2015 Ducati Scrambler

Editor Score: 83.5%
Engine 17.5/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.0/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Instruments/Controls4.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.5/10
Appearance/Quality 8.0/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 7.0/10
Overall Score83.5/100

Standing in “The Land of Joy,” a makeshift beach party Ducati set up inside the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, California, to serve as its central command post for the 2015 Scrambler launch (the first time a new Ducati model has been introduced Stateside), it was quickly apparent this wouldn’t be like any prior Ducati launch.

Instead of racetracks, engine schematics and suspension diagrams, videos of international launch parties, camping trips and surf adventures were playing on the screen. In this age of wearing skinny jeans, riding skateboards and drinking IPAs, Ducati is hoping the Scrambler will be an icon for an entirely new generation of riders less concerned about performance and more interested in individuality, personalization and fun.

Discuss this at our Ducati Scrambler Forum.

In fact, during the “technical” presentation, its Monster 796-sourced, 803cc, two-valve, air-cooled V-Twin was only mentioned in passing. The fact the Desmodue engine utilizes an 11-degree valve overlap for optimal low and mid-range torque wasn’t muttered very loudly either. The single 330mm front brake disc and accompanying radial-mount four-piston Brembo caliper were given a little attention, considering its sporting roots, but that was mainly it.

Instead of a stuffy conference room, the Ducati Scrambler was presented poolside in the swanky digs of the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, California. Here, Scrambler Brand Manager, Mario Alvisi, explains some inspirations for the Scrambler’s design.

Instead of a stuffy conference room, the Ducati Scrambler was presented poolside in the swanky digs of the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, California. Here, Scrambler Brand Manager, Mario Alvisi, explains some inspirations for the Scrambler’s design.

Ducati Scrambler Retrospective

Originally introduced in 1962, the Scrambler lasted for 13 years, until its end in 1975. But instead of producing a retro-themed motorcycle, Ducati’s inspiration was to bring back the Scrambler, after 40 years, as if the company had never stopped making them. The result is what you see here, heavily inspired by, but not a throwback to, the original Scrambler. However, in this day and age of personalization and customization, Ducati didn’t bring just one Scrambler to market, but four: the Icon, Urban Enduro, Full Throttle and Classic.

121114-2015-ducati-scrambler-Icon121114-2015-ducati-scrambler-Full Throttle
121114-2015-ducati-scrambler-Urban Enduro121114-2015-ducati-scrambler-Classic

Clockwise from top left we have the Icon, Full Throttle, Classic and Urban Enduro.

One Bike, Infinite Possibilities

All four Scramblers share the same engine, ABS brakes, Kayaba suspension (only adjustable for rear preload) and Pirelli MT 60 RS dual-sportish tires, specially designed for the Scrambler and its 18-inch front wheel. The overall shape of the bike follows the form of the original, with the teardrop design of the 3.5-gallon steel fuel tank with interchangeable inserts the central focal point. Ducati only brought Icon models to test, stating the other three weren’t ready to ride by the time of the intro. No matter, since the Icon and its yellow (or red) fuel tank, cast 10-spoke wheels, high tapered bars and black seat is the basis for the others.

2015 Ducati Scrambler Unveiled! + Video

As the name might imply, the Urban Enduro is suited to tackle the urban jungle and is best suited for the occasional fire road excursion. Its matte green color separates it from the rest, and it also receives wire wheels, engine sump guard, high front mudguard, headlight grill, handlebar cross brace, fork protectors, and a brown seat with a dedicated ribbed stitching pattern.

All four Scramblers share the 803cc, air-cooled, two-valve, V-Twin seen in the Monster 796 and Hypermotard. It’s a great engine, though the Scrambler’s on/off throttle transition can be a little sharp.

All four Scramblers share the 803cc, air-cooled, two-valve, V-Twin seen in the Monster 796 and Hypermotard. It’s a great engine, though the Scrambler’s on/off throttle transition can be a little sharp.

