WORDS Michael Hilton IMAGES Ducati
In the 1960s and '70s, the Ducati Scrambler represented a meeting point between European and American motorcycles and helped define the era. In 2015 Ducati smartly revived the nameplate and released a new version of the Scrambler. Ducati sold 15,000 units that first year and over 55,000 since — more than double the sales of any other Ducati model. For 2019, Ducati refreshed the Scrambler Icon, and we traveled to the Chianti hills of Italy to try it out.
Ducati upgraded the Scrambler Icon's safety, performance, and cosmetics. There's a lower, more comfortable seat, a slightly redesigned fuel tank with interchangeable side panels, a new housing for the headlight, and an eye-catching, black-painted engine. There are now digital fuel level and gear indicators, and the new Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) is activated by an added Bluetooth Module purchased as an accessory; the system allows you to answer incoming calls, display text messages, or listen to music. Previously available in only yellow, the Icon can now be had in “Atomic Tangerine,” which adds $300 to the roughly $10,000 price tag.
The refreshed Scrambler Icon has the same frame and engine as previous models: an 803cc air-cooled twin delivering 73 horsepower. On Tuscany's twisting roads, I passed a number of slower vehicles with ease and confidence, and the motor propelled me nicely coming out of turns. Ducati's most notable improvement to its Scrambler Icon is the new Bosch 9.1 ABS Cornering System. According to Ducati, it gives total grip control “practically excluding the risk of a fall” when executing tight turns.
The Italian countryside offered ample opportunity to put the system to the test, and my confidence grew with every tight turn on unfamiliar roads. Of course, crashes can’t be eliminated, but the system goes a long way to reduce the potential of losing control when coming into or out of a turn too hot. The Scrambler Icon is the only bike in its class to have such a sophisticated system.
One of the Scrambler Icon's shortcomings is its Kayaba monoshock. Ducati says the damper has been recalibrated for comfort, but it felt and looked a little soft; a number of fellow riders ahead of me bounced around quite a bit going through dips in the pavement.
Ducati is targeting an audience of young, entry-level riders by promoting a lifestyle of fun and care-free riding. The company refers to riding the Scrambler as “The Land of Joy” — why most of us got into motorcycling in the first place. The new Ducati Scrambler Icon is a friendly, enjoyable, accessible motorcycle that will satisfy experienced riders and open the door for a new generation of Ducati enthusiasts.