I had the chance to test ride one today. It was an Urban Enduro, which brought me back to the first bike I rode….a 1974 Kawasaki 175 2 stroke. It’s the spitting image of that bike, and just screamed of being the perfect retro\all-around daily commute\fun bike.
For reference, I currently commute on my KTM 350EXC-F Enduro, which also has seen its fair share of Harescramble action, as well as multi day dual sport trips. I rode the 350 to the dealer for my test ride. I wanted to really highlight to myself the “issues” I have with the 350 on the road. It has very little road manners. The slightest bit of wind pushes the bike all around, and despite being geared to the moon, the bike is still turning 63ooRPM @ 63MPH. Not only that, but it has the issue of every stop, it wants to ride along like I’m one of those 12 o’clock Boys in Baltimore.
So on to the actual test ride. Compared to my 2004 Ducati Multistrada (which had a 1000cc 2V motor with dry clutch), this 800cc Scrambler sounded so incredibly quiet. I love myself a beautiful exhaust, but on a daily ridden machine, I hate the idea of pissing of neighbors or traffic while I’m commuting. The bike quickly spurred to life, and walking to the left side of the machine, you immediately realize just how small this thing is. Yes, I had just hopped off my 37” seat height enduro, but I can’t stress how physically small the bike is. That’s ok though, because when you’re using a bike daily, you don’t want to screw with a tall bike thats a PITA to do quick maneuvers.
You’ll notice when you pull in the clutch that the action is incredibly soft. Thank God. I’m baffled by why the Italians install a hydraulic clutch on other bikes, and the clutch pull is like one of those hand toning spring things. The cable actuated clutch on the Scrambler is delicate, and although my test ride machine was set a bit off from how I prefer, it was a gentle pull, with a positive feedback from the lever as you released and felt the clutch engage.
Clicking into gear, yah, the trans is tight. The bike is new, and so that’s expected. If it feels any bit notchy, its likely a combo of new gears meshing together, and if you’re like me with size 13 boots, its you getting used to how the shifter is too short. Subsequent gear changes are plenty smooth, and with the torque of the 800cc L-Twin motor, each gear pulls long and hard (yes….that’s what she said).
Leaning into your first couple turns, you’ll notice again just how low the bike is. If you’re not careful with foot positioning, you’ll be dragging a toe before you know it. Not an issue, keep your toes (and eyes) up, and you’ll be through the turn before you know it. The bike has an nimble agility that is reminiscent of my old Kawasaki. It wants to drop into turns as you wish, yet under power, wants to just sweep you through and on into the next corner.
You’ll surely have read by now that the suspension on this bike is crap. While I can say that it is definitely not primo Ohlins or WP suspension, it is far from crap. The rear has a touch too much compression damping, and not enough rebound damping. That said, the bike I was on had less than 800 miles on it, so the suspension was so far from being “broken in” that its not worth fully commenting on. If you’re one of them anal types who believes the doofuses writing reviews all day….then yes, prepare to spend 1000-1500$ on new boingy things. For what the bike is….I just don’t think they’re needed.
From the suspension complaints to the dreaded “twitchy” throttle, this is one of the greatest internet mysteries to me. I’ve ridden several Ducati bikes. Yes, you can make the throttle feel twitchy. Case in point, cruise around in 2nd gear around the 4000RPM mark. Light throttle adjustments are going to make the bike feel jerky. If this is a problem for you, click up to 4th gear, hell…go all the way to 5th or 6th, and like magic, the jerkiness goes away. If someone can’t figure out how to be in the right gear, sorry that’s their problem. Not a bikes*.
Seat position on the machine is…..just OK. For me at least. I’m 6’0”, with a 32” inseam. At stop lights, I can stand over the bike with several inches between my pants and the seat. This was an odd feeling for me, but again…I came off my KTM 350. Now I have this issue with all bike companies. They all feel the need to make these seats push you into the gas tank. Why? Why? Why? A flat seat would have been absolutely perfect on this bike, but again…that’s ok. The seat once you get used to it does keep you in relatively the same position at all times. It’d help if it weren’t slippery, but then your undies would be getting in a bunch (literally). A lot of folks will complain about the seat not being comfortable….they’re on crack. It’s comfortable…their ass just is NOT used to riding it, and much like the suspension, the foam needs time to break in. It’s like buying a 700$ pair of Italian Oxfords, and thinking they’re gonna fit better than OJ’s glove at his trial. Silly.
So why as my brother mentioned am I not sold on the bike? There are just too many other cheaper options out there that I think could turn my turbine. I’m a motorcycle enthusiast at heart. Through countless bikes over the years, I’ve found that when I’m out riding, I don’t care what I’m on, but purely that I’m out riding. I had hoped that the downright sexiness of the Scrambler would push me over the edge and out writing a check. Unfortunately it just didn’t. I’m still not sure how I feel about that either. If you’ve never ridden a Ducati bike, especially a 2V like this, take one for a test ride. There’s nothing to regret about it.
*Yes, I’m aware of the lean spots that are built into bikes mappings to pass EPA Sound\Emissions requirements. This is yet another reason for some jerky throttle, which again, is quickly remedied by changing gears.