Dear MOby,

Has anybody noticed Ducati’s new 399cc motorcycle? I guess I missed it if it was in the news. Ducati’s Sixty2 Scrambler only runs 399cc, yet the MSRP is at a lofty $7,995. What gives? I know Ducati offers a premium product, but I’ve heard bad things about their reliability and upkeep expenses. Why would I buy such a pricey bike that mimics the styling of its bigger siblings. Are they just hiding this bike for compliance reasons?

Also, do you guy have a review on the Sixty2? I know you reviewed the Icon model, but since they are differently equipped that might be nice.

Noah Johnson

We noticed the Sixty2 when it was introed at EICMA in November of 2015 as a new 2016 model, but we haven’t had a chance to ride one. It probably exists mainly because bikes bigger than 400cc in Japan are way more expensive to license and insure than smaller ones. Probably too, because in Western markets, many impressionable new riders are strongly advised to start small, whether that really makes any sense or not: None of the Scramblers are powerful enough to wheelie over backwards at the slightest provocation.

All Scramblers but the Sixty2 – the Icon, Cafe Racer, Desert Sled, Classic and Full Throttle – use an 803cc version of Ducati’s venerable air-cooled L-Twin, and the least expensive of them, the Classic, retails for $10,495. So while $7,995 may seem like a lot for 399cc, it’s all relative. Since it appears to use all the same parts as those bigger-engined Scramblers, the Sixty2 can’t be much less expensive to produce. Wait! I take that back: The base Scrambler Icon is only $8,495!

The 803 is rated at 75 horsepower, which translated to almost 70 at the rear wheel on our dyno. The 399cc is just a smaller-bored, shorter-stroked version of that L-Twin, which Ducati rates at 41 hp, which is probably 36 or 37 at the rear tire. That’s not much, but we can say that for people who aren’t insatiable speed demons, it’s plenty for riding around and having a blast. We’ve had all kinds of kicks on bikes like the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, which made almost 41 horses on the dyno, and the Honda CB500F manages to be a staff favorite with just 43 hp. Then there’s Ducati’s claim that the Sixty2 weighs just 403 pounds to the Scrambler Classic’s 424.

Anyway, if the Sixty2 speaks to you, you might be perfectly happy bopping around on it as opposed to bombing around on one of the 803cc models, depending on your “riding style”. Most of the people you want to impress will probably never know the difference, and you know the kids will be “scrambling” these into trees and large rocks like crazy; the bone yards will be full of fresh 803 engines in a year or two which should slot right in…

Ducati’s bigger and more complex liquid-cooled eight-valve Twins can be pricey to maintain. We wouldn’t worry so much about the much simpler air-cooled Scramblers; they’ve had a lot of years to work the bugs out of them. If you really want the reliability skinny, do what we do: Ask an experienced Ducati mechanic or service manager.

Send your moto questions to [email protected]. If we don’t know the answer, we know who does, and if they don’t know we’ll make up something reasonable-sounding. What do you want for free?