One of the most popular styles of motorcycle at the moment is Scramblers.
The style is derived from the likes of Triumph’s TR6 Trophy, one of the most iconic motorcycles in history as ridden by Steve McQueen in the Great Escape.
Of course, bikes like the Trophy were just road bikes that riders would modify for off-road races until manufacturers started to produce purpose-built scramblers.
Some of today’s scramblers leave room for debate about how capable they are at scrambling, but they do look pretty damn cool.
So leaving the more hardcore off-road stuff to the capable dual-sports and enduros, let’s take a look at some of the most awesome scramblers currently available.
Triumph Street Scrambler
- Wet Weight – 223kg
- Engine – 900cc, liquid-cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270-degree crank angle, parallel twin
- Max Power – 64.1 horsepower at 7,250rpm
- Max Torque – 80Nm at 3,250rpm
The all-new Street Scrambler was born out of the success of the Street Twin, which offered a Bonneville-style motorcycle at a more affordable price point.
Part of the Street Twins offering was the custom packages available such as the Scrambler, which included a raised exhaust and wider bars.
The Street Twin Scrambler package did well, and so Triumph has capitalised on that by bringing into production the new Street Scrambler already styled and ready to rip.
Triumph has made the Scrambler torque-rich as expected from the Bonneville range, making it ideal for urban riding, and commuting. There is also some possibility of very light off-roading.
It has been built to be as ergonomic as possible for a wide range of riders, so flat-footing for most won’t be an issue.
Along with this, there is plenty of rider-focused tech like three riding modes, switchable ABS and Traction control to give the rider ultimate control over the riding experience.
Triumph Scrambler 1200
- Wet Weight – 230kg
- Engine – 1200cc, liquid-cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270 degree crank angle, parallel twin
- Max Power – 89 horsepower at 7,250rpm
- Max Torque – 110 Nm at 4,500rpm
While the Street Scrambler is there to entice newer, younger riders, encouraging a new generation into the Triumph fold at a better price point, the Scrambler 1200 is the bigger, more serious brother.
Aesthetically since its release, the Scrambler has been one of my favourite modern retro motorcycles.
It is an awesome-looking bike, with that traditional Steve McQueen cool vibe that many Triumph fans appreciate. You can get a limited edition Steve McQueen version if that’s your thing.
It weighs just 7kg more than the smaller version but is loaded with 25 more horsepower and an extra 30 Nm of torque. It is a performance bike, ready to thrill.
There are two variations to choose from, the XC and XE, with the XC being the calmer, road-focused version and the XE having the highest spec targeted at making it perform off-road.
The frame, suspension, riding position, brakes, bars and tech are all built purposely to make the Scrambler worthy of off-road riding. I would suggest that this is the closest Triumph has got to producing a serious modern scrambler.
Fantic Caballero Scrambler 500
- Dry Weight – 150kg
- Engine – 449cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled,
- Max Power – 40 horsepower at 7,500rpm
- Max Torque – 43 Nm at 6,000rpm
Don’t worry it isn’t just Triumph that has the monopoly on modern scramblers; the Fantic Caballero Scrambler 500 is another cool offering.
This modern scrambler is very capable off-road, more of a dual-sport setup in throwback scrambler disguise.
The aim was very much to produce a timeless icon drawing on the bikes of the 70s, easy to ride with minimal fuss, agile, pleasant on the road but aggressive enough of it.
Featuring lightweight chrome-molybdenum steel, central-tube frame for brilliant agility, rigidity and comfort.
You can turn the ABS off for maximum control and performance in any situation. The suspension has long travel, and knobbly tires complete the off-road look.
It is a super lightweight bike with confidence-inspiring ergonomics and torque spread in the areas you need it.
The bike will put a smile on your face and have you test your limits on and off-road.
Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
- Wet Weight – 209kg
- Engine – 803cc, L-twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air-cooled
- Max Power – 73 horsepower at 8,250rpm
- Max Torque – 66.2 Nm at 5,750rpm
Another nice addition to the mix is the Ducati Scrambler line; the best of the bunch is the flagship Desert Sled.
The Desert Sled stands firmly in the category of “it can go anywhere and do anything”.
Ducati has tailored the bike to be a powerhouse of performance on the road and as aggressive, dynamic and agile as possible for off-road adventures.
Some off-road features include a high front mudguard, extended rear fender, high plate holder, variable wide handlebars and Kayaba suspension with long travel.
It weighs over 20kg lighter than the Triumph Scrambler 1200, and there have been plenty of adventures shared online with people taking the Sled on some serious mixed-terrain adventures.
The price is my only issue with the Ducati and some of these Scramblers. Not sure how I would feel tearing around on a minimum 10k motorcycle off-road where the risk of dropping it is substantially high.
Indian FTR1200 Rally
- Kerb Weight – 240kg
- Engine – 1203cc, liquid-cooled, V-twin
- Max Power – 123 horsepower at 8,250rpm
- Max Torque – 120 Nm at 6,000rpm
Indian Motorcycle has firmly reinstated the Wrecking Crew as masters of Flat Track racing, and after very public pressure, they produced the FTR1200 as a production version of the race-winning FTR750.
