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Ducati is a brand known for high performance … particularly road racing success in every category, including WSB and MotoGP. Since 2014, however, Ducati has been known for something else entirely, and that is the sales success of its simple, lifestyle-motorcycle, the Scrambler. Now Ducati’s best selling models, the “Scramblers” are becoming something of their own brand … within a brand.

Is it the “Ducati Scrambler”, or simply the “Scrambler”? Ducati seems to be pushing things towards the “Scrambler” moniker standing alone as its own brand. In any event, Ducati struck gold with the original Scrambler, which featured an air-cooled, 803cc v-twin with a basic throw-back design.

The Scrambler Icon we tested, despite a single front brake disc, non-adjustable suspension, and essentially no electronic wizardry, was a fun motorcycle that definitely hit the sweet spot when it came to styling. You might think Scramblers have been primarily bought by hipster millennials, but we understand the demand has spread across many age and demographic groups. MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

What the original Scrambler lacked was performance, both engine and chassis, that might interest (excite, even) more experienced riders accustomed to more powerful motorcycles. So a bigger, more powerful Scrambler with more capable chassis was a logical addition to the family. Enter the 2018 Scrambler 1100 that is the subject of this test.

It seems an air-cooled engine is an essential element in a Ducati Scrambler (in addition to the trademark steel tank with brushed aluminum side panels), and the Scrambler 1100 carries a very good one. The 1,079cc v-twin is based on the two-valve unit recently used in the Monster 1100 Evo. Versions of this engine have put out close to 100 horsepower, but Ducati rates the Euro 4 compliant Scrambler 1100 at a peak 86 horsepower (achieved at 7,500 rpm).

Together with a claimed 65 foot/pounds of torque at 4,750 rpm, the 1100 may not look like a speed demon on paper, but it is nevertheless a big step up from the power and torque offered by its 803cc sibling (which Ducati currently rates at 72 horsepower and 49 foot/pounds). It’s not just the 20% increase in peak horsepower and 33% increase in peak torque, it is the fact that power comes on at significantly lower rpm levels in the 1100. Still relatively light at a claimed curb weight of 454 pounds (with the 3.9 gallon fuel tank topped off), the Scrambler 1100 promises very good, immediate thrust at streetable rpm levels.

As we found out, it delivers. MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews
MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews Even bigger changes, perhaps, are found in the sophisticated electronic aids and upgraded suspension and brakes.

Compared to the relatively basic Scrambler 800, the Scrambler 1100 gets state-of-the-art rider aids, fully-adjustable suspension and top-drawer Brembo stoppers. Ducati created an all-new steel trellis frame for the Scrambler 1100 and hung some nice suspension from it in the form of a beefy, fully adjustable 45 mm, Marzocchi fork, and a Kayaba shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping . In addition, sweet, radial-mount Brembo M4.32 calipers squeeze big 320 mm discs in front, while a single 240 mm disc resides on the rear wheel.

This is superbike-level stuff. Speaking of superbike-level stuff, the Scrambler 1100 gets the latest electronic wizardry. A Bosch IMU works to inform the performance of four-level traction control (that you can turn off) and cornering ABS.

The bike also features three ride modes and three power modes. The ride modes are called Active, Journey and City. Active and Journey provide full power, while Journey softens throttle response.

City limits peak power to 75 hp, and further softens throttle response. MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews A six-speed transmission delivers power through a 17? rear wheel holding a tire sized 180/55.

The front wheel is 18? holding a 120/70. The stock tires fitted are decidedly not superbike-stuff, and consist of Pirelli MT60RS dual-sports with a dirt-oriented (read semi-knobby) look. The traditional-looking flat seat provides good comfort and support, and the rider triangle of the Scrambler 1100 yields an easy reach to the bars with footpegs neither particularly high or low, and a bit forward from where you might expect them.

After a short period of acclimation, the cockpit position seems to work well on longer rides, and even while sport riding in the twisties. Ground clearance is surprisingly good. MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews
MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Clutch pull is much easier than many Ducatis I recall, and engagement is smooth and predictable as you pull away from a stop. Power starts to build in a linear fashion just above idle, and the bike pulls hard at street rpm levels all the way up to 8,000 rpm. Meanwhile, the 90? v-twin sings a beautiful song from the intake and exhaust — leading the rider to wonder how Ducati passed noise emission regs.

