Test Ride: 2015 Ducati Scrambler
The exciting, retro-inspired motorcycle opens new doors for the performance-driven Italian superbike-maker
Originally introduced in 1962 exclusively in the United States, the Ducati Scrambler was a 250cc single-cylindar thumper on par with much of the enduro-style bikes coming out of Japan at the time. In 1968, its stateside popularity led to the launch of the bike in the European market. But enthusiasm didn't last long, and production stopped in '75. Now, exactly 40 years later, the legendary Italian motorcycle manufacturer is launching a new, 803cc iteration of the Scrambler, inspired by its playful forefather. We were lucky enough to be on hand for the official debut this past week in Palm Springs, California, where we not only gazed upon the exciting new bike, but put over 100 miles under our belt as well.
As a brand that has been primarily focused on insane performance and mechanical sophistication for the past few decades, Ducati knew they couldn't simply unveil the Scrambler as a part of their race-ready fleet. So, they approached the project as if they were creating an entirely new product, and assembled a special team to design and brand the bike. The result is a bike (and sub-brand, really) that is all about fun and self expression.
Four separate models are available, alongside a multitude of accessories and swappable parts to encourage customization—a surprising and encouraging departure for Ducati. Each is differentiated by tank color, seat style and a couple other design tweaks. For all intensive purposes, the inner workings remain essentially unchanged across the lot. To get a feel, we whipped the Scrambler Icon around Palm Desert for a handful of hours, and couldn't be happier with the experience. Some may find the label of "the slowest Ducati currently available" as a put-off, but to many it's encouraging, as the bike offers something for the crowd of riders not entirely interested in hitting the ton on a regular basis (though it will definitely do it).
In short, the bike is definitely a Ducati—it's quick, sporty and rather sleek—and certainly finds inspiration in the '60s- and '70s-era enduros, though it's also not a lame heritage reproduction. In fact, Scrambler Brand Director Mario Alvisi calls the design "post heritage." It's a modern bike, with LED lights, a performance-tuned engine and even a USB charger under the seat. Though the biggest takeaway for us, is that the 2015 Scrambler may in fact be the first Ducati to attract a younger generation of riders that couldn't care less about the Monster or Superbike. And though it's not for beginners, it is a fun, mid-weight bike that's designed with an adventurous spirit.
For a closer look at our experience on the 2015 Scrambler, see the slideshow and visit Ducati's dedicated Scrambler microsite.
Lead image by Graham Hiemstra, all others by Ducati for Cool Hunting