DUCATI SCRAMBLER 800 Icon (2023 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Lighter, livelier and more comfortable
  • Lean-sensitive traction control and ABS
  • Riding modes for the first time

At a glance

Power: 72 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.3 in / 795 mm)
Weight: Medium (408 lbs / 185 kg)

Prices

New £9,995
Used £7,700 - £10,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Ducati Scrambler made an immediate impact when it was released in 2015. Agile, perky and brilliantly user friendly, the 803cc air-cooled V-twin was an undeniably fresh take for Ducati - establishing a brand within a brand, with its semi-enduro look aimed squarely at the trendy urban market.

But whether you bought into the hipster image or not, the original Icon set the Scrambler ball rolling because it was a fun, easy-going and charismatic bike to ride and to own.

Multiple Scrambler variants (and a kazillion accessories) followed the Icon along with sales figures that at times topped any of Ducati’s more potent machines. The Scrambler has been tweaked and updated, most noticeably in 2019, but now for 2023 some 80% of the bike is new, including an electronics package to help usher it into the modern era.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon handling test

There are improved rider aids, featuring Bosch cornering ABS and lean-sensitive traction control. A ride-by-wire throttle also brings two modes – Road and Sport – which are accessed by a crisp new 4.3-inch TFT dash. The characterful and free-revving 72.2bhp V-twin has been made Euro5 compliant too, despite retaining its authentically classic air-cooling.

Meanwhile, a revised frame, new swing arm and wheels, along with a lighter, more refined clutch, reduce the bike's weight by a claimed 4kg.

While the 'next-gen' Scrambler looks outwardly similar to its predecessor, the Icon's, erm, iconic retro styling is brought subtly up to date, while the rear shock is now centrally positioned, rather than side-mounted, and the seat is flatter and supposedly comfortable for longer for both rider and pillion.

All of which adds up to an even more involving ride. The Scrambler Icon is hard to fault, particularly when ridden in isolation, and the chassis and electronic updates simply inject a brisker edge to the ride, as well as providing a new and reassuring layer of safety. New riders will continue to love it as much as more experienced heads.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon rear

A key ingredient in the Scrambler success story is the degree to which owners can customise, personalise, tweak and generally configure their machines with factory kit. In fact, there are so many options available you'd be extremely lucky to see two identical bikes together. Not many production bikes come with three base colour options and six choices of secondary paint.

The first Scrambler was a relatively cheap stepping-stone into the Ducati brand. Prices have increased since 2015 obviously but the 2023 Icon remains just under £10,000 in its standard configuration. Build quality and finish are classy for any machine in any price bracket while the desirability of Ducati ownership permeates into the Scrambler range too.

One difference between 2015 and today is that the ten-grand market is now packed full of fun and interesting bikes. The Scrambler has much more competition and we have much more choice. For many, though, there is no other option; the Scrambler has a following and culture that can’t be ignored or replicated elsewhere.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Throw a leg over the Scrambler's flatter new seat and you’re greeted by a relatively upright and laid-back riding position that now sits you in a slightly sportier stance, the bars are lower by 5 mm and further forward by 17 mm.

The Icon is in its element riding around town. The steering is light to the touch with direction changes made seemingly without effort. It can U-turn on sixpence (remember those?) assisted by a light, slick new clutch. Meanwhile, soft and forgiving suspension does a pretty impressive job of ironing flat whatever potholes and speed humps are thrown in its way.

Away from the city the Scrambler is impressive too, and excels on narrow, twisty lanes – the bumpier the better. It responds sweetly to rider inputs, encouraging you to find an easy, rhythmic pace that Scrambler owners have come to love over the years. In more open country it cruises happily and relaxed at 70mph and remains stable and predictable no matter how the surface or grip levels may change. Feedback from the OE dirt-look Pirelli MT60 RS rubber is consistently impressive, and despite their blocky tread pattern can be pushed surprisingly hard.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon on the road viewed from above

The suspension delivers a soft but controlled ride that suits new riders. For sportier souls, ground clearance is fine so long as you ride with your toes on the pegs – and the 2023 Icon certainly encourages a brisker pace than the older machine.

Essentially that's because older bike felt like it steered from the middle - a little bit like a Harley-Davidson Sportster - and the newer, lighter machine sits the rider slightly forward, with more feel for the front tyre contact patch. It's a marginal change but the steering is more direct and faster.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon front brake

Of course, if you keep pushing or try to keep up with your sportier riding mates, that comfortable, pothole-absorbing suspension will start to complain. The 41mm Kayaba front forks carry no adjustment and, if you try to attack corners on the brakes, lack the necessary support. Better to let your mates go and enjoy the V-twin's easy ride and willing spirit pull you along.