The stock bike is pretty loud. At first, handling seemed a bit unsteady when riding the bike hard, and cornering, but a relatively simple fix was available in the form of shock spring preload. Adding a healthy 3-1/2 turns to the threaded spring collar seemed to transform a bike with relatively lazy steering geometry and longish wheel base into a corner carving delight.

Straight line stability remained excellent, at the same time. Keeping in mind that our test rider is 200-plus pounds, adding shock preload might be a typical way to balance a bike underneath him, but here it also seemed to quicken steering and improve feedback from the front tire. Set up this way, the bike cornered superbly.

Even riding with a supermoto-mounted friend on a twisty mountain road, the Scrambler 1100 had no trouble keeping up mid-corner, and then could blast ahead on the straights. The dual sport Pirellis were a big surprise. They look like they wouldn’t work particularly well on the street, but they provided good grip and feedback.

Of course, more street-oriented rubber should improve handling further, but we did not get a chance to explore this option. MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews The suspension did an excellent job of providing a comfortable ride, including absorption of small stutter bumps, as well as sufficient damping for performance riding.

The adjustment clickers on both the fork and shock seemed responsive, and helped us dial in the suspension to our liking. Probably the best suspension we have yet sampled on a Scrambler-style motorcycle. It doesn’t take long to describe the braking performance on the Scrambler 1100.

One word comes to mind. Phenomenal. The superbike-level Brembos lived up to their reputation with huge power and excellent modulation.

Mind you, these are not brakes for a ham-fisted beginner rider. Initial bite is pretty strong, and the sophisticated ABS can come in handy … even on dry roads.
Again, this is not your typical brake set-up on a Scrambler. We tried both the Active and Journey engine map settings.

Journey offers full power, but lazier throttle response. We preferred the Active mode, although some riders might consider it a bit too abrupt. We felt Active was plenty smooth enough, and brought out the full character of the air-cooled v-twin.

The engine character is a story in itself. You may realize that Ducati spent years (decades, even) perfecting the air-cooled 90? v-twin engine configuration, as discussed in our 2002 story.The apex of that design/development process is likely the 1100 EVO engine residing in this Scrambler. This motor is simply fantastic on several levels.

Fueling is spot on, and the extremely broad spread of power perfectly compliments the wonderful character provided by the individual, 540cc pistons banging away beneath you in perfect 90? harmony. This is a je ne sais quoi you have to experience for yourself.

MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Other Ducati Scrambler 1100 models include the Special (left) and the Sport (right) Like most, modern, large-displacement v-twin powered motorcycles, the six-speed transmission in the Scrambler 1100 is arguably overkill … leaving the rider with a frequent choice of gears on corner exits, for example, and a relaxed, loping cadence at highway speeds.

Vibration is never an issue. The Scrambler gearbox shifts easily and positively, perhaps just short of the even more languid effort required by most Japanese gearboxes. In the end, the author began to fall in love with the Scrambler 1100.

It has an indefinable character that drew me in, together with excellent performance that surprised me. It is comfortable, easy to ride, practical and rewarding. In fact, I began to feel my attraction to the Scrambler 1100 was somewhat irrational until it was time to take photos for this story.

Serving as photographer, I invited Kent Kunitsugu, long-time editor of Sport Rider magazine and an Isle of Man TT race veteran, to ride the bike for photos, and put some time on it as we moved from spot-to-spot, eventually ending up at In-N-Out Burgers. Kent liked the Scrambler 1100 and seemed to agree with my conclusions regarding its handling/cornering abilities. He also carried a similar appreciation for the attraction of the EVO engine.

I even began thinking about a long-term relationship with the Scrambler 1100 … making useful modifications to the machine in my head. The excellent chassis/suspension/brake package, coupled with the low weight one might expect from a trellis-framed, air-cooled Ducati, seemed like a fantastic starting point, and I fancied ways to get the dry weight under 400 pounds (pretty good for an 1100). All powerful indications I was smitten.

We tested the standard Scrambler 1100, priced at £12,995 in the United States. Two additional models are available, including the Special (£14,295) and the Sport (£14,995), which gets Ohlins suspension. Take a look at Ducati’s Scrambler website for additional details.

MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews


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