Scrambling for Space

A little while ago I was contemplating giving up riding completely and selling off my collection... a few nano-seconds later the thought had passed and I decided instead to get my collection all running again, or as many of them as reasonably possible.  The garage was a mess though, well not really a mess, but cluttered. Yes that's the right way to put it.  With two vintage cars, 4 motorcycles, my bicycle, my daughter's bicycle and all the other stuff that just amasses and absorbs space in a garage things were getting a little tight.

Starting to clear through the clutter I stumbled across a set of casters that I had forgotten that I had.  After removing three of the motorcycles I could see this wall space that was remarkably the same size as the '67 MGB.  I slipped the casters under the wheels of the MGB and carefully pushed it over tight to the side of the garage.  Stepping back I had the dawning realization that I had room for a fifth motorcycle, and so...

My mind turned to scramblers, or rather returned to scramblers as I had been researching off road capable bikes for some time, even considering the all electric Zero DSR.  That bike was a real thrill to ride and I had no doubt it was the right design for the mix of road and trail riding that I want to do more of.  The two deal breakers though are the high price and the lack of range.  Even to get a modest 160 mile range out of the bike (under controlled conditions!) you'd have to shell out an extra $2,500 for an extra battery on top of the high price of the bike. And that battery would sit so high on the bike, basically sitting where a gas tank would be, that it upsets the balance of the bike.  If you didn't buy the battery, but bought the fast charger you are still in for an extra $2,500 and then you have to carefully plan the logistics of your rides to get you to a fast charge station when you need it and hope that nobody else is using it, so you can grab your hour of standing around to recharge your bike.  No, electric is not there yet, but I have no doubts it is going to get there and the thrill of that instant torque and adrenaline pumping acceleration is hard to beat.

So back to more practical types of motorcycle and further research brought me to two clear leaders in the pack; the Ducati Scrambler 803 (various models) and the Triumph Scrambler 1200. 

The Ducati is a fantastic machine that is conventional down to it's air cooled 4 stroke motor and bare bones to the degree that even a pretty rough spill would probably just add character to the bike.  Reviews of the bike are replete with thrill filled exclamations from the riders, but one resounding comment throughout and that was that is sits low.  I stand 6 feet tall with an inseam of 34", so that was a concern for me.  That said the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled sits a little higher and I thought could be workable, but then there's availability.  Where I am in GA it seems the Desert Sled is rarer than hen's teeth and all that seem to be available to me here are the Icons, which sit a little lower and are configured a little less off-road capable than the Sled.

The Triumph Scrambler on the other hand is much more suited to someone of my stature and has plenty of availability, so research on new and used comparisons and getting test rides was a piece of cake. But wait, what about the Street Scrambler I hear you say.  It sits a little lower like the Icon and is a 900cc, close to the icon's 803 ccs.  Well truth be told the Street Scrambler is a scrambler in name and looks, but not really in capability.  Sacrilege some of you are screaming, well we are all entitled to our opinion and mine is that the bike is too small for me and the 5.5" ground clearance is not adequate for my peace of mind on trails and rough ground.  For me the Scrambler 1200 was the beast to investigate and that I did.

I'd researched the forums and reviews for good and bad points (features?) of the Scrambler 1200 and one resounding issue was clear, the heat from the exhaust, specifically the cat, may be a small blast furnace on the inside of your leg.  Taking the bike out for the test ride from Mountain Motorsports in Marietta I was focused on the heat from the exhaust as well as taking in every ounce of experience I could from riding this machine. First though the bike needed to warm up and that gave opportunity to get a feel for the handling and balance of the bike.  It also allowed me to run through the gears and get acclimated with the clutch and throttle handling.  Oh yes, point to note about this bike it is a ride by wire bike.  This bike has no throttle cable and the power control is all handled through the on-board computer, which also provides riding styles that reset the bike to be optimized for control in various riding scenarios, road, wet, dirt, twisties, etc.  This alone was an adventure and a departure from anything else I had ridden.

Right from the get go the torque and power from the parallel twin 1200cc power plant was clearly a great pairing for the bike and the computer control was so exquisitely implemented it felt as natural as the conventional cable control of my little 1970 Triumph TR25W. The test ride route was a good blend of road types to give the bike a decent road test and get it warmed up properly.  Sure enough you can really feel the heat from that exhaust and this was a day of only 38 degrees.  What would this thing be like in the full heat of a GA summer?  Regardless the balance, power, controllability and outright fun of this bike blew me away.  Being an engineer by trade my mind was running through all the attempts to control the heat that I had read about online.  I knew I could solve this problem and dismissed the heat issue as a consideration for buying the bike.  Anyway, with my longer than average legs I had found that the heat was not really positioned as a problem for me and a very minor repositioning of my right leg provided a very acceptable amount of airflow to overcome any of the slight discomfort from the exhaust.  Yep, this was the bike for me and I was going to buy it.

So here we are, a garage reorganization opened up space and that space just had to be filled with a bright shiny new toy.  There must be a physics law for that phenomenon.