Du­cati Scram­bler Café Racer

Top-drawer han­dling and charisma Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Road Test -

New for this year, the Café Racer takes the Scram­bler’s frame and 803cc en­gine and adds road-bi­ased sus­pen­sion, 17in wheels with sticky Pirelli tyres, clip-ons and lots of nods to 1970s Du­cati glory – the No54 on the side panels for ex­am­ple is in hon­our of Bruno Spag­giari, the man who fin­ished just be­hind Paul Smart in the iconic 1972 Imola 200.

At £9395, it boasts build qual­ity at least equal to the BMW’S. From the cast top yoke to the neat dash (a car­ry­over from the other Scram­blers) to the well-formed rearsets and bars, ev­ery­thing feels pre­mium. A good ex­am­ple is the brakes: even though the bike is run­ning a sin­gle disc at the front, it has a Brembo monoblock caliper and a proper ra­dial mas­ter cylin­der. The stan­dard twin-exit Ter­mignoni is well con­ceived, mean­ing you’ll prob­a­bly never need to shell out on an af­ter­mar­ket can. Even the fuel cap is a work of art.

The light­est, short­est bike here, the Café Racer boasts the best han­dling of the bunch. Helped by a steep, 21.8° rake and 93mm of trail, the bike flicks with ease. Easy to boss in any en­vi­ron­ment, it re­ally comes into its own as the speed gets higher, and is aided by com­pli­ant but sup­port­ive sus­pen­sion and Pirelli Rosso II tyres. Du­cati see the bike ap­peal­ing to ur­ban­istas – wealthy new rid­ers and peo­ple want­ing a sec­ond bike for Sun­day fun. All of them would ap­pre­ci­ate its han­dling and road man­ners.

Though the bars are 155mm fur­ther for­ward than the Scram­bler Icon this bike is based on, at 81cm the stretch is more than bear­able and feels sporty, con­nected to the front wheel. And with min­i­mal bike in your pe­riph­eral vi­son it al­most feels like you’re fly­ing...

And while the 74bhp out­put won’t ex­actly set your beard on fire, it is spir­ited and happy ei­ther cruis­ing along in its tall top gear or chas­ing shift lights on a wide-open throt­tle, rev­el­ling in the in­duc­tion roar. There’s some­thing for ev­ery­one.

While it is a lot of money – £600 more than the Tri­umph – it ex­udes joy. The only real down­side is also one of its strengths. The Du­cati makes small peo­ple look large and large peo­ple look like gi­ants. If you’re over six foot it may well be worth hav­ing a glance in a shop win­dow on a test ride to check. But if you like what you see, with good fi­nance and strong resid­u­als, the Café Racer makes sense. And at least you can take ad­van­tage of those ex­cel­lent Brem­bos if the car in front stops.

‘The light­est, short­est bike here, it’s also the best-han­dling’

Revving it out in each gear soon be­comes ad­dic­tive

Du­cati runs rings around the Tri­umph in the bends

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