Braking performance from the single 330mm disc and Brembo caliper is strong enough for most occasions and ideal for new riders around town. Feel is good too, while its reassuring to now have cornering ABS working in the background. A pillion, however, can make the Icon feel slightly under-braked.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The air-cooled V-twin's 73hp peak power figure may not be anything you want tattooed next to that Scrambler logo on your chest, but the power and torque of the 803cc Desmo match the attitude and chilled feeling of the Icon perfectly.

It has a spritely turn of speed and can even loft the front (once the four-level traction control is deactivated). It’s only when up against similarly priced competition (see below) that the engine performance feels a little short.

The Scrambler is now Euro5 compliant and gains two riding modes, Road and Sport. There isn’t a massive difference between them, and both make the same peak power and torque, though in Sport the throttle is a tad livelier, especially higher in the rev range.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon on the road

Peak torque has shifted up in the rev range, from 49.4ftlb at 5750rpm to 48.1ftlb at 7000rpm but Ducati engineers assure us the torque curve itself is very similar to the previous model, with strong torque retained in crucial lower revs.

It certainly feels as grunty as the older Scrambler and is as ridiculously easy to ride, surging sweetly through its mid-revs, encouraging early shifts and a taller gear as it flows along a favourite B-road. There's a new and lighter clutch that saves 2.5kg but sadly no quickshifter, which is only an option on the Icon. Given the long list of bits available to bolt to the Scrambler, this would be at the top for many.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Ducati Scrambler doesn't look like a £10k machine. The build is pleasing to the eye, detailing is satisfying, and the finish deep. There is no real trace of cost saving and more than ever a Scrambler Icon will bring a smile to your face in your garage as well as on the seafront the summer.

The new 4.3-inch TFT dash (with uprated connectivity) only adds to the premium feel. The display is clear and classy and even those coming to a Ducati for the first time will find their way around within a few miles. Major service intervals are still wide at 12,000 km – and the relatively unstressed V-twin has proven reliability.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon rear lights

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Ducati quote fuel consumption figures of 5.2 litres per 100km (54mpg) and tank capacity is given as 13.5 litres. Running costs should be low, and the Scrambler can still be restricted for A2 licence holders. The only problem for Ducati is its cheaper competition, but that does depend on what you rate as the competition.

Are Honda’s new £6999 Hornet or Suzuki’s new £7999 GSX-8S direct competition to the Scrambler? Both are fun and to an extent aimed at new riders – albeit without the image and options. If so, the Scrambler appears expensive.

Or are we looking at 'cooler' bikes like Moto Guzzi’s V7 (£8600) or Triumph's Scrambler 900 (£9595) or even Triumph’s Bonneville T100 (£9395). If you compare it to BMW R nineT Scrambler (£12,350), then the Ducati seems like better value for money, despite its relative lack of power.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon front on the road

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The choice of spec and colour is as wide as it is long. Each colour option looks fantastic, making it really tough to choose the best option. And if you change your mind later you can always transform your Icon in under an hour by swapping the removable tank covers, front and rear mudguards, headlight cover and tags on the wheels. It's just a shame the standard Icon doesn’t have a quick shifter as standard.

2023 Ducati Scrambler 800 Icon rear action shot

Aside from the standard Icon, there are also the Full Throttle and Nightshift variants. The Full Throttle has a dedicated livery and seat, side number boards, Termignoni slip-on silencer, sump guard, lower handlebars, LED indicators, sport front mudguard, and all the all-important quickshifter. The Nightshift gets a specific livery, sporty seat, LED indicators, different front mudguard and number board, plus individual spoked wheels, bar end mirrors, and flat bars.

Specs

Engine size 803cc
Engine type V-twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 13.5 litres
Seat height 795mm
Bike weight 185kg
Front suspension 41mm Kayaba USD fork
Rear suspension Kayaba rear shock, pre-load adjustable
Front brake 330 mm disc, radial 4-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS
Rear brake 245 mm disc, 1-piston floating calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 110/80 x 18
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 54.2 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price £9,995
Used price £7,700 - £10,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 72 bhp
Max torque 48.1 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 161 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2015 Ducati Scrambler 800 range launched
  • 2019 Ducati update the smaller scrambler range with gentle revisions
  • 2023 All-new Scrambler arrives with new chassis, electronics and more

Other versions

There are three versions of the Ducati Scrambler 800 for 2023; the Icon, the Full Throttle, and the Nightshift.

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