A small, air-cooled buck drives at full throttle in the heart of the people. This requires a closer look.
Text: Fritz Zonko Translation: Albrecht L.
Why do you love me so much?
Zonkos ATTACK DUCATI SCRAMBLER ICON 40 hp 4/2015 MOTORRAD | Tests - Neuheiten - Bekleidung - gebrauchte Motorräder - Reise PS 4/2015 41
Ducati. The iron turned passion, converted into suffering in several ways. Previously, until about fifteen years ago, Ducatis were notoriously unreliable. I remember the reply of the then Austrian importer to a customer whose few weeks old Duc had already broken down a second time. The customers murderous complaint was rebutted as follows: "So what? This motorcycle is like your great love. You would also not demonize your wife or even send her to h... just because she caught a cold for the second time. Nowadays the reliability of Ducatis is of course no longer an issue. Today the passion mutating to suffering relates almost exclusively to the pilot being punished by a Ducati. Because Ducati has always meant one thing: fast. In my opinion, this was and is not so much the engines, rather the suspension, the geometry and the strong believe in the entire manufacturer’s workforce that these machines are not in this world for sledding but for speeding.
Moment of truth: This dull roar is supposed to be fast ?!
When said importer took me for the first time to the racetrack, I had an epiphany. I stood at the finish line and watched with wide eyes and wet hands, as the screaming Japanese supersports were whizzing past like jets. Total madness! And then came the first 916 Duc. The dull and in my ears perfectly unspectacular roar of the V2 raised my doubts: "Does he still warm up the engine? Or is she rather broken, the Duc? "Consequently I was totally stunned two minutes later, when the Duc roared by again. But this time it was not behind but in front of the aggressively screaming Japanese. F..., what was going on ?! Where then did this killer speed come from that you could neither hear nor see? For me at the time being fast was only a matter of the engine, neglecting totally the impact of the suspension….
This was new to me. When you feel the front wheel as precisely as if the handlebar was mounted directly to the axle you can draw circles around your opponents. You will always win in the apex because even at extreme angles nothing touches, the engine responds perfectly to the throttle and upon exit the punch-like torque of the V2 and the crazy mechanical grip of the race style rear suspension will buy you several yards in every single turn. When I was finally allowed to take the 916 to the track, it felt way slower than the Fireblade but de facto my lap time was two seconds faster.
My love to the monster was deep but our honeymoon short
The 916 and the 748er were clearly superior to all other machines on the racetrack out of the crate. This way Ducati has foreseen and condensed the importance of the brilliant KTM slogan "Ready to Race". Since I have always been essentially a real street biker, the bone hard, uncomfortable racing machines from Bologna never got on top of my favorites list. Except the monster. Gosh, the first monster with the air-cooled 900s looked so incredibly good! However, the L2 engine jerked so harshly on the Chain below 3000 RPM . Because dense urban traffic or tight corners could only be realized halfway decently using a lot of clutch we never became a couple. I distinctly remember our previous date: " Duc, why are you bucking so horribly down low? Don’t you appreciate the way I am riding you? What should I do? "The answer was revealing: "Please get off of me. If you like it below 3000 RPM take a chopper. I´m just getting pissed. " My first, very happy, if very short love affair with a Ducati I had many years later with a 1000 monster. Air-cooled, naturally. Today I feel deep, warm nostalgia when I think of my red monster. Though our happiness did not last for long. It was my fault. I did a wheelie right off the diner terrace which was totally in order in the sense of a happy fulfilled future marriage. Sorry, but I was so busy with keeping the balance that I noticed the rapidly approaching roundabout only when it was already high time to turn.
