The Triumph Scrambler started life as a stylised, off-road version of the Triumph Bonneville which took inspiration from the Triumph TR6C Trophy (a bike many will recognise as being ridden by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape).
Triumph launched the Scrambler in 2006 with distinguishing features such as high-level twin exhausts and higher bars than the Bonneville from which it was adapted.
The engine is the same 865cc parallel twin found in much of the Bonneville family, with a 270-degree crank like the one in the Bonneville America/Speedmaster variants. Carbs are also favoured over injection.
In 2017, Triumph made a switch from using a Bonneville as the base for their Scrambler to a Street Twin. This meant an upgrade to the ‘High Torque’ liquid-cooled 900cc motor from the twin which brought more power, a smoother ride and Euro4 compliance.
MCN took a Triumph Scrambler on a group test up against the BMW R nineT and Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled. The verdict was that all three bikes had their advantages with the Triumph coming out on top for relaxed city riding and value. The Ducati was more capable off-road and the BMW was better on the open road. Watch the video below for the full version.
Triumph Scrambler rivals
There are plenty of rivals around in the Scrambler market and new ones are still being announced. Ducati and BMW were mentioned in the video, but there's also the Fantic Caballero, the Morini 1200 and the Enfield Woodsman. Norton have announced a Scrambler coming out soon too.
"Dream of being Steve McQueen in The Great Escape"
You have to admit that the Triumph Scrambler looks great
Whatever you think about the concept of a new retro bike, you have to admit that the Triumph Scrambler looks great, even in the context of a very attractive Bonneville range.
The Scrambler was originally devised in 2005 before being updated in 2007 from twin carb to a new injection system conforming to the Euro3 standard. New colours were added in 2010 (Jet Black and Khaki Green) but the bike remained largely unchanged all the way through to 2016 and the introduction of the Street Scrambler.
In spite of its looks, it’s actually a great all-round bike you can use every day and pretend the whole time you are Steve McQueen. Just don’t get carried away and try to clear any fences!
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You do get manual pre-load adjustment, but that’s it
There’s nothing new or fancy about the Scrambler’s steel tube, double cradle chassis, complete with a twin shock at the rear. You do get manual pre-load adjustment, but that’s it.
The chances are that this won’t matter at all for the kind of riding this bike is used for. The same goes for the 310mm single front brake disc, it’s not going to have you gripping the tank for dear life, but if that’s how you want to ride a Scrambler then get something else.
Flickable, novice-friendly and fun, the ride is suited to short or medium length trips or shooting across town to Tesco.
The post-2007 injection version received a modest bump in power
The revised Scrambler has the same 865cc parallel-twin engine as the Bonneville it evolved from, but with a 270-degree crank.
The post-2007 injection version received a modest bump in power and torque, but the main improvements were aimed at rideability with a gruntier mid-range and 20% better roll-on performance.
This also allowed for higher gearing which refined the bike, made cruising more comfortable and allowed a respectable top speed of 125mph.
Bonnies need careful looking after
Whilst the range is proven and reliable, the nature of all Bonnies means they need careful looking after, especially if you use them through the winter. There’s a lot of shiny bits to go dull so get the cleaning kit out regularly.
The engine is wonderfully under-stressed, so it shouldn’t struggle to reach high mileages if it’s serviced regularly.
So, what does a Triumph Scrambler cost?
There’s plenty of Scramblers available on the used market, but the demand is also high so they tend to hold their value. Expect to pay between £5,000 and £9,000.
It’s not all bad news though, they’re usually pretty well looked after and an annual service only costs £120.
You get 44 mpg on average, meaning a 130 mile range from the 15-litre tank.
The Scrambler sits in insurance group 9 out of 17. You can compare motorcycle insurance quotes at MCN Compare now.
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Don’t expect all the bells and whistles equipment-wise
Don’t expect all the bells and whistles equipment-wise. There’s no riding modes or traction control in sight. You get manual preload on the rear twin shocks, but that’s about it.
