Not To Mention That Bosch ABS System

The 2019 Ducati Scrambler Icon Cannot Be Beat In Terms of the Joy-to-Cost Ratio


October 17, 2018 Cars : Motorcycles By Photo by Andrew Maness
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The 2019 Scrambler Icon is the second generation of a bike that lit a fire under the whole retro-style motorcycle movement back in 2015. Since then nearly every manufacturer has come out with a competitive model and the neo-retro marketplace has grown crowded, leaving riders spoiled for choice. All the competition has forced Ducati to up its game, and while it’s more of a refresh than an entirely new model, the 2019 Scrambler Icon has been improved in key areas. It remains accessibly priced and un-intimidating to ride, but still retains the character one would expect from a Ducati.

The Good: A much more comfortable seat means time spent riding the Scrambler Icon no longer comes with a major tradeoff. You can now fully enjoy hours on the bike in a comfortable ergonomic riding position without shifting around or standing up regularly to avoid the old set, that had all the plushness of a budget airline cushion. It was a simple fix, but a damn essential one and it totally changes the riding experience.

Who It’s For: The Scrambler Icon exists to mint new riders and give novices an entry point to the Ducati family, but there’s plenty here for experienced riders to enjoy too. Anyone looking for a reliable runabout for urban or countryside use will find the bike well suited to the task, and it’s happy to be wrung out when the road gets curvy. After all, it’s still a Ducati.

Watch Out For: The upgraded Kayaba suspension setup might be a bit softly sprung for some veteran riders, especially in curves. When standing up I always found the heel of my boot resting on the exhaust pipe, an issue with many bikes in the Scrambler line — it’d be nice if they moved the pipe back so this wasn’t the case. More substantial foot pegs would go a long way for standing comfort too, as the standard pegs aren’t all that comfortable for an extended period of time. A universal gripe among our riding group was the placement of the kickstand, which is hidden and requires a glance back to properly palce your foot and bring it down on the first try.

Alternatives: As I mentioned before, riders considering a retro style scrambler are spoiled for choice these days. There are a whole lot of alternatives in the segment overall, but for right around or under $10k the Moto Guzzi V7III Rough, Triumph Street Scrambler and Yamaha SCR 950 are solid alternatives. However, the Icon is the freshest of the bunch and definitely packs the most tech.

Moto Guzzi V7III Rough ($9,190)

Triumph Street Scrambler ($10,800)

Yamaha SCR 950 ($8,699)

Review: Given that it was my first time in Tuscany my head was on a constant swivel as we cruised through one real-life watercolor after another. Fortunately, I was immediately comfortable on the Icon so letting my gaze stray from time to time wasn’t problematic.

After our initial run up and over a gradual grade that featured curves with varying degrees of sharpness, I was ready to open the bike up on the way back. The Icon is a quick study and as such, you can get right to having a damn good time on it instead of wondering what its true nature is. I’m not saying I know the Icon inside and out after just a day, but rather that it’s strengths and weaknesses are so apparent that it allows you to relax and just enjoy the ride. First and foremost, the Icon isn’t physically challenging. I’m 5’10 and 160 pounds and felt like I had complete dominion over all 417 pounds of the bike. I could comfortably rest my feet on the ground when stopped as well as maneuver the bike in tight spaces and uneven surfaces with ease. Sure, that’s what one would expect from a bike geared towards riders of all abilities, but there are plenty of manufacturers who fall short of making an entry level model so easy to operate while retaining a legitimately exciting riding experience.

Having quickly achieved a solid level of mental comfort, I took stock of the ergonomics, which were excellent. The BMX style bars are right where they should be, the seat is easy to settle into and I never really had to shift my weight around to be in the right spot. The brake and clutch levers are both adjustable, although they were very much both to my liking as they were — something I come to appreciate more and more as I ride a greater variety of bikes. All the necessary buttons are in the right place as well, from the turn signal to the horn, and I never found myself needing to glance down to see if I was going to hit what I needed to. The gauge cluster position is retained from the first-gen Icon, which is fine since it is perfectly legible even with a quick glance. I didn’t get to test out the new Ducati Multimedia system which allows you to view incoming calls, see messages and change songs via a Bluetooth receiver that goes under the seat, but I imagine it’s a nice feature to have if you’re planning to use the Icon for regular commuting.

As I would learn during the second portion of our riding day, the Scrambler team made damn sure there was plenty of classic Ducati character in this bike. With a stomach full of fresh pasta tiramisu, I set out towards the back of our pack. It quickly became apparent that the afternoon pace was to be a quicker one. I watched as veteran riders began to brake later and lean further over as we hustled through the Italian countryside. As their confidence in pushing the bike grew so did mine, and before long I found myself up towards the front of the group weaving through the hills at a good clip.x

I didn’t set out to test the Bosch cornering ABS system outright, but I was happy to have it come into play when I heard the immediately recognizable sound of an Italian bus horn coming from the far side of a blind corner. Whether the honk was justified or not, it allowed me to find out that cornering ABS is indeed black magic — and the fact that it’s on an entry level bike is a game changer. Braking hard and safely mid-turn isn’t the kind of excitement riders typically seek out, but let me tell you it’ll get your ticker pumping real quick. The more traditional pursuit of a thrill won’t disappoint either as the Icon feels plenty fast with power tapering off around 6,000 RPM. Obviously, the point of the bike isn’t straight-line speed, but that doesn’t mean it won’t put some wind in your sails.

It’s hard to beat the well-balanced formula the Scrambler team has come up with here — an approachable, stylish bike that’ll never get boring.

Verdict: With the addition of an impressive Bosch cornering ABS system that’s trickled all the way down from the flagship Panigale V4S, the Ducati Scrambler Icon has raised the bar for entry level bikes. It’s not that the system itself automatically makes the bike a whole new kind of machine, but rather that it stands as an example of the commitment Ducati has made to having this be a no-excuses bike. In terms of joy-to-cost ratio, the Scrambler Icon cannot be beat.

What Others Are Saying:

• “Ducati is doing what Harley-Davidson wishes it could do right now: appeal to younger generation of riders. They’ve done this by creating an entirely separate brand within the brand, all without losing sight of who they are and where they’ve come from. Ride the Scambler Icon to the land of joy, where youth and honest motorcycling reign.” – Sam Bendall, The Drive

• “It’s easy to brush off the Land of Joy marketing campaign as hipster fluff when seeing the displays and events in the States, but when listening to the idea behind the Scrambler described passionately and thoroughly by Ducati staffers from Bologna, the message is conveyed clearly and genuinely.” – Ryan Adams, Motorcycle

Key Specs

Engine: 803 Desmodromic Air Cooled L-Twin
Transmission: six-speed Chain Drive
Horsepower: 73
Torque: 49 lb-ft
Weight: 417 lbs

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