There is no question heritage, classic, retro-looking motorcycles continue to be popular. There is something about that basic motorcycle design where a gas tank looks like a gas tank, the motor is visible and it is air-cooled, and headlights are round.
Back in 2014 at EICMA, two years ago exactly, Ducati jumped on the heritage motorcycle trend creating the Scrambler Ducati brand and introduced the four heritage models: Icon, Urban Enduro, Classic and Full Throttle. At that very same time they announced the Scrambler brand would be expanding its line of motorcycles very soon.
And they followed up on their promise and less than a year from that time three new bikes were announced. These new bikes carry very small changes to the themes already available, they are the Sixty2, the Flat Track Pro and the limited edition Italia Independent. In total today there are six different Scrambler models, seven when including the limited edition Italia Independent.
Now the Scrambler Ducati brand is getting ready to announce two new models: a cafe racer and a desert sled. The question is, how different will these new bikes be from the bikes in the current range?
First of all, if we really go down to the essence of these bikes, there are only two different models on the current line up: The Sixty2 and the rest of them. The Sixty2 is the entry model with the 400cc motor (the same 803 cc motor from the other bikes, but stroked for less displacement to meet entry level rider requirements in key markets). Along with the less powerful motor, the Sixty2 has a list of components that were downgraded to bring the bike as close as possible to a better entry level point, or lower price point, including a double swing arm, for example.
The other five models are variations on the Icon theme. What changes from model to model are colors (tank and seat), tank side cover, handlebars, fenders, wheels (spoke or cast), exhaust (silencer only) and a small set of accessories. That is, aside from the Sixty2, all other bikes on the Scrambler line are, in essence, the same motorcycle in different configurations.
The Cafe Racer
We have not seen photographs on the cafe racer, the new model which be will announced on November 7th, except for the few seconds of video on the Scrambler Ducati site. But we can speculate freely, right? What we know is that from all the 803cc bikes, the one with more radical differences from the rest is the Italia Independent and it is the one that mostly resembles a cafe racer. But it is a limited edition motorcycle.
My take on the upcoming Cafe Racer is that it will have some similarities with the Italia Independent, but it will be priced to be more affordable.
It will likely have the same 803cc motor because, well, with Euro 4 emissions, I doubt Ducati will invest on the upscale of that portion of the bike. It is just a guess, but if we take in consideration these are bikes are designed for urban use, then 803cc and 70+ hp is plenty of power for urban and around town riding. What matters on these bikes is that the motor is air-cooled, and it sounds like a real motorcycle, and a V-twin makes a lot of sense for a Cafe Racer styled motorcycle.
Based on the very short video on Ducati’s site, one other item to consider for this bike would be spoke wheels. Judging by what we could see from that video, the mirrors could be bar-end mirrors but positioned above the handlebars, and the handlebars appear to be taller than what you find on the Italia Independent.
On the other hand, there is the Full Throttle, which is the most “urban” of the Scramblers, in my opinion, with lower handlebars and its color. I believe the Cafe Racer will be an improved Full Throttle or a downgraded Italia Independent. Same motor, black color or other dark color(s), lower handlebars than Full Throttle, but higher than what we find in the Italia Independent. Outside of the middle position between these two other bikes it could have (or I would hope to see) a flatter seat, spoke wheels, and a typical cafe racer tail to complete the package. Of course, it should have a different exhaust note as well.
As a consequence of this speculation, and if I’m halfway correct, I would not be surprised if the Full Throttle is discontinued, since Ducati already offers the Flat Track Pro as an option for what the Full Throttle seemed to be destined to do in the first place. Actually, to me the Full Throttle had an identify crisis, a split personality, as it looked more urban than all the other models, but at the same time it seemed as the most appropriate flat rack version on the Scrambler line.
The Desert Sled
The other Scrambler to be launched in a few weeks from now is going to be called the Desert Sled. We have seen a spy photo of this bike before, and we have written a post speculating about the bike on the spy photo as a more appropriate Enduro version on the Scrambler line.
When I say more appropriate, I’m talking about more appropriate enduro than the Urban Enduro is on the Scrambler line.
