It’s been sitting there for a while and I really hadn’t found the time to sling a leg over and go for a ride. After seeing Ernie Vigil’s epic video about the Scrambler I had to give her a go. All I can say is what an absolute hoot. I’ve now had such luck in being able to try most of these fantastic machines and quite a few other brands that come in and there are only a few that ooze character.
This is one of them. I can’t believe how much fun this is to ride. Supple and strong. Surprisingly agile and easy to ride but it makes you feel like Bruce Springsteen or Steve McQueen – an honest bloke. When you picture a real motorcycle in your mind this is it. Demi Jacket, open face helmet, a funny set of googles, calf skin leather gloves and work boots. You’re a regular motorcycle rider but in a world of super slick, homologated speed machine you’re not. You’re special. It should be called “The Boss”
First, there’s the style. Though not quite as lean and clean as the high-pipe TR6C of the Sixties, the 900 Scrambler does a pretty successful job of evoking that uncluttered look, which is right out of one of the great Golden Ages of motorcycle design. It doesn’t hurt that the styling DNA carries a heavy dose of Steve McQueen (or Bud Ekins) desert racing, running the 1964 ISDT or jumping that famous faux-BMW (actually a Triumph) over the fence in Germany.
Then, there’s the engine. Triumph actually took the trouble to change the crank and firing interval on the Scrambler from the Bonneville’s 360 degrees to 270—rather than just latching badges and high pipes onto a Bonneville—to give the engine its own distinctive exhaust note. It also got a larger front tire and a dual-sport tread pattern, along with more off-roadish bars and a higher ride height and roomier seating position. When in a gravel-road roosting mood, you can stand up on this baby. And it will roost, until you get into serious Single-track-trail work.
Stock from the showroom floor, the Scrambler is not exactly dripping with functional or aural charisma, but a good set of slightly throatier mufflers and better shocks make a big difference. And that may be the great secret of the Scrambler’s appeal: Like the Bonneville, it’s almost a blank canvas for personalization, allowing you to add whatever level of sound and glory you desire.
There’s a virtual cottage industry (okay, maybe a large castle industry) in aftermarket cosmetic and performance parts for Triumph Twins, so it becomes a participatory bike, rather than one you just buy and stuff in the garage. And when you get done, you’ve got a motorcycle that sits right and looks right, sounds good and can go almost anywhere. Maybe even over that famous barbed-wire fence.