As an industrial designer, one might wonder what took Hugo Eccles so long to blend his profession with his love for motorcycles. Then again, in his 20-year career servicing clients like Ford Motor Company, American Express, TAG Heuer, LG, Olympus, Nike and many more, it’s understandable that maybe he was a wee bit busy with his day job to worry about his hobby.
Now the founder of the custom motorcycle studio Untitled Motorcycles in San Francisco (with a sister shop in London), when Eccles learned about the Ducati “Custom Rumble” challenge – a worldwide competition for Ducati dealers to customize a Ducati Scrambler – the proverbial lightbulb switched on. The result, as you can see above and throughout the next 10 pages, is this, the Hyper Scrambler, designed and built by Eccles in collaboration with Marin Speed Shop. I caught up with Eccles at Ducati Island during the World Superbike weekend at Laguna Seca, where he opened up about this very wild machine.
Believe it or not, the Hyper Scrambler really did start life as a standard Ducati Scrambler, which does an “admirable job of capturing the essence of the original Scrambler,” says Eccles, “but with inevitable cost and production compromises.” Eccles then sought to create a motorcycle that drew inspiration from supermoto and scrambler motorcycles while perfecting on the compromises inherent when producing a sub-$10,000 motorcycle. In the end Eccles confesses there are few remaining components of the standard Scrambler besides the frame and the engine
Like many of today’s motorcycles, the Scrambler is littered with plastic panels and superfluous hardware. The Hyper Scrambler “adds lightness” by removing every unnecessary panel or component. Obviously all the plastic is gone, but so too is the ABS. Beyond eliminating a few pounds, Eccles ditched the ABS because “I don’t think a bike like this needs it, really.” Unnecessary engine tabs were smoothed out, the wiring harness was reduced to the absolute minimum number of wires needed, the stock airbox was ditched for a pod filter (from a snowmobile, no less), the 1300-lumen LED headlight was taken from an 18-wheeler and now sits vertically, the original fuel tank was replaced with this custom-shaped, 2.6-gallon steel tank, and the entire rear section of the bike was cleaned up as well (more on that later).
With an empty fuel tank, Eccles says the Hyper Scrambler weighs 325 lbs. For comparison, “a 300cc Vespa scooter weighs one pound more,” he says. Which would you rather have?
Shapes, lines, and forms are important considerations for a designer, and Eccles took these values to heart when designing the Hyper Scrambler. His goal was to keep the bike as narrow as possible, its width determined by the frame. To that end, he tossed the stock subframe, and with the help of local fabricator Turk’s Shop, replaced it with this flat piece that rounds at its rearmost section. Incorporated into the new subframe are thin LED strips that double as both brake lights and turn indicators. Acker Leather Works upholstered the seat in the same grippy vinyl often used in motocross seats.
Instead of the stock subframe, which was partially hidden by the seat and panels, the new seat gets tucked into (not over) the redesigned subframe, exposing it while continuing the design elements seen at the front of the motorcycle. When standing behind the bike, Eccles wanted the Hyper Scrambler’s shape to remain narrow throughout, tapering ever narrower the closer one looked towards the front, culminating with the headlight noting that, “The seat, tank and headlight are all part of one tapered form.”
There are some traits to modified Ducatis that are seemingly mandatory, like exposed belts and see-through clutch covers. Eccles remained true to that unwritten rule with the Hyper Scrambler. He didn’t stop there, however, as the Scrambler’s clutch was converted from a cable unit to hydraulic, the frame was stripped of its black paint and recoated in “Rosso Corsa,” the same paint swath used on the Ducati Superleggera and on Ducati’s MotoGP race bikes.
