On the road Town riding
The big Scrambler has excellent line holding and is a real joy to swing from bend to bend. It encourages you to take wide, swooping arcs and remains extremely stable at all points of the corner. Fully adjustable 45mm Marzocchi forks help give the 1100 Scrambler its super-sized looks and their stock settings work fine for moderate-paced riding on smooth roads. However, up the pace or encounter bumps and the lack of quality soon becomes apparent, translating to a firm, jarring ride and a slight decay in stability. Want a bit more ride quality? Ducati will happily sell you the Öhlinsshod Sport model for £1600 extra.
Like other Scramblers in the range, the 1100 features an 18in front wheel wrapped in a chunky-treaded Pirelli MT60 RS tyre, developed specifically for the Scrambler. Traditionally this combination of large front wheel and dual-purpose-style tyre would’ve created a bike that was ponderous and heavy to steer — but not so the 1100. It steers beautifully, offers a very linear rate of turn and generates lots of confidence-inducing feel through the wide, off-road-style bars.
Though offering a really relaxed riding position via low pegs and wide bars, riding the Scrambler on back roads encourages you to tuck in and brace against the windblast, and ground clearance is not an issue. The 1079cc air-cooled twin is extremely accessible, encouraging you to pin the throttle to the stop at every opportunity. The 86bhp on tap might not sound impressive but the 1100 Scrambler never feels lacking and the sensation of grip and acceleration is very rewarding. There’s good traction from the rear 180-section Pirelli tyre and this is transmitted nicely through the preload and rebound-adjustable Kayaba shock, with little in the way of pitching and squatting. Despite the big Scrambler featuring Ducati’s Imu-assisted traction control, there’s so much mechanical grip in the dry that you’ll never trigger it.
The twin 320mm front brake discs gripped by a pair of Brembo calipers give the perfect blend of power and feel, so much so that hauling it down from speed is an almost unremarkable affair, except for a tiny bit too much fork dive.
Naked roadsters aren’t designed for long trips on the motorway, yet despite this the big Scrambler acquits itself quite well on the open road. The bench seat is both long and well padded, meaning that it’s very easy to stay comfortable between fill ups, which come after the fuel light illuminates at around 130 miles, thanks to the 15-litre tank and 57.8mpg average thirst. No fairing makes cruising at anything over 80mph a bit of a pain, but the windblast is manageable at legal speeds and there are no annoying vibrations at the bars or pegs.
The big Scrambler’s touring prowess starts to come unstuck at the LCD instrument panel, as though it displays all the required info — two trip meters, air temperature, odo, tacho, time of day, and fuel gauge, and features a separate panel for the speedo and gear position — the layout is unconventional and hard to read at a glance. The rev counter sits at the bottom half of the round display,
“The sensation of grip and acceleration is very rewarding”
with the LCD bar building from right to left as the revs rise. It’s also impossible to have more than one meter displayed on the LCD trip computer at once.
The big V-twin is happy at motorway speeds, with the tacho showing 4000rpm in top gear at 70mph; drop to 50mph and the motor is barely ticking over at just 3250rpm. Even in a high gear and at this low speed, the air-cooled twin is acceptably smooth but needs to drop a cog or two for a swift overtake.
The electronic rider aids’ specs are impressive and as they’re powered by Bosch’s gyroscopic IMU they give the bike class-leading cornering ABS and sophisticated traction control with the benefit of self-cancelling indicators.
There are three rider modes: City; Journey; and Active. Active and Journey deliver the same power and torque, the difference being a softer throttle on Journey. City cuts power to 75bhp with a different feel on the throttle. Around town and on urban ring roads, the Scrambler 1100 takes some beating. As well as being nimble, agile and light for darting in and out of traffic, it sounds great, with a distinctive exhaust bark.
With its 810mm high seat, you’re perched up high so have a good view of the road ahead, plus the 1100’s more muscular size makes you feel like the bike has decent road presence when it comes to staking a claim on your piece of our cities’ congested tarmac. Amazingly, it hides its sizeable 206kg weight well when on the move, though it’s a bit cumbersome to manhandle into parking spaces.
If your ride across town involves a lot of clutch work, then you’d be hard pushed to find a bike with a lighter clutch lever. The hydraulic master cylinder and lever are so light it that it makes riding at low speed almost effortless; even the longest filtering session won’t result in a cramped left hand — you can even actuate the lever with one finger, should you so wish. Added to that the clutch and brake levers are finished in black and both fully adjustable via an easy-to-use cog-type adjuster, and offer loads of feel.
Switching modes and selecting menus is straightforward once you know how. The left-hand switchgear has a select button next to the Hi/lo headlight switch, and the indicator button doubles up as the enter or select when depressed. The switchgear itself feels very high quality and it gives reassuringly positive feedback when you interact with it.
Responsive steering and willing engine make for great fun on fast A-roads
ERGONOMIC TRIANGLEThe Scrambler 1100 has a traditional, relaxed riding position with a straight back and high bars WHEELBASE 1514MM RAKE 24.50 TRAIL 111MM
Top right: Twin exhaust gives a lovely note
Above: Aircooled 1100 gives plenty of grunt
Wide bars give good handling but display isn’t great
Indicator switch doubles as enter for choosing menu options