Simply put, it’s the best way to have the most amount of fun.
Economical, efficient and fun. That is how motorcycling was largely accepted globally for the longest time before it went onto become one big giant industry catering to each discipline of leisure motorcycling like superbikes, adventure machines, dirt bikes, cruisers, etc. Back then there used to be one motorcycle, mainly a street bike, that people would buy and then turn it into something that best suited their tastes. Some would build a road-racer out of it, some would build a cruiser and some would build a scrambler. And then they would go out riding with their mates over different roads and at local races. One bike would do many things for many people. Take them to work every day, ferry their better halves around, as well as be a weekend racing machine. Roots of the scrambler culture date almost a century back to the late 1930s when the beach and dirt races were prime entertainment options for weekends and not multiplexes and malls. Recovering from the great depression, motorcycling was convenient and accessible to many. Those who wanted to go dirt riding around their neighbourhood trails and take part in local hill climbs, they would mostly build a custom scrambler out of their stock road-going motorcycles to go racing and fun-riding.
Roots of the scrambler culture date almost a century back to the late 1930s when the beach and dirt races were prime entertainment options for weekends and not multiplexes and malls. Recovering from the great depression, motorcycling was convenient and accessible to many. Those who wanted to go dirt riding around their neighbourhood trails and take part in local hill climbs, they would mostly build a custom scrambler out of their stock road-going motorcycles to go racing and fun-riding.
The idea behind building a scrambler was keeping it simple and effective. Remove all the unnecessary bits from the bike to make it lighter and agile for conquering tough terrains and win races. The street-bike low-slung handlebars would be swapped with raised flat bars for better hold and ease of riding when standing up on the pegs. The large and curvy road bike fuel tanks would be replaced by smaller slimmer tanks for reducing weight and getting a better grip on the bike when standing up and riding over rough terrains. The tyre hugging wheel mudguards would be replaced with taller units to avoid mud getting stuck between the mudguard and tyres.
The chunky long seats being dropped for flatter and shorter saddles. Most importantly, the signature feature found on almost all scramblers of that era were the ‘High Pipes’ – re-routed exhaust pipes mounted higher up in order of improved ground clearance when going over rocks and tree branches during the races. And to go over such obstacles on the road also demanded the engines to be torquier with low-end power than straight-line top-speed. So the engines would be detuned and geared for low-down torque than high-end performance. The road-going tyres too would be swapped for knobby off-road tyres that could dig out the soft terrain and provide better grip on loose surfaces and obstacles in the path during races and trials.
With the popularity of scrambler motorcycles, the booming movie industry too capitalised on the motorcycle trend and motorcycles soon found their way onto the silver screens as props into hands of iconic personalities like Steve McQueen, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and many more. Post the great wars, leisure motorcycling picked up the pace and by mid-1960s-1970s, scrambler machines caught the fancies amongst the upcoming surfing culture across the world. The hipsters loved it and the ability of the scrambler motorcycles to take them to newer secluded beaches along with their buddies meant the scrambler culture was thriving. Moving from the beach sand onto deserts, races and sand-dune riding across the loose desert soil too was gathering handsome following amongst bikers and once again scrambler motorcycles customised by their owners for desert racing were the preferred tools for the task. With such a versatile nature of the road bikes built back then, turning them into lightweight well-handling and reliable machines was the easy way for even the average Joe to get cool and have fun without having to burn a hole in his pocket.
This simplicity and affordability encompassing the scramblers soon caught fancy of the bike makers and soon some manufacturers added scrambler models in their portfolios for riders to opt for a scrambler motorcycle directly off the shelves. Then happened the big technological advancements and modern fast superbikes slowly grabbed the market share over cool vintage scramblers and cafe racers. Fast forward to present day and these iconic scrambler machines from an era bygone are once again making a comeback as modern-day riders are taking to usable horsepower and practicality over bhp numbers and bragging rights. A go anywhere no-frills motorcycle that is easy on the pocket to run and charming to own is the united call amongst many bikers today.
Now these retro-modern machines are back in fashion and old folks, as well as the millennials are embracing them with open arms. Welcome then the newest member of the scrambler family, the all-new Triumph Street Scrambler that just got launched in India. Earlier Triumph was selling a scrambler kit to go onto the Bonneville but with rising demands of a true-blue factory-bred scrambler to be rolled out of Hinckley, it has resulted into the all-new Street Scrambler. One look at the machine and it’s easy to tell that this is an out and out scrambler built to do its job and to do it bloody darn well. While it retains most components from its sibling the Street Twin, certain significant alterations have been made to the new motorcycle in order for it to live up to the Scrambler moniker on its flanks.
The Triumph Street Scrambler
Powered by a 900cc parallel twin motor which also serves the Triumph Street Scrambler Twin, it gets the 270-degree firing order which makes the exhaust note sound beefier as well as helps in curbing down vibrations. Packaged inside a steel cradle chassis, the engine pumps out 55PS of power at 6000rpm and 80Nm of torque available all the way from as low as 2850rpm. The twin chambers are fed via Triumph’s advanced Ride-by-Wire fuel injection system, which is unique to the Scrambler model and the motorcycle shall benefit from the precise and crisp throttle response of a fuel injection mechanism, especially when riding off-road. Employing a 5-speed gearbox, all that torque coming low down the rev range surely indicates that fooling around on those muddy trails and the beach sand is going to be a lot of fun aboard this mischief monger! There are KYB suspension units working on both ends featuring adjustable preload to suit the riding conditions. Which means going over the rough terrain and bumps is going to be a breeze while there will be plenty of comforts even on those occasional highway hauls on weekend.
Weighing about 206kg, it isn’t exactly a light motorcycle, but knowing how well Triumph engineers its weight distribution on its motorcycles like the Bonnies and the latest Thruxton R, it is safe to assume the Triumph Street Scrambler too will hide its weight rather well once in motion. Equipped with basic electronics, there are no riding modes on the Scrambler but it gets Switchable Traction Control like the Street Twin as well as a unique feature of Switchable ABS mechanism, which certainly will be a good assistance when off-roading as one can get the rear sliding around in the dirt. There is a 19-inch wheel doing duties on the front that makes climbing over obstacles and crawling over rocky stretches will not be a concern for many on the Street Scrambler. At the rear, there’s a 17-inch spoke wheel shod with Metzeler Tourance dual-sport tyres which shall provide a good balance for road/off-road use.
On paper, the Triumph Street Scrambler looks swell as a modern-day, well-engineered reliable machine and ticks all boxes to flaunt that Scrambler badge on it. We are yet to get a go at it to tell more on how well it really rides, but for now, one thing is clear, the Scrambler lineage is returning once again and the Triumph Street Scrambler appears all set to carve its niche in this segment like none other.
Retro and classics only get cooler with age and not everyone is all about speed and lap times. Modern-day scramblers provide the perfect mix of old school charm packaged with new-age technologies and reliability for a truly take-it-anywhere motorcycle with minimal hassles. Of course, these machines are for light off-road use and covering rather limited distances if one goes touring but with comfort – which is where the majority of the bikers indulge in today with tight work schedules and family responsibilities. Things are looking great for the scrambler culture once again and many manufacturers are gearing up to ride this new wave in motorcycling globally. While only a handful of them are currently building scramblers on the factory floor, with time we are pretty sure the other competitors are not going to be left far behind in this one big Hare Scramble for sales numbers.
Photos courtesy Triumph Motorcycles