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.

Rustic Road to Ruins Pt4.5 – Riding with a Miata

Well I’m finally back at it. Life as usual has been hectic. My wife is on day shift now, so she’s got a normal schedule which means my post-work rides are a bit more limited. Not too big a deal, cause she likes to go out on the bike with me.

Yesterday I was planning to take a ride out to my parents cabin an hour south of Lacrosse, WI. From my place it’s about a 3.5 hour drive. I figured I could leave early enough to get there, and be back home in time to make some dinner. The weather, my GPS, and my apparent lack of sense of direction had other plans.

I left my place at about 8:30am, got about 5 minutes down the road, only to have it start to rain quite heavily on me. I stopped in at my local skatepark where there is a shelter and tossed on the rain gear. I more or less couldn’t see jack until I was about 10 minutes North of Lake Geneva. I was planning to scoot as quick as I could to Janesville, WI, grab gas, and then take a new route West over to my parents place.

My brother called and said he left a bit behind me in his miata, so we’d try to meetup somewhere along the way. My route had me going through Dodgeville, WI, so I said lets meet there and rock on. Unfortunately my navigational systems were not working. I took a turn too soon in Janesville off of rte 14. I found myself who knows where, trying to follow God only knows what route, and with a bladder that had to be relieved of the gatorade & coffee it had ingested earlier.

I made a pitstop off some backroad and gave my brother a ring. I was watching my clock and realized there was no chance I’d make it out to my parents place and back home in time to make dinner, so we made the executive decision to stop in New Glarus, WI for some lunch. I worked my way along a few back roads to get myself to ummmm 59 or 69 or something like that, which heads North into New Glarus.

Things got real for me at this point. I came to where I’d make a right onto the main road. I saw 2 cars off a bit in the distance working their way towards me. I thought at first…..they’re far enough away, I can accelerate and it’d be no big deal. Then I thought….eh, my brother is a little behind me, and I’m in no hurry, lets just chill, let them go, and cruise behind them.

That choice was a ride saver. About a mile down the road 2 small deer decided to jump out right as the lead car came up on them. You couldn’t see them at first due to them being as small as they were and with how tall the grass was. The lead car nailed one of them sending it spinning down the road. The car behind the lead car more or less just drove around the lead car after they moved to the side of the road. I pulled over and talked to the woman. She was OK and relayed she was glad it was her that hit the deer and not me. Needless to say, I felt the same way.

The ride into New Glarus from there was only a couple miles, so in a way it felt good to be in the relative safety of a small town, and theoretically less wildlife. My brother and I grabbed some lunch, and worked on a route that would take us back home following some back roads.

I relayed to him that I found I am having troubles coming to grips with riding the Ducati on the street. The bike is no slouch, it is plenty fast and I’m wondering if that is the “problem”. As I roll through turns, the bike feels it is going incredibly slow. A quick glance at the speedo tells me it’s not, but it just feels that way. I find myself constantly worrying about the gravel in the roads, and with yesterdays weather, all the dark\wet spots (notably the locations where people decided to shoot their grass clippings into the street). I explained that I don’t have these thoughts or concerns when I’m on my KTM, even with full on knobbies. I can feel with the knobbies the tires rolling and beginning to slide. I don’t get that same feedback with street tires.

I’m sure it’s a combination of not having road raced in a long time, a high power street bike, and just still early in the season to be 100% comfortable with pushing a bit. Or maybe I should go back to a lower power street bike. This thing cruises so smoothly at highway speeds that its hard to dislike, yet I keep finding a way.

On the way back, we managed to end up on a Rust Road that I hadn’t nabbed yet. RR81. I honestly don’t remember what it was all like. More narrow and covered with trees, opening up at the end where it meets 39.

We took some Wisconsin Lettered Roads on home, with us testing a camera setup my brother has been working on for awhile. We managed to capture a pretty rad shot:

And with that, the sun seemed to creep out, giving us a real nice cruise home. After a 250+ mile day, I was back home by 4pm and was able to begin prepping dinner.

Andrew

Edit – Footage from the camera while mounted on my brothers car.

Doocati For Sells

Some business reasons are prompting me to sell one of my machines to free some capital.  I purchased this bike last year and don’t want to sell it, but at times, there are more important things in life.  This time is one of them.  Here is the info on it:

2004 Multistrada 1000DS

34,xxx miles

Heads completely redone this past winter.  New Valves, Guides, re-shimmed, etc.  Millennium Technologies did the work.  They recut the seats to match the Kibblewhite Valves.  Kibblewhite Guides were used as well.  New Athena\OEM Seals were used throughout the top end rebuild.

Belts were replaced at the end of last season, and reused when I reassembled everything this past winter.

I inspected each cylinder bore, as well as pistons & rings.  Everything was well within spec.  If they were not, I would have replaced them.  The engine looked phenomenal on the inside.

Chain & Sprockets are new.  Sprockets are JT with the rear being a JT “quick release” hub.  Making sprocket changes quicker\easier.

