Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special long term test review
Sports reporter Oli Rushby is spending the summer with Ducati's Scrambler 1100 Special... as well as a hefty 138-mile round trip commute to our Peterborough office. Oli will be riding the Scrambler to a number of BSB meetings and also embarking on a trip to the Austrian Grand Prix.
Out of it's comfort zone!
Published: 4th September
We all love a challenge, don’t we? At least that’s what I told myself while sat planning a 2,500-mile round trip to the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix.
We’ve already established that while Ducati’s Scrambler 1100 is an impressively capable machine, it’s built for the Sunday blast… I mean, you only have to look at the thing to know it’s perhaps not the most ideal machine for touring. There’s no wind protection – or any weather protection whatsoever for that matter – and absolutely no room for luggage.
As a new model, at present Ducati don’t have any after-market luggage available for the Scrambler and nor do the likes of Kriega – so I opted for a 40-litre Oxford roll bag on the seat and a pretty hefty Kreiga R30 rucksack – which proved plenty for six days on the road.
What did surprise me is that the 1100 has a USB-port under the seat, so I was able to wire a cable through and around the tank covers and into my phone mount for navigation – at least that was one problem solved.
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To be honest, I’ve never had too much of a problem with wind from the Scrambler’s lack of protection – even on my 136-mile round trip motorway commute it’s pretty much fine, so I wasn’t too worried but this time I was going to be riding between five and seven hours a day, would it be different?
The route was simple, on the Wednesday we would travel down to Folkestone and hop on the Eurotunnel to Calais. From there, we’d travel through Belgium to Cologne – about four hours’ motorway riding time – where we’d stay overnight before embarking on the rest of our journey.
On the Thursday, we’d enjoy a few miles of autobahns before getting our arses off the motorway to find some twisties. Turning ‘motorways’ off on the Satnav, we found some lovely German roads as we progressed towards Munich where we’d spend night two.
By this point, we were about 800 miles into the trip and after two days’ riding on a range of roads from British motorways to German autobahns and then billiard-table smooth, sweeping German country roads, I’d begun to learn a lot more about the Scrambler than I had in the first 2500 miles riding in the UK.
Surprisingly, despite everyone telling me it would be – neck pain was not an issue. In fact, the two people I was with were complaining more of neck pain than I was and they were on an Africa Twin and BMW K1200 GT… go figure! The thing I had noticed, though, was with quite high pegs, the Scrambler’s riding position would be unbearably uncomfortable after any more than two and a half hours in the saddle. Fortunately, a quick walk around a fuel station would be enough to sooth your legs ahead of another stint and after two and a half hours, the Scrambler’s 15-litre fuel tank was about ready for topping up anyway!
Fuel economy was another of the Scrambler’s little surprises. I was able to travel about 160 miles to the tank – which is about 48mpg and while it wasn’t comparable to the Africa twin ridden by my Dad, I was quite impressed! Even more so when we bumped into what seemed to be the Yamaha MT-01 owners club at a fuel station and they were saying they were filling up every 100 miles.
Our third day would see us cover the least mileage – only about 300 miles from Munich, into Austria and down to Graz where we were staying via a stop at the Red Bull Ring to pick up our tickets for the weekend.
It was fortunate that this day would be our shortest as the weather was appalling. It rained all the way on our way out of Germany and while we were given a short bit of respite as we rode from Salzburg down towards the Red Bull Ring (on some rather incredible roads), we’d then hit a biblical downpour on our way to the circuit and instead find ourselves diverting straight to our hotel.
As with any naked bike – the Scrambler is a struggle in wet conditions… the lack of any weather protection proves a problem as you’re just constantly getting a face full of water. Makes for tedious riding…
We stayed an hour away from the Red Bull Ring and found a 50-mile mountain pass to ride in every day – it was stunning. This is where the Scrambler came into its own, my Uncle’s K1200GT proved a little too big and cumbersome for the tight switchbacks, and even the Africa Twin was blown out of the water by the Scrambler, which can simply be thrown into turns and then just glides out.
On the first day, the mountain pass was wet and we were riding through the clouds for most of it, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable on the Scrambler. The Pirelli Angel GTs I’d stuck on before leaving were a dream in both the wet and the dry, in fact they were perhaps the biggest bonus on that tight mountain pass. I had feared that ditching the off-road style OE Pirellis would ruin the Scrambler’s cool look, but it doesn’t and while the OE rubber isn’t bad, the Angel GTs were a marked improvement.
