Ducati Scrambler 1100: First Ride Review

  • Aug 30, 2018
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Ducati’s new Scrambler 1100 is a bigger version of their back-to-basics champion. Is there sense behind this contradiction?

Ducati Scrambler 1100

When less is more, it gives you a special sense of freedom. A great example of that is the Scrambler from Ducati. Being a Ducati its price tag has been premium, but it is the most affordable Ducati today. Yes, it is no spec sheet monster and it is fairly simple in terms of tech too, but that has left room to pack in charisma and a devil-may-care attitude no matter what kind of roads you threw at it. Simply, an incredible formula.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 and Scrambler 800

So, is it possible that Ducati is throwing away the magic of minimalism for more with the Scrambler 1100? While it is an all-new motorcycle we can’t help but connect it to the Scrambler 800. At Rs 10.91 lakh the Scrambler 1100 costs about Rs 3.8 lakh more than the regular Scrambler. Is the extra cash well spent or wasted? Who could it be right for? To find out, we hopped onto the Scrambler 1100 and looked at seven reasons why the smaller Scrambler was so right for you and see if the Scrambler 1100 betters it or not.

Reason 1- It was great for smaller riders!
Verdict: I could push the bike uphill while on the saddle. The seat height on the Scrambler 1100 is higher by 20mm, but at 810mm it is still low enough for a 5’6” rider to get both feet on the ground -- and that’s despite having a wider seat.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 in action

The additional 20 kilograms isn’t felt even at lower speeds either. Nonetheless, smaller riders won’t be able to toy around with the 1100 like they did with the 800. The upside to it is, the Scrambler 1100 now offers a Scrambler that even larger riders can fit onto.

Reason 2: The simple and elegant design!
Verdict: In pictures, the Scrambler 1100 will seem all too much like the smaller Scrambler. All the signature Scrambler touches such as the teardrop-shaped tank, the chrome stripe under the seat and the round LED-infused headlamp that now gets an X-shaped bridge in it make it seem cool and friendly.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 headlight
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But in person, the 1100 looks and feels like a proper “big” bike; because it is bigger - longer, wider and taller. The two beefy exhaust end cans under the seat add volume to the design and the cast aluminium subframe gives a sense of strength.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 tail light

The fuel tank also takes on a more manly personality with more angular lines, and that aside it is larger, accommodating 15 litres compared to the 800’s 13.5 litres. The instrument cluster also shows that it is packing in more equipment, and now shows much-needed info like the gear position and fuel level, and even though it is larger it is quirky and cool.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 console

The overall sense of quality and finish also gives it a greater sense of premiumness, with nice touches like span-adjustable levers.

Reason 3: The Scrambler was right for people who wanted a Ducati but not an intimidating one.
Verdict: The Scrambler 1100 isn’t intimidating either. The Scrambler 800 with its 73PS of power was quick but never stressful. The engine’s attitude made it a great companion for city or highway, chill or thrill modes. With the bigger 1079cc engine power has gone up to 87.1PS, and that’s it.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 engine

Before you call it boring, keep in mind, if its a bigger horsepower figure you yearn, Ducati has the Monster 821 at a lower price point.

This engine’s forte is delivering the 88.4Nm of torque in a sophisticated and smooth manner. At low speeds, it chugs with a surprising amount of smoothness that comes from having an abundance of twisting force from low revs.

Ducati Scrambler 1100

Even when accelerating rapidly towards its near-8000rpm redline, it remains unflustered and unhurried and as you sit at highway speeds it will help you find your zen double quick.

Reason 4: The Scrambler is a Ducati you could use every day.
Verdict: You could use the Scrambler 1100 every day too, provided you could deal with the Scrambler 800’s heat issues in the first place. The rear cylinder of this air-cooled engine will cook your thighs in city traffic just as well, probably a bit faster.

Ducati Scrambler 1100

That aside the light pull of the clutch lever, now hydraulically operated, and surprisingly slick six-speed gearbox make it a breeze to crawl around on. The Scrambler 1100 has a slightly bigger turning radius though, by 4 degrees, so U-turns on narrow roads will require a bit more care.

