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Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 
First Rides

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

Can a scrambler get any better than the Triumph Scrambler 1200? We really don’t think so

Abhishek Wairagade

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

A couple of weeks back, Triumph factory rider Ernie Vigil finished fifth in the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally, astride a stock Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE. Ernie conquered the gruelling 2150km+Baja terrain that made the Scrambler name famous in the 1960s with no mechanical failures, besting equally determined competitors piloting properly modded, lightweight dirt bikes! Ernie’s achievement speaks volumes about the all-new Scrambler 1200 that we sampled recently in the treacherous trails around Shimla and the equally bad roads between Chandigarh and the hill station. Unfortunately, we will not be getting the fully loaded XE variant but the easygoing (comparatively) XC, which still packs in everything a Scrambler should and some more. Priced at Rs 10.73 lakh, it offers a lot more kit than both the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled and Scrambler 1100. So is this the ultimate Scrambler we always desired but never had till date?

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

Clean slate?

Yes. It’s been 13 years since the inception of the makeshift Scrambler that exists in Triumph’s portfolio in the guise of the Street Scrambler. The 1200 is nothing like the Street Scrambler, with the exception of the high-mounted exhaust. To start with, it carries over the Thruxton’s 1200cc High Power motor in a unique ‘scrambler’ tune. It also gets magnesium cam covers, new crankshafts, a lighter alternator and mass optimised balance shafts for overall weight reduction. The maximum output stands at a healthy 89bhp at 7,400rpm and 110Nm at 3,950rpm, higher than the recently-launched Street Scrambler by a whopping 40 per cent. Ride-by-wire allows you to choose between five rider modes, namely Rain, Road, Off road, Sport and Rider. The rider modes alter the throttle response, ABS and even the traction control settings. You also get Triumph’s second-generation TFT cluster that is not only integrated with navigation and phone/music operation but also gets the world’s first GoPro control system. The functions weren’t available on the bikes we tested but Triumph India has promised a software patch in a few months time. Keyless ignition comes standard, though you do require the key to lock the handlebar. Underseat USB storage and cruise control too make it to the standard list of features.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

Even the chassis has been tastefully developed with the single-minded purpose of scrambling. The tubular steel frame with aluminium cradles has been specifically designed for the 1200. Even the swingarm is completely made of aluminium for added flexibility. At the front, you get fully-adjustable 45mm Showa USDs with 200mm of stroke while at the rear there are dual springs supplied by Ohlins with 200mm of travel. Not just that, this is the first Scrambler and probably one of the most affordable superbikes out there to come equipped with Brembo M50 monoblocs. Even the tyre setup is ideal with a 21-inch side laced spoke rim at the front and 17-inch rim at the rear. Stock rubber is Metzeler Tourance but if you’re into hardcore off-roading, Pirelli Scorpion Rally II are factory approved as well.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

The Scrambler 1200 definitely looks the part. It may seem to be intimidating for neo retro buyers but like Triumph says, it’s a crossover between classics and scramblers. That may put off first-time buyers but then there’s the Speed Twin to cater to them, so everyone stays in the family. Just like all other new-generation Triumphs, there’s a lot of emphasis on attention to detail. Take the case of those brilliantly-finished aluminium mudguards; they’re not only functional but look great too. The fuel tank is seamlessly integrated with the bench seat while the tank itself gets a stainless steel strap and Monza fuel filler cap. The XE looks a lot more purposeful but the XC is by no means dull in comparison, and if you love scramblers, this will definitely hit the right spot, especially the high-mounted exhaust, the only design feature that spells form over function, but let’s talk about that later.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

Can it scramble?

Yes and that it does so effortlessly. The engine is tuned for low-down grunt and the 1200 delivers on almost all fronts, be it on the road or even off-road. The dry weight is a healthy 205kg but once on the move, you’ll barely feel the mass. The light clutch action adds to the joy as well. But the engine is definitely its pièce de résistance. Thanks to the wet conditions, we ended up testing almost all five modes. Just like the Speed Twin, the fuelling is slightly twitchy in Sport mode, a very unlikely trait for a Triumph. Light throttle input and she goes like a bullet (no pun intended). The torque is staggering in the low revs and starts building up from as low as 2,500rpm. The engine has a redline of 7,500 but the addictive torque delivery means you’ll end up shifting sooner rather than later. Though there’s a lot of fun to be had in the top-end, the bottom-end is where all the action is, making the 1200 a potent weapon not only on blacktop but even over the rough stuff. There’s ample pull in almost every gear and you won’t be left wanting for more grunt.

However, things are not as rosy as they seem. The high-mounted exhaust looks fabulous but leaves much to be desired, constantly throwing heat at your calves and thighs, more so at slow speeds, making it almost impossible to live with this motorcycle on a day-to-day basis, especially in our metropolitans.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

The ride and handling, however, is simply mind blowing. The 1200 basically behaves like a classic motorcycle on the tarmac but when given the stick on rough terrain, suddenly changes her demeanour. The feedback from the Showa at the front is precise and you always know what the front end is doing, despite the long-stroke forks. The ride quality is perfect for a motorcycle of its kind, and unlike the soft and cushy ADVs, the 1200 is agile too. Well, you never expect a scrambler to handle well on roads, do you? Fortunately, the 1200 brings out the best of both worlds delivering a setup that is just about perfect for our conditions, and really shows its Thruxton genes when ridden hard around the twisties.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC: First ride review 

Best scrambler today?

Absolutely. The Triumph Scrambler 1200, despite having handling characteristics similar to other classic motorcycles from Triumph’s range, is a capable off-roader that can do almost everything the Tiger can without the additional bulk. Granted, there’s a lot of wind blast after 120kmph but Triumph offers tonnes of accessories if you’re into touring. And then there’s the brilliant sticker. At just Rs 10.73 lakh ex-showroom, it undercuts the base Ducati Scrambler 1100 by almost Rs 20,000, despite offering a lot more, and even makes the recently-launched 2019 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled feel overpriced. Triumph is killing two birds with one stone then. And isn’t that what an ideal scrambler is meant to do anyway?