Retro-requisite Ducati riders wanting more power have had nothing to fixate upon until the the Scrambler 1100 Sport came along
Photos: Leow Ju-Len, Derryn Wong
Up until now, if you’ve wanted a Ducati streetbike that has power paired with retro style, it’s been a case of either or. You could get a Monster for modern go, from the 821 to the arm-ripping 1200 S, or a Scrambler for the nostalgia-tinged show.
With the Scrambler 400 and 800 model lines, each powered by a 41hp and 76hp L-twin respectively, current Scramblers are great in the city, which is right in line with the target audience of younger riders who need a stylish way to commute.
Riders who want the Scrambler style, but wanting to go further, faster – or simply can’t live without good torque roll-on – have had to wait for the Scrambler 1100, the newest addition to the range.
Ducati dubs this the ‘Scrambler for grown-ups’, apt considering the playful nature of the 400 and 800 range, but it’s not just a reiteration of those bikes with a larger engine shoehorned into the frame.
The 1100 is a clean-sheet design, so it looks quite different from its smaller siblings. The most obvious is the fact that it appears as more of a naked roadster with classic cues, rather than the more upright, dirtbike-derived design of the 800/400.
Close up, the ‘mature’ nature of the 1100 is quite evident from its improved build quality. As it’s a bigger bike with a bigger price tag there’s a corresponding step up in the overall components and finishing, from the switchgear, to the logo-ed engine cases, the footpegs and handgrips.
Under the seat there’s not much space but there are still things to appreciate, such as the tool rool with ‘Scrambler’ branding, and a USB charging port.
The model shown here is the Scrambler 1100 Sport, and currently the only model for Singapore. As covered in our test ride at the bike’s debut in Portugal, internationally there’s also the Classic (which we rode) and base model.
As the name suggests, the Classic has more brightwork in the form of spoked wheels, chromed exhausts, satin aluminium parts such as the radiator guards and tailpiece, standard Marzocchi suspension and an aluminium swingarm.
In contrast the Sport model comes only in ‘Viper Black’ paintwork with yellow speed stripes, has dark aluminium cast wheels and matching black swingarm. Most significant of all the changes are the fully-adjustable Ohlins suspension, which is only found on the Sport.
The result is a distinctly more aggressive appearance for the Sport model, there’s more contrast than the Special’s matte-silvery theme, and it pairs well with the ergonomics of the bike.
That’s also clear once you install yourself on the wide seat, with more of a sporty, forward lean to grip the wide, flat handlebars that are mounted close to the headstock – beginners might find this awkward, but to riders coming from sportsbikes it’s much more comfortable.
Firing up the bike unleashes a blast of characterful noise and thumpy L-twin sound, it’s loud, rorty and refreshingly different from modern, liquid-cooled engines.
No surprise, as Ducati simply took the air-cooled engine straight from the previous top-dog Monster, the 1100 EVO of 2011, and made it legal for today’s stricter emissions regs.
On paper, the 1100 has just 13hp more than the 800, 86hp versus 73hp or 17.8 percent, but there really is no replacement for displacement, and the torque figures show it: Not only does the 1100 generate 31 percent more torque, it does so 1,000rpm earlier too.
As we noted in our review of the 1100 Special, the engine allows for properly enjoyable acceleration that adds a considerable new dimension to the Scrambler experience.
It allows for less painful higher-speed touring. As you venture further into triple digit speeds, windblast becomes an issue, but slap a windscreen and some soft bags on and the 1100 would make a great, all-day leisure tourer with enough pace for the twisties and open road.
Just like the rest of the Scrambler range, the 1100 is still good at city-slicking. The characterful lumpiness of the L-twin is still there, but the greater valve overlap in this engine means it’s far more flexible and less peaky, helped along by the light clutch and throttle.
Because of this, it’s a welcoming experience if you’re new to big twins. Those used to the flexibility of inline fours might find their left feet busier than usual, but compared to Ducati’s tamed sportsbike, the Supersport, a rider has a much easier time of it at urban speeds.
The Sport model takes easily to sporty riding too, the forward-cant seat position and shoulder-wide bars makes turn-in effortless, though without the apprehensive ‘drop’ very sporty bikes deliver.
The Ohlins suspension is another key enabler, it deals well with bumps, but also adds more confidence and better handling. It’s fully adjustable as well, so a rider could easily tune in B-road or commuting setups to their own liking.
Lastly, swapping out the stock semi-knobbly Pirelli MT60 RS tyres for some sporty rubber would probably unlock the full fast potential of the bike.
Complimenting the greater palette of riding experience the 1100 is capable of are the riding modes and safety features.
‘City’ cuts power to 75hp while cranking up the nannies (traction control and ABS), while Journey and Active have the full 86hp, with incrementally more throttle response/less nannies. Cornering ABS, thanks to the latest Bosch 9.1MP system, is another welcome safety addition.
There’s little to complain about with the Scrambler 1100: The seat’s a little wide, but as a leather unit it should conform to your body after miles in the saddle, and the also-wide, low handlebars occasionally make reaching the controls tricky, such as during left-handed U-turns.
On the whole though, the Scrambler 1100 Sport delivers far more joy than jeers. It’s a new sort of Ducati, one that is an enticing blend of emotional traits (L-twin engine, power, noise, sweet handling) with practical and fashionable ones.
Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport
|Engine||1,079cc, 4V, L-twin|
|Bore x Stroke||98.0 x 71.0|
|Max Power||86hp at 7500rpm|
|Max Torque||88Nm at 4750rpm|
|Top Speed||Not stated|