However, again, I believe the upcoming Desert Sled will only be a variation on the current theme. Will it be a better Urban Enduro? Similar to how I see the Cafe Racer, I believe the Desert Sled will have the same 803cc motor, for example, and from there just accessories but hopefully components that are more tailored for real enduro use than the current Urban Enduro is.
Judging by the spy photo, for example, the Desert Sled will have the same single front disc as the Urban Enduro, the same high fender, the same tall handlebars and single clock. One important item for an off road machine is suspension travel. It is difficult to tell from the spy shot and comparing to the current Urban Enduro, whether the Desert Sled has gained any suspension travel.
It could have other improvements such as a 19 inch front wheel instead of the 18-inch wheel of the Urban Enduro. Also, the spy picture shows side and top racks, which indicates some touring or adventure type of riding may be possible out of this machine. It could also have the double swing arm of the Sixty2, just to make it a stronger and more apt desert machine.
I know I’m part of a very small fraction of the buying public who would want a real desert sled, but because I know I’m part of this small niche in the market, I do not hold my hopes up that this Ducati will be the machine to make me sell my Honda CB500X yet. In the end, our guess is that the Desert Sled will only be an improved Urban Enduro.
Likely the Desert Sled, and the name seems to tell the story better than the pictures, is more about bringing back, in the Scrambler Ducati brand fashion, the styling from the 60’s immortalized by Steve McQueen’s desert machines. The short promotion video, not showing the bike in complete form but showing people hanging out on a typical California or Nevada desert motel and swimming pool completes the story of this being another lifestyle motorcycle.
In essence, I would guess these new bikes, the Cafe Racer and the Desert Sled, will continue to be variations on the Icon theme. Perhaps this time around though, the variation will go a bit beyond the line of accessories and go into different components and perhaps, on a more optimistic scenario, appropriate changes to these bikes frames. And, likely it will be the case that these two bikes will have their own set of accessories. In my case, where I would be wanting to see a real desert racer, the desert sled will likely fall short of my expectations.
On the other hand, I’m glad the Ducati heritage or classic or retro-line, whatever you want to call it, will retain the air-cooled v-twin motor that is an evolution of the original motor that in the 70’s brought Ducati to the forefront, and which to today remains the signature of Ducati motorcycles, although it today comes in much more efficient and powerful water-cooled versions including the super-quadro and DVT versions. The scrambler line is the only line, unless a new 2017 entry level Monster or Motard would prove otherwise, where the v-twin motor in its air-cooled version remains alive.
Talking about heritage, it is good to be reminded, Ducati considers these bikes to be post-heritage, actually, and here is their definition from the time of the launch of the Scrambler line two years ago, and which still can be found on their site today:
“Post-heritage” design means taking the best from the past to create something unique and absolutely contemporary. The Ducati Scrambler is not a vintage motorcycle, but the ideal result of how the famous motorcycle from Borgo Panigale would be if Ducati had never stopped producing it.
We will be hearing from Ducati at their annual world premiere which will be broadcast live on November 7th, the evening before the EICMA 2016 starts (EICMA runs from November 8 to 13). Besides these two new or improved versions of current scramblers, Ducati will be announcing a series of new models as it continues its production growth and product line expansion. A Super Sport, a smaller Multistrada and improvements to the DVT motor on the 1200 Multistrada will be hot items for this year’s launch. And who knows, what other surprises Ducati will have in store for us.
Back to the Scramblers, I’ve been talking about heritage bikes for a long time, yet I have not committed to getting one yet. However, such a motorcycle is what will likely be next on my motorcycle line up. Will it be a Ducati of the scrambler variety? Or a BMW Scrambler? Or a real standard, something real and original from the 70’s? I don’t know, except that it will have round headlights.
Thank you for reading.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional rider, and obviously not a professional writer. I write this blog as a hobby and because of my passion for motorcycles and motorcycle riding. I’m not affiliated with any business or organization related to the content of my posts, I’m not paid to write and publish my posts. The potential income generated by advertisements you may come across on my posts are going to WordPress, the organization hosting my posts. I pay WordPress to manage and host my posts, I would have to pay more to have advert-free posts.