Mid Spring Moab Dual Sporting (Day 2)

Lord have mercy, Day 2 in Moab would prove to be a body buster.  If you’ve been to Moab, you’ll know that you don’t have to ride very long distances to put some hurt on your body.  Day 2 found us riding a relatively short distance, but on some of the gnarlier stuff that Moab had to offer.  The day was going to be John T, Brian, and myself.  In a group of 2 or 3, you can really knock out some rides.  Brian was only in town for a short time, so he was looking to get some riding in.  I can’t blame him.  When you drive 1300+ miles to a location to ride, you want to ride…..and ride….and ride.

First one must gear up for the ride:

So that is what we would do.  What to do first though?  First up was decided that we would ride a section none of us had ridden before.  Close by, and some of the reviews said “if wet…..don’t attempt”.  Silly jeepers can’t handle rocks apparently.  We decided as well that we would ride Steelbender North to South, so that we’d be closer to more riding after the section was done.  From what I recall of the beginning, the trail was a good mix of sand, and rocks.  Some moderate obstacles were in along the way, but nothing that was unmanageable. This section of the ride, it was early, I was mildly tired, and thus resulted in me taking minimal pictures.

Somewhere along the way of Steelbender, Brian offered up his 500 to me.  I was intrigued to try his bike for a couple reasons.  One was that I wanted to see what I was missing with having the 350 instead of the 500.  Two, Brian had some fancy re-valved forks on the bike.  I want to say Pro-Action 3 way valving, but I may be wrong here.  Three, Brian runs a steering damping (Scotts) and I run nothing on my 350.  Anyways….I was glad I got to see the difference.

Power wise, there is a pretty easy comparison.  The 500 has the power of the 350, but from 0 revs on up.  I know it has more, but it was smooth, linear, and while it could rip  your arms out, you didn’t have the feeling like it was constantly going to run away from you.  The 350, you gotta be up in the Revs to be pulling all its power.  On top of that, with the 13/48 gearing I was running, you could feel the slight lack in pep vs riding back at sea level at home.  Suspension wise, while I felt that the re-valved forks were good, I didn’t think it’d be worth spending the money to get my forks reworked.  If I were racing AA on a weekly basis, yeah the OEM fork valving needs help, but for the 99%…the stock valving is pretty darned good (spring rates aside).  The steering damper is another thing, well I had no idea I was testing a bike with one.  So in that regard, I didn’t notice any ill effects.  Brian stated that he loves his, though only had it due to it being on the bike when he got it.  Again, I suppose it could help, but the prices on those……

Bike testing aside, once back on the 350, I felt back at home, though down on power.  I missed that, and realized that if I had to have 1 machine, that the 500 would for sure be it.  We meandered along the trail, enjoying some nice overcast sky.

Brian and John discussing the trail thus far:

The bulk of the trail looked like this:

That last pic is a bit of a lie.  Yeah, just about everything in Moab is 2-track, since its all Jeep created (motorcycle specific areas excluded).  What you just don’t get is how you go from a flowing sandy 2 track section, to knee high rock boulders in the middle of the trail, requiring instant clutch work with a healthy dose of body english to not go bashing your rims like a bowling ball into rock ledges.

Some of those rocky things behind me:

You can see John T coming down a bit of these rocks here:

As we worked our way to the end of Steelbender, it was apparent why going the opposite direction of us would have been a PITA.  There’s one bad hill climb, that if wet, would be nearly impassible.  At the end of the trail is a nice creek crossing, which had some depth to it due to recent rains.  We had a small crowd (2 ladies walking their dogs), so we all did our best to not drown any bikes.  Success was had, with us working our way West out of the area to intersect with 191 and decide our next course of action.

Enter…..Behind the Rocks:

We saw we were close to Behind The Rocks, and I secretly saw that it connected with the back entrance to Pritchett Canyon, so I was all for doing this.  The pic above shows what is the first obstacle to get into Behind the Rocks.  After Brian and myself worked our way up Guardian Hill….we pulled out the lawnchairs and watch John.  This climb is one of those commit, and line selection.  The added difficulty being that at the top, it’s all sand, which gets really kills your grip along the way.  If you have a hard time with balancing….this one could prove difficult.

