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Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE long-term test review: Loving the high life

Published: 02 August 2019

Updated: 02 August 2019

Ever since I saw the very first spy shots of the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE in MCN back March 2018, I was smitten. It looked like a recipe for pure fun: a 21in front wheel (plenty of good on and off-road tyres available in that size), masses of suspension travel courtesy of Showa front and Öhlins at the rear, a beefy alloy swingarm, sump guards, hand guards, Brembo radial monobloc brakes and above all, that 89bhp peach of a 1200cc parallel-twin engine in ‘Scrambler tune’. 

To give you an idea of how that stacks up in the range, it sits between the Thruxton at 96bhp and the Bobber at 76bhp. The horsepower is impressive, but for me it’s all about the torque. The Scrambler’s tune means this 1200XE produces a stomping 81ftlb of torque at a mere 3950rpm, only 1ftlb less than the Thruxton engine, but 1000rpm lower in the rev range. In layman’s terms, ‘it’ll pull your arms off at low revs.’ Perfect!

After such a long build-up, I couldn’t wait to get my leg over. But that wasn’t as easy as I was expecting. I’m quite tall, so wasn’t expecting it to be such an effort to climb aboard. With a seat height of 870mm and the top of the handlebars measuring a sky- scraping 1m 20cm, could someone pass me the steps? At 6ft 1in and fairly long in the leg I can sit on board comfortably, but if I am manoeuvring it about I do have to resort to tip toes. How a shorter will cope is debateable. 

For what appears to be a basic-looking desert sled, it is surprisingly well-packed with the latest technology. From keyless ignition to six riding modes, cornering ABS and traction control  to Triumph’s new second-gen TFT connectivity system that links to your GoPro, and provides satellite navigation, as well as music and phone connectivity. I’ll definitely have to refer to the 178-page manual to get my head round all that. 

Tech aside, clutch in and press the starter button, and the bark is joyous. The engine sounds crisp, with a throaty rasp through the high-level exhaust system, slip it into gear and I’m away, immediately transported to a place I love, low revs and bags of oomph, or should that be ‘Trioomph’? 

Now it’s time to make a few choice modifications, and use it for what it was intended; as a stylish retro adventure bike.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE: Welcome to the fleet

Ever since Triumph first came out with the Scrambler model family it’s always just been a road bike in varying degrees of disguise – but with the new Scrambler 1200, especially in this XE guise, it looks like they have finally come up with a serious dual-surface weapon. And I’m delighted, because this is completely my kind of bike.

I love the look of it, and the intent, but it will be a bike that’s been produced to please the biggest number of buyers possible. So I will try to find the areas where the Scrambler could be made better, from handling improvements to weight reductions, to performance boosts and visual changes.

I’ll also do a back-to-back comparison with my 1955 Triumph T110 Scrambler and take it off-road to test that super-long-travel suspension to the max.

Read the full Triumph Scrambler 1200 review

  • Key stats: • £12,300 • 89bhp • 81ftlb • 840mm seat • 205kg (dry)
  • Rider: Simon Relph (53, 6ft 1in, 96kg)
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