Editor Score: 82.25%
Engine 16.0/20
Suspension/Handling 11.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 7.25/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.25/10
Desirability 8.75/10
Value 9.25/10
Overall Score82.25/100

The SCR950 is the second Yamaha press intro this year offering a re-stylized version of an existing model – the first one being the XSR900 launched a few months ago and reviewed here. With the XSR Yamaha took the laudable FZ-09, dressed it in vintage ’70s attire, and upgraded the bike’s performance with better suspension and some (ironically) modern electronics. For the SCR, Yamaha took the popular Bolt model, stirred in some select features from the C-Spec, added a seamless tank, reimagined it as a Scrambler, and, voila, another très chic neo-retro from circa 1977.

2015 Star Bolt C-Spec First Ride Review + Video

2014 Star Bolt Vs. 2013 Harley-Davidson 883 Iron – Video

Yamaha’s disco era trend began two  years ago with the introduction of the SR400 (First Ride Review), and the SCR950 continues that trend. Ironically, if you look at Yamaha’s promotional video for the SCR, none of the riders featured were actually alive during the era that the “Remember when riding meant fun, friends, and adventure? Welcome back.” tagline refers to. That being said, this marketing approach shows that Yamaha is aiming for the same youth market that the Ducati Scrambler and the Triumph Street Twin have in their sights. The focus on friendliness, fun, adventure, and customization – all at an approachable price – rather than outright performance is one of the hallmarks of this market.

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A quick look at the SCR950 makes it obvious that the Bolt has gone all scrambler on us, but what exactly has changed? Perhaps even more importantly, what hasn’t? The SCR, while utilizing the same frame as the Bolt, has a new steel subframe that raises the seat from 27.2 inches to 32.7 inches. That’s a 5.5-in. change and has a massive effect on the riding position. The C-Spec’s seat height is 30.1 in., making the change noticeable, too.  Since the SCR uses the same foot peg location as the C-Spec, the riding position has moved to much more standard fare. Couple that with a high, wide, steel off-road style handlebar, and the rider is in a comfortably upright position. Additionally, the peg and bar relationship is perfect for standing while on rough pavement or in the dirt.

2017 Yamaha SCR950 dirt road

The SCR feels at home on a fire road. The peg to bar relationship makes standing completely natural.

The wheels are now spoked with aluminum rims and shod with Bridgestone Trail Wing block-patterned tires for pavement and light off-road duty. While the front hoop retains its 19-inch diameter, the rear grows to 17 inches, a one-inch increase from the Bolt. This is important for two reasons. First, because the rear suspension is unchanged, the SCR’s new rear wheel and tire raise the back of the bike by 0.4 in. once the tire sizes are factored. In addition to providing a tad more clearance, the larger rear wheel steepens the SCR’s rake to 28.4° (from the Bolt’s 29.0°) while keeping the trail the same 5.1 in. Second, the narrower profile of the SCR’s rear tire combines with the new rake to make it steer a little quicker.

2017 Yamaha SCR950 rear wheel and exhaust

Laced wheels with a 17-incher in the back. The upswept muffler and the number plate add to the scrambler cred.

Compared to the Bolt line, the SCR is $700 more expensive than 2017 Bolt, $300 more than the R-Spec, but  only $9 more than the C-Spec that it most closely compares to feature-wise. So, we’re looking at a high bang-to-buck ratio here, at $8,699.

Getting to the Details

The engine is mechanically the same as the Bolt and the C-Spec, incorporating the 942cc, 60-degree V-Twin engine that saw its genesis in the V-Star 950. As such, the pistons are forged aluminum sliding inside ceramic composite cylinder liners for better cooling and durability. Roller rocker arms reduce frictional losses in the valve train and assist the SCR in achieving a claimed 51 mpg. A pair of 35mm side-draft Mikuni throttle bodies feed those cylinders with each throttle body getting its own butterfly valve and injector for optimal performance. The closed-loop EFI feeding the engine has been revised to account for the flow characteristics of the slightly upswept exhaust.