I won’t lie, the 1200-mile ride home in 36 hours hurt… I could barely walk the next day and by this point my neck was starting to hurt, but that didn’t really start until I was half way between Folkestone and my home in Lincoln. That being said, I was pretty impressed by the Scrambler…
For something that isn’t built to be taken on a 2,500-mile European tour – it coped pretty well. Would I have rather been on the Africa Twin my Dad was riding? For the motorway miles without a doubt, but for the 400 miles we spent exploring Germany and that Austrian mountain pass the Scrambler was without a doubt the best of the bunch and to be honest, if it hadn’t been for the lack of protection in the rain and the leg ache from the high pegs – I’d choose the Scrambler every day even though it’s right outside of its comfort zone.
Read more on the Austria trip in an upcoming issue of MCN.
Not just a pretty face
Published: 18th August
From the minute I clapped eyes on the Scrambler 1100 Special I knew it was going to be a good summer…
I’m a sucker for the retro style and Ducati have nailed it with the 1100, it almost looks like an original Monster which absolutely does it for me, but it was when I jumped on it and first opened the throttle that I realised just how much character this bike has.
Combined with its looks, the bark of the 1079cc L-twin, and the way it pops and gurgles off throttle, defines what this bike is about – it oozes cool.
After running it in for 600 miles before a first service, I was finally able to stretch the Scrambler’s legs… In terms of power, it’s not got an abundance, in fact, at 86bhp, just ten more than the Scrambler 800, on paper it’s a little disappointing.
However, it’s not something you notice while riding. There’s bags of mid-end torque that compensates for the lack of power and with an impressively linear power delivery as well as sublime ride-by-wire throttle connection, you certainly don’t feel slow.
The more time I spend with the Scrambler the more I enjoy it – it is the quintessential jacket and jeans Sunday ride machine. The way the 1100 peels into corners and then flicks back onto the fat part of the tyre as you open the throttle is almost effortless.
This is aided by a comfortable riding position, spacious seat and wide bars allowing you to move your weight around with ease.
At 211kg, the 1100 is a little on the heavy side, but again this isn’t something you notice while riding, as the distribution of that weight offers a low centre of gravity.
After a few longer trips and a month of riding to our Peterborough office (70 miles from where I live), I can say the Scrambler is a little on the thirsty side…
I’ve found I can get 140 miles to the 15-litre tank, returning an MPG of around 42 miles per gallon. Frustratingly for a geek like me, there is no MPG reading on the dash.
Over a longer, motorway trip at sensible motorway speeds, you can probably stretch it to 160 miles per tank but that’s still only 48mpg.
Given the Scrambler is designed for its looks rather than practicality, I was slightly concerned how it’d be over longer distances. A 300-mile round trip to Morecambe would answer this question and admittedly, after two hours in the saddle your arse is starting to hurt but by then you’re about ready to stop for fuel so it’s not so much of an issue.
The padded seat and plush suspension make for a surprisingly comfortable ride and given there’s no wind protection whatsoever, it’s relatively easy to sit at the higher end of motorway speeds.
For some time the rear Pirelli MT60 has been starting to show signs of wear. The tyres are surprising, while they don’t offer as much grip as a sports or sports touring tyre, they are much better than you’d expect for something that looks like it should only work off road.
However, with the time to replace them approaching, I’m facing a dilemma as to what to go with… while a more road-focused tyre would undoubtedly improve the ride, it’ll compromise the Scrambler’s awesome looks…
VERDICT AFTER 2600 MILES
It’s so easy to look at a Scrambler and assume it’s a fashion statement, and if that’s what this is, at £11,495 it’s a bloody expensive fashion statement!
But the Scrambler 1100 is so much more than that. It looks the part, sounds the part and most importantly feels the part… every time you ride it you find yourself grinning from ear to ear as the V-twin rattles the bike between your legs and while it might look like it’s only good for a slow speed wobble, it’s capable of much more.
It's all about the noise!
Published: 4th July 2018
Let’s be honest, we all think scramblers are cool right? Whether you subscribe to the beard growing, Barbour-jacket and turned up jeans wearing style that some may say goes hand in hand with them, the return of the scrambler style has not been a bad thing for motorcycling.