Next, the Full Throttle draws its inspiration from dirt-track racing, where its low, tapered handlebars place the rider in a more aggressive position. It also gets a short front fender, black paint scheme with yellow accents, and, as it’s the most performance oriented of the Scrambler variants, is fitted with a Termignoni slip-on.

Drawing the closest relationship with the past, the Scrambler Classic expands upon the retro-modern theme of the Icon. With an “Orange Sunshine” paint scheme, the Classic gets the same wire wheels as the Urban Enduro, an extended rear fender, a dedicated brown seat with “lozenge-type” stitching pattern and a fuel tank with a black center stripe, just like the Scrambler from the ’70s.

A spartan offset gauge cluster is dominated by its digital speedometer. The digital tach is under the speedo, but is hard to read at a glance. Clock, two trip meters and odometer are present, and with a few button presses the menu screen pops up where the speedo is. Here you can change screen brightness and switch off the ABS, among other things. Two items you won’t see are a fuel gauge or a gear-position indicator.

A spartan offset gauge cluster is dominated by its digital speedometer. The digital tach is under the speedo, but is hard to read at a glance. Clock, two trip meters and odometer are present, and with a few button presses the menu screen pops up where the speedo is. Here you can change screen brightness and switch off the ABS, among other things. Two items you won’t see are a fuel gauge or a gear-position indicator.

Because personalization is such an important aspect of the Scrambler, all the components from the four variants are all interchangeable with each other. Not only that, Ducati is working on a long list of parts and accessories ranging from fuel tank inserts to waterproof luggage, to truly make the Scrambler your own. The Scrambler experience doesn’t stop there; a whole line of Scrambler apparel is in the works, too. From T-shirts and hoodies to armored riding jackets that look like fashion wear, Ducati is trying hard to emphasize the Scrambler is more than a motorcycle, but a lifestyle.

A Millennial’s Perspective

Of course, a lifestyle built around a motorcycle only works if the machine provides a level of emotional pleasure. And if pure riding enjoyment is what Ducati is going for, then it might be on to something with the Scrambler.

The mechanical simplicity of the Scrambler makes it relatable to a wider audience, including those who will inevitably want to customize it. With no power modes, traction control, or a radiator and its associated hardware, the Scrambler is an easy bike to understand. Couple that with a claimed wet weight of 410 lbs, 75 hp and 50 lb-ft. of torque, and the bike is also quite sporty. Our ride route from Palm Springs to Idyllwild and back presented a great way to showcase these attributes. Unfortunately, because of a recent rain storm in the area, the fire roads Ducati had planned for us were washed out and deemed unsuitable for the bike.

A completely relaxed riding position makes the Scrambler an ideal bike for running about.

A completely relaxed riding position makes the Scrambler an ideal bike for running about.

As for the riding impressions, let’s start with the good news: on paper a two-valve, air-cooled Twin might not sound very exciting, but on the road, the 803cc V-Twin is a real gem. It’s abundant low-end torque is just the ticket for around-town riding or playing in the twisties en route to getting lost trying to find a campground.

Reaching the ground, even for my 30-inch inseam, wasn’t a problem thanks to a 31.1-inch seat height, a narrow seat/tank juncture and the overall slim nature of the motorcycle. However, if you’re still nervous about touching down, a low, 30.3-inch seat is available as an accessory.

Exploring the road less traveled. The Scrambler likes asphalt like this.

Exploring the road less traveled. The Scrambler likes asphalt like this.

The high bars, combined with pegs mounted directly underneath the rider means the rider triangle is the very definition of neutral. Having those wide bars makes leveraging the Scrambler an easy task, whether its through the twisties, a fire road, or filtering through congested city streets. Pirelli’s MT 60 RS tires, with their knobby-like tread blocks, are surprisingly competent on the street. The cable-actuated clutch is light-ish, and a slipper clutch is a welcome addition on an $8595 motorcycle ($8495 for the red, $9995 for the other models).

Despite only having one front brake disc, the performance from the 330mm rotor and Brembo four-pot radially mounted caliper is impressive. Really, having twin front discs would have been overkill, plus the single setup leaves the other side of the wheel unobstructed for the world to see. A 245mm rear disc is mated to a single-piston caliper, and with the ABS switched off, takes considerable pressure to lock up.