I snagged a quick video of “helping” John :lol3

Brian has some good video leading up to Guardian Hill, as well as all of our climbs up it.  Sweet word these videos don’t do this place justice:

 

Looking back at that video….I see I was of 0 help with getting John and his bike up the hill.  Woops :lol3.  Behind the rocks though, would prove to be a great combination of sandy stuff where you can just rail the bike, combined with technical rocks, and some wicked climbs and descents.  We found ourselves on a quick little off-shoot, which was a nice place to stop for a quick snack break.  Good time for some of the peanutbutter balls my wife makes for me:

Then how can you NOT like stuff like this?

Along the way, you end up at an absolutely gnarly downhill.  There is a go-around, but Brian and I felt we were up for the challenge.  I missed taking some pics at the top, so I’ll do my best to describe it.  This downhill had several lines to get down it.  The main issue though with most of the lines is that at the end of each, there was a 4-5′ drop you had to do.  I’m not one to shy away from such dangers, but figured I’d choose to most conservative approach of the available lines.  Brian chose to be Mr. HotRod & do one where he jumps off at the end.  My video….which he makes it look like you’re rolling off a curb at Starbucks:

Brian’s full video, you can get a bit better grasp of what you’re dealing with:

From here, you work your way down, around, and through the woods….to White Knuckle Hill we go.  I didn’t know what it was at the time, but soon understood why it was called that.  I began riding down, to realize that the route I’d chosen…..well, wasn’t the best.  Luckily I was able to stop, reposition, and square of the direction I wanted to go.  I did capture a nice pic while I scouted my lines:

As soon as I got down, I saw John & Brian scouting a much different route….one that appeared to have less ledges\etc.

At this point, we weren’t far from the end of Behind The Rocks, and were seeing the sign for Pritchett Canyon.  It was decided we’d better eat a snack before heading on, as we’d been told that Pritchett Canyon is one of the hardest trails in the Moab area.

I suppose it’s possible that they could be right (trail goes down off that ledge…)

TBC

-Andrew

PS – If you’re interested….All off Brians videos are posted here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_Rof1UeU6rqyGsBwTd7GTw/videos?shelf_id=0&view=0&sort=dd

Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 5

Day 5 (Thursday) – Gays Mills, WI back home.
All good things must come to an end.  My forks (which had been leaking since day 1) would thank me.
I woke up plenty relaxed after a relaxing evening.  I had all day to get the 180 miles (taking highway) home.  I was in no rush, and for the first time on the trip, I was flying solo.  Caleb had his 690 loaded on his trailer, Jameson was off in Minneapolis and on his way to ride some more at Black River Falls.  I had a general idea of how I wanted to get home.  I wanted to just work my way west, and around Janesville area, work my way to State Line Road, follow that home, and end up in one piece, with no issues.
I snapped a couple quick pics before I left my parents.
Red suspenders…ready to roll!
The sky was overcast, I was stocked up with random snacks in my tanktail bag, and I was excited to be back on the familiar Seat Concepts seat.  I decided to ride South on 61 until I got into Boscobel (South of the Wisconsin River).  Normally when driving out this way, I stay North of the River.  I figured I’d switch things up a bit.  What a great decision.  As soon as I began exiting out of Boscobel I saw what looked like the perfect off-shoot to take.  I found myself winding through old farm lands, weaving into darkly lit tunnels of trees with a fresh feeling of early Fall in the air.  No sooner was I enjoying the ride, when the sky opened and began a light rain on me.  I didn’t care.  It was part of what I was riding, and with the time I’d spent on my bike in the past few days, every move I made, I felt one with the machine.  No concerns that I was riding over wet leave strewn roads.  I was in my element, a very happy place.
This twisting and winding went on for a good hour and a half.  Look over there, yah that road seems good, let’s take that.  Where does this one go…..OK, let’s find out.  So I continued on attempting to somehow delay the inevitable of more open corn\farm fields and the reality of getting back home.  That was OK though, as I was feeling accomplished.  Thinking in my head, just a few days prior, I had just started to ride out this way, pondering……will this little 350 single do this?  This high strung race bike, how far away am I going to be when something on it pops.  Who’s gonna take one for the team and drive my truck way out here to pick me up.  It never happened.  My bike without a hiccup was doing everything (and more) that I asked of it.
The rains eventually began to subside, which gave me time to stop and enjoy an early lunch snack.
I ended up only stopping another time or two on the remainder of the trip home.  My bike at some point needed fuel and I needed another round of gas station food (pop tarts and nutbars).  I really found myself enjoying the scenery.  Yes, it’s open corn lands, but there just seems to be a calm in it.  Nobody around, just the delicate wind to keep you company.
With that, I found my way home.  My wife was at work, so I was greeted by my pup.  You can see my eye was still bugging me from the mosquito incident early on in the trip.
My total tallies were in….GPS Total:
Bike Total (put a 1 in front of this…it rolls over at 999):
Left at 11:30am Sunday, and was back home by Thursday 2pm.  Right around 4 days of actual riding time.  Awesome.
With that, Day 5 Map:
For me, I could have continued riding this stuff for the next several weeks.  I’m sure anyone else would say the same.  I had been wanting to do a trip for awhile where I ended up in a new location each night.  There is something exciting about not knowing exactly where you’re going to sleep.  What you’ll do for food, what kind of fun you’ll run into as you cruise down the road.  I knew going into this ride that the little 350 was far from an ideal machine.  I didn’t care.  If it blew up, I’d deal with it.  It wasn’t the most comfortable of bikes, but is motorcycling ever about being comfortable?  For me, it’s not.  There is something about being open and vulnerable to the elements and being that much closer to your surroundings.  All that said, for a ride like this, I’d love a bike with a bit more giddyup.  Had I of been able to cruise more comfortably over 60-65mph, you could really cover ground a bit quicker.  It’s ok.  I wouldn’t hesitate to take the 350 on this trip again, and would gladly hop on it tomorrow to go ride the same thing again.
This is a ride that anyone in the Midwest area should add to their list of rides to do.  There is nothing inherently technical with it.  If you’re not a fan of sand, there really isn’t all that much of it.  There are some ATV trails, but if you keep your pace reasonable, they’re nothing to be concerned about.  One thing that I found after this trip was that my ability to drift my bike went through the roof.  I’m not sure if it was the hours of fun on gravel roads with (in my eyes) glorified street tires, but I rode an Egg Hunt race not long after on the 350 (albeit with knobbies) and was so confident in riding with both front and rear wheel sliding out on me.  I couldn’t have been happier.
Post ride, my only real complaint was with my Garmin Montana.  I don’t know actual times\mileages, because as soon as I hooked my GPS to my computer, it freaked out and I lost all my data.  Kinda crappy to happen after the units first use.  Garmin stepped up and sent me a new unit, so all is well…just no data.
And so it ends.  I’m looking forward to spending some time this next year scrambling around the Driftless area.  I foresee several more trips to the area.  That much is true.
For a few other random pictures from the trip see:
Andrew :drink

Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 3

Pre Day 3 Notes

I had sent my Ride Report thus far to my brother who after a quick discussion sparked a bit of introspection on this ride. Looking back on what I wrote about Day 2, I felt like what I wrote was rushed. Recalling back however, this is pretty well inline with how Day 2 was for me. Day 2 was filled with what was the core of the best riding areas of the TWAT. At that point, we were out of the flat open corn fields of Illinois, and were winding our way up and around the Driftless area of Wisconsin. Not only that, but we were bang on track for riding the trickier terrain of the Black River Falls area. By the time we got to the Black River Falls area, Caleb was zonked, I was feeling the affects of riding a KTM 350 for quite a few hours straight, and I was getting sick of Dust. Not only that, but as the day wore on, we were all relatively indecisive about where and when to stop. The day was just a rushed one, but that is more or less the story of this trip. A lot of distance covered in not a lot of time. That was OK though, because tomorrow would be a new day.

