First Rides

Ducati Scrambler 1100 review

Ducati

Ducati has added to its neo-retro range with a big-bored Scrambler, finally. Is it worth the extra cash?

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  • Ducati
  • Ducati
  • Ducati
  • Ducati
  • Ducati
  • Ducati
  • Ducati
  • Ducati
  • Ducati

46,000. That’s the total number of Scramblers sold worldwide, since Ducati’s ‘joy’ ride was launched way back in January 2015. This isn’t surprising considering Triumph’s success with its modern classic range. Triumph offers its range of parallel-twins in both, 900cc and 1200cc engine capacities. Ducati feels there’s a market for larger capacity modern classics and going by Triumph’s sales charts, the claim seems to be true. And to kill several birds with one shot, Ducati has now launched the Scrambler 1100 in India in not one but three variants – Standard, Special and Sport. The standard variant grants you access to the 1100 club; the Special comes with spoked-wheels, aluminium plated exhausts, brushed aluminium side tank cover, aluminium mudguards special grey colour and brown coloured seat. The Sport, on the other hand, is ‘sporty’, with a lower, tapering handlebar, single-sided Termignoni dual port exhausts and Ohlins suspension at both ends. We rode the Special on the outskirts of Bengaluru, around the twisties of Nandi Hill. Sergi Canovas, MD, Ducati India says that the Scrambler 1100 is the perfect upgrade for an existing Scrambler owner? Do we agree with him? Let’s find out.

What’s new?

Many, many things. To begin with, the 1100 gets the Monster 1100’s 1079cc, air-cooled, L-twin motor that debuted almost a decade ago. However, the compression ratio has been lowered and the power output is down by 12bhp and now stands at 84bhp. The torque is a healthy 88Nm. However, both the figures are up by 12bhp and 21Nm over the Scrambler 800. The throttle bodies are all-new and ride by wire makes its debut in the Ducati range, finally.

The trellis frame has been modified as well with an all-new aluminium rear sub-frame to cater to the revised geometry of the big Scrambler. When compared with the Scrambler 800, the wheelbase is up 69mm and its wider too, by 50mm. The rake has been pushed to 24.5deg, 0.5deg more than on the 800. And it packs in a lot of additional muscle mass too, weighing a hefty 211kg (Special variant). You get thick, 45mm Marzocchi fully adjustable USDs at the front and Kayaba (preload and rebound adjustable) side mounted monoshock at the rear. Even the brakes have been upgraded with double 320mm discs doing duty at the front and 245mm disc taking care of the rear. Cornering ABS is now standard and the IMU also takes care of self-cancelling indicators. Last but not the least, traction control also makes its debut in the Scrambler range; there are four levels to choose from and it can even be completely switched off.

But how does the new Ducati feel?

The Scrambler 1100 doesn’t feel like the 800 at all. It’s properly big and muscular, especially when you look at it in the flesh. The X-marked LED DRL integrated headlamp surrounded by thick golden forks reminds you of the BMW R nineT, when viewed head-on. The detailing is exquisite; the single-pod cluster surrounded by thoughtfully designed cables looks stunning. The brushed aluminium bar-ends, dual exhausts and matte black engine casing give it an authentic classic-yet-modern look. If you’re a sucker for neo-retro aesthetics, the Scrambler 1100 is definitely one of the best lookers out there.

Get on to the saddle and you notice how comfortable the motorcycle is. Thanks to its wide seat and even wider handlebar, the Special would make for the perfect touring companion, I think. Similar is the story with the engine. The max power and torque is developed in the mid; way lower in the range, in fact, 1000 revs lower, as compared to the 800cc lump. It’s a very tractable motor, and unlike any Ducati L-twin you’ve experienced ever before. It’s smoother than ever; gone is the gruff and raw feel of the Scrambler and you get a sophisticated motor that feels more mature and grown up. The third cog is all you need to potter around in urban conditions or even for quick overtakes. Slot it into sixth and 100kmph comes in at a comfortable 3900rpm and fret not, you can even get down to 2000rpm without any hiccups and the Scrambler 1100 will pull away comfortably. The limiter hits at about 10,000rpm, but there’s no grunt in the motor after 7500rpm, so it’s best to stick to the midrange. There are fewer vibes too if you stick to the range while the air-cooled engine spits air onto your calves only if you’re pushing it. Fuelling isn’t as precise as Triumph’s but is commendable for a Ducati, all thanks to RBW and new throttle bodies. The clutch felt light too, with precise actuation and while the Special had no false neutral issues, other journos riding the Sport couldn’t say the same.

Ride and handling?

Ducati clearly knew what it wanted the Scrambler 1100 to be. The engine is ideal for cruising and similar is the ride and handling setup. In the stock setup, the ride felt comfortable with nothing to complain about. The suspension soaked up the undulations well with panache and never threw the bike away. Even potholes and ruts are taken care of easily, and the rider never feels unsettled or uncomfortable. With fully adjustable forks at the front and preload and rebound adjustable monoshock at the rear, you can always tinker around as per your weight and riding requirements.
The Special comes with an upright stance and isn’t really ideal for cornering. If you’re looking for excitement, go for the Sport variant I’d suggest. The feedback on the Sport variant from the Ohlins is just incomparable. The Special then is best ridden in a relaxed manner. That does not mean it handles badly, in fact, it’s excellent for the dimensions. The wide handlebar allows for easy turn-in but it still takes a bit of effort thanks to the extended wheelbase and additional mass. While the Scrambler 800 felt like a nice and playful Beagle, the Scrambler 1100 feels like a Labrador. I’m sure it’ll do well around long sweeping corners, of which not many were found in this part of the country. Watch this space for more once we test the Scrambler 1100 in different conditions at a later date.

Buy or no?

The Scrambler 1100 is for someone who’s looking for a comfortable and relaxed mile-muncher. With its butch and handsome looks, you won’t really go wrong. It feels solid and built to last too. Scrambler 800’s power to weight ratio is 391bhp/tonne while the Scrambler 1100 makes 398bhp/tonne. For an adrenaline junkie like me, however, paying almost Rs 4 lakh over the Scrambler for a bump of a measly 7bhp/tonne doesn’t really make sense. But when you consider the average Scrambler buyer, the numbers don’t really matter, do they? What matters is the character and the ‘joy of open roads’ and that’s where the Scrambler 1100 delivers. In dollops. It also comes with modern tech, the traction control is excellent, the clutch is lovely and there’s no skimming of gadgetry. And that has also been the secret to the success of the Triumph Bonneville range. Now which Scrambler 1100 to buy you ask? Buy the Special if you are into commuting and touring; go for the Sport if you love heading to the track, once in a while.

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