2015 Ducati Scrambler Review

2015 Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle at Cape Croker, Ontario, Canada
The Scrambler was a logical move for Ducati, in the post-Audi era where profitability trumps outright performance and broadening appeal outweighs pleasing the purists (the “Ducatisti”).  So, does the Scrambler dilute Ducati’s brand ethos or is it worthy of the red and white badge from Bologna?

The answer to that will largely depend on your perception of what Ducati as a brand stands for (or should stand for).  In the past, it was outright performance, even if that meant a compromise on usability or rideability.  It meant top shelf components and materials that drove super-premium pricing.  That’s arguably how they built the prestigious brand that many consider the “Ferrari of motorcycles”and if that’s still your definition of Ducati, then no, the Scrambler doesn’t belong.

So let’s say you’re part Ducatista, but also part business-minded person, a, then the Scrambler is a completely sensible bike. Growth, after all is the objective of any company and the Scrambler has delivered that in spades for Ducati. One could say that Ducati’s hypothesis was correct:  the majority of riders out there aren’t after arm-ripping horsepower, debilitating ergonomics at a higher-than-market-average price.  Rather, they want the prestige and quality of a brand like Ducati under them, but they want the package tailored to more civilized duties.

I spent a season with the Scrambler Full Throttle and after 10,000 kms, came to the conclusion that it’s a machine that can satisfy its intended audience very well.  I did, however learn in the process that I am not the bike’s intended audience.

Scrambler Full Throttle with Termignoni “Race” exhaust & ECU
On a winding road, the Scrambler is as quick as any sane person would want to ride and can keep pace with most anything out there, given a proficient rider in its saddle.  It has a broad spread of torque, willing chassis and (stiff but also) sporty suspension. It will gladly allow knee-dragging behaviour if that’s your thing, although it won’t win any drag races or top speed runs.

The bike’s build quality is above-average, especially in some of the more tricked-our trim levels (the subject of this review being the Full Throttle).  The “factory Termignoni” exhaust, though homologated for street use, still emits a very pleasant sound, particularly on decel.  The tires also are worthy of special mention, seemingly defying the 80/20, 70/30 type of convention usually assigned to dual-sport tires.  The MT60’s are 80/40 tires in my opinion.  They’re good enough on tarmac that you can behave very badly and they inspire all kinds of cornering, accelerating and braking confidence.  On gravel, they offer enough grip to have fun and meet their limits on terrains like sand where I managed to get the bike (very) stuck. I got about 7,500 kms from the rear, which is about what I would expect for a tire of this sort under hard use.

But this bike wasn’t for me. Much like a movie you’d watch once, enjoy, and never watch again, the Scrambler was a great mount for a season, but didn’t offer the emotional, visceral connection that other bikes can offer at a similar (or lower) price.  That’s not a fault of Ducati’s, it’s a fault of mine for mistaking this bike as a match for me.

What I learned from my time with the Scrambler is that the connection between rider and machine runs deeper than any parts list, spec sheet or horsepower figure can describe.  In riding this bike, I learned a lot about myself as a rider, about Ducati as a brand and about riding as a sport.

I’m not sure that was Ducati’s intention when building the Scrambler but I’m a better and happier rider because of it and that’s what this journey is all about.


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