Are scramblers all about making a style statement? Or is there more than meets the eye?
I loved the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC so much, I was convinced to get a big scrambler of my own. Having lived with my own Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled for a while, I can tell you these are not mere art pieces. Well, they are not as versatile as those big ADVs but they can do almost everything the ADVs can and yet make you look uber cool; as cool as Steve McQueen even. And since I was so much in love with the idea of a scrambler, I called Triumph to arrange for the big Scrambler. The one I recommended after having ridden it over Himalayan trails sometime last year. But is it good enough to take to office or to a movie on your date night?
The Scrambler 1200 is a pretty motorcycle and the 270deg crank announces your arrival even before you get to the parking lot. The high-mounted exhaust has a baritone voice and looks uber cool too. And you will get there pretty quick! The dry weight is 205kg but the 1200cc High Power motor comes in ‘scrambler’ tune which means, low-down is kickass. You will never have to downshift, even if you are one or two cogs up the ‘box. The fuelling is slightly out of sync in Sport mode, very unlikely for a Triumph, so I’d recommend sticking to Road mode to keep it comfortable. And you will need to be comfortable because your right leg will never be! Get used to the smell of burnt rubber or even burnt hair, as the exhaust heats up so badly that after a while you’ll be regretting that ride to the chaiwala, even if it’s 5 in the morning. The piping is such that it throws up all the heat on your calves when the bike is being ridden and as soon as you stop, it all gets spewed out to your thighs. The Scrambler 1200 wants you to go fast and never stop!
Fast around the bends?
The long-travel suspension is tuned to tackle trails but that does not mean it’s bad in the corners. The 21:17in (front:rear) rims are ideal for off-roading but the geometry is such that the Scrambler rides like a neo-retro on the road. The weight is quite prominent, though, and it takes some effort to tip into corners. But staying there is no problem at all for the big, 205kg off-roader. There are some Thruxton genes and that clearly shows in the way it behaves around twisties. Not just that, this is the first Scrambler and probably one of the most affordable superbikes out there to come with Brembo M50 monoblocs. Stock rubber is Metzeler Tourance but if you’re into hardcore off-roading, Pirelli Scorpion Rally II are factory approved as well. Speaking of which, fast trails are home ground for the big Triumph. But slow paced manoeuvring takes some effort, especially when you are standing up on the pegs. The handlebar is low and the tank has no recesses to hold onto. However, the motor is off-road friendly and boosts the rider’s confidence.
Well, not really. The Scrambler 1200 is a capable off-roader and can do almost everything a Tiger would without the additional bulge of plastics. It isn’t a makeshift scrambler like its 900cc sibling. But if you are spending over 11 lakh rupees, I’d suggest you think twice about your priorities in life. If hardcore off-roading is not your cup of tea, you’d be better off with the Street Scrambler. If you are going to stick to the road then the Speed Twin makes for a viable option. The Scrambler 1200 is a brilliant machine in itself, no second thoughts about that, but the exhaust is really bothersome and you will not like to take it out on an everyday basis if you live in a typical Indian metropolis. If McQueen was alive today, he’d definitely be riding one, but with an aftermarket exhaust for sure.