Obligatory Scrambler off-road jumping photo. Unfortunately, that’s not me manning the controls.

Obligatory Scrambler off-road jumping photo. Unfortunately, that’s not me manning the controls.

Strangely, there were areas where the Scrambler didn’t seem as polished as we’ve come to expect from Ducati. Most notably, one rider in our group had a fuel line come loose underneath the tank, spewing gas onto those behind him, of which I was one. Aside from that freak occurrence, many of the journos in attendance, myself included, complained of abrupt power application within the first few degrees of throttle twist. However, after that, getting on the gas was met with enjoyable forward thrust.

It should be noted that the pre-production test bikes ridden at the intro were all built at Ducati’s main plant in Bologna, though production models slated to come to the States will be manufactured in Ducati’s Thailand facility.

Clicking through the six gears seemed a bit notchy as well, with some people reporting hitting several false neutrals. It only happened once for me, but considering the bikes we rode only had 120 miles on the clock, it’s reasonable to expect the trans to feel better after more miles.

Wide bars make muscling the Scrambler where you want it a cinch. And don’t worry, Scrambler aficionados, a high pipe is available as an optional accessory.

Wide bars make muscling the Scrambler where you want it a cinch. And don’t worry, Scrambler aficionados, a high pipe is available as an optional accessory, even if its headers are still exposed to bashing.

Those looking to do more off-road riding with the Scrambler might be pleased to learn ABS can be switched off, but there is no provision to turn only the rear off once the blacktop turns brown.

The seat was slightly firm for my taste, though, like the transmission, I suspect that will get better after a few miles as well. Speaking of firm, considering the suspension is only adjustable for rear preload, I was surprised by its level of stiffness. Bikes with limited suspension adjustment are usually set on the soft side for a comfortable ride, and while the Scrambler certainly wasn’t harsh, I wouldn’t mind slightly softer springs at each end and rear rebound slowed down a smidge.

Under the seat you’ll find a USB port to charge your phone, which can then be stored in the cubby to the right. If you’re moving, engine heat to that area isn’t too bad.

Under the seat you’ll find a USB port to charge your phone, which can then be stored in the cubby to the right. If you’re moving, engine heat to that area isn’t too bad.

The Bigger Picture

All in all, those are relatively minor quibbles especially considering the bike is aimed at an entirely different demographic than those who gripe about a click or two more rebound. The overriding question here is simple: Is the Ducati Scrambler fun to ride? It absolutely is. The Scrambler distills the enjoyment of riding into its most basic and elemental forms – a refreshing take in this modern age of increasingly advanced motorcycles.

While at the launch, I spoke with some and overheard others, all with considerably more tattoos than me, who were genuinely excited about the bike and had already decided they would be getting one. When asked why, reasons varied from “It can do everything my Triumph Scrambler can do, only better,” to, “I can’t wait to get one in my shop and really make it my own.”

If the Ducati Scrambler experience could be summed up in one picture, this would be it. Ride to a campsite, eat delicious barbecue by a fire, practice your archery, then fool around on your skateboard. While wearing flannel, of course.

If the Ducati Scrambler experience could be summed up in one picture, this would be it. Ride to a campsite, eat delicious barbecue by a fire, practice your archery, then fool around on your skateboard. While wearing flannel, of course.

If the response the Scrambler is getting on social media is any indication of its sales success, then Ducati will be in for a nice 2015. But what about that other Scrambler? You know, the one from Triumph, the de facto standard bearer in this category. Has it now become obsolete? Considering both bikes share the same name, naturally a comparison test is in order. Stay tuned, as we’ll be bringing it to you one as soon as we can.

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Ducati Communities

  • Old MOron

    Good stuff, Troy. I’m too old and beardless to be a hipster, but I like this bike. Looking forward to the shoot out. You know what else you might throw in there? The Street 750 or whatever it’s called. It’s aimed at the hipsters, too. Wait, never mind. It already took a beating in the HepCat Millennial shootout. Oh well, can’t wait to see the Scramblers go head-to-head!

