire and ABS as standard. The fact Triumph has kept up the façade by allowing the TC and ABS to be switched off is a nice nod to off-roading, but it’s on the street that this scrambler excels.
Sitting long and low with a 790mm seat height, the Street Scrambler delivers a really relaxing ride. The bars are set for comfort and the seat is far more cosseting than those on the Ducati or BMW. And the engine reflects this outlook on life, pumping out a non-threatening 54bhp with a pleasingly gruff note and very few vibrations other than those that add a bit of charm. But this chilled-out nature is almost its downfall.
When you see a scrambler with its chunky tyres and tall bars, you want a bit of attitude and the Triumph doesn’t deliver any. It’s a bit too relaxed and that makes it feel far more of a styling exercise than the other two. It’s a great city bike and would be the one you would choose for a chilled-out Sunday ride, but where the BMW and Ducati get your pulse racing, the Triumph leaves your heart on tick over…
New Triumph is more Street than Scrambler and this is about as lairy as it gets off road
The Desert Sled leads the way when the going gets rough