The bike has an Arrow exhaust header.  Basically no more Catalytic converter.  The actual muffler part is still OEM.

I installed fresh rear brake pads as well this winter.  EBC HH pads, though apparently Ducati’s are known for mediocre rear brakes.

The bike has heated grips installed underneath some Pro-Grips.

I have also flashed the ECU with the Ducati Performance Map and have also disabled the Immobilizer.  The DP Map is phenomenal.  Fuel mileage suffers slightly, but the low speed throttle is so worth it.  I can flash the OEM Map back on if you want. I’ll give you all the tools to mess with everything as well.  There’s a couple harnesses, plugs, software, etc.  I’ve got it all and have it all documented for simplicity (I made sure to cover my basis….didn’t want to fry my ECU haha).

Outside of that, the bike is bone stock.  I love it.  I love riding it.  I love the power delivery.  The engine pulses make my insides melt with each increasing RPM.  The exhaust tone is pure symphony.  From 6,000-8500 rpm is just absolutely glorious.

The bike has complete Ducati Performance luggage.  I have all the keys for the luggage.  I have all the keys and original owners manual for the bike as well.  As noted above, I also have the software to flash the ECU as well as all the required cables & such.

I have a few custom tools that I built for the bike.  Tools for adjusting valves, loosening hardware, etc.

Not shown in most of the pics is the carbon fibre chin spoiler.  I didn’t like the look of it.  I still have it & it will be included with the sale.

That’s about all I can say on it at this point.  It’s not a perfect bike, but the key thing (heads\guides\valves) were all redone this past winter.  The tires probably have about 50% on them.  I was on the bubble of putting on some TKC80’s, but the bike is far more appropriate on the street (not that I haven’t hit a gravel road or two on it).

If you have any questions on it, let me know.  I just want to move the bike quick as noted above, I need the cashes more than I need this 2nd bike.

I was anxious a few weeks ago and took the bike out on a barely warm enough day:

Some of the tools I made during the rebuild:

(Left to right – Cam Pulley holder, Crank turning tool for adjusting valves, Cam holding screw to keep cam at TDC while adjusting\changing belts, Head Bolt Torquing tool, Opener valve holding tool, Cam Pulley Nut tool)

Motor during rebuild:

Head with new valves & guides:

It’s a sexy motor:

Your adventure awaits:

 

I’m in Northern Illinois.  Basically Southern Wisconsin.  Hour North of Chicago & an Hour South of Milwaukee.  Zip Code – 60081

Price: $4500 obo

Questions? Comments? Additional Pictures to follow (I know people want closeups….)

Andrew

 

Rustic Roads to Ruin pt4 – Loop 2

Rustic Roads Loop 2

This past Tuesday I wanted to get some more Rustic Roads in. IIRC, the weather was iffy in the morning, but leveled out by the time work was done. I topped myself up with a dinner of refried beans, chipotle cranberry cheese, kale, all upon a wonderful Udi’s gluten free spinach wrap. Health conscious and all that . I geared up and I was off……to fillup with gas. 

Here was the rough route:


The map is a little off. I wanted to get away from the main area as quickly as I could, so I hopped on Rte 12 North and set my mental cruise control to get up and away from the local area. I really enjoy being able to make quick time on these roads in Wisconsin. The minimal traffic, wide open roads, 65mph speed limits, and all, it adds up for making up quick time.

I wanted to take a more back way into the first rustic road, and so I kept south of 12 just as I got past Elkhorn. I found some nice roads that while not the windiest, they were still scenic in their own right. I was basically right at the very South end of Kettle Moraine. There was a nice spot to stop for the Ice Age Trail. If you’re into walking\hiking in the woods, this is supposed to be quite nice. I’m not a fan of walking, so any time I’ve spent in this area has been on their Mountain Bike trail system just north of here. I stopped here for a quick restroom break:



I then worked my way up towards Whitewater. I forgot that they are still doing construction in the downtown area. If you’re in the area, check out the Sweet Spot Cafe. They do great coffee and they may or may not have delicious pastries & snacks  My wife & I like stopping in as they do have a good selection of gluten free items if that’s how you roll.

As I worked around the construction, I ended up riding around Whitewater college. It was kind of odd, as the only real memories I have of being in that area were from around 2001\2002 when a band I was in at the time recorded with a friend who was a DJ for the college radio. While I’m not in any bands anymore, the guy who recorded us is, and they’re pretty darn solid. Check em out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qgXEoYptqc4


I worked my way out of town and hit the first rustic road for the night.

RR 88:


This was a mostly straight road. Nothing super about it, but it got me in the mental mindset for chasing down the signs. I’ve noticed that some roads have the # designation at both ends of the road. Others, it’s only at one end or the other. Then there are some that as noted before, have nothing. It keeps things interesting. I reached the end of the road, and worked my way North to the next one. I saw an absolutely rundown road that seemed to be someones driveway, so I hopped on it. It was a real adventure….all 1/8 mile of it  A nice smooth road followed and I was then lined up West to hit the next RR.