Day 3 (Tuesday) – Hawkins, WI to The End of the TWAT……and Back :huh

We woke up relatively chipper in the morning. Our camp site was more or less a staging area for some ATV Trails. As I noted before, I was a bit concerned about us riding on the ATV Trails, as at this point with our non-existent internet access, we were unable to do some online reading through the evening. We went with our gut, and figured that if the publicized TWAT had us navigating on some of these trails, we would be OK. Looking at my GPS, I hadn’t realized how close we were to the end of the TWAT. We did some rough math, and figured that we’d be at the end by noon.

For me, it was a nice refreshing way to wakeup. I’m plenty comfortable on my bike in just about any condition (aside from ice, unless I’ve got studded tires), so despite having a street oriented dual sport tire setup on my bike, and the somewhat slick ground conditions, I was really enjoying myself. The sky was slightly overcast, the trails were winding, with the right amount of dirt\sand mix, and I found myself able to ride a brisk yet comfortable pace.

After the ATV Trails, we wound up at Rustic Road 111
[​IMG]

Now at this point, we were I dunno, 50-100 miles into our available fuel. I hadn’t been worried on my 350, as I’d been get 55-60mpg, and had 4 gallons of fuel. Jameson’s 950 was holding plenty of gas, but Caleb was beginning to worry about his situation. He had done the TWAT the year before and was concerned about a section which was muddy, and which he rode…..at night. It was early morning for us, so I wasn’t concerned about the trail conditions, however, I don’t like having to tow bikes due to running out of fuel. At this point, we pulled a bit of an audible and took a straight shot North on Cr-GG to refuel in Clam Lake.

Cr-GG for me, embodied the essence of the trip. The morning air was calm. The road was lined with beaufitul trees as far as you can see. A feeling of “being out there” began to fall over me. With my 350 humming along at 60mph, I had felt what I’d been looking for with this trip. I knew we weren’t far from the end, but this section just felt right. On top of this, we were graced by the quick sight of a wolf running across the road. I had to rethink this over, as my mind kept thinking, was that a coyote….no, much too large for that to be a coyote. A wolf, a desolate road, with calm cool air. This was where I wanted to be.

Like all good things, this road soon came to an end. We refueled in Clam Lake, and set off North once again. Unbeknownst to me, I would soon lose my SPOT Tracker shortly after this fuel stop. From Clam lake, we worked our way up to the Delta Diner. Yes, the silver restaurant near the end of the TWAT.

[​IMG]

You can likely tell from the picture that we were the only ones there. Lesson learned was that they are closed on Tuesdays. That’s ok, cause we weren’t really hungry at this point. In my mind however, we were only a few miles from the end of the TWAT. As it turns out, this isn’t quite true. We still had a few miles to go. After the Delta Diner, there were some awesome fun sand roads. I know, a lot of folks hate riding sand. You gotta embrace it. There is nothing quite like riding full throttle, railing turns, just locked in like you’re Bob Hannah. I love personally love it, but I suppose years of riding the sugar sand of Michigans UP will do that for you. A bit further down the trail, and we had our first glimpse of Superior

[​IMG]

Around 12:30, our projected time, we reached….The End. Holy anti-climactic Batman. I kid you not. We thought we got to the wrong spot. We were at some sandy dead end road. Jameson took the lead, and found there was a short maybe not so legit trail to climb down to the shore. Sure enough, we found ourselves on a beautiful set of large rocks, crystal clear Lake Superior water, and some vintage graffiti to enjoy a snack.

Hey look….a selfie:

[​IMG]

A stolen picture of Jameson from his instagram:
[​IMG]

It’s just after noon. The sun was baking on us. And so the talk began. Were we or weren’t we going to jump into the water. I know I needed a shower, but dipping my hand in the water….yup frigid. What the heck, let’s make this trip official. Off came the riding gear and with a run on some slipper rocks….off we jumped into the water. Hells horses was that cold and refreshing. Sure, I was only about 10′ from the rock itself, but sweet word, that water sucked the breath out of me and I felt I was a mile away. We spent the next 20 minutes or so making random leaps into the water. Each time claiming it was getting colder and colder trying to find a more convenient way of climbing the rocks to get out, without looking like a beached shamu whale.