    • Brian E. Trumpower

      I didn’t know what you were talking about, so I googled it. The Street in no way shape or form took a beating. What’s a beating to you? They were all happy with it, and it had the most power. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQv72yhAa2o

      • Old MOron

        Well, the Street 750 came in 3rd out of four bikes. Looks like it would’ve finished last if MO hadn’t double-weighted the motor category on the score sheets. Either way, no point in putting it up against the Scrambler.

  • Bmwclay

    I can see the Triumph, Ducati camparo now…………..The Triumph is nicer to look at but 100 lbs. heavier, 10 less hp and no ABS. Triumph better get on the ball.
    Wait a minute………………How about a couple of long stroke, 500cc singles?

    • Chris_in_Kalifornia

      Wouldn’t that be half a Harley engine?

    • Luke

      The Bonnie platform is getting really long in the tooth. I almost bought one because I loved the looks, but it just seemed like such a pig weight wise. If felt more like a cruiser than what I would consider a “standard.” It’s not like Triumph can’t make great engines either, I just wish they would do the classic style thing with some of the tech from their better bikes. Hopefully the update will be a big one, not like this year’s update of different colored tanks.

    • appliance5000

      I don’t think its nicer to look at. Too big in all dimensions – a soft roader.

  • frankfan42

    The Scrambler vs Scrambler comparo should be very interesting. The idea of a two wheeled general purpose bike is great, and the simplicity only adds to the desitability for many of us. It’s further tempting that the red bike is priced the lowest, lol.

  • michael franklin

    Is it just me or does it seem disingenuous to represent handbuilt italian bikes as being representative of bikes will will be built in a thai factory many thousands of miles away

    • Reid

      No, you’re right on the money.

    • panthalassa

      we can hope that the thais will remember to connect the fuel line.

    • ELGuapo

      The way of the world these days. So many companies are selling out.
      Sad, id seriously consider buying one of these if not for the whole
      “Made In Thailand” deal.
      Just pure corporate Greed.

  • Kevin

    When I first saw the reports on this bike from the show I commented that 100 plus miles to the closest dealer might not be such a terrible inconvenience after all: Now to read the initial ride report and to understand the production of these bikes will be in Thailand, I’m not so enthusiastic:

    • denchung

      That’s the reality of the world economy now. Honda’s 300s are produced in Thailand, as are Kawasaki’s 300 and 650 models.

      • Reid

        Nothing wrong with building the bikes in Thailand, same as it’s no big deal for the smaller-displacement KTMs to be built by Bajaj in India.

    • Kenneth

      After 4 years owning a nice Thai-built Bonneville, I can say I’d probably prefer a bike built in Thailand over an Italian unit.

      • ELGuapo

        Yea… ok, except when you go to sell it. Not worth as much.
        I have an 02 Bonneville, I rode with guys that had Thai built/assembled
        bonnies, they warned me of knobs falling off and their side covers
        were plastic. None of my knobs or bits ever have fallen off
        and my side covers are metal.
        MY Hats off to Harley not selling out. At least they build their bikes
        in the USA.

  • priap1sm

    I’m really impressed you wrote this entire article without once using the word “hipster”. I’m excited for the flat tracker variant.

    • TroySiahaan

      I’ll have you know I did use the H-word in my first draft…

      • Old MOron

        You had to write more than one draft?
        Man, Kevin Duke is tough.

      • Michael White

        I don’t mind the word “hipster,” as long as you practice total abstinence from the following: 3. “visceral.” 2. “dark.” 1. “soul.”

  • Reid

    The people who Ducati is trying to sell this bike to want to be seen as motorcyclists the same way that some women are led to believe they want to be gardeners because their pinterest feed was filled with cute sepia pictures of cute women in their cute work boots with their hair cutely tussled from working outside.

    • Kenneth

      Regardless of your perception, right or wrong, the product stands on its own. While I couldn’t be further from its apparently-intended demographic, I find it very desirable.