Well, Ducati’s Scrambler 1100 ramps that level of cool up a gear and it’s nothing to do with its style and everything to do with how it sounds. Of course, it’s a Ducati, so naturally it’s going to sound good but this is 1079cc of booming L-Twin good. Some of us have to try quite hard to look cool and even then I pretty much always fail regardless of what bike I’m riding, but there’s no question about whether you sound cool on this beast.
When I first fired up the 1100 in the office car park, the gaggle of my colleagues who’d come out to take a look were surprised at just how loud it was with its standard exhaust. I even felt sorry for my neighbours the next morning when I struck it up on the driveway between our two houses at 6:30am as even on tick over it isn’t exactly quiet.
Riding the Scrambler through a village or town, heads are turning to look before you’re even alongside a pedestrian on the pavement – they’ve heard you coming. Every head turns whether it’s in admiration or a snotty-nosed villager wanting you to hurry up and stop ruining their picturesque, quiet post-card village scene.
You feel like you’re the king of the road as the sound of the booming twin ricochets off walls and houses; you can’t help but smile. Every time you grab a handful of throttle all 1079cc growls at you like an agitated tiger. At 86bhp, the 1100 isn’t exactly powerful for its engine size but it sure sounds it.
On the overrun, it’s popping and gurgling like every Ducati should - you feel just as cool closing the throttle and slipping down the gears as you do when the motor is signing at full chat on the way up.
More aggressive than the 800
The superb sound is one of the biggest differentiating factors between the 1100 and Ducati’s 800cc Scrambler. It’s far louder and much more aggressive, making it seem much more like a ‘proper’ bike as opposed to a toy. You find yourself mindlessly blipping the throttle at any opportunity just to feel that buzz.
For me, scramblers are all about character and the 1100 is full of it and a large part of that character comes from the engine note. This is a Scrambler that sounds like a true Ducati should.
Scramblers are all about style and character and the 1100 is packed with both and the growling sound of the L-Twin is one of the biggest factors contributing to this.
There’s no way you won’t sound cool, whether on the throttle or off, and that adds to the riding experience like you wouldn’t believe. If you’re looking for a bike that draws attention each time you ride down the street, the Scrambler 1100 is perfect.
First 1000 miles with the Scrambler 1100 Special
Published: 10th June 2018
When our MCN Fleet Scrambler 1100 Special turned up at the office, what felt like every member of staff came out to have a look. I’d seen the bike at both the NEC and London Shows, but hadn’t quite realised just what a looker it is.
It sat there glistening in the sun, Ducati’s attention to detail once again top notch. The 1100 looks much more substantial than its 800cc sibling, there’s much less plastic and it’s a bit chunkier. It almost looks like an old Monster.
One thing I thought I wouldn’t be too sure on was the chrome exhausts, but while it’s early stages and I haven’t had to fight too hard to keep them clean, I’ve actually developed quite a liking for them – especially how they’re starting to discolour through surface oxidation.
At just 86bhp, I was slightly underwhelmed with the 1100’s power figures on paper, but with 65 ft/lbs of torque, you don’t really notice it. Yeah, at 211kg wet it’s a little heavy but I can’t say you notice that either. You can just throw it into a corner and then use that punchy torque to get out.
The biggest thing is the bike feels cool… which is the main point of the modern-day Scrambler whether you subscribe to the beard-growing, Barbour jacket and turned-up jeans wearing style that goes with it or not.
It sounds phenomenal. We couldn’t quite believe how loud it was on standard pipes for a Euro 4 bike. It pops and gurgles on the overrun like every Ducati should and the booming 1079cc L-twin is the perfect soundtrack for a country road blast.
It’s the first Scrambler from Ducati with any real kind of electronics… five stage traction control, cornering ABS and three rider modes – which actually make quite a bit of difference.
Active mode is what it says on the tin, full power and direct fuelling – this is the bike at its best. Then there’s journey mode, which still uses all 86bhp but has slightly more relaxed fuelling which makes things more comfortable on a longer trip and makes the bike slightly more frugal, and then there’s city mode, which drops power to 75bhp and has the calmest level of fuelling which, combined with a light clutch, makes the 1100 a beauty around town.
On the open road is where I find the Scrambler comes in to its own… it’s living proof that you don’t need a 200bhp sports bike to enjoy yourself.
So far, so good!
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