Ducati Scrambler 1100

Thankfully, even on the base Scrambler 1100, the ergos are spot on; the handlebar isn’t too high or too wide, giving you a great stance that won’t tire you after long hours. Also, the 800’s somewhat bumpy suspension setup has been rounded off on the 1100 significantly. The front fork goes up from 41mm to 45mm and is now fully adjustable.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 rear monoshock

The rear monoshock is new and more plush too but it still transmits more of the road’s rudeness to the rider through the seat than the front forks do through the handlebar.

Reason 5: You could wander into real India, or outside south Mumbai, where there are no roads.
Verdict: Wander away! Like the 800 the Scrambler 1100 gets a healthy 150mm of suspension travel at both ends. You still get the superb dual-purpose Pirelli MT 60RS tyres to claw into the dirt.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 brakes

We only toyed around some brown lanes and green fields, but that was enough to show that we wouldn’t think twice about hitting the rough stuff on the 1100. The front tyre is larger than the 800’s, a 120/70 R18, but the rear tyre is still the same 180/55 R17 size.

You still get a wide handlebar to haul around on and the toothed edge to the footpegs tempts you to dig deeper.

Reason 6: You always wanted a Ducati, burning red with passion.
Verdict: For all its sophistication and maturity, the Scrambler 1100 doesn’t hem and haw when asked to boogie. Show it a corner and you will be surprised with the sublime fluidity with which it drops in.

Ducati Scrambler 1100

Ducati say that the quality of the 1100 is higher, and it feels that way even in the way it handles. For the bigger engine, the Scrambler 1100 gets a larger frame and a dedicated swingarm which results in a longer wheelbase.

Ducati Scrambler 1100

The standard bike gets bigger 45mm-dia front forks, (increased by 4mm), whereas the Sport variant gets 48mm Ohlins! The forks also hold two of Brembo’s superb M4 monobloc calipers, which grab 320mm discs now. The result is that the 1100 dropping anchor requires only a light squeeze at the lever.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 front disc brake

Essentially, this is an all-new motorcycle. Thankfully, it keeps the fun quotient of the smaller Scrambler. The standard carries over another trait: when braking hard the front forks feel a bit soft. But it’s something you get used to quickly.

Reason 7 - For simplicity of electronics.
Verdict: If you are the kind of person who hates lines of code coming in between your wrist talking to the rear wheel, you won’t like the Scrambler 1100. Because, instead of a couple of lines, there’ an entire library built in now. The ride-by-wire throttle, though, gives you the safety net of traction control (4 levels and off) and rider modes too.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 side corner

The three rider modes are Active, Journey and City. Active mode offers a crisp throttle and all 86 horses. In Journey the horsepower count remains unchanged but the throttle response softens for a calmer experience. In City mode, the throttle response is softened and the power is capped to 75PS. The traction control also tightens or loosens depending on the mode chosen.

Ducati Scrambler 1100

Cornering ABS, a segment-first, is also offered on the Scrambler 110. This IMU-based safety feature is one of the reasons that better justifies the premium for the Scrambler 1100.

Anti-Scrambler agenda: People had reasons not to buy a Ducati Scrambler 800 too!
Answer: Yes, those still are there. For some, the Scrambler wasn’t Ducati enough, the 800’s engine didn’t feel smooth enough, it didn’t feel big-bike enough and its basic feature list could be a turn off.

Ducati Scrambler 1100

But, as we have explained above, all these aspects have been ironed out by Ducati. Well, all except one.

The price is the one area where the Scrambler 1100 falters. Like the 800, the Scrambler 1100 is priced at a premium, and extends the margin further. At this price point, it is hard to convince riders to look past more exciting and nearly as usable adventure or naked bikes for this suave and easy-going Italian.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 corner

But if you can fork out a bit more for the bigger 1100, you’ll be glad to know that it preserves the sense of minimalism to create a carefree riding experience - no matter where you ride - while adding a more premium and sophisticated riding experience. So, in our books, the Scrambler 800 can be a beginner’s Scrambler, whereas the Scrambler 1100 becomes a pricey, but better fit, for a more experienced rider.

Ducati Scrambler 1100
Ducati Scrambler 1100
Rs. 11.95 Lakh
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