The Scrambler has more shiny bits than some of the other base Bonneville models such as the twin upswept pipes.
"A handsome and extremely well packaged machine with sweet finishing touches and clever attention to detail"
What changed with the Street Scrambler
In 2017, Triumph made a switch from a Bonneville derived Scrambler to one which uses a Street Twin as the donor bike. The Street Scrambler retains the looks and style of the previous model with an upgraded engine and all new electronics package.
The Street Scrambler is more compact and useable than its predecessor, is less intimidating off-road thanks to clever electronics and has genuine off-road credibility too.
It’s also thoroughly modern, has a slick gearbox and pulls effortlessly and smoothly right from first gear thanks to its new 900cc parallel twin (which sounds great through the brushed aluminium exhaust too).
The Street Scrambler is still a wide-barred flickable machine
The Street Scrambler is still a wide-barred, flickable machine, but it’s better than the original Scrambler when it’s time to push on a bit. The fork and rear shocks are longer, despite the seat being lower, allowing you to attack every bend and a new Nissin twin-pot caliper gives some needed braking performance.
The exhaust note is addictive and will have you cracking the throttle open often, but even when you really wring its neck it won’t bite back.
The standard Metzeler Tourance tyres are great on the tarmac and can cope with gravel too. The suspension is the limiting factor off-road, it will bottom out if you ride through anything too deep.
Most importantly, the new Scrambler is every bit as fun as the outgoing model and will make you smile every time you ride it.
Read our full review of the latest Triumph Scambler
They’ve kept the cooling fins to preserve the retro look
As well as the improved performance afforded by the Street Twin’s liquid-cooled ‘High Torque’ engine, the added bonus for Triumph is that it hits Euro4 requirements.
In typical Triumph fashion, they’ve kept the cooling fins to preserve the retro look of the engine, but it’s much smoother and more refined with a 28% bump in power and torque over the outgoing version.
The attention to detail and finish of the Street Scrambler is superb
As we’ve come to expect from Triumph in recent years, the attention to detail and finish of the Street Scrambler is superb.
Although the power and torque figures are up, the engine is still pretty lazy for a 900cc lump so should have inherited the same reliability of its predecessor.
Despite being up on power, the Street Scrambler is actually more fuel efficient
Despite being up on power, the Street Scrambler is actually more fuel efficient than the Bonneville Scrambler, boasting 63 mpg (up by 19 miles) which puts the tank range up to 164 miles even though the tank capacity is down to 12 litres.
The Street Scrambler is still a fairly new bike and so used prices have yet to come down by much. Expect to pay between £7,500 and £10,000.
The annual service cost comes in at £150, £30 more than its predecessor and needs doing every 6,000 to 10,000 miles.
Where Triumph have really upped their Scrambler game
This is where Triumph have really upped their Scrambler game. The Street Scrambler gets switchable traction control and ABS (allowing you to slide the rear off-road), ride by wire and slip-assist clutch.
There’s even a USB charge point in complete disregard of the bike’s looks. The rubber pegs are removeable and there’s a raft of factory-fit extras to choose from.
Luggage, mirrors, indicators, exhaust, guards and bars, seat, covers… you name it, there’s a factory upgrade available.
One of the most exciting releases from Triumph’s recent history is the Scrambler 1200. Using the same 1200cc 270-degree crank engine as the unstoppable Triumph Bobber, the Scrambler 1200 comes in road-biased XC and off-road focused XR model variants.
The Scrambler 1200 offers genuine capability in the dirt with a 21in front wheel, Brembo monobloc brakes, fully adjustable Ohlins shock and long-travel Showa forks. The XE version also gets an ‘Off-Road Pro’ riding mode and IMU controlled cornering ABS and cornering traction control.
The bike was the first in the world to offer integrated GoPro controls, which are part of an impressive multimedia Bluetooth connectivity package.
Stunt Rider, Ernie Vigil was due to ride a Triumph Scrambler 1200 in a return to desert racing for the British firm at the Baja 1000 in 2018, but injury has delayed this until the 2019 Mexico 1000 race.