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Common Tread

Ducati Scrambler: Retro or standard?

Jan 29, 2015

Welp, the inevitable happened. 

Since the release of the 2015 Ducati Scrambler, and our first ride review and video, the bike has created quite a buzz. So much so that, even now, in 2015 — the age of e-mail and text messages — people I know still call me to ask me what I think about it. Instead of the normal questions ("How's the power?" "Does it handle well?" "Is it worth it?"), people seem to be confused as to what the Ducati Scrambler is, exactly, and who it's for.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion of what the Ducati Scrambler is. Based off of the titles of the stories written about it on the internet (like this one, this one, or this one), most people seem to think of it as some sort of hipster bike (not totally surprising, since Ducati's marketing has been pretty directly aimed at dudes who look like me).

However, I spoke with a buddy who runs a Triumph shop and he was judging it as a retro bike. By that standard, he thought it completely missed the boat and didn't hold a candle to the Triumph Scrambler when it came to aesthetics or actually riding off road. His point was that the Triumphs have been unchanged for years, outside of adopting fuel injection, while the Ducati is a completely modern motorcycle.

Hipster nonsense or random dude? Could be either. Ducati Photo.

Another friend called, wondering if it would be the natural step up from his wife's first bike, a Honda CB500R.

"It's like a Triumph right, just like a lot lighter? I've ridden those and they're pretty gutless but would be perfect for her. They're just too heavy."

But you see, the thing is, the Ducati Scrambler isn't just all aesthetics and it definitely isn't gutless. In person, without Ducati posing a bunch of tattooed, bearded dudes around it, it doesn't have to be a hipster bike and it doesn't actually look as retro as most would have you believe.

Then I got a call from my buddy C.J. Wilson, who both owns a bunch of bikes and a few dealerships, who wanted to know what the Scrambler would compete with. Sure, the Triumph Scrambler is the obvious competition, but I could also see the Ducati Scrambler being a new option for people considering a Ducati Monster, Suzuki SFV650, Yamaha FZ-07, or other naked bike. I can imagine some of those buyers being willing to spend a little extra to get something that does not look like a Transformer.

Finally, lots of what I love about the Scrambler are things I love about bikes like the Suzuki DR-Z400SM supermoto. It's a small-ish and lightweight bike that's incredibly maneuverable and perfect for around town riding or having a blast on winding roads. The seating position and reach to the controls are super comfy, visibility is great, and the power is appropriate for the bike and complements its strengths well (OK, so the DRZ could use a little more oomph, but I'm working on adding that to our long-term loaner).

Outside of the marketing, the lines of the bike are very....standard. Ducati Photo.

So, while my opinion of the bike continues to evolve as I have conversations around it with knowledgable people from different perspectives, here's what I've come up with:

The Ducati Scrambler is a nice-looking standard motorcycle. It is a great bike that stands on its own merits and deserves more than to be judged as a retro, on looks alone, or written off as just some hipster marketing ploy.

Will hipsters buy these in droves and cover them in flannel and use campfire-scented wax on them? You bet your ass they will.

However, imagine your uncle Bob, in his acid-washed Walmart jeans, Hi-Viz Cortech jacket, and white tennis shoes riding one — let's say the Icon model in red. That image, to me, isn't nearly as weird as Uncle Bob pulling up on his new Triumph Thruxton or Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. He's just a normal dude on his standard motorcycle.

Hipsters beware, the pedestrians are coming.