Common Tread

Another scrambler: Yamaha unveils the 2017 SCR950

Jun 08, 2016

BMW R nineT scrambler. Ducati Scrambler. Triumph Scrambler.

You sensing a trend here? I’m drowning in hipster bikes, personally.

2017 SCR
2017 Yamaha SCR950. Yamaha photo.

Let me give you some context. On Monday, Yamaha shipped us an XSR900 for a full review to follow our first look, and I have been riding it this week. Today, we shot Episode Three of our new Sportster Parts Modification series. Then, today, I come back from lunch to find out Yamaha has delivered the SCR950 to the world, to join the legion of scramblers I just rattled off. Half of me thinks it’s nifty, and the other half of me wishes that one of the most innovative motorcycle manufacturers would stop trying to sell The Lifestyle because The Bike is a way better story. Dammit, Yamaha, sell me steak, not sizzle. The SCR apparently comes with both: It's a good-lookin’ bike with reasonable specs and all the lifestyle marketing Yamaha can chuck at you.

Dem wheels!
Spoked aluminum rims. I'll be in my bunk. Yamaha photo.

I'm giving my normal "Stare-at-the-pics-and-see-what-jumps-out" commentary, so please forgive any errors or inconsistencies you may see crop up. The SCR appears to be a dressed-up Yamaha Bolt C-Spec, but there are some differences I caught. I see knobbier tires. I also see a 17-inch rear wheel on the SCR, as compared to the Bolt’s 16-inch unit. Wire-spoke aluminum wheels differentiate the SCR from its cruiser relative.

Surfboard saddle.
Hey, I remember those seats! Yamaha photo.

Among the optional factory accessories is this bikini fairing. Yamaha photo.
In a few of these images, I see a skid plate, which looks boss, and I also see a little bikini fairing, which does not. There are a few smaller details as well, like the scrambler-style bars on the SCR, the number plates, and surfboard-style seat. It looks like the tank on the SCR is different from the one on the Bolt, as well, if you look up near the front. (They have slightly different capacities: 3.2 gallons on the SCR, and 3.4 on the Bolt, which seems to support this.)

In looking at this bike, I developed two thoughts which are solidifying rapidly. The first is that Yamaha has finally shown hipsters how to make a bike look nice. Those of you who dabble in shitty old motorcycles (Spurg) or are old yourself (Lance) may be familiar with the Yamaha Virago XV920. You’ve probably seen them the way I have recently: Some kid decided to add some Yamaha DT bits to it for a little different feel, and it wound up looking like dog barf. This SCR looks much better and the air-cooled powerplant certainly looks neater and more sanitary than the XSR. (It's probably not half as much fun, though.)

The second thought is that this is going to be a killer standard bike. It looks truly retro, has an air-cooled powerplant with proper finning, reasonable tires and brakes, with a price normal people can stomach. Street Twin, look out! I’m falling in love with the XSR’s triple, but I bet there are some riders who would trade off a few of those horsepower to hear a V-twin howling away in their standard/throwback bike.

Yamaha SCR950
If it's a scrambler, where's the high pipe? Yamaha photo.
I will say their interpretation of scrambler-style pipes leaves me scratching my head. Scramblers = high pipes. (Someone send Ducati that information, too, please. Triumph did it right, and BMW got damn close, given the boxer they have to work around.)

This bike also will compete nicely with the new Sportster Roadster from Harley-Davidson. (Stay tuned, we’ve got a correspondent heading out to ride one of those very soon.) This corner of the market is smokin’ hot right now, and I couldn’t be happier. Race bikes are no longer where the dollars are going, and that means street riders are getting some very usable motorcycles right now.

Not Lemmy.
Shockingly, Lemmy did not receive an invite for this photo shoot. Yamaha photo.

I do not look like the guy riding the bike in Yamaha’s beauty shots. I don’t care about kale. I think vinyl records generally sound like shit. If my clothes are too small, I donate them to the Salvation Army.

But I like these bikes. Pass the steak. Yamaha, whaddya ya say you get one of these over here so Spurgie and I can beat on ‘em some?