So I settled the front rather abruptly, threw the biting anchor in a flash - and the same instant the front wheel smeared off already. Whoa! Boom, screech, sparks, sparks. The Duc and I lay side by side on the asphalt. I was really stunned. Not only because the sublime gallery feeling had dissolved so quickly into nothingness, but mainly because the Monster in the course of this harmless upset had fallen so clumsily that it resulted in a total loss. Tank, frame, fork and various other small parts were smashed. I was of course not mad enough to throw my Disappointment with its weak crash performance at her twisted headlight, but nevertheless it was the end of our relationship. To her I had become the biggest egghead on the planet. As a connoisseur of the sitcom "Happy love - but how?" I knew exactly what to do: "If the beloved is convinced you are a hopeless shithead your best bet is to follow the wisdom of the Indians and creep away without any noise. "
What? The Scrambler is not a Ducati?
Deep in my heart I I am still holding the 1000 Monster dearly, although I must admit that the monster with the 800cc engine almost suits me more. Because on one hand the smaller L2 has enough punch to lift the front, and on the other hand attacks completely without jerking. I am very pleased that the Scrambler now comes with exactly this engine. What I do not understand is the effort to introduce "Scrambler" almost as a second brand next to "Ducati". It is always compared with BMW and Mini. This gives me the urge to gargle with a major shot of lumberjack rubbing spirit. What bullshit is this? Okay, the Bavarians have bought Mini and maintain the brand parallel to BMW. But the Scrambler has been a Ducati already in the 60s and fortunately it will always be.
Honestly: The test ride with the Icon was a dream. I was overjoyed with the handsome iron and I know that this simple, technically fully developed and super dashing machine will make many People very happy. However, would the same machine not be made by Ducati, but by some noname shack from the continent of chopsticks, it might not quite flop, but most likely it would not become a worldwide hit. The appeal of the brand Ducati is just a killer.
And that the Scrambler is a Ducati breed is evident in writing even on the Hand Grips (!) And on the tank and all. Even the rubber cover of the USB connector under the seat bears the Ducati logo.
What can I say: just world class, killer! Well, the Scrambler and I were soul mates from the start. World class, killer, wonderful! We zoomed through the world for the sake of lightheartedness and high spirits and enjoyed the ride in full bloom. Fallen in love nothing else matters. At some point I heard the question: "Why do you love me? " As a test driver you can safely reply, because you know the machine will take any answer as long as you don’t drop and scrap her unceremoniously. Among humans it’s trickier. "Because you're preparing such a delicious steak ", is not necessarily well-received. But even with the new Duc I was now hesitating. The spell she threw on me was strong, very strong even, but why? Hmm. Well, it was not the handlebars. I'd replace them. Although they are fitting very well into the hands and bring along a wonderful, relaxed Attitude they’re too thin and too wide. The thinness is an all-optical Matter (I would like a conical Handlebar better), but the Width is practically a brake. In principle you could surf the tin-can avalanche insanely and elegantly with the Scrambler, but due to the wide handlebar you are always in Danger to misalign the mirrors of your caged compatriots and to lose valuable time on the way to the hairdresser. Because as a polite person (and courtesy is a very important feature ensuring a harmonic coexistence) you must apologize: "Sorry dude, I'm so sorry! The machine is a dream, but the handlebar is unfortunately too wide. Is a design flaw, so to speak. " In a perfect world the brother-in-traffic-jam, which the mirror dangling from its box, will reply: "No problem. The mirror was getting me on my nerves anyway. Thank you for having it torn off. I was kind of mentally unable to do so. Now I feel relieved. "
The Princess with the Pea is bitching
