For the first time in almost a decade motorcycling is coming back into the mainstream. Television shows like Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Round proved to be a pivotal moment in modern, mainstream motorcycling. Here was a show that was made for motorcyclists, but also appealed to the rest of its viewers through clever writing, characters and scenery. That was ten years ago though, so what’s changed now I hear you ask? high petrol prices, more people living in congested cities and the perceived cool factor is bringing the motorcycle back in a big way. Oh and don’t forget the ‘cafe racer’.
It seems like every male/female in the early twenties who likes coffee and buys second hand clothes wants to ‘build’ a cafe racer. The original cafe racers and their bikes were a death defying bunch who’s only goal in life was to wring the neck out of their English bikes on the way to attempting to hit 100mph (or the tonne). The new breed generally just wants the street cred of riding an old Honda CB that’s had its handle bars flipped up-side-down and has brake, throttle and clutch lines that are now too long and pose a choking hazard for young children nearby. There is light on the horizon though; manufacturers are realising this trend is here to stay and are producing bikes that are not only easy to modify, but increasingly more affordable.
Triumph arguably started the trend with their ‘modern classics’, a range of parallel twin tributes to Bonevilles past; now other manufacturers are playing catch up. BMW with their R nine T, Moto Guzzi and their V7 range, Kawasaki with the W650/800 and now Ducati has jumped aboard the retro train with their Scrambler. The main difference between Ducati’s effort and the ‘others’ is the pricing and the marketing. Ducati has marketed the Scrambler as not only a stand alone brand from the rest of their range, but have priced the bike low enough that it can be classed as affordable. Starting at just under $13,000 (AUD) the Scrambler is at least three-to-four thousand dollars cheaper than its competition and for a younger market segment that’s an important point.
The key to the Scrambler’s appeal is its looks, its price, the badge and the ease of customisation that Ducati has built into the bike. Not unlike BMW and their (much more expensive) R nine T there are multiple parts of the Scrambler that can easily unbolt and be replaced for a different look. Not only that, but right from the start you can choose whether you want your Scrambler to be on-road biased with cast wheels, or slightly more off road focused with spoked wheels and a larger front mud guard. This ease of customisation from factory allows people to personalise their bike, without needing too much in the way of mechanical know how.
The Scrambler is bound the bring new riders to the Ducati brand and maybe to motorcycling itself. This will be less noticeable in Australia due to our licensing laws but I’m sure in the US (where this bike’s been heavily targeted) it will bring unprecedented amounts of riders out of the woodworks. And who can blame them? 800cc V-twin, multipurpose bike with a Ducati badge on the tank at an affordable price. Get used to the sight of these things because I’ve got a feeling their going to popular. If the Scrambler and bikes like it stop the flood of poorly built ‘cafe racers’ I’m all for them…