After enough shinanigans, we felt it was time to move on and work our way sadly South. We knew we had skipped some sections of the trail, so figured that we’d snag these on our way South. We had the time, so why not? Our first order of business was to get gas in Redcliff, and zip South through Bayfield and on into Ashland, WI. We stopped in at the local Wal-Mart. I stocked up on some ramen\water\etc (also grabbed myself a fancy new coffee mug). I wanted something to eat, so talked the group into going to the local Culvers. This was a good choice, as my subconscious had reminded me that Culvers are pretty good about keeping their restrooms clean…..ideal for someone who isn’t overly fond of pit toilets and what have you (hey…..I got attacked by a bat in an outhouse….that’ll scar anyone :lol3).

Jameson, in his infinite wisdom snapped a picture of us as we were to set off from Culvers. We left culvers according to my phone at 4pm.
[​IMG]

I’m not sure if it was at this point, or when, but we began heading south. It’d been a good day of riding thus far. We were heading South, and figured we had plenty of time. It was when we went to refill with fuel at Clam Lake (again) that I realized that I had lost my SPOT Tracker.

Jameson gave me the stink-eye making me feel like a fool for losing my tracker :lol3
[​IMG]

I did some critical thinking. According to my phone, my SPOT was just up the road. It was roughly 5:15pm, and I wasn’t communicating very well with Caleb & Jameson. I (in my mind) explained to them that the SPOT was thankfully a couple miles up the road. I said I’d go zip up the road, and look for it. I thought Caleb was fixing something on his bike, so felt I had plenty of time to go up the road, find the device, and get back to the gas station, where we’d rendezvous to then find camp.

I get to where the SPOT is supposed to be, and yeah….I’m not seeing it. I got a bit worked up with myself, because, it shoulda been there, and how did I lose it, and I’m tired, and insert long list of reasons here. I went up and down the road & trail looking for it. I decided to put the GPS coordinates into my Garmin, and see if maybe I was looking at things wrong. At this point, my Garmin tells me the SPOT is like 20 miles straight line away, at what looks like a persons house. I kept thinking, how the crap could the SPOT’s reported location be so far off from what my Garmin showed. Meanwhile, my phone was bouncing in and out of reception, and I’m getting text messages from Jameson\Caleb that they don’t know where I am. Then I get one that they’re going to look for a place to camp, and what have you. It’s getting mildly darker, I realize I’m becoming impatient about my situation, so decide…..who cares about the SPOT, let’s go meetup with the guys, and enjoy camp.

I zip my way back down the road and stock up on adult beverages at the Clam lake gas station, and end up meeting Jameson & Caleb at Day Lake Campground. Go figure, we manage to pick a spot where the past campers decided to dump their gray water. Thanks wankers. They did leave us a nice empty bottle of Smirnoff with some flowers in it.

Only about 800ish miles in:
[​IMG]

Caleb posing while posting at Day Lake:
[​IMG]

The lake was calm, and very relaxing:
[​IMG]

We setup camp, got a fire going, and retired relatively early. The wind had picked up pretty good. Caleb told us to hop into his hammock to see what it was like. It was an awesome view of the clear sky and bright stars. That said, with how much the trees were swaying in the wind, I’m not sure I coulda slept in that all night. On the ground, in my tent for me.

Day 3 Map
[​IMG]