    • Colonel Matumbo

      Cute Woman in their Cute Work Boots with their hair Cutely Tussled, So “Reid” you have been to Colorado.

  • Kevin Polito

    A digital speedo and tach is always a bad decision. A well-designed, clearly numbered analog speedometer or tach not only shows you the current speed/rpm but shows you the rate of acceleration or deceleration. Except during steady speeds, digital speed counters are a useless blur of ever-changing numbers. Digital gauges on a retro-themed bike make as much sense as a digital grandfather clock.

    • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

      I agree to a certain extent, but I don’t need the speedometer to tell me whether I’m accelerating or not and by how much.

    • Gregory

      The human brain, particularly male’s, recognizes positional symbolism without translation. Digital numerals must be translated and are not ideal to any situation where reaction time is crucial. Additionally, studies have also shown that the crescent semicircle is the most easily recognized positionally vs vertical, horizontal, or any other kind of bars, graphs, etc. Science proves what smarter or older motorcycle riders know intuitively…”clock” looking dials of high contrast are instantly recognizable. Ducati made a big mistake here…and on their other bikes…wonderful motor, very poor ergonometrics.

  • SRMark

    I’ll take the green high fender variant. Needs a real set of clocks and a set of up pipes.

  • Buzz

    After several replacements of the plastic tank on my old G1000. It appears this one is happily made of steel.

    How come the Euros never get pilloried for “outsourscing” when they make stuff in Thailand?

    • Chris_in_Kalifornia

      Maybe because it isn’t China???

    • TonyCarlos

      Most of BMW’s hardcore refused to accept their new single when intro’d 20 years ago, or so, because so much of it was outsourced.

    • bbradsby

      The Thai facility is an assembly plant only, unless the Scrambler is a first. They have been assembling Asia Market Monsters and Hypermotards there for a few years now. They’re still Ducatis, tho, with engines and frames manufactured in Bologna, and the other various bits gathered from around the world like every other manufacturer – including Harley.

  • Mitchell Brody

    Looks like the Euro’s (BMW R-90 and this new Duc) have finally taken the Harley marketing to heart. Sell a bike and then offer pricey add on junk to “personalize” your bike and make the dealer a boat load of cash. It’s called a Chrome Advisor at Harley, what will they call it at Ducati dealers. I have a Diavel and you couldn’t pay me to put those piece of crap things they call luggage on my bike.

    • Brian E. Trumpower

      It’s called a Chrome Consultant. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make your bike your own.

      • Mitchell Brody

        Whatever, a lot of very expensive bits that will not add a farthing to the resale value of your Harley when you go to trade it in. You should know that as a Service advisor.

        • Brian E. Trumpower

          It’s not about resale value. It’s about getting what you want and making the bike your own. You spend as little or as much on whatever you want for your bike, and let others do what they want. It’s a pretty easy concept.

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    I like the looks and the idea. I have a question about the rider, who was jumping the bike for the photo. It looks like they don’t have gloves on and also the “shoes” do not look like decent dirt riding boots. Is it just looks like that or is it real? That said, I like torque motors and would like to see one with a decent street type front fender, and a bigger gas tank (my buggabo with almost all the current bikes). Make me a pure street machine version and I’ll be interested. A light, low bike like that would be so very cool. Keep the wide high handlebars and the pegs under the seat. I don’t want to feel like I’m riding a recliner, nor do I like riding bent double. The best riding position I ever had was on a honda SL350. Shook like a paint shaker but position was perfect. I learned to like 90 degree V-twins from my 04 Vstrom. One more small thing… Put real analog style gauges on please? Oh and another “one more thing”, how much will it cost?

    • john phyyt

      Skate-boarder has no helmet or knee/elbow pads: On asphalt ? Chill ; Germans are much more serious; perhaps closer to your needs.
      The Panzers were diesels and could leave their support for days at a time ; perhaps Italians still haven’t learnt.
      But some prefer a hot, volatile signorina on the back of their Vespa, to a German Frau:

      • TonyCarlos

        The Panzers were gas, primarily Maybach V12s. Many associate diesels with the Germans and assume their tanks were.
        The Russian T-34s were the only diesels built in volume back then.

