Nevermind the hype, just jump on this Scrambler and you’ll soon learn why people love riding it
I love marketing people, the way they take the English language and combine two or more words into jargon. Cocacolonization and Fictomercial are just two of my favourites. However, every so often, marketing people are responsible for creating something great and tangible, like a motorcycle, and that’s how the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 was born.
The 803cc Scrambler, itself an excellent example of marketing, has been a huge success for Ducati – but it’s not for everyone. Its punchy 55kW engine means it’s not suitable for riders on a restricted LAMS licence, and it’s these people who represent the most profitable section of the Australian motorcycle market. The guys and gals at Ducati had a free-wheelin’ California dream to sell, but couldn’t sell it to everyone, especially the bearded hipster types clambering to get a licence and get aboard something cool looking with a European badge.
Enter the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2. According to the marketing spiel, this is not just a motorcycle, it’s an endless summer of cute girls (or guys) in cut-off denim shorts, surfing beach culture, Chiko Rolls and the scent of coconut tanning oil, all rolled into one learner-approved freedom machine.
During the test period I found myself making up my own examples of marketing speak. The first is Scambleposy. Seating positions on a motorcycle now run in the following order: upright, bolt upright and Scrambleposy. It means a seemingly impossible upright riding position only achievable on the scrambler – and it works!
The Sixty2 provides confidence for learners via this riding position, mid-mounted pegs as well as a high-set and wide handlebar – it feels like a pushbike. It’s so natural and easy to get used to I’m sure the bike could ride itself.
Another new Dobie word is Duplodispositional: to have two highly marketable personalities. The air-cooled 399cc V-twin engine in the Sixty2 is the mill fitted to its 803cc brethren with a decreased capacity achieved via a narrower bore and shorter stroke (88 x 66mm versus 72 x 49mm). Under 4000rpm it feels like a small-capacity bike, perfect for newbies because there is little chance it will frighten them with a sudden surge of power. This easy-going nature also makes getting moving child’s play.
Once you have clocked up a decent amount of hours and kilometres, however, there’s a whole new world of fun waiting for you above 4000rpm. Stepping up to this mark feels like someone has handed you the keys to another bike. The maximum 26.4kW does not peak until the tachometer hits
8500rpm, not a region many newcomers are comfortable with, but once you twist the throttle a bit more, the illuminating bars on the LCD tachometer located in the single-clock digital dash multiply quickly. Once past the 4000rpm mark, there’s a little burst of power which caught me by surprise the first time I visited it. The little Ducati can really get up and dance. Not only that, the somewhat subdued engine note at sub-4000rpm transforms into a lovely V-twin growl.
From the moment I discovered this 4000-plus playground I was hooked. Regardless of whether I was riding down the driveway or down to the local café, it was straight past 4000rpm before I even let my fingers think about reaching for the clutch lever. A gentle rev-limiter cuts the fun at 10,000rpm, but by this stage the party is over.
Another great marketing ploy by the folks at Ducati has been to make the Sixty2 a virtual clone of its big brother. Other than the Sixty2’s unique paint schemes, it’s only the tank decal, lower-spec conventional fork, less aggressively styled exhaust system and an ugly tail tidy that marks them apart. There’s nothing that screams “this is the learner version” – well, other than a bright yellow L plate.
Another win styling-wise are the Pirelli MT-60 RS tyres. In keeping with the scrambler theme they look like off-road tyres, and at low speed you can feel the block tread pattern running across the road. But on closer inspection the land to sea ratio of the tread pattern is like a grooved road tyre, helped by a solid rubber contact patch around the outer-edge. This provides good dry-weather grip and possibly good water dispersion in the wet.
My last marketing phrase isn’t made up, it’s Patient Teacher. That’s how I would describe the gearbox and clutch on the Sixty2 to a mechanical newbie. The most common fear I hear from new riders is an inability to find neutral. Riding the Sixty2 you are left in no doubt when you have selected neutral – it feels right, and the big green N on the dash lights up to confirm it.
The brakes are anything but learner spec. The ABS equipped Brembo two-piston caliper up front bites onto a 320mm disc, while a two-piston caliper at the rear grips a 245mm disk. They may be lower spec than the four-piston jobbies on the bigger Scrambler, but I challenge any LAMS rider to feel the difference. I’m not always a big fan of ABS for learners, but in this instance I think it’s a good idea.
At low speeds, something you do a lot in the inner city, the Sixty2 is so well balanced it feels like you could come to a stop and keep your feet up. The reasonably low 790mm seat height not only helps with low-speed manoeuvrability, it also makes it easier to move the bike around in confined areas such as carparks and garages. Once you have progressed to lane filtering, the bike’s easy-riding nature means the only things you will need to keep your eye on is the ends on the wide (860mm) handlebar and equally wide mirrors.
The price tag of $11,990 + ORC is a significant investment, true, but when you purchase a Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 you aren’t just buying a motorcycle, you are buying a dream of fun-filled days cruising sunny coastal roads. It may not work out that way, but thanks to the great engineering behind the marketing guff, it sure does feel fun to ride, even if it is just to the office.
- Jekyll and Hyde engine characteristics grow with your riding ability
- A beautiful looking machine that’s certainly no shrinking violet
- Nothing looks cheap
- A second colour on the tank stickers would look a lot more stylish
- Old style right-way-up fork looks dated
- Ugly tail tidy and licence plate hanger