Andrew

Day 4 to Follow –

Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 2

Day 2 (Monday) – Soldiers Grove to Hawkins area, WI?
We woke up around 7am, and realized we had made a terrible mistake.  Our first night on the trip, was us living lives of luxury.  We had beds, fridge with food, running water, and yes, a shower.  Caleb was found sleeping in his car outside.  I think he slept for an hour after whatever wedding he was at, and drove his way out.  He arrived bearing gifts of breakfast sausage, and other tasty foods.
A quick look outside showed that we’d be riding in some beautiful weather.  Sun was out, and found us getting out on the road quite late around 9am.  The portion of the TWAT from Soldiers Grove area on up to Black River Falls area is mostly road, and maybe some minor backroad stuff.  OK, I think it also takes you through Wildcat mountain area (though we may have bypassed this?).  Yes, now looking back I recall what happened.  We wound our way through many random fields and Amish areas.  We did some math, and felt if we wanted to get to the sandier and more off-roady areas, we’d create some bypasses of our own and get up to Black River Falls area.  At which point, we made our first stop along the way
A side road on a sandy section of the TWAT –
[IMG]
I think at this point I finished the last of the peanut butter bars my wife made me.  They were supposed to last the trip, but hey……I can’t fight the hunger feeling.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am not the best at taking pictures.  The next I have along the way are some additional Rustic Road pics.  This was just on the outskirts of the BRF area.
[IMG]
We zipped along, at which point realizing that there were some open gravel areas.  I don’t mind going as fast as possible on these roads, but Lord help me if that KTM 950 doesn’t kick up some killer dust.  Jameson was rocking some Terraflex rear tire that was like a 3 mile long smoke screen of dust.  The 690 wasn’t as bad, but sweet word.  So as we scooted along, my eye spied another Rustic Road sign.  I let Jameson and Caleb zip away as I snagged a quick picture.
[IMG]
You’ll notice in the above pic how my luggage locations changed.  This changed probably each day as I found a new configuration to put things.  Yes, I managed to burn some straps, and lose an item or two.  Such is life.
Along we went, with us needing to take a quick break.  Again, I don’t remember where, or exactly when.  I do remember though that Caleb had found that his rotopax gas tank he had on his bikes rear rack had broken the rear rack.  We found a stellar spot along the way to stop and fix things.  We had a lake, a parking lot, shade, pit toilets.  What more could you ask for?
[IMG]
An hour and a half later, my gatorade had decided to work its way through me, requiring a quick pit stop.  I waved Jameson & caleb past and hung tight for a bit to let some of their dust settle.  We were mildly confused on the Wisconsin ATV Trail markings.  When you see a motorcycle, with a line through it, you tend to think….motorcycles shouldn’t be there.  That’s not always the case as we’d later learn.  Street legal motorcycles are acceptable.  This relieved me a bit, as I don’t like riding where I don’t belong, or am not allowed.  We have too few of trail systems as it is, I don’t want to be the one to screw that up. :deal
[IMG]
Jameson scratches away some dust:
[IMG]
Caleb ready to keep groovin and a moovin:
[IMG]
After the more off-roady aspect of the area North of Black River Falls, things basically turn into farm lands.  Wide.  Open.  Farm.  We scooted pretty quickly at this point, with each of us keeping decent distance to keep the dust as tolerable as possible.  Around 6pm, we figured we better figure out what we were going to do for camp.  We stopped at a gas station I really wish I knew where (mapping shows Hawkins, WI) to get some quick food stuffs.  At which point I sent my wife a stellar high fashion photo of myself.
[IMG]
We figured at this point, we’d continue to follow the trail, and see where we ended up.  Around 630, Jameson figured we better really buckle down on location.
[IMG]
We found ourselves on an ATV Trail.  I was in front (350’s are the fastest of course), with Jameson following Caleb.  Caleb ended up washing out his front tire, so we decided we really must buckle down. and find camp.  After a few minor detours, we found an appropriate locale for sleeping.
[IMG]
We realized in our spot we had no cell signal.  I sent my Check-In\OK signal on my SPOT, but figured I’d walk to the entrance of our camp spot to see if I could get any reception.  I hopped on my bike without my gear\helmet\etc.  Go figure, I get a danged mosquito in my eye.
[IMG]
Yah…that one on your right.  The one that’s making your eyes water right now :lol3
We relaxed through the evening.  Cooked some foods, and around 9 or 10, Jameson decided he needed a cup of coffee.  I odn’t understand how he did it, but he did.  Caleb and I retired to our separate chambers.  His a hammock nestled between a couple trees.  Mine, my trusty Kelty tent.  Not 2 minutes after getting into my tent, Caleb begins snoring like a bear.  Thankfully, I was tired and zonked out quickly.
End of day, I think we did 275-300ish miles?  I sadly don’t remember.  It was a great day of riding, and I was ready for what the next day would bring us.
Day 2 Map
Day 3 (Tuesday) to follow.
Andrew

My Ducati Scrambler Review – Urban Enduro

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.

Andrew

*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.