Could Triumph’s 900cc Street Scrambler be the perfect all-rounder? Ben Foster – at one time WTW’s editor – put it to the test and came away smiling.
You all good? Know how everything operates on these?” asked the friendly salesman as he handed me the key to Triumph’s new Street Scrambler.
“Mate, I know bikes,” I replied. “Throttle on the right, clutch on the left, twist it hard and often and we’re away!” I answered.
In essence I was correct. But this lil’ Scrambler had a few tricks up its sleeve. FITTED OUT
I’ll admit I did little research on the bike before picking it up…and by ‘little’, I mean ‘none’. I literally signed the loan forms Triumph sent up and the only Googling I did was to find out where the dealer was located.
So it was a refreshing surprise to walk through some of the bike’s tech, which was more than I’d anticipated given the classic styling of the Triumph. There were various mapping settings for both on- and off-road, ABS/traction control on or off, and all the typical information inputs you’d expect, all at the touch of a thumb and easy to scroll through.
Obviously I opted for the road-mapping setting with traction control off, because, well…testosterone.
From there a quick walk-around revealed even more goodies, like the Vance And Hines exhaust and Fox remote reservoir shocks. I’m sure those things have a functional benefit, but If I’m really honest, the performance benefit is purely ego-driven here…those things looked trick, and even better, they make it look like you know what you’re doing.
There were also super-sharp platform moto ’pegs, a mesh headlight protector, nudge bars and various other bits of trickery.
This thing was kitted!
Turning the key and hitting the start button brought the 900cc parallel-twin to life with a mild rumble – the kind that won’t peeve your neighbours at 5.00am, but doesn’t scream ‘I’m compensating for other areas’.
If you’ve not tried a ride-by-wire throttle set-up before, it can feel a little foreign. Basically, it replaces the old cable-style mechanical system with an electronic one. They’ve come a looong way over the years, and at the very upper-end of the market it can be hard to tell the difference. In this case I felt an ever-so-slight delay. Not enough to feel like I was going to stall or wonder what’d happened, but it was just noticeable the response between twisting the go-grip and the power coming on wasn’t maybe as sharp as I’d been used to with a cable.
I was smiling pretty quickly on the lil’ Trumpy. The parallel-twin was never going to be an arm-stretching powerhouse, but man, was it fun. I don’t know if it’s because I had a predetermined expectation – I mean, look at it…it doesn’t scream ‘performance’ – but this thing has got some pepper. It builds steadily through the bottom of the rev-range and is a pleasure cruising around in traffic or suburbia. But give it the chance to stretch its legs and the Scrambler just comes to life. It revs, and revs hard. Feed it plenty with the right hand it’ll just keep on eating it up, all with a snapping, thumping bark from the Vance And Hines exhaust.
Woooo-eeeee…it’s a hoot.
I’m lucky enough to know a bloke with a long driveway who lets me play around on bikes there from time to time. That affords me the opportunity to do shit I wouldn’t otherwise get to do on a public road. Naturally a wheelie and skid session was in order, because once again, it’s about testosterone.
I was impressed with how the Scrambler handled the abuse, and whether it was a wheel in the air or spinning on the ground, it just kept begging for more. Not once did it complain, even with third-gear roller skids at 70kph. Yep, it’s a weapon.
It was pretty wet on the day, so off-road options were somewhat limited, but I couldn’t help but have a bit of a play just to test it’s capabilities. Switching to the ‘dirt’ ignition map helped settle things down and made everything a little more manageable, but that was kind of boring. With all the electronics switched off, it was FUN. Slides, climbs, dirt roads and even small jumps…the Scrambler will do it.
I’d be concerned about doing anything too full on, especially with the low ride-height. About that… Good Things In Small Packages
I’m by no means a tall guy – even less so with the shitty posture after spending the majority of my time sitting in front of a laptop – but the Scrambler feels like a small package to ride. I’m 180cm tall and the bike has a seat height of 790mm, which probably doesn’t mean much to you reading it here, any more than I know how handy you are with a tape measure. But what I can tell you is the bike just feels small. The seat is ample, but kind of promotes leaning forward, and the space between seat, footpegs and handlebars felt a little cramped for me. As a positive though, it’s also quite slim despite its bulky looks, and that helps with the whole ‘riding-like-a-ratbag’ thing. It just makes it so easy to do. It’d be rude not to do it.
The 900 Scrambler – there’s a 1200 Scrambler as well – is just shy of 200kg with no fluids, and while that number sounds as though the Triumph has been grazing the good paddock for a little too long, in reality it feels nowhere near as heavy as the numbers suggest. This was particularly noticeable off-road, as was the low ground clearance. Yep. There has to be some payoff with the whole package-feeling-compact thing, and that’d be the ground clearance. If you’re not intending on doing any off-road, or at least sticking to basic fire trails, it should never really pose a problem. Any more than that though, and you’re going to start bashing into things fairly quickly.
The Cool Factor
Sure, there’s performance to take into consideration, build quality, parts, sound… all that jazz. But when you’re looking at a bike like this, the ‘cool’ factor plays such a big part. And, like its T100 Triumph stablemate, the new Scrambler oozes swag. I actually got pulled up a couple of times at shops and servos asking what it was, how much it cost and how’d it go. “Man, it looks cool!” was usually how the chats finished. The classic bobber/scrambler/naked look with its steel tank, finned heads, rounded and bulging lines just works. There’s no fancy aero numbers or expensive bodywork that claims to make you slipperier at 290kph (’cos that really comes in handy, right?)…nope, it’s just raw, bold and cool.
Yeah, ya would.
This new 900 Scrambler really would be an ideal every-day bike. It’s got plenty enough performance and ratbag in it to get up to no good, yet will comfortably cruise to the shops to get a bottle of milk or tour on weekends. Its versatility is balanced by its exciting characteristics and cool-AF looks.