Fried, Poached or Scrambler? | Top 10 BEST Scrambler Motorcycles of 2023

Nimble, light and whole lot of fun to ride, Scramblers have never been more popular... but which is the Best Scrambler Motorcycle of 2023?

2023 Ducati Scrambler Icon.jpg

How do you like your Scrambler motorcycle in the morning...? We like ours with a smile (and bacon, always bacon).

In fact, whatever the time is where you are, it's always a good time to get out on a Scrambler motorcycle.

With distinguishing features as semi-knobbly tyres, high mudguards and exhausts, ribbed seats and motocross handlebars, Scramblers echo the spirit of biking icon Steve McQueen in the 1960s and an irresistible culture of riding free, easy and, pretty much, anywhere too.

New Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC & XE 2021 Specs | Should you go for this over an adventure bike?

It means several manufacturers have attempted to get in on the fun and - better still - ensure there is something for everyone.

From the dinky Royal Enfield Scram 411, to the all-new Honda CL 500, to the brand-new Ducati Scrambler and the racy Indian FTR 1200 Rally, there is a Scrambler to suit all budgets and tastes. 

But which is best? Never fear, Visordown is here to give our take on the Top 10 BEST Scrambler motorcycles of 2023...

10 - Royal Enfield Scram 411

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£4,849411cc24bhp32Nm @4250rpm185kg795mm15 L

The Royal Enfield Himalayan may not be in the first flush of youth, but that hasn't stopped the Indian firm belatedly adding a spin-off Scrambler variant to the range in the form of the Royal Enfield Scram 411.

If the Himalayan is your regular hiker, then the Scram 411 is its tracksuit-attired younger brother boasting a more dynamic appearance in trendier colour ways to attract the hip generation.

It's a successful makeover, the Scram 411 looking quite funky in a utilitarian way, while the re-profiled dimensions making it very chuckable on rougher terrain, even if the trade off is softly-sprung suspension on it.

With a meagre 24bhp on tap from the ageing 411cc engine, it's also a touch breathless, while the brakes are too spongey, but at just £4,849, it's a cheap way into a great value Scrambler.

Visordown Review | Royal Enfield Scram 411 [2022]

9 - Moto Guzzi V85 TT

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£10,600853cc75bhp82Nm @5000rpm230kg830mm23 L

It’s not often we get excited about a new Moto Guzzi but that was definitely the case with the Italian firm’s Moto Guzzi V85 TT in 2019. Arguably more ‘retro adventure bike’ than true scrambler it uses the latest version of the historic marque’s traditional, signature transversely-mounted, shaft drive, air-cooled V-twin (producing a grunty 79bhp).

This time, however, it mounted in a tall, adventure bike style chassis including modern inverted forks, radial brakes and the latest colour TFT instrument display but then gives it a hefty dose of heritage styling. It all works well too being great both commuting, around town, on Sunday blasts or even long distance two-up touring (if you tick the luggage options). In short: it’s got it all.

A bike with retro scrambler style, a classy heritage badge yet plenty of modern adventure bike versatility? That'll do nicely.

Visordown Review | Moto Guzzi V85 TT [2021]

8 - Fantic Caballero 500

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£7,099449cc40bhp43Nm @6000rpm159kg820mm12 L

Italian brand Fantic made its name in the ‘70s and ‘80s both for stylish lightweight road bikes, including the famous Fantic 125 Chopper, and off-road motocross, enduro and trials machines, winning the trails world championship three times. It went bust in 1995 but was revived with an all-new family of classy and lively single cylinder retro bikes from 2017 with styling touches inspired by its off-road past.

Available in 125, 250 and 500cc forms, the  Scrambler 500 is typical of its bikes, which mix Chinese value with European performance and heritage styling. Its liquid-cooled single produces a perky 43bhp, handling is as good – if not better – than any of these kind of bike, there’s plenty of nice detail touches and, although of limited practicality (you wouldn’t take on a motorway trip on one) there are few better or more fun, sunny Sunday ‘feel good’ machines. 

7 - BMW RnineT Scrambler

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£12,3501170cc109bhp116Nm @6000rpm223kg820mm17 L

Bavarian marque BMW have been at the forefront of the retro ‘scrambler’ class ever since its BMW RnineT of 2014 burst into view.

