Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle review

The Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle is the hippest bike in motorcycling - and we've been lucky enough to spend a week with it.

Excellent city bike
Minor design niggles

Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle: Design

The Ducati Scrambler is a hip bike for hipsters - the internet has already passed judgement.

Granted Ducati hasn't done itself any favours by covering the Scrambler microsite in Instagram-style snaps of trendy kids on nauseating voyages of self-discovery with their 'post-heritage' (Ducati's words, not mine) motorcycles.

But the thing is, it's become so trendy to knock the Scrambler for being trendy, that's it's actually trendy not to knock the Scrambler for being trendy... if you follow my logic. You see, lurking beneath the oh-so hip exterior is a really capable machine and one of the best city bikes I've ever ridden.

I spent a week with the Full Throttle variant of the Scrambler. It's inspired by American flat trackers and has more than just a little Harley-Davidson XR1200 about it. Other options include the Classic, Urban Enduro and Icon, each with their own subtle little styling twists.

I suppose I should have conducted my review with Mr Hipster around Shoreditch in east London, rolling around and around Hoxton Square in the hope some student from the Camberwell College of Arts wants to feature me on their blog. But no! I quickly decided to go all anti-fashion and explore the real world possibilities of the Scrambler. After all, bikes are for riding and not posing outside vegan smoothie cafes.

So I took the Scrambler to the least hipster place I could think of - the darkest corner of the East Anglian Fens. Welcome to Pondersbridge, home to three farm cottages, a knackered caravan and a dachshund called Colin. The only hip thing here is the one Mrs Berridge had replaced last March.

The sun is finally shining and the traffic is all elsewhere (the A14 apparently), I have the Fens to myself. Here the roads run straight - if a little bumpy - and arrive at sharp 90°  bends. In these flatlands vision is endless so you can corner in confidence and, aside from the occasional agricultural spillage, it's an overlooked gem for a blast.

The wide bars and lightweight Scrambler (186kg kerb) are a joy to throw around - particularly coupled with the Pirelli dual sport tyres which grip confidently even when I applied the throttle aggressively out of the corner from the torquey 800cc V-twin.

Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle: Engine

There's something satisfying and raw about the Scrambler. Make no mistake, it's a sophisticated motorcycle but it feels so earthy and lively. It's the sort of bike you'd like to go for a pint with - unlike, say, the Panigale, which would probably insist on drinking diet Coke.

The air-cooled motor is so responsive and packs such a punch, seemingly oblivious to what gear you're in at the time. When you ride the Scrambler you feel connected to the road, aided in a large part by the stiff suspension and firm Kabaya rear shock. The SV650 I'd been riding moments earlier felt spongey and vague as a direct comparison.

Unlike its stable mates the Full Throttle version gets a stubby double-barrel shotgun exhaust with Termignoni mufflers and it produces a satisfying, gruff bark which gets you heard but not offensively so. Of course, if you do want to fall out with your neighbours, there are plenty of ways to turn the volume up to 11.

The range from the 13.5 litre tank is between 100 miles around London or 110 miles at motorway cruising before the reserve countdown begins ticking up menacingly. I estimated, with some petrol station receipt maths, that I'd have around 15-20 miles on reserve. The tank's range would be a nuisance for touring but not half as much of a pain as the seat.

Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle: Comfort

I rode 200 miles in total on my Fenland tour, all the way from south London and back. By the end of it my backside felt like it had been tenderised with one of those mallets with which fancy French chefs flatten their steaks. My petrol stops became moments of ecstatic relief. I'm not a total wuss, I promise. I once rode from Bavaria to Peterborough in a day (albeit in the saddle of a BMW F800S).

I will at least temper my complaint. The saddle of the Ducati looks gorgeous and the logo imprinted on the leather is a  quality touch. I suppose if you only ever ride for 70-100 miles max then you won't even notice the discomfort. The rear seat cuts off sharply and doesn't make the most inspiring perch for a pillion. Also, that tiny rear mudguard will do absolutely nothing to keep the cack off the back-end and I rather suspect poor pillions will get slurry sprayed up their backs.

On the subject of mudguards, check out that sliver of black plastic on the front. Ducati might almost not have bothered. I know it's all about style but that poor, protruding cylinder head and oil cooler are going to get covered in crap, even in the city.

Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle: Handling and Suspension

So the back roads were a pleasure, the M11 was a torture, but the Scrambler's natural home is in town and here it excels. I've been commuting through London for the last seven years and have a pretty good idea what makes a great city bike. Top of my list is Honda's SH300 but the Ducati Scrambler isn't far behind. Plus it's a lot more gangster than a Japanese scooter.

The impressive turning circle and wide bars mean the Scrambler can be wrestled through packed lines of traffic, finding gaps that would leave a sports bike dead in its tracks. The punchy motor is great for driving away at the lights and because it's so torquey you'll never find yourself caught in too high a gear. The radial Brembo four-piston brakes have plenty of bite and with ABS as standard they're ideal for hauling anchor when some dozy driver pulls out from a side road without looking.

The 790mm seat height is low and can be lowered further to 770mm, making it a good option for shorter riders.

Should I buy the Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle?

After a week I'd noticed a few chinks in the armour of the gorgeous Ducati. For a start, my boots had started to rub away the paint on the swingarm just above the exhaust pipes. Also the wiring loom from the ignition barrel is unsightly and could have been easily tidied by enveloping it all in a black tube. The wire from the Lambda sensor in the exhaust is also a bit obtrusive. Ok, I know I'm nit-picking but when the rest of the bike is so tidy and neat these little blemishes are magnets for the critical eye.

I've spent a long time defending the Scrambler against its moniker of 'hipster' but it would be disingenuous of me to withhold my single experience with a fellow Scrambler owner in the wild.

He pulled up beside me at the lights in Clapham on a Scrambler Icon. That's a big beard, I thought. He nodded in approval at my bike, waiting for me to cast an admiring glance over his own. 'I wonder how long it took him to grow that beard,' I wondered. He revved his engine demandingly, his aviator glasses glinting in the sun. He clunked the bike into first gear and it was then that I noticed he was wearing a pair of espadrilles, no socks and his trousers half way up his thighs. A hipster!

But the child should not be put to death for the sins or the espadrilles of the father, right?

Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle: Specifications

  • Model tested: Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle
  • Price: £7,995
  • Engine: 803cc V-twin
  • Power: 75hp @ 8,250rpm
  • Torque: 50lbft @ 5,750rpm
  • Kerb weight: 186kg
  • Frame: tubular steel trellis
  • Tank capacity: 13.5 litres
  • Seat height: 790mm (low 770mm optional)
  • Colours: black and yellow
  • Availability: now