Ducati Scrambler Café Racer
Top-drawer handling and charisma Continued over
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