Ducati Scrambler Icon [2017-2018] Review
The folks over at Bologna have worked a fair bit on the Icon to improve it and still keep it, well, iconic. So have the updates made a noteworthy difference? I rode the 2019 Scrambler Icon around the beautifully winding roads of Thailand to find out.
The Scrambler Icon is to Ducati what the Classic 350 is to Royal Enfield. It is a simple, no-nonsense, somewhat retro, cash cow for the Italian manufacturer. In India, it is also the most affordable Ducati. But despite its rather attractive pricing (for a Ducati), the bike found few takers, partly due to a few niggles in the current model like a stiff suspension and seat and false neutrals. It also got outranked by its competitors in terms of features.
Now the folks over at Bologna have worked a fair bit on the Icon to improve it and still keep it, well, iconic. So have the updates made a noteworthy difference? I rode the 2019 Scrambler Icon around the beautifully winding roads of Thailand to find out.
In terms of looks and appeal, the 2019 Icon is favourably similar to the 2014-18 models, with a few minor tweaks. To begin with, the new LED DRLs are super neat to look at. Then there's the redesigned exhaust shield, canister covers and machined alloys borrowed from the Scrambler 1100’s parts bin.
The 2019 Scrambler Icon also comes with better quality handlebar switches which work in favour of the upgraded model. All the same, I will miss the basic ignition button which has now been replaced by a push-down switch.
What is truly life changing though is the new seat, the reworked suspension setup, hydraulic clutch assembly and the addition of a gear and fuel gauge indicator to the circular and retro-looking digital instrument cluster. Ducati has also equipped the 2019 Icon with a cornering ABS unit managed by a lean-sensing IMU. These updates considerably make up for all that the previous model needed.
Ducati has refurbished the cushion density and contouring of the single piece seat, thus making it softer and friendlier to the rider. Complementing the seat is the new suspension setup of the 2019 Icon. It is pliant and yields to small bumps and ridges with ease. Furthermore, the bike’s wide handlebars and the Pirelli tyres offer the rider immense confidence around corners.
Given that Thailand is a tropical country, we did experience the occasional light showers. And in those wet conditions, the Icon’s cornering ABS doubled up on confidence, being ever so slightly intrusive and making the Icon feel more fun to ride. What’s more, the hydraulic clutch on the 2019 Scrambler Icon is light, as are the gear shifts. However, the issue with the false-neutrals that the previous-gen carried remains unresolved. On the 200km route, it made its presence felt more than a couple of times.
The Scrambler Icon's engine, on the other hand, has become more refined and so has the throttle response. While the 803cc motor continues to hold power in the low to mid-range, the throttle is now far more linear. Sure, one can feel the vibrations on the tank and foot pegs given the structure of the engine, but they are only occasional and not very bothersome. The brakes in the earlier model offered good bite and progression and Ducati has retained them in the 2019 Icon.
However, like most air-cooled V-twin engines, this one too dissipates immense heat making the 2019 Scrambler Icon feel like a fire-breathing dragon at standstill. While the heat can hardly be felt on the move, being caught in traffic is sure to scorch the rider’s thighs, as I discovered, much to my discomfort. This situation would only be made worse by the traffic conditions in India. And getting the side stand down might require several attempts as the peg of the stand is not very wide and consequently, difficult for a booted foot to hook into. Alternatively, one might just lose all hope, disembark the bike and awkwardly push the stand down with one’s hand, which is what I ended up doing.
The 2019 Scrambler Icon has all the classic qualities of its previous counterparts. But it has also evolved a tad to compensate for things like refinement, comfort and features that the earlier Icons lacked. While the bike is yet to be launched in India, it will demand a substantial premium over the 2018 model which retails Rs 7.38 lakhs (ex-showroom). As for its competition, the 2019 Scrambler Icon will go head on against the 2019 Triumph Street Twin.
Photography Credits- Ducati India
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