Ducati’s new £9305 Café Racer is more than just a generic Scrambler with clips-ons and a black and gold, 70s-inspired 900SS Darmah paintjob.
While the rest of the six-strong Scrambler range (Desert Sled, Full Throttle, Classic, Icon and the A2 licence-friendly Sixty2) have off-road ready 18” and 19” front wheels, the Café Racer has a more road-biased 17-incher. Fat, sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres adorn each end, so this is a Scrambler can attack the bends.
To cope with the extra cornering forces the Café Racer’s non-adjustable forks have longer upper tubes for extra rigidity (but are the same overall length and stroke) and the front and rear damping is beefed-up, too.
It also has a new throttle tube to smooth out the initial power delivery (aimed at newer riders), a radial Brembo master cylinder for stronger braking, bar end mirrors, a swingarm-mounted number plate hanger, a removable Monster-look-alike single seat unit, a lower headlight position and new surround, a short front mudguard, new undertray and a black-painted engine with brushed-ali cooling fins.
And if you’re wondering what the No. 54 is all about, it’s a nod to Ducati racer Bruno Spaggiari, who, early on raced a machine based on the original single-cylinder Ducati 350 Scrambler and later finished just behind race winner Paul Smart in the famous Imola 200.
Here at its world launch, up in the mountains near the Ducati factory in Bologna, the new Scrambler Café Racer is a cinch to ride, but it still has enough straight line performance, punch out of corners and balanced handling to keep things interesting.
Just like its Scrambler brothers and sisters the 75bhp, 803cc air-cooled, L-twin Café Racer is designed to be appealing to new riders and easy to get along with for the more experienced, but not be a rival to faster retros like the sharp-toothed Triumph Thruxton R or the feisty BMW R nineT.
Sink into the Café Racer’s cockpit and life’s good. Those new clip-ons aren’t too low and they’re spread nice and wide for maximum wiggle room. Pegs are rear-set, but still low, so won’t crush your knees. The seat is well padded and comfy for a few hours, but after that things get uncomfortable.
On the move the clutch, throttle and gearbox is light and the spread of Bologna-bred twin-cylinder power is wide and simple to tap into. Weighing just 188kg full of fuel, the neutral-handling Café Racer takes little effort to flick from side to side, there’s loads of ground clearance and the brakes are up to the job of spirited riding. If you push it really hard you can soon find the limits of the chassis, but that’s not what this bike is all about.
There are very few things not to like about the Café Racer. I love its looks, the paint and the attention to detail of things like the ‘Born Free’ engraved filler cap, the jewel-like Brembo brake lever span adjuster, classy fork tops and the simple multi-function speedo. There’s also a full range of Scrambler parts, accessories and clothing available, too.
The only gripes are the rear brake lever that’s positioned too high and while the throttle has been modified to give a softer initial opening, there’s too much lag and the tube need twisting a good few inches before anything happens when you pull away or go looking for the power mid-corner.
But these minor quibbles won’t spoil your day because the new Café Racer is a classy (but admittedly expensive) piece of kit. It lets you live your café racer dreams and unlike a faster, or a harsh, home made retro, it won’t bite your head off in the process. So for those hazy sunny Sunday mornings Ducati’s new Café Racer is just the job.
Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer - The facts
Engine 803cc 2v single
Frame Tubular steel trellis
Seat height 805mm
Suspension Kayaba 41mm forks non adjustable and single rear shock preload adjustable.
Front brake 330mm disc. Brembo radial four-piston calipers.
Power 75bhp @ 8250rpm
Torque 50ftlb @ 5750rpm
Kerb weight 188kg
Tank capacity 13.5-litres
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