With such minimal changes to the powerplant, the character and output are immediately familiar, bringing all of the Bolt line’s usability front and center from the first release of the easy-to-modulate clutch. The SCR’s torque starts early (since there’s no tachometer, I can’t be more specific) and maintains a relatively flat curve through the midrange. The horsepower builds from there but peters out before the rev-limit. This works nicely with the backroad exploring portion of the SCR’s job description when navigating remote, narrow, goat-path-like roads. The engine can chuff along in second gear through tight switchbacks then allow acceleration back up to cruising speed – all with just throttle control. When time comes to shift, the gearbox provides slick, positive shifts both up and down. Around town the SCR is all Bolt, pleasant and perky. Get it on a winding paved road, and the SCR can be ridden in a surprisingly sporty manner, stirring the gearbox for brisk acceleration.

2017 Yamaha SCR950 riding position diagram

The increase in seat height compared to the Bolt shows how radically the riding position has changed.

Since the SCR’s double-cradle steel frame and the engine’s solid mounts remain unchanged – only the rear subframe was altered – all of the base numbers for the suspension stay the same. The 41 mm standard fork retains its 4.7 in. of travel and spring rate of the C-Spec. It also sports C-Spec gaiters. The piggyback shocks are also the same length and spring rate as the Bolt and C-Spec. However, the damping rates have been slowed for a firmer ride that is slightly more resistant to the hard hits that can happen in the dirt. On smooth or mildly rippled pavement, the SCR feels exactly the same as the Bolt, absorbing the pavement irregularities. When encountering bigger hits on broken pavement or ruts in the dirt, the limited rear travel means that the progressive damping firms up very quickly until the shocks bottom. Fortunately, the new riding position makes it easy for the rider to rise up off the seat, using her legs as a personal suspension system. Frankly, 2.8 inches of travel is not enough for any kind of off-road use, but within the constraint of using the same frame as the Bolt, the shocks make the best of very limited travel.

2017 Yamaha SCR950

With the location of the pegs relative to the seat, the riding position is very comfortable. Unfortunately, the peg feelers still drag much earlier than we would like.

When ridden on pavement, the SCR feels slightly more responsive to steering inputs than the C-Spec, and the chassis is capable of handling cornering forces much greater than the limited lean angle will allow. Although the SCR is a scrambler, the lower body position reminds me of the Harley-Davidson Roadster in the rider’s foot placement wide outside of the engine cases. I even bashed my shins on the metal pegs (not rubber, like on the other Bolts) when maneuvering in parking lots as I did with the Roadster. The SCR’s cornering clearance allows a deeper lean towards the apex, and when the pegs drag, they do so without the drama of hard parts immediately following. We can always dream of getting an even more standard Bolt descendant with slightly rearset pegs in future updates, right?

2017 Yamaha SCR950

Can it Scramble?

The SCR works great on asphalt. In fact, as someone who has attended introductions for every Bolt model available, the SCR is my favorite of the line yet. When it comes to riding in the dirt, the SCR was clearly designed for exploring fire roads that are frequently found in national forests. These are usually well graded with only occasional serious bumps and ruts caused by erosion. In these conditions, the SCR exceeds my dirt ability. My more dirt-fluent compatriots at the introduction were flinging the SCR around with abandon, so if you have dirt experience and know how to slide a bike in the loose stuff, the SCR has you covered.

2017 Yamaha SCR950 crash

Testing the SCR’s traction control revealed there isn’t any. After extensive accident reconstruction, the cause of the crash was determined to be…pilot error. The damage tally: massively wounded pride and a bent shift lever.

The route for our introductory ride included fire roads and paved, barely single-lane goat paths that had broken pavement and potholes. The big hits and small jumps (really more like 12–18-inch drops) caused the suspension to bottom every time. Heading over bumps like this from the other direction resulted in the back end kicking up if taken too aggressively – as one would expect with only 2.8 inches of rear travel. Still, the SCR would’ve gotten me to every off-the-beaten-path place I camped on my cross-country adventure with my first motorcycle and several others I decided not to continue down because my sporty street tires weren’t up to the task. Since, at that time, I was the age Yamaha is currently pursuing, I’d say that the engineers hit their mark with the SCR.

