The typical case of an old model being brought back to the market, the Ducati Scrambler was revealed to the general public at the 2014 Cologne Intermot event. But there is a lot more riding on this retro-styled bike, beyond an interesting juxtaposition of new and old concepts, there is the creation of a new culture within Ducati. One could say it’s new from what it never was. Or something that almost was some 40 years ago.
The launch of this bike follows what is one of the most eclectic marketing campaigns by Ducati, likely surpassing the campaign when Ducati launched the Monster, more than 20 years ago. I would venture to say it is impossible for anyone who has navigated motorcycle sites in the last few months to tell me they’ve never heard of the word Scrambler associated with Ducati.
With that, I bet most everyone already has formed an association in their minds of the word Scrambler with a very specific type font, the color yellow, a beach shack, a ship container, a green carpet, and four semi-circle LED lights framing a round headlight.
There is no question Ducati has taken ownership to the Scrambler word much beyond the bureaucratic value of its trademark rights. Ducati has created a unique environment around it and what makes it interesting is the strong hipster focus of the campaign. The Scrambler campaign contrasts with Ducati’s racing and “metro” attitude for all its bikes and related products of the last 40 years.
What is it?
Obviously the important aspect for this bike is what it is and represents, not how it performs, which is consistent with the hipster focus of the campaign. The campaign includes a site subtitled “scrambled people give joy” and where followers can contribute videos for a contest under the “scrambler you are” idea. Selected videos are displayed. The instructions say:
Tell us your emotions, free your spirit with a video for a maximum 120 seconds. Express yourself, your way of life, how you make the difference every day in the present days.
And the subtitle of the announcement for the September 30th world launch stated:
Born in Ducati, grown in the hearts of motorcyclists.
Evidently, emotions trump expectations of performance in this marketing campaign. Therefore, we haven’t seen too many technical details being shown about this motorcycle during the campaign.
But a few specific design items were strategically leaked such as a round dash display, which is seen on the right side of the handlebars on a few of the leaked photos, a dual-sport tire showing a new thread pattern, and a metal alloy tank among other strategically leaked photos. Most of these motorcycle parts were shown in photographs with young Ducati staff that are associated with the Scrambler project, such as the photo below where one staffer uses the information cluster (round dash display) as a wrist watch.
Or this other photo where a staffer is shown holding the tank of the Scrambler. Good to know Ducati is steering away from plastic tanks! At least this is the case for this bike.
But now we know the specs for this bike:
- Motor type: L-Twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled
- Displacement: 803 cc
- Bore x stroke: 88 x 66 mm
- Compression ratio: 11:1
- Power: 55 kW (75 hp) @ 8,250 rpm
- Torque: 68 Nm (50 lb-ft) @ 5,750 rpm
- Fuel injection: Electronic fuel injection, 50 mm throttle body
- Tank size: 3.5 gallons
- Front and rear suspension travel: 6 inches
- Wet weight: 423 lbs
It is the same motor of the Monster 796. But it is revised for improved driveability. Nothing wrong with that.
The Scrambler comes in four options: Icon, Classic, Full Throttle and Urban Enduro. One could probably imagine it being used as a flat tracker. Or a classic enduro as in Steve McQueen style. Or simply a sexy street bike.
Why do I say it is new from what it never was?
The original Scrambler is from before my time, but a simple research tells us the Ducati Scrambler was built by the request of an American Ducati dealer.
Ducati bought into it and the result was a successful motorcycle, which eventually conquered the Italian market as well. This bike’s flexible attitude sold well for a while and created its own culture which Ducati actually used in its market campaign of the time: Potere Ducati or Ducati Power! That was the late 60’s, remember? Flower power and all.
But then there were the L-Twin motors and Ducati’s racing success. There was the Ducati 750 SS, the first win of the twin motor at the Imola 200 in 1972. With that win Ducati started a long string of victories and success and the L-twin motor became a symbol, and icon of Ducati within the motorcycle community.
The Scrambler went away with all the other bikes with single cylinder motors in the 70’s while the L-twin motors are an intrinsic part of what Ducati has become in these last 40 years: a “metro” and racing brand of sophisticated motorcycles at the forefront of technology development. And those single cylinder motors and those bikes of the 60’s and 70’s are considered classics and very valuable collectors’ items today.
