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MCN Fleet: Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer hits the spot

Published: 30 April 2019

Just over a thousand miles in and I’m definitely bonding with the drop-barred Scrambler. It’s not only me, either. The blue and silver twin is drawing compliments every time I stop – from the Herald Bullet owner who parks up next to me at the office to the guy in Oundle one lunchtime who wanted every detail. I ended up pointing him in the direction of Peterborough Ducati just off the A1.

Speaking of which, since the last report a few weeks back the Scrambler CR has paid a visit to the local dealership for its first service. It’s a quick job with an oil and filter change plus a general check-over to make sure nothing had rattled loose (it hadn’t). The guys gave me a courtesy bike, so I didn’t hang around. Oddly enough, it was another CR. I think I must be getting typecast.

The service came to around £190, which feels expensive, but the bike won’t need to go in again until it is a year old or has hit 7500 miles. My own Scrambler FT had its 7500-miler at the start of the year and that cost in the region of £250 with an MoT, so running costs aren’t a deal breaker. Even so, it would be nice if manufacturers gave you the first service free, wouldn’t it? Anyway, time for a bit of detail on the hits and misses so far.

Great clocks

This new generation Scrambler has a gear indicator. I didn’t really know it was something I wanted, but now I find myself referring to it often, then glance at an empty space when I switch back to my own FT. Better still, it has been fitted into the single dial without the need for the odd Pinocchio’s nose extension Ducati fitted to the 1100 Scramblers. Hit!

Tanking along

You can get 145-150 miles from a tank, which does mean more than one trip to the petrol station per week, and multiple stops on a long jaunt. An extra litre would make a difference without upsetting the styling too much. My FT counts how many miles you have done on reserve while the CR shows you how many miles are left. Miss!

Windy exposure

I actually like sitting out in the breeze, but I recognise others might not be so happy with the arrangement. Also, my longest single journey so far has been 50 miles on A-roads. How I will feel when I take the M11 and M2 to visit family in Kent is another matter. Watch this space. Miss!

Spokey dokey

Unlike most of the Scrambler range, the CR has 17in spoked wheels for retro cred. The smaller size compared to my FT makes for sporty and more nimble handling and gives a wider tyre choice. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres fitted as OE have more grip than I will ever need and feel OK in damp conditions, too. Hit!

Look, no cables

Gone are the displeasingly loopy clutch and throttle cables and instead everything is nicely tucked away. In fact, the clutch cable is gone completely as the CR has a light, friendly hydraulic clutch with fluid for both brake and clutch in neat little reservoirs where my FT has a more bog-standard looking square reservoir on the brake master cylinder. Hit!

Update 2: Life's a breeze on the Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer

Ducati Scrambler cornering

This little beauty joined us on the MCN fleet a couple of weeks back and its first outing was a blast down to the Super Sausage for our #ride5000miles Saturday Social. So far so jolly, except for the blustery grip of Storm Gareth.

Winds gusting up to 70mph will take the shine off any weekend jaunt, especially when you get walloped by a broadside as you nip past a field opening or pass a truck. The joy of a new bike aside, I wasn’t feeling that positive as I flipped open the garage door.

But the trip was bloody brilliant. I’ve not ridden a bike with clip-ons in ages but the way the CR tucks you in away from the wind blast meant there were no issues in keeping everything in a straight line.

And when the wind did kick in from the side, the bijou proportions ensured there was nothing to act as a sail. Just a small correction through the bars was all that was needed. The only problem I had with the breeze was standing out in it (big respect here to MCN’s Alison Silcox for taking pity and handing me the cuppa she was about to drink).

I had a Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle on test when they first came out (and liked it so much that I bought one). I wasn’t sure I would warm to the new bike’s different riding position. Bars down there? At my age? But so far, I have found the head-down stance refreshing and during those windy conditions it was a distinct advantage.

Switches on, switches off

Riding a bike that is a lot like my own one, yet also quite different is throwing up a few funny little surprises. 

This week’s eye-opener is that the full-beam/dipped-beam switch has moved. On the first-generation Scramblers it’s on the front of the bars and you toggle up and down. Unorthodox, yes, but it works.

On the current bikes it is a more conventional thumb switch. Trouble is, it is a rascal to find in the dark (they aren’t backlit) and it’s all too easy for your gloved thumb to snag the switch that toggles through the dash display. I expect 
I’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

Update 1: Meet the Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer

Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer

I did some miles on the first-generation Scrambler Café Racer last summer and loved it. Nonetheless, taking on the Racer may seem like an eccentric move, given that I already have a Scrambler Full Throttle of my own to play with – which I bought brand-new three years ago – but there is method in my V-twin madness.

The two are the same, yet very, very different. Not just in the obviously low clip-ons on the Café Racer but in the way the folk from Bologna have shifted the game along.

My bike, going for its first MoT this year, is handsome but the new-generation machine feels far more resolved and refined. I can’t wait to run it in then enjoy warm evenings down twisty backroads, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and a whole lot more.

  • Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer specs: • £9995 • 72.4bhp • 49ftlb • 805mm seat • 196kg (kerb)
  • Rider: Simon Brown (49, 5ft 9in, 75kg)
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