My introduction to the world of motorcycles came by the way of a ‘94 Kawasaki Ninja 250, handed down to me by my brother when I was 19. Without a doubt, the first two seasons I spent riding around on my 250 lay claim to the majority of my fondest motorcycling memories. I was experiencing for the first time the incredible sensations of leaning a bike into a turn, hanging on after giving the throttle some serious twist and ratcheting up through the gears, freedom in general. Suffice it to say, seven years of constant riding serve as proof that I was hooked back then. Since the Ninja 250, the bikes I owned got more powerful and faster. It’s hard to find a small road bike that can elicit such a visceral experience. The Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 absolutely defies the “bigger is better” mantra and brings back the basics — in the best way possible.
Having fully adopted the “bigger is better” motorcycle school of thought, my personal bike-owning history seemed like the logical progression. And up until this past year, motorcycle companies were reading the same book: brands like Kawasaki and Honda didn’t seem to be investing much in smaller motorcycles, while other brands, such as BMW and Ducati weren’t offering small bikes at all. That’s because smaller bikes didn’t sell — they didn’t impress riders or bystanders. For a lot of riders, image plays a big part, and no one wants to look like they just got their permit, regardless of whether they’ve been riding two days or two decades.
Then Ducati reintroduced the Scrambler Icon in 2014. Fanfare, glowing reviews and great sales really opened the industry’s eyes to the fact that, in recent years, chart-topping power and speed had actually been scaring new riders away. The Scrambler Icon was an approachable bike with all the expected Ducati styling, minus the normal Ducati five-figure price tag; the 2016 Scrambler Sixty2 is one step further down the rabbit hole. If Ducati found the secret sauce in 2014, the Sixty2 is the distillation. It’s the perfect bike to lure new riders into the two-wheeled life.
Engine: 399cc Air-Cooled L-Twin
Horsepower: 41 @ 8,750 rpm
Torque: 35.5 lb-ft @ 8,000 rpm
Weight: 403 pounds (wet)
Gripes are few, and even though the Sixty2 is affordable, the price tag is still high for a bike its size. For a 399cc bike, at $7,995 it comes in just $1,000 less than the Scrambler Icon (which has twice the engine). It’s quite the premium for an entry-level motorcycle, but then it’s quite the statement for a new rider to have a Ducati, the “Ferrari of motorcycles,” as a first bike.
Though the Ducati logo printed on the bike’s fuel tank may boost appeal, the Sixty2 isn’t a superficial bike — it really hits a sweet spot in the balance between design and performance. The Sixty2’s strongest attribute is its approachability. Side by side, the bigger Scrambler and the Sixty2 are near identical, dimensionally. Making the Sixty2 look like a real bike as opposed to a stereotypically tiny learner’s bike is the best thing Ducati did for it: both have 18-inch/17-inch wheels front/rear, and the Sixty2 has marginally smaller brakes — but it actually has a slightly larger fuel tank than its bigger brother. It doesn’t shout “I just got my permit.” In fact, because it uses the exact same frame as the larger 800cc Scrambler, the smaller, lighter 399cc air-cooled L-Twin engine gives the Sixty2 an edge on tight twisties.
The torque comes on with a light push accompanied by a beefy dirt-bike braaap from the exhaust.
The Sixty2’s smaller, less powerful engine didn’t let me down when I gave the throttle a twist. I wasn’t powerlifting in second gear, but when hanging around 6,000 RPM, torque comes on with a light push accompanied by a beefy dirt-bike braaap from the exhaust. The energetic sound and playful chassis only encouraged more lively riding, but the friendliness in the feedback never asks you to go hunting for fastest laps — leave the knee pucks at home. All the Sixty2 asked of me was to enjoy myself, to remember how fun it is to hang off the side of the bike, wring the throttle for what it’s worth, to ratchet through gears — all without scaring the crap out of myself. This is why I got hooked on motorcycles in the first place.
The Scrambler Icon launched a new sub-brand for Ducati, and so far, it’s done pretty well. Check out what we thought of the Scrambler Icon when we first rode it in the hills above Palm Springs, back in 2014. Read this story