2017 Yamaha SCR950 seat

Perhaps Yamaha stayed a little too close to dirt bike seats by providing little padding for long rides.

After a day in the saddle on a led ride through some of the prettiest and twistiest tarmac that San Diego County has to offer, my only complaints about the SCR (other than my plaintiff request for more cornering clearance) are with the wooden brakes – yes they stop just fine but a little more feedback would be nice – and the lightly padded bench seat. While its narrow, flat shape allows for an easy reach to the ground and room to move around to ease butt discomfort, a bench seat doesn’t need to feel like a wooden bench. When taken off-road, the SCR performs admirably – as long as one keeps in mind its suspension limitations. The SCR is a worthy entry into this market, giving riders looking for a friendly, capable motorcycle.

2017 Yamaha SCR950
+ Highs

  • A smidge more cornering clearance
  • Quicker steering
  • Ready for your next adventure
– Sighs

  • Needs more rear suspension travel
  • Hard seat
  • Doesn’t come with dirt-riding lessons

The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 will retail for $8,699 in either Charcoal Silver or Rapid Red and is in dealerships now. For comparison, the Ducati Scrambler starts at $7,995 with the more applicable version being the Urban Enduro with dual sport tires and other off-road features for $10,495. While the Triumph Street Twin starts at $8,700 with a Scrambler Inspiration Kit available. Perhaps we can put together another Scrambler Slam and include the new/updated players.

2017 Yamaha SCR950

2017 Yamaha SCR950 Specifications
MSRP $8,699
Engine Type 942cc, air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke V-twin; 4 valves
Bore and Stroke 85.0mm x 83.0mm
Compression Ratio 9.0:1
Fuel System EFI
Transmission 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive Belt
Front Suspension 41mm telescopic fork, 4.7-in travel
Rear Suspension Dual piggyback shocks, 2.8-in travel
Front Brake Wave-type disc, 298mm
Rear Brake Wave-type disc, 298mm
Front Tire 100/90-19
Rear Tire 140/80R17
Frame Double cradle, steel
Rake/Trail 28.4°/5.1 in.
Wheelbase 62.0 in
Seat Height 32.7 in.
Curb Weight (Claimed) 547 lb.
Fuel Capacity 3.2 gal.
Colors Charcoal Silver, Rapid Red
Warranty One year

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Yamaha Communities

  • Born to Ride

    How friggin hard would it have been to put the shock mounts 3 inches further up the new subframe and at least match the rear travel with the front. God dang it bobby.

    Also, clearly Brasfield has never met a bike he didn’t want to crash. Shoulda kept that piggy on the road. Damn good action shot though. If you are going to do something stupid, at least get a picture of it so you can look back and laugh later.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I specifically asked the engineer about this decision, and it was purely a cost factor: development, production, shipping, storage, etc. Simply, they didn’t want to produce and track an entirely different frame for one model in the line.

      • Born to Ride

        As an engineering undergrad, I can tell you that often times, a slight modification to a machine can produce numerous failure and safety calculations that must be performed. However, the only thing I see changing is the sweep of that arm, and the need to manufacture a separate shock absorber. I am calling shenanigans.

        • Gabriel Owens

          Not me. I love it man. Exactly like it is. Aftermarket rear shocks will be the first thing they start developing and I hope yamaha sells a million of these things cause I want to buy a cheap used one in 2 years!

          • Born to Ride

            You would rather pay extra for something that should have come on the bike stock? Also, Are you going to weld new eyelets to the subframe to accommodate the longer shocks? If you are, how will you deal with the weaker and embrittled heat affected zone near your weld given that this is a structural modification? No, Yamaha should have done this bike the justice of a proper design.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Please stop talking and go do something else. Enough blow hards on the Internet today hun.

