First ride: Ducati’s new Scrambler 1100 is bigger and better in (almost) every way

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Ducati might have sold 46,000 Scramblers since its January 2015 release, but they’re gunning for an even bigger slice of the retro pie with their big-engined new £10,695 Scrambler 1100.

Larger and more muscular than its Scrambler 400 and 800 siblings, the 1100 has more grunt and has a raft of Scrambler firsts, like electronic rider aids, twin brake discs and adjustable suspension, brake and clutch levers. It’s a retro that now has big bike performance to back up its looks.

Scrambler 1100 best (and not so good) bits

  • The Scrambler’s 1100 EVO-derived air-cooled motor may not deliver the kind of fruity  acceleration you’ll find on the BMW R nineT, Triumph Thruxton or Kawasaki Z900RS, but the power delivery, even from walking pace, is flawless. The V-twin foams with easy, but not intimidating, grunt and without its water jackets the motor has that classic Ducati guttural raw when you work the light action twistgrip. Off the throttle the exhausts have more snap, crackle and pop than a hipster cereal shop. Every ride is a V-twin greatest hits sing-along. 
  • A light clutch makes town work easy, but gears are widely spaced (which is probably why there’s no up and down quickshifter) compared to Ducati’s modern engines. It needs a slow, positive shift on the gear lever to avoid finding nuisance neutrals between cogs. 
  • The Scrambler 1100 is plenty fast for the road, of course and has just the right amount of easy to manage power for cruising on a sunny Sunday morning, but you’d expect that bit extra from a 1.1-litre lump. It’s 276cc bigger than the similarly styled 803cc Scrambler Icon, but it makes just 13bhp and16ftlb more. Much of that is cancelled out by weight: 206kg for the Scrambler 1100 and just 186kg for the Icon…but these are kerb weights and the 1100 holds 1.5-litres more fuel. 
  • The Scrambler’s electronic rider aids are the most advanced of any retro, thanks the Ducati’s Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit calling the shots. That means ABS, traction control and even the self-cancelling LED indicators are lean-sensitive, which isn’t just clever, it all works superbly, too. 
  • There are three riding modes with varying levels of traction control (which also can be adjusted separately) and throttle response. The modes are renamed Active, Journey and City (from say, the usual: Sport, Touring and Urban). All have full power, except City, which clips the motor’s output to 74bhp. 
  • Compared to the smaller Scrambler the 1100 sits tougher and more muscular. It’s 50mm wider, 69mm longer and the seat is 20mm taller and 43mm longer for more space to move around. There’s an extra disc up front, gripped by Brembo four-piston radial calipers, a larger 15-litre tank, a wider (120/70 x 18) front tyre and chunkier forks, up from 41mm to 45mm diameter. 
  • Now the Scrambler has a shimmering ‘big bike’ feel to it. With its natural bar, seat and peg position it’s all-day comfy for taller riders and low enough for shorter ones, too, but wind protection isn’t great, as you’d expect on an exposed naked. Brakes are packed with feel-good power and dual-purpose Pirelli MT60 RS tyres have gluey wet and dry grip. 
  • The new steel trellis frame and ali swingarm give the Scrambler 1100 a stiff feel and the suspension is firm too, which is heaven on smooth roads. The harder you jam it into corners the better it feels. The Ducati is an unruffled, racy little devil with light steering, towering ground clearance and more cornering capability than power. 
  • It’s the perfect recipe for fun, but show the Scrambler 1100 a bumpy road and it loses its composure and the suspension action is crude. The ride lacks fluidity and composure and it jumps, hops and shimmies over road imperfections.  
  • Slightly jumpy handling won’t worry most Scrambler owners because this is a bike that’s as much about the way it looks and how it’s put together. The 1100 has the kind of attention to detail that would make a Bimota owner proud: billet ali bar ends, braided steel brake hoses, digital dash, daytime running lights, adjustable suspension, quality fasteners, classy engine surface finishes and Brembos. The ‘X’ detail in the headlight mimics the tape scramblers had to put on to race back in the day. 
  • Go for the Classic version or the Sport and you get more goodies from spoked wheels to Ohlins. Just like the best retros from BMW and Triumph the 1100’s attention to detail and build quality won’t leave you wanting for more. 

