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Ducati re-invents the Scrambler

Published Oct 1, 2014



Cologne, Germany - Half a century ago, before the advent of the iconic 750SS, Ducati built mostly single-cylinder bikes - from 50cc tiddlers to ridiculously fast 450cc sports bikes with desmodromic valves.

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And, as did every bikemaker at the time, they put high bars, knobbly tyres and a high-mounted exhaust on their street singles and called them 'scramblers'. And because they were light, narrow, agile and very torquey, they were actually not bad off-road.

But when the singles went out of production in the mid-1970s, the Ducati Scrambler became extinct; the magnificent Cagiva Elefant was an entirely different proposition.

Until now.

Ducati has been feeding the rumour mill for the better part of a year with carefully-tailored leaks about the new Ducati Scrambler, up to and including a sneak preview - inside a closely-guarded yellow shipping container - for staff and guests at the recent World Ducati Week rally.

The same yellow container is now part of the Ducati stand at the Intermot motorcycle expo in Cologne, with its doors open to show the world the new Ducati Scramblers.

Because this is not just a new model; Ducati sees the Scrambler as a stand-alone brand, almost like Lexus, or Citroen's DS series, with four variants on show at Intermot, along with a wide range of accessories and bolt-ons.

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Marketing vice-president Cristiano Silei said during the presentation on Wednesday evening: "Presenting the new Ducati Scrambler brand means for us opening the doors to an entirely new, fascinating, and absolutely contemporary world.

"We have reinterpreted an iconic motorcycle, part of our history for more than 50 years, in a modern way, designing and building the Ducati Scrambler as if we'd never stopped making dual-purpose bikes.

"The four bikes of the Scrambler family represent starting points on a path that will make every Ducati Scrambler as individual as the person riding it."

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According to Silei, the new Scramblers combine proven materials such as the aluminium of the rear swing-arm and engine covers, and the steel of the teardrop tank and frame, with new-generation components such as LED lighting and liquid-crystal instrumentation.

In place of the 432cc single of the originals, however, it has a fresh interpretation of the L-twin that has defined Ducati since 1972.

Air and oil-cooled, it has old-fashioned two-valve heads over a conservative 88 x 66mm bore and stroke for a swept volume of 803cc, and it's tuned for mid-range, with a wide spread of torque and smooth acceleration throughout the rev range.

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Wide handlebars and a long seat provide a relaxed riding position, while what Silei likes to call 'post-heritage styling' gives a contemporary take on the on the singles of the 60s and 70s.

"This Ducati Scrambler, though, is no retro bike," he insisted. "It's intended to be just how it would if we'd never stopped building off-road bikes."

The headlight and fuel tank form a key part of the Scrambler look; the headlight nacelle is classically rounded, with a glass parabola and an ultra-modern LED light guide around the rim that acts as a daytime running light.

The base Icon version, in yellow and red, is the most reminiscent of the 60's singles. It's due in Ducati showrooms in the first quarter of 2015, and will soon be joined by three more derivatives.

The Urban Enduro with its 'Wild Green' paint-job, is for adventure enthusiasts, ready to get out of town and cut loose on country backroads on any Friday.

The Full Throttle is for flat-trackers who reckon that if both wheels are following the same trajectory, they're riding too slowly.

The Classic, by contrast, is for anoraks who want a 1970s look without the inconvenience of primitive electrics, bone-jarring suspension (or lack thereof) and kick starting.

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