Ducati’s 234-hp superleggera and the fierce ducati streetfighter might grab all the headlines — and without doubt they are breathtaking to ride — but for a summer evening blast, the new air-cooled scrambler 1100 sport prO is the bike i’ve been waiting for. Why? Because you don’t need to dress like a power ranger or ride on the wrong side of the law to get your kicks. simply grab your leather jacket and (protective) jeans and enjoy the ride and the road. ducati’s big, still air-cooled scrambler is arguably the ultimate summer’s evening bike; so, i couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new, even more desirable sport prO. for 2020, there are two new models to choose from. first, you have the standard scrambler 1100 prO (£11,295, that is, rs 10.73 lakh), which comes with fully adjustable 45-millimetre Marzocchi forks and a Kayaba side-mounted direct shock, adjustable for pre-load and rebound. it comes in an “Ocean drive” livery and with wide bars which you’d normally associate with the traditional scrambler.
then, if you wish to spend a little more money, the £12,795 (rs 12.15 lakh) scrambler 1100 sport prO uses the same air-cooled engine but fully adjustable, 48-mm Öhlins forks and an Öhlins rear shock, again directly side-mounted and adjustable for pre-load and rebound. the bars are now lower, with café racer-style bar-end mirrors and presented in matte black.
revised fuelling for 2020 to make both models euro-5 compliant hasn’t meant any loss in refinement. if you haven’t ridden a ducati twin for a few years, that infamous snatchy fuelling is all but a distant memory. from small throttle openings, it is smooth and precise, with usable torque from low down in the rev-range and a willingness to pull away from slow speeds in a tall gear, a doddle around town.
not as soulful as older generation air-cooled Ducati motorcycles but, taking into account the regulations Ducati have had to conform to, it’s impressive. I, for one, am happy Ducati stayed with a soulful air-cooled motor rather than seeking more power and opting for a more up-to-date water-cooled lump which would be both ugly and relatively lacking in character.
This is usable, unintimidating performance yet still enough to have fun with and to pop the front wheel up in the lower gears. When I first rode the original 803 Scrambler back in 2015 on its press launch in America, I loved its style, image, and handling, but as an experienced rider was left a little deflated by a shortage of power. I wanted another 20-30 hp, just a little extra grunt to chase the odd bike down a country lane, and Ducati answered my wishes with the 1100. Just keep short-shifting through the smooth gearbox while enjoying successive dollops of grunt. If you find yourself revving the Scrambler PRO above 7,500 revolutions per minute and towards the soft rev-limiter, then, sorry, you’ve purchased the wrong bike. Ride the torque, however, and it is more than quick enough, especially as it weighs just 189 kilograms dry.
As you’d expect of a relatively low-revving air-cooled twin, fuel economy isn’t bad, ranging from high 40s to low 50s. The sculpted 15-litre fuel-tank gives a range of around 250 - 275 kilometres, which isn’t bad. The ergonomics are accommodating, more so on the standard PRO, with its relaxed riding position. The unique digital clocks have two trips, a digital fuel-gauge along the bottom and range. There isn’t a km/l readout, though, so you have to work that out yourself when you fuel up.
In the sportier Öhlins-clad Sport version the bars are much lower and straighter, giving an aggressive stance, especially when compared to the standard PRO model with its traditionally wide Scrambler bars. The Sport’s new ergonomics move you further forward in the chassis, while bar-end café racer-style mirrors give the new model a sportier feel.
On the move, you immediately feel the Scrambler’s plus points: ease of use and natural ability, which is mainly due to its intuitive handling and that low weight. There isn’t a getting-to-know-you period with the Sport PRO, instead it’s into the first series of corners with confidence. The Öhlin’s suspension is controlled, but isn’t too sporty-firm; in fact, the ride is comfortable and plush, which is an achievement given there’s no rear linkage on the suspension.
You roll into bends, carry corner speed, feel the feedback through that quality suspension, and use the torque on the exit. The Pirelli MT60RS rubber might be styled like race wets, but the tyres handle and grip far better than they look, plus you have cornering ABS on the way in and leansensitive traction control on the way out. Mid-corner there is ample ground clearance; this Scrambler isn’t afraid of lying in its side.
Just because the standard PRO isn’t dripping in Öhlin’s suspension doesn’t mean Ducati went to Tesco for its suspension. It’s still high quality, with Marzocchi on the front and Kayaba on the rear, with the same adjustment
options as the top model. The MT60RS tyres remain the same, as do rake, trail, all other chassis dimensions, and, according to Ducati, the dry weight too.
That said, traditional, more upright bars give the sensation the PRO model is a fraction lighter, which is possibly because the wide bars give you more leverage that allows you to turn the bike with ease.
Again, on the standard PRO model the ride quality is impressive, possibly a fraction softer with less load on the spring and more laden sag on the rear compared to the Sport. The main difference, apart from the stance, is how the suspension copes with road imperfections, bumps, and crests at speed.
The Sport is more composed: it holds its weight, the suspension moving freely whilst keeping the main body stable and giving feedback — like a swan that’s so graceful on top, legs moving frantically below. On the Marzocchi/Kayaba PRO there is more jolting at speed, it’s not as smooth or as quick to react or iron the road flat like the Öhlins set-up.
At high speed, when you really start to push the handling, the Öhlins set-up is always controlled. On the road, you’re nowhere near the limitations of the Sport’s suspension set-up, but on the standard bike, if you decided to put your head down and really go for it, the limitations wouldn’t be too far away.
But I know what you are thinking: who rides a Scrambler hard and a new or inexperienced rider may prefer the softer set-up of the standard model. If you’d never ridden the Sport, you’d find little to fault with the standard PRO. It’s bit like eating a burger at a McDonald’s: fine, unless you’ve just visited a fine restaurant.
The Ducati safety pack comes as standard on both models (rider aids to me and you) and is identical on both machines. There’s excellent cornering ABS and also lean-sensitive traction control which can be deactivated at a standstill.
To make life simpler, there are three rider modes — City, Journey, and Active — yes, they moved away from the normal “Urban, Touring, and Sport” to keep the Scrambler marketeers happy. City mode cuts 10 hp, offers a soft throttle map, and increase the traction control. Journey and Active are both full power but have different engine and throttle characteristics and TC settings. It’s relatively easy to change between the modes on the move and the simple dash is relatively straightforward and easy to use. There aren’t countless sub-menus within menus and you don’t have to be an IT expert to work it all out.
Non-intrusive ABS is always a bonus, but you could argue whether you really need changeable traction control or a rider mode that reduces the Scrambler’s 86 hp any further, especially on perfect summer days (like the one we had on test) when the grip seems endless. I’d imagine many Scramblers will find themselves in fashionable cobbled city streets of Rome,