However, the FTR1200 Rally is more on the modern scrambler side than a standard road bike.
Knobbly tyres, spoked wheels, wide high handlebars, small fly screen, retro styling and sporty footpegs all nod to the scrambler way of life.
The V-twin engine is no joke, with masses of torque and horsepower being produced, it’s not one for novices.
I might be biased because, in my mind, Indian can do wrong, but the FTR1200 Rally is probably the best-looking scrambler on the list.
Royal Enfield Scram 411
- Kerb Weight – 185kg
- Engine – 411cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder
- Max Power – 24 horsepower at 6,500rpm
- Max Torque – 32 Nm at 4,250rpm
Moving on to pastures new for 2022, Royal Enfield released the Scram 411, a purpose-built Scrambler based on their ground-breaking Himalayan.
The Himalayan is best described as a lightweight adventure bike, tried and tested throughout India, most notably in the Himalayan mountains.
The Scram takes that DNA and has increased the rugged, rough and tumble design for improved off-road performance and capabilities.
Royal Enfield has designed the Scram to be for everyone, with a low 795mm sculpted seat that sits you down into the bike, but the long-travel suspension and high ground clearance ensures you won’t get caught on any mudpiles.
From a style point of view, the Scram is not my favourite bike, I feel RE dropped the ball a little bit, but this is entirely subjective.
Performance-wise, I would be pretty happy to tear around on this 411cc lightweight monster, and at the entry-level price point, I wouldn’t be afraid to knock it around either.
In that respect, maybe it is the perfect scrambler; let’s face it, some of those 70’s bikes weren’t pretty either.
- Dry Weight – 125kg/ 140kg
- Engine – 125cc/250cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder
- Max Power – 12 horsepower/ 21 horsepower
- Max Torque – 10 Nm/ 18Nm
Another slightly more budget-friendly addition comes from Mutt Motorcycles with their Hilts.
A slimline, aggressive, city-slicker with a penchant for the wild, at least the marketing will have you feeling that way.
Available in a 125cc or 250cc, the Hilts is Mutt’s answer to Triumph’s Steve McQueen Scrambler, particularly in the Matt Green.
The Hilts is a learner-friendly, easy-going ride but looks the business. There are no fancy electronics, no-frills to distract you, it is as back to basics as it gets, but that’s kind of nice.
The great thing about Mutt bikes is they are a bit like Harley Sportsters in that they lend themselves nicely to do some modifications and make it your own.
Parts are cheap and easy to source, so if you drop it, bend your pegs, or break your mirrors, there isn’t much to worry about.
Read our Mutt Motorcycles review
- Wet Weight – 188kg
- Engine – 689cc, CP2, two-cylinder, 4-valve, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC
- Max Power – 74 horsepower at 8,750rpm
- Max Torque – 67 Nm at 6,500rpm
Yamaha’s XSR700 is a straight throwback to the 70s in its style and design, even down to the 70s paint schemes.
While the design is old school, the tech is far from it, equipped with the latest CP2 engine, LED headlight and LCD display with handlebar operation.
The bike is reminiscent of the iconic RD series of bikes and will have you wanting to test your metal too.
The XSR700 is a road bike but has the scrambler style that is very popular. A change to knobby tires and switch the exhaust, and you could have a scrambler as good as any other bike on the list.
This one is for those who love the scrambler style but want good road performance; whether it is your daily hack or weekend adventurer, the XSR700 is ready for it all.
BMW R nineT Scrambler
- Kerb Weight – 223kg
- Engine – 1,170cc, air/oil-cooled, two cylinder, boxer engine
- Max Power – 109 horsepower at 7,250rpm
- Max Torque – 116 Nm at 6,000rpm
The R nineT series is easily one of the best ranges of bikes BMW have released. I’m not sure that is a fact, but I would declare it as such. They just ooze swagger and timeless design, and that Boxer engine is flawless.
The good news for those that love the R nineT as much as I do is that there is now a Scrambler version, which is just as meaty, mean and beastly as you would want and expect it to be.
Would I want to venture on to some trails? No, but just like the Indian, that’s not the point.
While the Scrambler looks low-key, you still get some BMW tech like ASC (Automatic Stability Control), Riding Modes, ABS and a USB charging socket.
In typical BMW fashion, there is an abundance of add-ons for the Scrambler to make it your own, from increased Pro riding modes to luggage accessories and trims to choose from.
There are bags of power to draw on and torque to pull you in any gear; it is one fun bike to ride and certainly on trend with the scrambler aesthetic.
Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
- Kerb Weight – 152kg
- Engine – 373cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled
- Max Power – 42 horsepower
- Max Torque – 37 Nm
Perhaps the most futuristic and modern entry to the list is the Svartpilen 401; it is almost like an abstract work of art using the original scramblers as its muse.
It is a weird-looking bike, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just adds to the mystique of the whole situation.
Built using a lightweight Chrome-molybdenum steel frame, paired with mixed-terrain tyres and WP suspension, the bike is ready for the urban jungle and, as Husqvarna put it, the unpredictable and challenging urban terrain.
Again maybe it isn’t a bonafide scrambler, but it is a futuristic take on a classic design, and anyone brave enough to change the norm and break tradition is a friend in my book.