As indicated by the “Born in 1962” inscription on the gas cap, the 2015 Scrambler is a modern take on Ducati’s single-cylinder dirt bikes from the 1960s and ’70s. In 2014, those lines look unrecognizable next to Ducati’s fighter jet Panigale superbike or high-tech Multistrada tourer. That’s the idea. Ducati, along with BMW, recognizes that a lightweight, approachable bike dripping with retro style can attract new riders looking for the freedom and rebellion of Easy Rider-era motorcycle culture.
Ducati is in the business of making beautiful, fast motorcycles, but it is a business. Recently, and especially since VW Group bought the brand in 2012, the Bologna-based motorcycle maker has been moving outside of its hyper-aerodynamic superbike repertoire. A recent example is the revamped Diavel, a distinctly Italian take on the American cruiser.
The template for the Scrambler comes from the pre-motocross era of the 1960s and ’70s. Outfitted with knobby tires and few, if any, aerodynamic elements, these bikes were designed to handle dirt trails, but had engines big enough to easily merge onto a highway. These bikes were cool because they were utilitarian, without visible excess.
Just as BMW made the new R nineT modular and easy to customize, Ducati is offering four variations of the Scrambler to give riders something to call their own. The “Urban Enduro” has an olive color scheme that recalls Steve McQueen’s Triumph from The Great Escape, along with a headlight grill and spoked wheels. The “Full Throttle” is blacked out with yellow accents and a single-rider racing-style seat. The “Classic” has a black frame, spoked wheels, and a brown leather seat. The “Icon,” the cheapest of the bunch, comes in red or yellow with 10-spoke front and rear wheels and aluminum accents over the teardrop tank.
While the retro-cool of the BMW R nineT remains prohibitively expensive at around $15,000, the basic Ducati Scrambler in the Icon trim can be had for $8,589. That’s not cheap, but as far as new bikes go, it’s accessible. The Scramblers arrive on showroom floors in late January 2015.