There has been a lot of fanfare around the launch of Ducati’s 400cc Scrambler Sixty2, so much so that you might wonder why. For sure, not everyone will think the A2 version Scrambler is the most important new motorcycle release this year. But for a rather huge audience, the littlest Scrambler is much anticipated.
Remember, most motorcycling newbies will not even register the breadth of new models cascading onto the market for 2016 such as Ducati’s Multistrada Enduro, Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin and KTM’s Super Duke GT – these bikes aren’t on the radar when shopping for a first steed. And there are a few hundred learners graduating from rider training schools every week too, looking for their ultimate starter ride. With its Italian swagger, rich history, and its even richer marketing, Ducati will no doubt find many new customers, and forge plenty of important ‘first bike’ bonds.
A sleeved and bored down L-twin from the Scrambler 800 isn’t really a watershed model in Ducati’s fold, but it does provide a product to match the hype, and dealers must be rubbing their collective hands together at the prospect of a bike that will bring a steady stream of new interest into showrooms. Finally, a much desired new learner- legal motorcycle is ready to slip into the range.
Naming the bike the Sixty2, as in 1962, plays off the nostalgia of flower power, sweet innocence and California dreaming, as well as giving a nod to the first Scrambler. Ducati has even inscribed ‘Be Free’ on the filter cap, showing the level of detail the Italians will go to capture the label conscious generation – and maybe tapping into the mortgaged and miserable older types too. And in a way the ride and feel do evoke simple, lazy summer days, as do the naked, lean-looking retro lines and BMX-like build. The iGen couldn’t have a more tantalising choice than the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2.
Does the word ‘desmo’ ring a bell? The desmodromic valve system mightn’t mean all that much to the uninitiated, but it means a great deal to the savvier among us, right? To have the same valve actuating system (by name at least) on your learner approved top end as Maniac Joe when he’s doing 354.9 Km/h down the straights of Mugello on his GP16 Ducati – how cool is that?
While the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 isn’t reaching stratospheric heights of 15,000 RPM, the four valves in total will always get a decent workout as the littlest Ducati generates its 41 BHP of peak power to stay ahead of the traffic and keep you smiling. Acceleration is surprisingly spritely, to the point that you forget it is only 399cc. Revs build in a very linear fashion right off idle, with the perfect amount of fun urge lasting right through the range, and there is a minor kick a couple of thousand revs before the 10,000rpm redline.
With an over-square 72mm bore and 49mm stroke, the L-twin is guaranteed to rev hard. And it’s one of the most natural learner-style powerplants going – it’s first and foremost a flexible tool, forgiving when the wrong gear is selected for the wrong revs. If you are still learning the art of throttle control the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is a good teacher too, reacting kindly to jerky indecisive inputs.
The Ducati Scrambler Sixty2’s gears are well spaced, allowing flexibility in each with a reasonable amount of torque to help cope with a subsequent drop between ratios. And choosing a suitable gear isn’t confusing as there is the right ratio for every need: first to get going, second for strong acceleration and third and fourth for building of road speed. Fifth and sixth are tall and good for highway and freeway use, so tall in fact that it feels like an old fashion overdrive. Yet at an indicated 106 km/h, the tacho – redundantly located at the bottom of the dial instead of sweeping across the top of the single pod instrument – is nudging 6000 RPM, digitally speaking.
Newbies will get the concept of the right gear for the appropriate corner while the more experienced riders will enjoy wringing the neck out of third or fourth between bends. It’s all fun stuff to bank into the memory cells.
Ducati didn’t have to stray too far in the styling department to make some obvious distinctions between the bigger Scrambler and the Sixty2 – a few simple pushes and tucks have done the trick. On the front end you can see the change to a rightside – up front fork measuring a wholesome 41mm. No complaints here as the ride and steering are well matched for a comfortable yet sporty feel. The monoshock rear combines well in tandem with the swept seat to iron out the pot-holed abominations known as ‘roads’ in Sydney.