Meet the Scrambler 1100 family

Ducati Scrambler 1100 £10,695 

New engine, chassis and electronics package included in price. 

Colours: Yellow, black 

Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special £11,495 

Anodised side cover, brown seat, brushed effect aluminium swingarm and mudguards, lower tapered handlebars, spoked wheels, chrome exhaust. 

Colours: Grey 

Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport £12,295 

Dedicated ‘Sport’ seat, lower tapered handlebars, fully-adjustable Ohlins 48mm forks and shock, adjustable for preload and rebound damping 

Colours: Black 

DUCATI Scrambler 1100 facts

  • Price: £10,695 (£11,495 ‘Special’ tested)
  • Engine: 1079cc 4v V-twin
  • Frame: Steel trellis
  • Seat height: 810mm
  • Suspension: Fully-adjustable 45mm forks and Kayaba single rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping.
  • Front brake: 2 x 320mm front discs with four-piston Brembo radial calipers. 245mm rear disc with single-piston caliper. ABS
  • Colours: Yellow, black
  • Available: April 2018 
  • Power: 85bhp@7500rpm
  • Torque: 65ftlb@4750rpm
  • Dry weight: 206kg
  • Tank capacity: 15-litres

Last November Ducati revealed new Scrambler 1100 

Full details of the Italian retro were announced last November ahead of the EICMA show, as we reported on at the time.

Adding a top tier to the Scrambler family, the 800 and 400 are now joined by this brute – which uses an evolution of the lovely old Monster 1100 EVO engine – one of Ducati’s finest air-cooled V-twins. There are three flavours of 1100 at this first serving – while we expect there might be a Café Racer and a Desert Sled to come in the future – presented as a base model, a Special and a Sport.

There’s a good amount of steel and aluminium to give it a feeling of solidity and quality, and Ducati say they’ve deliberately tried to minimise the number of plastic components. As befitting a bigger capacity bike, the Eleven gets a fatter tear drop tank that can hold 15 litres of go-go-juice, and which allows for inter changeable aluminium side panels to be fitted.

The seat is different on each version, and understandably plainest on the base model (above) – while being more attractive on the hotter duo. All are more generously shaped than its smaller siblings for better comfort.

Thoroughly modern retro

It might look authentically old-school, but there’s Bosch Cornering ABS and Traction Control to take the stress out of riding hard in variable conditions. A strong part of the design is the twin-silencer system and tail unit mounted numberplate hanger (it’s swingarm-mounted on the 800) which helps to differentiate it from its sibling. The headlight keeps the LED ring, but gains a big X in the middle of the unit, apparently as a homage to the tape scramblers used to put over their headlights. The LED ring is a DRL, while the main illumination is actually bulb, rather than LED. The rear light and indicators are all LED.

The other big change is the clock unit, that boasts a new element jutting from the round clock face, which is now the display for the speedo, a sidestand warning light and information from the Ducati Multimedia System (which is available as an accessory when the Bluetooth module is fitted). All the other information remains in the round dial. The base model starts at £10,695.

1100 Special

The 1100 Special has a more modern feel to it compared to the more simplistic base model. It gets black spoked wheels, chrome exhausts and aluminium front and rear fenders. It’s also the only model to come in ‘Custom Grey’ and the brushed-effect swingarm is unique to this model. It also gets a brown seat with quilted stitching, contrasting nicely with the grey paint.

1100 Sport

The most aggressive looking of the new 1100 trio, the Sport is intended as more of a café racer, but in reality it’s closer to the 800cc Full Throttle model in terms of styling. Easily identifiable by its top-spec fully-adjustable Öhlins fork and shock, the sportiness is underlined by the ‘Viper Black’ paintjob with yellow tank details on the sides and dual yellow stripes down the centre of the tank and fenders. The aluminium wheels also get machine finished spokes, and there’s a tapered handlebar and bespoke seat, too.

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Michael Neeves

By Michael Neeves

MCN Chief Road Tester, club racer, airmiles millionaire.