Internally, the Scrambler’s 803cc engine remains stock, but it was vapor blasted to remove the black coating applied at the factory. Eccles wanted the bare metal to shine through. Looking towards the fuel tank, you can also see the stock ignition was relocated to a tab underneath the main frame spar. It’s cruiser-esque if you ask me, the ignition on the side like that, though Eccles never mentioned that as the inspiration for the relocation. Tidying up the front of the motorcycle was the goal, and this was a convenient place to move the ignition, since the ECU is in close proximity just behind it underneath the fuel tank.
Now you see why the ignition was moved? It would clutter the minimalist cockpit area headlined by the Motogadget Motoscope Mini gauge cluster that was molded into the modified top triple clamp. Despite its small screen, the Motoscope still displays road speed and engine speed, as well as travel time and total distance. The lights above the screen serve as shift lights. Note also the steel-braided brake and clutch lines. The other hose beside the brake and clutch lines are part of the wiring loom, sheathed in a steel-braided cover.
As far as visual appeal goes, it’s hard to argue that nearly every bike would look better with a single-sided swingarm. The Scrambler is no exception. Eccles agrees, though he originally wanted to use the round-tube swingarm from the Ducati Sport Classic line instead. It’s probably better he couldn’t find one in time because this Monster S2R single-sided swinger looks much better if you ask me, and it’s also tubular and compliments the trellis frame of the Scrambler. Of course, with the swingarm changed, a host of other adjustments had to be made, including…
With the stock Scrambler’s double-sided swingarm gone, Eccles needed a solution to the stock side-mounted, semi-horizontal shock. Instead of mangling the S2R swingarm to accommodate, his solution was to modify the Scrambler’s frame to accept the S2R shock mount. Despite the lack of gold anodizing or a yellow spring, the shock itself is in fact an Ohlins unit with ride height adjustability. Something the stock Scrambler didn’t have.
Instead of looking towards the aftermarket for wheel selection, Eccles went with a rear hoop originally mounted to a Ducati Monster 1100. It, too, was vapor blasted like the engine to have its natural luster shine through. The Rosso Corso neon strip helps give the illusion of speed even when the bike is cruising along. Ahead of the rear wheel sits a QD underbelly exhaust. Note the tube acting as a rear brake fluid reservoir (an old racer trick).
As an SV650 guy, I’m used to seeing GSX-R swaps, but I wasn’t expecting to see a GSX-R Big Piston Fork from Showa on a Ducati. The tubes were anodized and the brake discs upgraded to EBC wave rotors. Astute readers will also notice the wheel is different as well. Gone is the stock 18-incher, replaced with a 17-inch wheel from a Monster 796 which opens up a number of tire options. The wheel, calipers and caliper mounts also got the vapor blasting treatment to match the other components. Untitled Motorcycles fabricated fork guards as a nod to the scramblers of the past.
As much as I tried to take photos that would do the Hyper Scrambler justice, nothing compares to seeing the bike in person. I’m not easily impressed with custom bike builds, but this one captured my attention the moment I saw it. Even MO’s Editorial Director, Sean Alexander, was taken away by the Hyper Scrambler. When I crossed paths with him later in the day he asked with wide eyes, “Hey, did you see the Hyper Scrambler?!” I nodded. “Did you get pictures of it?” he asked again, eyes widening further in anticipation. A sigh of relief came over him when I nodded my head again.
Here’s the thing: if you like what you see here, you can have one, too. Eccles and Untitled Motorcycles will take a limited number of orders on a Hyper Scrambler of your very own, largely customizable to your tastes. Things like frame colors can be changed (Eccles prefers to stick with color palates previously used by Ducati), as well as components. “I spent about 700 hours building this bike,” said Eccles, “but most of them were sat on a milk crate staring at it figuring out what I was going to do next.” Now that the hard part is over, Eccles and Untitled Motorcycles can replicate the work in much less time.
The cost? Eccles quoted me $30,000, give or take, depending on the level of customization and quality of components you want to use. While that’s a big ask over the $10,000 of the standard Scrambler, in the world of custom motorcycles that doesn’t seem too outrageous. Visit UntitledMotorcycles.com for more information.