RR 84:


This road was mildly populated, but on the West end worked its way around some mucky looking river\creek. I didn’t hang around there too long and really shoulda snapped some extra pictures. I’m seeing there is a minor flaw in my attempts at snagging as many RR signs in an evening, after work, while trying to get home early enough to get enough sleep for work the next day. Minor details.

After 84, it was South from Fort Atkins to catch RR87. This one based on the map had some promise to it.

RR 87:


You could even get your Seal Coating done here. Though there was no phone number. . This road was quite fun. It wandered along quite a few farm areas. I think one road was called Creamery Road. You could smell the pungent farm smell as you wound round the turns. Not really many sweeping turns, but some fun blind 90 degree bends that I seemed to go around far slower than in my mind I should be going triple digits through. 

The reality was also that the sky is darkening earlier and earlier. I had planned for 2 more Rustic Roads for this ride, but the last one would put me getting home around 1030pm. I don’t really mind the lowered amounts of sleep, but I know that deer & other wildlife were gonna be more prevalent now. It reminded me I need to add some additional lighting to this bike. The OEM lights are good, but I’ll never argue with having MORE lighting. 

At the end of RR87, I was greeted with a bridge under construction:


I had no reason to go over it, but every reason to hop on the highway just below it & zip on down to my last RR for the evening.

RR 35:


I had the high beams on for most of the time at this point. It was full on dark out, and I was out in the sticks so to speak. I snagged this last sign and began working my way towards Cr-M. Or at least I thought I was. I hadn’t realized that they were doing all this nice construction up there, so roads I thought were there…..were not. A minor detour later, and I was back on Cr-M (that road on the 45* angle in front of Harmony Twn). I used the moon, open road, and my high beams to my advantage here. I may or may not have made some really good time here. Towards the end of M, there were some nice smooth sweeping 90 degree turns. They had some minor elevation, and needless to say, I would have much preferred to do them during day time. I took what I could get though.

The only issue I had on the route home was as I came to a 2 way stop after my making time on cr-M. It gave me a good sampling of the lovely Brembos on the Ducati. Oh how they grab and pull you top a stop. Just lovely. From here on out, I opted to hop on the main roads to get myself home. I figured there was a bit more safety from critters with this, and it’d get me home quicker. 43 North to 12 South. Both with 65mph speed limits. I set myself to cruise and got myself home.

Trip mileage: 142 miles.

Andrew

Rustic Road to Ruins pt2

Section 1: Southeast


I think Wisconsin is deceptive in its’ size. Or maybe I just think everything should be a closer distance to my home. I don’t know. What I do know is that getting home from my 3rd loop out to Rock County last night took me about an hour and a half to get home…….more on that later though.

I’ll start at the beginning. Loop 1


This was probably the easiest loop for me to get, as I’ve ridden so many of these roads specifically before. I was familiar with the roads, and to be honest, I’ve been on them so many times before, I kinda just wanted to get them knocked off my list. That said, I was out riding, so I was out enjoying. 

1st stop RR 43


This RR is just North of Bong State Recreational Area. I’ve camped there before, nice place. If you’re on an enduro bike, they may call the rangers on you think that you’re riding around on a dirtbike.  

2nd stop RR37


I didn’t feel like I was on a Rustic Road. Yeah it was rough & bumpy, but come on……the houses & pampered lawns had me kinda….ehh. It didn’t help that the further East you are in WI, the straighter the roads…..though there are a few exceptions.

3rd stop RR30


Go figure, both ends of this route don’t list the RR number on their sign. I assume the Wisconsin folk are drunk on cheese 

4th stop RR5


This was a nice slow road right by a little park. I stopped there for a quick Gatorade break.


5th stop RR85


This road follows a creek for a bit, had some minor elevation changes, but beyond that, not too much going on. Pretty smooth.

6th stop RR12


This road is right at the entrance to a subdivision, so a bit slow, but once past that, you’ve got some more decent riding coming up

7th stop RR11


This road kinda loops in with the next road……you could have some fun in this area, but it is only about 10 miles from the more populated Lake Geneva area

8th stop RR36


From here, I shot West on Highway 50 through downtown Lake Geneva, on to collect one last RR. I should have just skipped this one for the night. My brother had ribs & sausage on the smoker, but I figured I was there, why not get it. I got into Lake Geneva only to realize that there was some festival going on. Oodles of people. Not too big a deal, but I feel kinda bad with my dry clutch clackity clackity when sitting at a stop light. Ducati People Problems 

9th stop RR29


This is probably the windiest road of the day. Unfortunately it is right outside Lake Geneva, so kinda prime LEO area. The road winds through some $$$$$ houses\farms\etc. I wouldn’t mind a house here, but sweet word I can only imagine the taxes.

After that I ran myself over to my brothers to chat for a bit. Looking back now, I need to really start snapping some better pictures of stuff other than my bike. I’ll work on that. I get caught up in the moment of riding, and at the time, couldn’t care less about pictures, but we all need pictures 

Trip Odometer – 120 miles

Loop 2 to follow.

Andrew