Is the new Scrambler going to establish itself based on its history and related audience? The Scrambler announcement states: “Born in Ducati.” That’s where I say this new Scrambler is new, a development from what it never was. This campaign is creating a new ecology within Ducati. It seems Ducati is creating a new market, a new product, and a new image. A Scrambler image first, Ducati second.
There likely won’t be a conflict of personality, hipster and the metro and racing images will be side by side at dealer floors. But we will see a new brand within Ducati. Expect to see motorcycles, gear, clothing, and a varied assortment of accessories under the Scrambler Ducati brand. Definitely something new within Ducati. Something that never was, or almost was in the 70’s.
Ducati’s marketing contrasted with my interpretation by stating the following on the official site of the Scrambler:
The Ducati Scrambler is the contemporary interpretation of the iconic Ducati model, as if it had never been out of production. The style is “post-heritage”: to take the best of the past and create something unique and absolutely contemporary. Anti-conformist, accessible and essential, the Ducati Scrambler is the perfect blend of tradition and modernity and marks a return to the pure essence of motorcycling: two wheels, a wide handlebar, a simple engine and a huge amount of fun.
From the bike point of view itself, its mechanical bits, I agree with Ducati. But this bike is more than a bunch of parts, the campaign indicates it is more than that. And it could actually contaminate other models of the current line up. Or at least the public’s view of Ducati itself. But that is going beyond the current moment, let’s not put too much on this little bike’s shoulders for now.
But to someone who cares about Ducati and its history of the last 40 years, there is an extra value with this motorcycle. The Scrambler carries an interesting juxtaposition of Ducati trends in its soul, the L-twin motor, a motor that never belonged to the original Scrambler. But this twin motor in the Scrambler is going to be the only air-cooled motor left on the Ducati line-up, the latest version of a 40 year-long evolution on such motors. Interesting endings and starts. Despite the many changes and improvements done to L-twin air-cooled motors in four decades of existence, it still can be linked to the very motor that took Ducati to that Imola race win in 1972. Although this bike has nothing to do with the current racing culture, and the majority of people being targeted by this marketing campaign couldn’t care any less about Ducati’s racing heritage, this motor is there and it will carry forward what is now an old tradition under a new idea.
Would such a bike find its way to my shed?
I’ve been looking for a motorcycle that offers a more practical application for city and local riding, something smaller than my Adventure bikes, something lighter and more relaxed. I tried the Streetfighter and I liked it a lot, but it was more fighter and less Street. Within the Ducati line, the Hyperstrada and Hypermotard have been on my short list, for example.
But I also started looking into the classic or standard types of motorcycles. I thought about the Triumph Bonneville and its parallel twin motor.
And the Moto Guzzy V7. The 2015 V-7 has now a 6-speed transmission, dual-channel ABS, and traction control.
But then the Ducati Scrambler got in this mix. I confess the hipster hype is a bit over the top for me. But I can see beyond it. The Ducati Scrambler offers more model choices than Triumph and Moto Guzzi bikes do. Also, the Ducati is lighter and more powerful than the Triumph and the V-7. I suppose I don’t fit the hipster profile, power still matters to me and this bike has it for what it is. And the Scrambler still is a Ducati. Of the good kind. So my choice is with the Ducati as of today.
The only problem is which of the four Scramblers I will pick, and this is a little challenge on itself. Here are the four models.
Icon: This is the basic model. In red the price is $8,495 and in yellow $8,595. It has alloy wheels, and other than that, it is a nice bike.
Full Throttle: $9,995. This is the most urban looking version, and the most hooligan of them. It connects with the flat track racing heritage of such bikes.
Urban Enduro: $9,995. This one best connects with the off road community. You would think this is the one I would pick. I like the spoked wheels but I did not like the high front fender. It will probably be the best seller among the three non-Icon versions.
Classic: $9,995. This one looks the closest to the original Scrambler, especially the one associated with Steve McQueen.
If I had to pick a Scrambler today, it would be the Classic. But what I want is the Classic with the front and rear fenders of the Icon version. Or the Icon with spoked wheels. Maybe once I get it I will have to make some modifications to it…
Anyway, of all bikes revealed at Intermot so far, this one is by far the most interesting. For more information, check the Scrambler Ducati site. And if you would like to order one, check with your local Ducati dealer. If you are in Oregon, check with Scott or Mickey at the European Motorcycles of Western Oregon. I know some people who have already placed orders for Scramblers with them…
And check this video:
It gives an idea about the bikes and also some riding gear that will be associated with this bike. As usual, the Italians do not kid around when it is about design. Have fun!