Before I confess to the Scrambler how much it had captured my heart, I should nag a little about the suspension. I was personally very pleased with the 41mm upside-down fork and the adjustable rear spring because I prefer a more sporty precision over comfort. However, at a more critical view it is not quite easy to understand why they sport a huge suspension travel (150 mm) and then do not render the absorbers more sensitive. Possibly this lack of tenderness in response was only due to the low winter temperatures turning the oil in the dampers very viscous. But more likely Ducati didn't care a d... about the picky Princess and the Pea because ultimately a Scrambler needs to be fast. And the latter goal was a hundred percent achieved. In the winding works the Scrambler is a true power. The system of a strong, engine mounted swinging arm, flat mounted absorber, 41 mm upside down fork and steel tube frame enables the new Duc to march very briskly and accurately through the bends. Therefore even an experienced curve slider doesnt need to make compromises but can be unleash the fire wholeheartedly. The 803ccm 2 valve is really ideal. Granted the transmission is not as smooth as silk but actually a bit notchy, if the clutch is not handled with care. But this has always been the case in the 803-L2 and has never really bothered me. A major component of a spell lies in the fact that something deeply enchanting is being perceived in the spotlight and thereby attracts all attention. The rest is then fading away. I was deliriously happy with the Scrambler. The proven and battle-tested two-valver with its nominally harmless 75 HP provides the 189 kilogram light Duc with the acceleration of a rocket, the front wheel pointing proudly in the sky. Someone like me, who cannot shift gears in the gallery position zipps away from the traffic lights on the rear wheel in first gear up to to 80 km / h before the limiter then freezes the engine power and lowers the front. That is a quite spectacular start, making an impression not just in front of the ice cream parlor , but also next to the retirement home with a stimulating effect to the circulation of the elderly. And the man in uniform in front of the Parliament will jump onto the road. The latter does not come for free. a proper entertainment tax will be due right there and then, not paid by the audience but by the artist himself. Still the best feature is the 803s linear power delivery, the immaculate throttle control and response. Ride-by-Wire, Traction-, Wheelie- and Launch Control? No way. The commands for injection are mechanically driven by gas cable. The L2 responds fully transparently and promptly.
It just depends on how firmly you are pulling on the cable or how far and how fast you are turning the throttle grip. We don't need no education. Is already written on the filler cap: "Born free. 1962." From 1962 on until the mid-70s Ducati built a Scrambler already with single cylinder (125, 250, 350, 450 cm³). Beautiful Machines, but from todays view just horrible sledges. They can look delightfully georgeous, but driving them today is a real defeat. No doubt the engine of the new Scrambler is like from another planet. But the biggest difference is the suspension. In the 60s and 70s one could not even dream of the precise line the scrambler of today draws on the road with sovereignty without the slightest irritation even under full pressure and distress. And then the braking! Into a 330 mm (!) large disk bites a radially anchored four-piston grip so vehemently that in the original scrambler the fork would twist. Because we often hear the opinion that single disc brake would be unworthy for the Scrambler today: I cannot confirm this. This anchor is decelerating wonderfully. Maybe there was a bit more hand strength required when the world really was f-ing tight, but the bite was perfectly adequate. And the ABS kicked in exemplarily late. It is a pity that the rear ABS keeps us from initiating a simple brake drift. An important information for taller riders: Even my friend Burping Jack (192 cm, 100 kg) is sitting comfortably on the Scrambler. What ultimately spells me and triggers my euphoria I cannot describe. But it is clear that - after the BMW R NINE T - the Scrambler is the second machine rising the retro trend to an extremely high level. You are getting a pure, unadulterated iron with the flair of a past when the world was not yet choked by regulations. At the same time you do not need to do without the recent technical achievements simultaneously. Welcome, Scrambler, in the modern World. I am so very happy that you arrived!
CONCLUSION "The scrambler is a threat to established Retros"
Ducati has avoided superlatives in the scrambler. 803 cubic in Two-valve technology, 75 hp and 189 Kilos fully tanked. These are not outstanding Values. That the machine however, renders many people very enthusiastic and triggers the "must have! "- reflex is partly due to the successful form and radiance of the Ducati, on the other hand also to the retro trend and that the Scrambler is technically superior to all other modern Classics on the market. Only the BMW R NINE T operates at a similar high level, but plays in a completely different league regarding displacement, power and cash. It may rightly be assumed that the scrambler will take the market of Retros by storm and will take the lead. And its a save bet that the 800 engine will not stay alone. Because already in the 60s other displacements arrived. What a great pitch! A star is born!