The Return of the Scrambler – Rugged Resurrections or Stylish Hype?
After more than half a century since they first roared into the hearts and minds of dirtbikers and motocross sports, the custom biking scene has suddenly fallen in love again with the scrambler.
Typically used in short circuit off-road sports, these motorcyles were characterised by small fuel tanks and long-travel suspension – a medley of compact and light features that aid high-speed jumps.
What's it take to be called a “real scrambler”?
The scrambler that made it all the rave hit the streets in 2015, with the low entry level price of below $9,000 on the Ducati Scrambler ensuring that production could not keep up with demand. Purists immediately pounced on its lack of high-mounted exhaust, iconic of the scrambler era but the Italians had a ready answer: the authentic 60s scrambler didn't have it as it tended to cause injury to both driver and passenger.
There have been others who started the wave of rejuvenated interest, with other manufacturers following suit: Triumph with its Bonneville in 2006, Moto Guzzi's V7 line and the BMW RnineT.
What do they all share?
According to BikeBandit, the essential ingredients for a scrambler are:
A torque air-cooled single or twin cylinder engine
High mounted exhaust pipes for ground clearance (unless you believe Ducati)
Knobby, usually square-blocked tires on spoked wheels
Dual rear shocks
A short, padded seat
A smaller-than-normal tank
Mini-gauges and a small headlight
An overall stripped down appearance
Should you rush out to get one?
Asphalt and Rubber has no illusions about these range of scramblers to hit the market, saying in its review of Bugatti's offering that the Italians are “clearly pitching the hipster crowd on this retro-cool machine”.
If you're a little older and from Sarawak you may have heard the tales of illegal runners helping to transport you across the Kalimantan border on scramblers. If the stories were true, the seats were removed so passengers had to stand the whole ride, bouncing and jumping across rough terrain the way only scramblers could.
So perhaps the rugged, stripped down and vintage look of the scramblers is the only reason you might want to get one for yourself? For most, that is reason enough to test one out at the showroom.
But if you're more of a traditionalist, then you'll be put off by the marketing of these new bikes as “lifestyle brands”, along with the merchandising that has flooded the dealership stores (yes, shirts, caps, wallets all featuring the product name).
Either way, the scrambler fad is here and it looks to stay for a while.