A new member in the Ducati Scrambler Family: The Ducati Scrambler 1100 is bigger, stronger and more grown-up. – Originally published in SportBikes Inc Magazine, May 2018.
Wide handlebars, knobby-ish street tires and high pipes. That’s what characterizes a typical Scrambler. The line-up of this class is currently the most successful for Ducati. From the Scrambler’s debut in 2014 until 2017, the Italian manufacturer offered eight different Scrambler models ranging from 400cc up to 800cc. Ducati showed great foresight in their diverse initial offering in the Scrambler family. And they’re set to continue along that plan of action with a new displacement category. For 2018 Ducati has developed a bigger, stronger Scrambler with an oil-cooled 1079cc L-Twin, two-valve Desmodromic engine. To help hype up their new model, Ducati invited myself and other members of the two-wheeled press to the Ducati Scrambler 1100 launch in Portugal.
At the press event, I had the opportunity to ride the new Scrambler 1100 in various riding situations. Wet and dry, smooth and bumpy surfaces. All on a mix of urban and mountain roads. Even though I, like most riders, wish I could always ride under a clear and sunny sky, these conditions were pretty much ideal for testing the capabilities of Ducati’s new grown-up Scrambler.
We started in the “Village Underground Lisboa.” A trendy district in an otherwise industrial area of Lisbon Which reflected wonderfully the Urban Retro spirit of the Ducati Scrambler 1100, with its Graffiti-sprayed walls and old busses converted into bars.
From there we took off into the countryside on beautiful winding country roads. We got about a half-hour of sunny riding in before the skies darkened. And we were hit with a rain shower that was not in the day’s forecast. Of course, most of us, myself included, had left our rain gear in the hotel. We took the unexpected downpour in stride. However, thanks to the good tires and the well-maintained Portuguese roads, the grip remained surprisingly good. And we pressed on to our lunch destination. After our lunch break at the beach, the weather had cleared up and we could finally set out to really enjoy the beautiful mountain roads overlooking the sea and harbor.
The engine of the new Ducati Scrambler 1100 is derived from the Monster EVO 1100. However, thanks to the new Euro 4 regulations, it’s a little less powerful, with 86 instead of 100 hp. Looking at the technical data before the test ride, I was surprised that the performance difference to the 800 Scrambler is only 13 hp. And with an additional weight of around 40 pounds. My initial skepticism disappeared quickly after the first few twists of the throttle. The Ducati Scrambler 1100 has an impressive maximum torque of 88 Nm at 4,750 rpm. And plenty more torque available throughout the rest of the RPM range. That rocks! The ample available torque paired with the classic Ducati V2 sound under the seat, dulled only slightly by the Euro 4 restrictions, had me grinning from ear to ear the rest of the day.
The new Ducati Scrambler 1100 sits tougher, is 50mm wider as well as 69mm longer. And has a 20mm taller seat. Compared to the smaller Scramblers, it’s now more comfortable with a less extreme knee angle and offers a lot of comfort, even for longer distances. The handlebars are mounted slightly lower and bring your hands further forward. Therefore, you sit more oriented to the front wheel. Coming in at just under 5’6”, I felt very comfortable on this bike. Likewise our 6’3” tall colleague had no complaints about feeling cramped. If you want to take longer trips, you’ll also be happy about the large 3.96 capacity gallon tank.
Drawing from classic café racer and scrambler heritage, when riders would tape X’s on their headlights, the Ducati Scambler 1100 features a big X-design within the DRL LED ring of its headlight. The main light is a normal bulb while the rear light and indicators are all LED.
Unlike the smaller Scrambler models, with their low-slung exhaust systems, the design team for the 1100 decided on an under-tail twin-silencer system that draws strong design cues from Ducati’s Monster line. Fear not though, if you prefer the side-mounted silencer of the smaller sibling, there will be some nice side mount exhausts available from aftermarket manufacturers.
Ducati built Brembo M4.32 Monobloc 4-piston double disc brakes into the new Scrambler 1100, a noticeable upgrade in performance. Compared to the lighter 800 and 400 models which have only one disk in the front. And while the dual Brembos worked flawlessly on the road test, they were married to front forks that were set too soft. Causing significant front-end dive under firm braking. In general, the chassis was a bit too tight for me. When riding at high speeds on an uneven surface, the front end tended to move around a little more than I prefer. The saving grace here is that the suspension is fully adjustable at both the front and at the rear. Allowing you to fine-tune the preload, compression and rebound, with only a little effort. This level of adjustment makes it much easier to set the bike up to your weight, riding style, and road.
Although the new Scrambler is visually designed in a retro style, the technology concealed below its skin is state of the art. Cornering-ABS, previously found only on high-end sportbikes like the S1000RR and Panigale V4, comes standard and makes the motorcycle much more manageable when braking mid-corner. Last year, I had the opportunity to try out Cornering ABS on a test track. At the extreme lean angles that are only possible on closed courses. On back to back runs, on a bike then without cornering ABS, to now, it was very noticeable how beneficial this feature is in keeping the bike under control during the sensitive action of slowing your speed while leaned over.
In addition to traction control, LED headlights and a USB plug under the seat, the bike offers three different riding modes. ACTIVE, the sportiest, JOURNEY, the middle level and CITY, the softest, where it controls most gently and reduces the power to 75 hp. However, each of the riding modes is also individually adjustable. In addition, the modern Ride-By-Wire system ensures a very smooth response of the V-twin engine.
The display consists of a large round and a smaller oval element. It focuses on the essentials and displays speed, gear, speed, traction control level, driving mode, and fuel level. While I was not immediately enthusiastic about the design of the dashboard it grew on me throughout the day. And I’ve come to accept it as an acceptable compromise of classic and modern.
The new Ducati Scrambler 1100 is a beautiful retro-designed lifestyle bike. Furnished with the latest safety technology as standard equipment, such as Cornering ABS, Traction Control, multiple riding modes, and much more. As we would expect from such a well-endowed Italian machine, the price tag is steep. But you are getting a top-equipped, genuine Ducati. A bike that works well for a variety of riders.
The seating position is more comfortable compared to the smaller models in its family. The forks and rear shock are fully adjustable. The higher center of gravity and longer wheelbase make it feel a little less agile than the 400 and 800 Scramblers. But it looks generally more grown-up, bigger and stronger. The seemingly low 86 hp should be overlooked as the Scrambler 1100’s V-twin motor is all about torque. Which is available in ample supply. This beefy Italian is clearly stronger than it appears on paper. With a good mix of Scrambler look, Monster technique, and a fun engine paired with that banging V-Twin sound, the Scrambler 1100 just makes you really happy!