Originally created as heritage-style, limited edition version of its R1200R built to mark BMW’s 90th anniversary - hence the name – the RnineT proved such a hit it not only became a mainstream model but also spawned a whole family of variants.

The BMW RnineT Scrambler version, with larger, 19in wire front wheel, trail style bars and upswept pipes, arrived in 2016 and, like all RnineTs, appeals for its brilliant blend of modern mechanicals and 110bhp performance, cool, retro-inspired styling and enviable badge.

Like the ‘Pure’ variant, it lacks the premium spec of the original RnineT, such as its twin dials and inverted forks, but being a basic scrambler means that doesn’t seem to matter while also offering a decent saving on price.

Visordown Review | BMW RnineT Scrambler [2016]

6 - Ducati Scrambler Icon

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£9,995803cc72bhp65Nm @7000rpm185kg795mm13.5 L

The smaller of the Ducati Scrambler brothers, this year heralds the launch of the second generation take on the Italian firm's fun and funky 'alter ego' retro roadster.

With a generation's tenure under its belt, the Mk.II doesn't alter the recipe too much, the aim instead to freshen up its playful image while at the same time upgrading its spec and quality.

Three editions are available from launch - the flat tracker style Scrambler Full Throttle, the classier, more demure Nightshift and this, the cheekier Ducati Scrambler Icon.

Pitched right up against the Triumph Scrambler 900 - and almost matching it on price at £9,995 - the Scrambler retains its predecessor's unmistakable blend of traditional lines drizzled in Italian personality, especially if you select one of the more lurid shades, while fit and finish are typically high standard.

On the road, the 803cc 72bhp engine isn't the last word in performance but it feels frisky on its feet (well, tyres...), while the light clutch makes it a boon around urban environments. 

If only it felt just a little bit more special...

5 - Triumph Scrambler 900

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£9,795900cc64bhp80Nm @3250rpm223kg790mm12 L

The revived British firm is deservedly the market leader in retro bikes - it defined the scrambler class when it came out with its first Bonneville-based Scrambler in 2008 and it kept ahead of the pack when it brought out its affordable, entry-level Street Scrambler - recently rebranded as the Triumph Scrambler 900 - based on it’s then all-new 900cc Street Twin Bonneville in 2016.

Despite the change in name, the Scrambler 900 is otherwise identical to the Street Scrambler, which means it retains the same signature style, quality, retro authenticity and easy 64bhp with new switchable riding modes, instruments in 2019. There’s even an A2 licence-compliant version available.

If you want an easy going scrambler with bags of classy authentic style and arguably the definitive badge on the tank – this is the one.

Visordown Review | Triumph Scrambler 900

4 - Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£12,7951079cc86bhp88Nm @4750rpm211kg810mm15 L

The arrival of Ducati’s original 800cc Scrambler family in 2015 proved such a popular success that the Italian firm swiftly followed it up with two extra, larger Ducati Scrambler 1100 Pro versions in 2018 designed to appeal to more experienced riders and deliver the extra performance such riders expect.

If you not sold on any of the variants in the current range, hang around long enough and Ducati will almost certainly switch things up with a fresh line at some stage. 

Right now, there are three to choose from; the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Dark Pro, Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport Pro and - our pick here and newest addition - the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro.

Priced at £12,795, the Tribute edition errs more into a vintage vibe than its more contemporary brothers, the romantic throwback details - such as the retro typeface Ducati logo, black spoke wheels, 'Giallo Ocra' yellow livery and special, exposed stitching brown-coloured seat - are effortlessly cool.

While its 84bhp isn’t quite the match of those performance cycle parts it is grunty, brisk and cultured – in short, it's the Scrambler for the more refined.

3 - Indian FTR 1200 Rally

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£14,9951203cc123bhp118Nm @6000rpm242kg815mm13 L

Here’s a slightly left-field ‘Scrambler’– but also one so good it has to be included here. In truth, the Indian FTR 1200 isn’t, strictly speaking, a Scrambler at all.

Instead it’s the US version – a flat tracker (hence FTR) - and while it is geared more towards sideways racing rather than clambering over rocks, it shares a similar free and easy ethos.