          • Ian Parkes

            I agree with BTR. Except I wouldn’t have a problem with welding eyelets higher up the frame – the junction with the seat frame looks ideal and extra bracing in that area would surely increase stiffness rather than diminish it. Doesn’t look a big job but it does look like an obvious deficiency so Yamaha should have done it. Where they should have spent more money is sorting out that crippled looking front down tube. It looks like it has given up already, or will soon.

          • Born to Ride

            I guess I could be a little on the anal retentive side regarding welding/cutting frames on motorcycles. I’m sure it would be fine if you did a good job and didn’t create any stress risers. Speaking of stress risers, that is exactly what those kinked downtubes are. I doubt they pose any problem under normal circumstances, but I agree that they are questionable on a bike that is intended to take a bit of a beating “off road”.

          • Douglas

            With that store of knowledge & expertise, Yamaha will likely be knocking on your door begging you to come to work for them and show how things should be done……no doubt.

          • TheMarvelous1310

            Long travel shocks already exist, it’s not that big of a deal.

          • Born to Ride

            If you slap long travel shocks into the stock position, you will drastically alter the steering geometry and create an unfavorable swing arm pivot angle. This article covers the drawbacks associated with lowering the bike, raising the rear creates the same issues but in reverse.


            In order to fix the suspension travel and use those aftermarket shocks, you have to alter the frame and move the mounts into a more favorable position. Ian pointed out, he would be comfortable with welding on new eyelets. I wouldn’t be.

          • TheMarvelous1310

            That’s a fair point, most of the bikes I would lift the back of already have enough rake and trail not to have the front fork too upright if I did.

        • Evans Brasfield

          Born, I think you’re missing the point. It’s not just the cost of developing the new frame. There is the additional expense of producing, cataloging, tracking, and maintaining a separate stock of frames, shocks, and (possibly) swingarms just for this bike. Yamaha has done the numbers and decided the additional expense/effort is not worth it. No shenanigans at all. Just business calculations. Of course, we’d all like for the suspension to be able to handle more off-road type of riding, but if Yamaha doesn’t make a profit, there is no money for development of future motorcycles.

          • Born to Ride

            Evans, I think you are taking their word a little too much at face value. Obviously the decision was a financial driven one. “Design it to use the shocks that we already have in the warehouse.”
            But they already designed a new frame. That is the whole point of the bike. There is no additional expense associated with producing the same frame they designed for this bike with shock mounts relocated 3 inches higher. Why not order some longer shocks? I am pretty sure the vast majority of Yamaha bikes don’t share the exact same shock absorber. They would literally have to change one part on this bike versus the other bolts. Hell, charge an extra 300$ for it and I am sure most wouldn’t argue the point. The Yamaha engineers know how to make great bikes, clearly they were handicapped here.
            However, I am willing to concede that there could be a clearance issue with the swing arm that we are unaware of. This bike was designed as a cruiser first after all.

          • Evans Brasfield

            Actually, the only new chassis component Yamaha designed was a new subframe that bolts on the the frame and raises the seat to its new height. The shocks bolt to the frame, not the subframe. I’ve attached a crop of one of the press documents to illustrate what is changed to the frame. (The subframe is in red.)

            Also, price is a huge factor in the Bolt line. A $300 increase in MSRP would make the SCR $1,000 more expensive than a base Bolt, and my guess is that Yamaha’s market research said the market wouldn’t support a 13% increase in price. Of course, this is just my opinion.

          • Born to Ride

            Well that is definitely an enlightening detail. From the pictures I saw, it appeared that the subframe came down to the shock mounts. I understand what you meant in your previous comment. It’s unfortunate that Yamaha didn’t foresee the success of the bolt and the expansion of its lineup, and design a modular chassis accordingly to tailor the performance of each model.

          • Evans Brasfield

            I’d have considered putting this image in the article (where things are supposed to be pretty) if it were a higher resolution, but in the comments, the resolution can be ignored while we discuss things.

          • Born to Ride

            Woulda saved me a couple diatribes to be sure!

