Are mod­ern scram­blers all style over sub­stance or can they re­ally do what their names sug­gest?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Jon Urry MCN GUEST TESTER

‘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

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