Recently updated for 2023, the FTR 1200 comes in four distinct flavours; standard FTR 1200, Sport, R Carbon and our pick here, the Indian FTR 1200 Rally.

First launched in 2019 based on a performance, tuned, 118bhp version of the Scout cruiser’s V-twin engine and boasting Brembo radial brakes and Sachs suspension, it was a hoot to ride and quite the departure for a company more used to building big, comfy, fully loaded Tourers and Cruisers.

For 2023, Indian has given it an understated - but effective - cosmetic upgrade to help that distinctive fusion of retro and contemporary pop, while the Rally is identified by its Black Smoke colour way, with brown seat and cream-hued frame and signature ostentatious exhaust.

At £14,995, it's certainly not cheap, but pound-for-pound it is the most fun to ride in this company and it will turn heads... just so long as you're prepared to bypass the rockier routes and stick to the smooth stuff.

Visordown Preview | Indian FTR1200 [2023]

2 - Honda CL500

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£5,999471cc46bhp43Nm @6000rpm191kg790mm12 L

And then there were five... Yes, Honda's right-down-the-middle '500' family gains a new member in the Honda CL 500, a compact, trendy Scrambler-style roadster that'll be tempting and teasing you to purchase it rather than its rather more plain CB500F brother.

Handsome and understated in that very particular Honda way, the CL 500 appears as though the Rebel hit puberty, growing a few inches taller, stepping out on larger knobbly tyres and bulging in all the right places, while fit and finish is of a higher standard than its modest price would suggest.

Indeed, with 46bhp on tap from the well proven 471cc engine, it makes light work of the CL 500's very useable 191kg weight, handling with vigour and feeling nimble in the city.

On the flip side, the CL 500 is not designed to 'scramble' per se, with that rugged impression mostly cosmetic, but so long as the trails aren't too demanding, at £5,999, it's a great value, great quality, great fun choice.

1 - Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
£12,6951200cc89bhp110Nm @4500rpm230kg840mm16 L

Most of us thought Triumph had the Scrambler genre pretty well covered by its 900cc Street Scrambler, but then the Hinckley marque went bigger with the more powerful, punchy and genuinely off-road capable Triumph Scrambler 1200 in 2019.

Based on the larger Bonneville 1200, the Triumph Scrambler 1200 offers up a punchy 89bhp and features longer travel suspension and wide trail bars to give true dual-purpose capabilities. 

Naturally, it also combines more Scrambler design details than you shake a long muddy stick at, such as signature twin high-level exhaust and brushed aluminium parts, in Triumph's classic modern class finish.

Better still, there’s also the XE version with even longer, pukka dirt bike suspension, more sophisticated electronic rider aids and more. A genuinely capable dirt bike, this is the motorcycle you imagine Steve McQueen would choose for a more successful stab at leaping over The Great Escape’s barbed wire fence… 

Visordown Review | Triumph Scrambler 1200 [2020]

 *Prices correct at time of writing [April 2023]

 Top 10 BEST Scrambler Motorcycles of 2023 | Key Specifications and Technical Details Comparison

 PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel
10Royal Enfield Scram 411£4,849411cc24bhp32Nm @4250rpm185kg795mm15 L
9Moto Guzzi V85 TT£10,600853cc75bhp82Nm @5000rpm230kg830mm23 L
8Fantic Caballero 500£7,099449cc40bhp43Nm @6000rpm159kg820mm12 L
7BMW RnineT Scrambler£12,3501170cc109bhp116Nm @6000rpm223kg820mm17 L
6Ducati Scrambler Icon£9,995803cc72bhp65Nm @7000rpm185kg795mm13.5 L
5Triumph Scrambler 900£9,795900cc64bhp80Nm @3250rpm223kg790mm12 L
4Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute£12,7951079cc86bhp88Nm @4750rpm211kg810mm15 L
3Indian FTR1200 Rally£14,9951203cc123bhp118Nm @6000rpm242kg815mm13 L
2Honda CL500£5,999471cc46bhp43Nm @6000rpm191kg790mm12 L
1Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC£12,6951200cc89bhp110Nm @4500rpm230kg840mm16 L