2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC first ride review
Isn't it true? In most situations, you'd like to have the best of both worlds. If something can satisfy need A and B, it's a win-win. It's somewhat a similar case when it comes to motorcycles too. A dual purpose motorcycle, like a Scrambler, can handle the rigours of daily commute and when the opportunity arrives, take you to far away places. And the route to get there needn't always involve tarmac. It could be a nice, windy trail, replete with rocks, sand or loose mud. You get the...er... drift?!
Triumph's new Scrambler 1200 XC is the newest of its type of motorcycle, on the block. The Bonneville that loves to get dirty and looks even better when it's slathered with mud. What's it like to ride? Read on.
But first, the looks
I have to admit, the designers at Triumph keep coming up with really interesting designs with every new launch, and the Scrambler 1200 XC is no different. It may not ooze the raw appeal of the other Bonnevilles in the family like the Thruxton R, wishing you could park 'em in your living room, but the Scrambler's purposeful design is what strikes a chord, instantly.
Personally, I really like the way the modern-classic design gels with the Scrambler theme. The tank, round LED headlamp, flat seat and brushed aluminium fenders are in line with the design ethos of the Bonneville family. And the Scrambler bits like the long travel suspension, tubeless wire-spoke wheels shod with Metzeler Tourance tyres combine to form a motorcycle that looks raw and ready to play.
The high-mounted, twin exhaust pipes also contribute to the water-crossing ready look but be prepared to bear the heat while riding in traffic. It's not unbearable and once you get going, the heat subsides quickly. Nevertheless, I'd recommend you always wear riding pants (ATGATT) and insist your pillion does so as well.
The quality of materials as well as fit and finish are excellent, and bits like the colour TFT display with switchable themes add to the premium feeling.
Are the ergonomics comfortable?
Yes, actually. Despite what a flat seat may suggest, it is genuinely comfortable for long hours. We spent nearly ten hours in the saddle and I didn't feel fatigued. Also, the properly sculpted knee recesses allow you to lock in your knees, whether seated or standing and the handlebars are set high enough for a comfortable reach.
Ok, what about the engine and performance?
This 1,200cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin motor has been powering other Bonnies in the family and I've always liked it for its strong, linear power delivery and character. It produces 90PS at 7,400rpm but for the Scrambler's purpose, the engine has been tuned to develop most of the torque in the low and mid portions of the rev range. With 110Nm peaking at 3,950rpm and over 100Nm available right from 2,500rpm only, there's plenty of shove from the moment you whack the throttle open.
With so much torque on tap, there is a safety net to keep things from going south. The Scrambler is equipped with five riding modes- Road, Rain, Sport, Off-road and Rider. These modes alter the power delivery as well as the level of traction control and ABS intervention.
Road mode was ideal while riding on the streets of Chandigarh as well as on the Himalayan Highway, enroute to Shimla. Sport is good if you are really in for some spirited riding, and don't mind the surge coming in aggressively. But the real essence of a Scrambler is experienced in its off-road habitat and that's where the Off-road mode was up to the task.
Throughout the narrow, broken trails, the bike was easy to ride, especially for an off-road novice like me.
There's so much grunt from the word go, it makes riding up rocky surfaces quite effortless. Just stay on the throttle and the Scrambler chugs along. And when you encounter sand or mud, it's easy to crack open the throttle and slide out of corners. It's such a playful thing in the dirt and I really liked it. The only thing to be wary about is the Scrambler's weight which surprisingly is almost as much as a Triumph Tiger 800. Drop it and it'll require some technique to get it back up.
Alright, but what about ride and handling?
The 45mm Showa forks and the Ohlins twin shocks at the rear are fully adjustable, and bestow the Scrambler with great dynamics, both on and off the road.
With 200mm travel at either end, the suspension absorbs the worst of bumps while riding on trails. No matter the speed while riding off-road, the suspension did a brilliant job of isolating most of the punishment and that allows you to stay confident, which I believe is critical while riding on such terrain. That said, don't expect the suspension to equal that of an adventure tourer, like a Triumph Tiger, for instance.
But the real surprise is while riding on the road. Despite the 21-inch front, 17-inch rear wheels and long travel suspension, the Scrambler is absolutely fantastic in corners.
Turn-in is quick for a Scrambler, and the bike remains planted through the corner.
Part of the confidence to push hard is also because there's plenty of feedback from the front end. Around some of the twisty sections near Shimla, I had a whale of a time and to be honest I liked the Scrambler for its on-road abilities.
The Brembo M50 monobloc brakes deserve special mention as they offer strong bite but at the same time are easy to modulate.
So, should one overlook an adventure tourer and settle for the Scrambler 1200 XC?
Not really. The Scrambler is not an out-and-out alternative to an adventure tourer, as the latter offers far more comfort and is designed for long stint in the saddle.
What the Scrambler 1200 is, is a fun and playful motorcycle that eggs you to venture deep into trails and have a blast throwing it around in the sand, mud, slush and what have you. The lack of a big screen and fairing improves visibility as well, making it easy to ride on the trails. Just don't expect it to behave like a proper off-road machine or a dirt bike.
To me, the fun actually begins while you are riding on tarmac, enroute to the trails. And that's wherein lies its appeal. It offers the best of both worlds. The cherry on top, however, is the Rs 10.73 lakh (ex-showroom) price tag. For the amount of kit on offer, the bike offers great value and that's why, the Scrambler 1200 XC makes a strong case for itself.
Also see: Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC First Ride VideoPrice (Ex-Delhi)