Ducati Scrambler 1100 [2018-2019] Review
Sometimes small just isn't enough. Not that it doesn't work. According to Ducati, both the Scrambler 800 and the Scrambler Sixty2 have sold well globally
Sometimes small just isn't enough. Not that it doesn't work. According to Ducati, both the Scrambler 800 and the Scrambler Sixty2 have sold well globally. Given that the idea behind the Scrambler brand was to have more accessible motorcycles courtesy a lower price tag - and, with it, rake in higher sales numbers, Ducati seems to have got it right.
But, in India, the 800 just didn't fly. And, the Sixty2 never even went on sale. Unofficially, most prospective buyers found the Scrambler 800 to be a bit too puny. And, now that I see it standing next to the new 1100, I'd have to agree.
You see, the new Scrambler 1100, is taller, wider, chunkier, and more visually dramatic than the 800. It also sits on a longer wheelbase, has a larger fuel tank, and gets fatter front forks and beefier front tyre. But, it's still not puffed-up muscle; it's more like a marathon runner with 10 per cent body fat. And so, it still retains its minimailist appeal.
Now, we know, why Ducati wants the 1100 in India. But, it's not a bike that's been developed and designed for India. So, it has global aspirations. Ducati says that, the Scrambler 1100 is a 'content-rich' motorcycle at an accessible price with accessible performance; internationally, mind.
And Ducati believes it is ideal for those upgrading from the 800. However, it says, it's also for those who are tired of flogging their classic motorcycles, and want something with modern tech and better reliability. With classic overtones, nevertheless.
Then there is the 'racer-type' clientele. Having had their fill and falls with fast machines, these are aging motorcyclists looking to slow-down. But, of course, they still can't do without capacity bragging rights, and the electronic safety net.
That electronic safety net comes in the form of traction control, and - thanks to an IMU - cornering ABS. The IMU also helps out with self- cancelling indicators. The front suspension is completely adjustable for compression, rebound and preload, while the rear can be setup for preload and rebound response.
The bike you see here also runs a Termignoni full exhaust system. This isn't standard fitment and costs Rs 1.74 lakhs. Now, though the Italian aftermarket pipes look rich and technical, these don't sound as good as the standard pipes. The latter do the whole pop and bang overun routine much better.
Furthermore, the 1100 gets ride-by-wire. That means, the biggest Scrambler now gets riding modes, which not only alter the power output, but also the throttle response.
In City mode, the power is restricted to 75bhp. The throttle response is lazy and gentle. And the traction control is at its strictest. The Journey mode is more for highway riding, says Ducati. So, you get all 86 horses, but the throttle response is still mellow. And the TC allows you a hint of slip before cutting drive.
Finally, there's Active. Full power, crisp and alert throttle response, and traction control that allows some amount of tail wagging under power.
But, that tail wagging under power only happens in slippery conditions like on wet roads or over gravel. It is only 86bhp, after all. Our recommendation then is to stick to Active because in every other mode, the 1100 feels dull.
Now, there are three versions of the Scrambler 1100 on sale in India - 1100, Special, and Sport. In the draw of chits, we got the Sport.
Compared to the other two, the Sport gets a blacked-out theme. So, both the swingarm and engine are finished in black; the panels all sport a matt black paint scheme with yellow highlights, and the seat isn't just higher and flatter; it has a darker brown tinge to it as well.
But, more importantly, the Sport gets fancier Ohlins suspension front and back. The front forks are still completely adjustable, but these are of a greater diameter compared to the stock suspension. And to go with this sportier setup, Ducati has also given the Sport a different handlebar. It is lower and a bit further away from the rider resulting in a slightly crouched seating posture compared to the other two versions.
Now, even though the suspension is completely adjustable, we didn't touch it. We went with whatever Ducati thought would work. And work it did! The Scrambler 800 was many things, but it wasn't comfortable. The Sport 1100, however, is!
It rounds off the small bumps and potholes well. It doesn't crash into the deeper ones or skip about over broken roads. There's no jiggle or jitter, and it refuses to wallow uncomfortably. But, yes, as the bumps get bigger, it does tend to ride with them instead of levelling them. And on a series of bad bumps, it shakes its head as if it were unhappy with its own performance.
But when it gets to a winding road, the meatier front fork and the sportier handlebar make the Scrambler Sport naturally disposed to corners. It doesn't need to be worked hard at all. Push the handlebar, and it drops into corners with agility and poise. The front-end feels alive. And, even though the tyres have a knobbie-like design, these grip surprisingly well.
I am also quite impressed with the brakes. The twin rotor Brembo setup with radial callipers have great bite and feel. These help shed speed quite effectively, then be it entering corners, avoiding dogs, or slowing down on gravel to let a carefree tractor cross.
The engine, meanwhile, is your typical Ducati L-twin unit and is borrowed from the older Monster 1100. It displaces 1079cc, employs two valves per cylinder, and is air-cooled. Not surprisingly, it not very powerful. As we mentioned earlier it produces 86bhp of max power, while the peak torque is rated at 88Nm. All of this torque though is available from as early as 4,500rpm.
But because it's a Ducati, it's also clattery and vibey. It heats up in stop and go traffic. And aggressive throttle openings are almost always accompanied by some amount of judder. But, compared to the 803cc from the smaller Scrambler, this one is a powerhouse.
Plus, the flat and fat torque curve not only makes overtaking less tiring, it also helps you get back to three digit cruising speeds in a jiffy. What's more, it barely turns over at 4,000rpm at 100kmph when in 6th gear. And that means if you do decide to tour on it, the Scrambler 1100 would make for an unconventional but formidable touring partner.
The Scrambler has never been as accessible in India as the world makes it out to be. The 1100 is no different. Sure, it rides and handles well, and I love the brakes. I also think it looks fantastic in the flesh. And, you get decent bragging rights with the gold Ohlins. But this, the Scrambler 1100 Sport, retails for Rs 11.4 lakhs ex-showroom.
This sort of money can get you the Harley-Davidson Roadster if clubbing is your thing. It can also get you the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 and many touring accessories if you love disappearing from home for no good reason. And not to mention, the Triumph Tiger 800 costs similar monies if you like riding bikes in tall boots.
So, should you buy the 1100 Sport then? Well, it's not a no-brainer purchase, for sure. But it is definitely worth considering. It is a fun motorcycle to ride, after all.
Photography by Kapil Angane
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