      • Old MOron

        Thanks, Evans. Good on Yamaha for giving you access to the engineer, and good on you for asking questions. You know, like a journalist!

  • Old MOron

    “Perhaps we can put together another Scrambler Slam and include the new/updated players.”

    Good review, Evans. Bring on the slam.

    • Ian Parkes

      Would other scrambler players want to see Evans slam their bikes?

      • Old MOron

        Whether it’s Moto GP, WSBK, Supercross, etc, when a racer wants to say something good about his bike, he says it’s easy to ride. So the bike that Evans crashes least will be the clear winner of the Scrambler Slam.

  • john phyyt

    Ouch! Again!. 😊

  • Starmag

    While I applaud the ergos improvement, if this is a “scrambler’ so is my CB900F which I take down fire roads all the time and has 6.2″/4.3” of travel front and rear and weighs the same. I’ve seen an FL on a fire road!

    It seems economically wise for a company to use the same basic motor and frame for several different models, but this is MM. Mostly Marketing. Nice looking bike though.

    I love the honesty of admitting to a mistake that you didn’t have to. Did your fellow motojo’s have some fun at your expense?

    • Evans Brasfield

      Yes, they absolutely had fun at my expense – and I deserved it.

      • Kenneth

        “Deserved” or not, I hope the physical damage isn’t too painful. Not riding, just walking/slipping/falling on a patch of ice last January has me still feeling hip and lower back pain. Crashing is serious stuff.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Crash tested too. You MOrons are so thorough in your testing methodology!

  • Campisi

    I’ve heard people compare this bike with the new Triumph Street Twin, and after sitting on the thought I’ve come around to it: similar price, similar neo-retro standard styling, aimed at the yoofs. A pity it’s fifty pounds too heavy.

    • Kenneth

      ‘Seems to me, the Street Twin is more than just a styling exercise; a useful rear suspension makes it an honest, classic, standard motorcycle (and ~50# lighter).
      “Yoofs”? Where did that come from?

      • Campisi

        Play on the term “youths.”

        • Douglas

          Maybe this one was designed for youthinasia….?

          • Campisi

            U.S. market only, for now.

          • Starmag

            Don’t they have a more painless way to go?

          • Douglas

            Well, maybe, but skilled use of the wakizashi is rare anymore, and it can be messy if not done right….and it can really sting, I understand. Sleeping pills way better.

          • Douglas

            Or, looking at it from another POV, guess they could ride a Goldwing….

  • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

    Classic MOron move! Nice story, Evans.

  • Gabriel Owens

    At least you looked good in that one pick.

  • SRMark

    piggyback shocks with 2.5 inches of travel. WTF

  • Tyler John

    No ABS. Why not in 2016?

  • Buzz

    We need one of those MO slide shows: Top Ten Evans test crashes.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Give me time. I’m not even halfway there.

      • Ian Parkes

        Bring on the slam!

  • jeff gravitt

    Still so freaking heavy…….

  • TheMarvelous1310

    I like it. I shouldn’t, as much crap as I talk about Bolts being Sportster clones, but you gotta go all the way to Smoky freaking Mountain to get a decent Harley-Davidson scrambler.

    What’s with all these ‘fire road specials’ though? I thought the point of a scrambler was to be a reverse enduro, to try to squeeze the maximum amount of off-road performance without sacrificing too much on-road ability, but most factory ‘scramblers’ seem to be posers that can’t keep up with the average (usually 100 lbs. heavier) adventure bike! Scramblers should have MORE off-road ability than your average Subaru, not less!

  • Elektromargu

    No ABS? No Europe.. :(
    Weight? Morbidly obese (for a scrambler)
    Belt drive in gravel? How long ’till the stones shatter that thing?..

    Other than that, absolutely love it! 😀

  • ADB

    Evans, relaxing tonight watching YouTube vids, and I have a question – how in the world did you film the circular overhead shots on your SCR950 review? Were these done with a drone? At 50 mph?


  • HeDidn’tWeDid

    I think it looks good and it going to be a good real world ride. Would be great for cruising around the backroads around Little Rock.