  • JWaller

    I’m curious to see what Triumph will do now. I think the Triumph still edges out the Ducati in appearance (not too often you hear or read that!) but I think the Triumph Scrambler will lose sales to the new Ducati. But then I hear big changes are coming to the entire Bonneville lineup next year. It will be interesting to see what shakes out. I’d like to see Triumph up the power, lose some weight, and improve the suspension but still retain the classic styling. I wonder if they can and still come with a comparable price. This Ducati is no more expensive than the current Triumph.

    • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

      Triumph will have to change the Bonneville quite a bit by 2016 if they want to keep it around. EU regulations will require both ABS and better emissions. I think this is why you see them offering so many special editions at the moment: they’re trying to get rid of old stock.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Looks like a very fun bike. Add the nearly required exhaust mods and rock on. The old air cooled Ducs sound wonderful with a can on them. A cool blend of 90 degree V-twin and air cooled rustle.

    I like that the exhaust slips together and has springs on it. A small detail, but that is something usually found on aftermarket race systems. Those are some cool looking headers.

  • Robert Goodrich

    California highway 243 from Banning to Idyllwild is 24 miles of my favorite ride. Cold
    weather is here now and black ice can make it dangerous until spring time though.

  • JMDonald

    At less than 10 grand this bike is a steal. Put a little more into it and the sky is the limit.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    The first thing I would rip out would be that nasty looking evap can. Nice shot

  • kenneth_moore

    I saw the Scrambler at the AIM Expo, and I really liked it. I’m going to visit the local dealer to see about a demo and possible purchase when they arrive.

    I’m not sure, but could you have the names wrong for the photos? Isn’t the “Urban Enduro” model the one with the high fender? I like the “Full Throttle” version best.

    BTW: sorry I missed you st AIM. I went by the MO booth a couple of times on Saturday, but nobody was there.

    • TroySiahaan

      The Urban Enduro does have the high fender, and if you follow the names clockwise from top left, like in the caption, the names are correct.

      • kenneth_moore

        My mistake, when I first saw the photos on my mobile they were arranged vertically. Then I saw the labels are indeed correct when I went to portrait mode and saw them in the block orientation. Thanks.

        • TroySiahaan

          Ah. I forgot to take into account those of you who read the site from a mobile device.

  • Sunny Soral

    hello there every one… I have a thing to say here…there is more to this Ducati than being just a hipster oriented, cheap simple fun bike…for a person like me…a motorcyclist from India…the Scrambler from my perspective has a lot more going for it than just life style positioning…working with one of the automotive websites in my country, I got an opportunity to discuss a bit about the utter significance of the Scrambler from Ducati…below is the link to the article…due to space constraint I cant say whatever i want to say about this bike…but will be more than happy to discuss this point of view further with everyone here…here is the link…http://goo.gl/c4nX0X

  • Tanshanomi

    I’m well on my way to being a crabby old codger, and I have never been much of a Ducati fan. But despite being well outside the target demographic for this bike, I could definitely make room for that standard model in my garage. It kind of amazes me.

  • http://www.motorcruze.com/ Eshwar Prasad

    The Ducati scrambler is coming to India – http://www.motorcruze.com/2014/10/20/ducati-scrambler-coming-india-2015-image-gallery/

    What are the maintenance costs like?

  • ELGuapo

    9 GRAND FOR a bike made in Thailand?? No thanks.
    Looks nice though.

  • Ducati Kid

    To all Global ‘Scrambler’ afectados,

    Ari Henning was reviewing a ‘Scrambler’ and found it’s Hang Up literally – that Low Slung Exhaust!

    Suggest Bologna devise then replace this component with a ‘Bash Plate’ Exhaust.

    It featuring separate Emission Catalyst (Circular appearing) components reducing the size of that O.E.M. Rear located Emissions Can.

    Likely better in Weight Balance and Emissions too …