Initially the suspension gives the impression of being softly sprung with little dampening. But as you start pushing the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 through faster bends, loading on more weight and eating up more of the 150mm travel, the typical Ducati trait of firmer suspension comes through.
Sticking with a nowadays unfashionable 18-inch front and 17-inch rear tyres helps with stability and ride. The swingarm is a lower spec than the 803cc big brother and the exhaust muffler is different but still bears an obvious family resemblance.
Altogether it is a very engaging ride as you feel immediately in charge thanks to the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2’s light weight and narrow size. The ultra-wide handlebar, skinny proportions and the relatively low 790mm seat add to the sense of control. The safety conscious parent voice in my brain pipes up here to point out that the Scrambler is a better learner bike than any of the sporties, which offer only marginally better performance and the loss of vision in traffic because of a low handlebar or clip-ons.
There is virtually nothing to take away your concentration as the engine is smooth and almost pulse-free compared to the larger Scrambler. I did throw a leg over for a quickie on one of the test bikes that had the Termignoni exhaust fitted, which released some wonderful throaty noise and at least ramped up the feel of a true L-twin. Everything falls to hand on the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2. It is agile and easy to point and shoot into any gap, imparting a feeling of urban invincibility.
Ducati styling tends to focus on the aesthetics’ surrounding the engine and tank, but plenty of attention has been given to the frame and brakes too. It’s quality architecture, with single Brembos front and rear that give good feel and power. Not enough to stand on your nose or wash out the front wheel, and anyway the two-channel Bosch 9.1 ABS is well enough calibrated to deal with any ‘it caught me by surprise’ moments.
If you’re not a huge fan of the styling on the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2, don’t worry – it’s almost infinitely customisable. I can already imagine some formerly rich parents coughing into their monthly credit card statements because young Johnnie can just about change anything except the engine. Okay, that’s stretching it, but take a look at the goodies in the after-sales catalogue: 50-plus items including seats, billet accoutrements, mufflers, covers, screens, plates, knives (just checking you are still with us) and an array of saddlebags and rear bags. My pick would be the wire wheels and not moving out of home until I was a grandparent!
If my son or daughter were out shopping for a new motorcycle and we trod the tiles of showrooms I reckon I would be pretty pleased with a detour to a Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 heaven. Of course today there is plenty of choice out there for a city slicker kid, Like Yamaha MT-03, Kawasaki Z300 or even The little Z250SL… but this Italian marque offers something no one else does, and that’s appeasing my Eurocentric bent – my first motorcycle after leaving high school was a Ducati Desmo 250-Silver Shotgun.
After my ride on the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 I can see that the good people at Ducati had better be ready – whether they like it or not – for this model to become their new best seller. That is until we see a Peewee-Panigale 659 pop out one day.
Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 Specifications
Engine : 4-Stroke, 90° L-Twin, SOHC 2-Valve per Cylinder, Air-Cooled
Bore x Stroke : 72 x 49 mm
Capacity : 399 cc
Compression Ratio : 10.7 : 1
Induction : EFI, 50mm Throttle Body
Transmission : 6-Speed, Chain-Drive
Max Power : 41 HP @ 8.750 RPM (claimed)
Max Torque : 34.3 N.m @ 7.750 RPM (claimed)
Dimensions (L x W x H) : 2.150 x 860 x 1.165 mm
Seat Height : 790 mm
Wheelbase : 1.460 mm
Weight : 183 Kg (wet, claimed)
Fuel Capacity : 14.1 Litres
Frame : Steel Trellis Frame
Front Suspension : Showa 41mm Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension : Kayaba Monoshock, Preload Adjustable
Front Brake : Single 310mm Disc, with 4-Piston Caliper, Brembo 2-Channel ABS
Rear Brake : Single Floating 245mm Disc, with 2-Piston Caliper
Front Wheel : 10-Spoke Cast Alloy, 18 x 3.0
Rear Wheel : 10-Spoke Cast Alloy, 17 x 4.50
Front Tyre : 110/80-18 (Pirelli MT60)
Rear Tyre : 160/60 – 17 (Pirelli MT60)
Price : £6586