2017 Triumph Street Scrambler First Ride Review
How many new Triumph Bonnevilles are we up to now anyway? The Street Twin came first, just about a year ago. We liked the sweet little runabout instantly, and it proceeded to come out on top of every comparison test we threw at it, usually by quite a lot. Wait, Maybe it was only this one:
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler
The Street Twin uses the 900cc “High Torque” Twin (instead of the 1200 Twins that go in the T120, Bobber and Thruxton), and that’s the engine Triumph decided to use in the all-new Scrambler. It’s a great little motor (that’s actually 900cc) that cranked out just about 53 rear-wheel horsepower in the Street Twin, which isn’t all that much but feels like way more thanks to the 58 pound-feet of torque it also produces at less than 3000 rpm.
That grunt means it’s well-suited for off-road use even if other parts of the bike really aren’t. Triumph tells us it’s in the exact same tune as the Street Twin, which is fine by us. A single throttle body feeds both 450cc cylinders which keeps mixture velocity high; fueling is impeccable, exhaust gases are lower than Euro4 regs, and in normal use 60-plus mpg is, well, normal. (Not magazine testing use, where we stop and start constantly, ride like maniacs and make 80 photo passes.)
Triumph stresses it wants these bikes to be accessible to everyone, the opposite of intimidating – and it succeeded again with the Scrambler. Even 5-foot-8 people like me can touch the ground with both feet thanks to the 31.2-inch seat height, which is 33mm lower than before and a spec which actually reinforces the Steve McQueen ’60s look. I’m convinced McQueen would’ve quit riding if he’d lived into the era where dirtbikes constantly remind you how short you are. In fact, the new Scrambler reinforces the whole idea from that era that you can ride any bike off road if you have enough talent, whether the bike likes it or not.
I only got to ride this one “off-road” (fire road, anyway) for maybe 20 minutes, and it’s definitely capable, but with 120mm of suspension travel at both ends and not a lot of ground clearance (you can’t have a lot and a low seat), you wouldn’t want to stray too far off the beaten path. I wouldn’t, anyway.
To get the right Scrambler geometry using the same frame as the Street Twin, Triumph bolted on longer shocks at the rear, then used 21mm-longer fork tubes up front. With the 19-inch wire-spoked wheel up front, you’re looking at a shallower rake angle and a longer trail figure to aid stability: 4.3 inches (109mm). To further aid stability, those longer shocks get stiffer springs and slightly increased damping in both extension and compression. But there’s still only 120mm travel at either end, 4.72 inches.
The new Scrambler does feel like a big improvement over the previous one. Triumph specs a dry weight of 454 pounds. When we put gas in our Street Twin last year and put it on the official MO scales, it weighed 39 pounds more than Triumph’s claim. Using the same correction factor on the Scrambler should yield a 3.2-gallon gassed-up weight of about 493 lbs – which is still portly but 25 pounds less than the outgoing model.
Along with that lightness (relatively speaking), the new Scrambler just seems to have more structural integrity than the old one; hitting potholes and rocky sections doesn’t have the bike squirming or loudly complaining like the old one. If you’re close to my size, the wide handlebar is in a good place whether sitting or standing, the new bike’s a bit skinnier between your knees. That big chunk of low-rpm power is really useful in lower-speed off-road use, and again, perfect, instant fueling makes the bike easy to control: So do the light-pull slip-assist clutch and effortless five-speed gearbox.
For off-roaders of questionable skills such as myself, the addition of traction control is a good thing. Skilled ones can easily switch it off and perform lurid Mert Lawwill slides until their luck runs out. The ABS is also switch-offable.
Back on pavement, the Metzeler Tourance dual-sport tires have enough grip to let you skim the Scrambler’s footpeg feelers now and then. It doesn’t steer as quick as the Street Twin, of course, but it’s still plenty quick diving into apexes and good fun roaring up to them with that blattiful pair of high pipes on the right side. Again, it feels like more than 54 horsepower. Like an old Ducati, this one prefers to be left in a higher gear where you can ride the torque wave out of corners instead of revving it out (which is a good thing since it only revs to 6500 rpm). It even quacks sort of like a Duc with the 270-degree crank.
It’s not really a street racer or a dirtbike, though, it’s a Scrambler, designed to be a stylish, easy-to-keep all-purpose daily runabout, and for that it could be a hoot. The wide handlebar and upright seating position make it easy to pick your way through inner-city traffic (and pick off the occasional mirror, oops…), and the seat you’re positioned upon is flat, broad, and very comfortable. If 120mm suspension travel is on the low end for off-road riding, for around town it’s ideal, and the 19-inch front tire’s nice for hopping the occasional curb as well.
And though it looks like the classic ’60s Triumph Scramblers – one of which Evel Knievel failed to jump Caesar’s Palace fountain upon – it’ll be a lot easier to live with. Triumph says the oil only needs changing every 10,000 miles. I don’t think I could do that to a brand new motorcycle. Then again, the new bike’s not really on the cutting edge of high performance like the old Scramblers from the ’60s, is it?
This is a kinder, gentler Triumph for the post-toolbox era, which Triumph is even trying to engage by already having over 150 bolt-on accessories standing by, many of which they say don’t require much mechanical skill or even a garage. Smart…
The only complaint I can find is the bottom line: The Street Twin we heaped praise upon last year is an $8,700 bike. The new Scrambler starts at $10,700 for black, and from there “it’s a short walk” in PR-speak to matt green or red: Personally, I’m not sure I’m seeing where the extra $2000 went. But money is such a personal thing. If the Street Scrambler pushes your buttons, you won’t be disappointed.
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler
- Feels way lighter and more structurally solid than the last one
- Like the Street Twin, super easy to ride for all skill levels and comfy too
- Great factory options including Fox shocks and heated grips…
- Not the best bike when it’s 38 degrees
- The price has crept up into real money territory
- There’s tubes in them tires
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler
|Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
|84.6 x 80 mm
|55 Hp (40.5kW) @ 6000 rpm (claimed)
|59 lb-ft (80Nm) @ 2850rpm (claimed)
|Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
|Brushed 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin brushed silencers
|X ring chain
|Torque assist. Wet, multi-plate clutch
|Tubular steel twin cradle
|Twin-sided, tubular steel
|Spoked Steel Rims. 19 x 2.5in
|Spoked Steel Rims. 17 x 4.25in
|100/90-19 Metzeler Tourance
|150/70 R17 Metzeler Tourance
|KYB 41mm forks. 120mm travel
|KYB twin shocks with adjustable preload. 120mm travel
|Single 310mm solid disc, 2-piston Nissin floating caliper, ABS
|Single 255mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
|Odometer, Rev counter, Gear position indicator, Range to empty, Fuel level, Average and current fuel consumption, Clock, Two trip settings, Service indicator, Traction control and ABS settings
|85.7 in (2178 mm)
|32.7 in (831 mm)
|Height Without Mirrors
|44.1 in (1120 mm)
|31.2 in (792 mm)
|56.9 in (1446 mm)
|4.3 in (109 mm)
|Dry Weight, claimed
|454 lbs (206 Kg)
|Fuel Tank Capacity
|3.2 US Gallon
|61.9 US mpg (based on the EPA exhaust emission test procedure)
|Riding Modes, Switchable ABS, Switchable Traction Control, Torque Assist Clutch, LED rear light, Immobiliser
More by John Burns