STRANGE as it may seem, since picking up this bike last week I have done an awful lot of walking. Mostly in circles, going round and round the machine, desperately trying to find an angle from which this Triumph doesn't look cool. And the truth is, there isn't one. The Scrambler 900 is a seriously funky retro classic that’s worth a lot more than just an admiring glance.
Despite its beauty, the thought of a Thruxton-based parallel twin engine and semi-knobbly tyres didn’t initially stir the soul. But hopping on board soon changed my opinion and I’ll tell you for why. It may weigh the same and share the same powerplant as its sister, the Bonneville, but its high, wide bars make it feel half the weight, meaning you can really flick this bike around underneath you. Its motor has also been retuned for more torque lower down, and this is instantly noticeable on the road.
The Scrambler may only boast a top speed of 110mph - still 40mph above the national limit, you'll note - but its sprightly acceleration makes for a bike that hustles swiftly along without too much ado. It is almost a litre-bike after all. The tyres too, for all their knobblyness, do a remarkable job and still corner efficiently when pushed along. Put it this way, I scraped my boots a couple of times and it was always me that bottled out before the rubber did.
But who needs speed when the sun is shining and the pose value is unrivalled? As such, I spent plenty of time on our recent hot summer days just cruising along Baldwin Street, round the Centre and through Broadmead. At every set of lights and every pavement café, heads would turn and fingers would point. Young kids thought it was cool; older people reminisced about the Great British motorcycling industry; middle-aged people just drooled and considered selling their children to get one. And there are very few bikes out there which can connect with all generations.
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Its main attraction, of course, is its retro looks. The Scrambler’s styling is as authentic as it could ever be, coming from the legendary Triumph stable. The timeless lines may have taken a break in the 80s and 90s but they’re back with a vengeance and share much in common with Steve McQueen's classic 1962 TR6 Trophy from The Great Escape. Even the spoked 19-inch wheels and rubber gaiters on the fork legs look great.
I particularly loved the chrome grille on the headlamp, the number boards and the colour-coded piping on the seat. But the piece de resistance is the twin high-level exhaust with the classic crossover as it exits the ports. You do get a fair amount of warmth generated towards your right leg, but the chrome heat shield deflects the majority and I never felt any discomfort. I did however develop a tendency to put my right leg down at the lights rather than my left.
With all the visual attention to detail, it’s good to find that the Scrambler is still mechanically a pleasant proposition. The fuel tap, manual choke and carburettors lend to its original feel, and a new clutch system reduces vibrations. Raised gearing allows for easier cruising and decent roll-on performance. The brakes are more than adequate as the pace never gets too silly, and the suspension is well suited to a mixture of on and off-road use. True off-road capabilities are limited due to the bike’s size but the potential is certainly there for some cross-country amusement. The Triumph’s only downside is its instrument panel. The speedo is wonderfully old-fashioned, but the warning and indicator lights are impossible to see on a bright, sunny day.
The Scrambler is one of those chilled out machines that just blows all your cares away, and Fowlers are currently offering a great deal on their limited stock of 2006 machines. Take one for a test ride and I defy you not to have visions of riding across Californian beaches in T-shirt and shorts. Or, of course, escaping from Stalag Luft III...
Article written: June 14, 2007
The Triumph Scrambler 900 was kindly loaned by Fowlers Motorcycles of Bath Road, Bristol. For more information about test rides, call Fowlers on 0117 977 0466.
OUR STEER ON THE TRIUMPH SCRAMBLER
Price: £6,199 (@ Jan 09)
Engine: 865 cc, parallel twin
Power: 56 bhp at 7,000 rpm
Torque: 69 Nm / 51 ft lb at 4,500 rpm
Weight: 205 kg
Fuel capacity: 16.6 litres
Top speed: 110mph (est)
Seat height: 825 mm
by Jon Bennett