While Papa Ducati slept, a crack team of reprobates snuck into the Scrambler barn to rustle up a herd of machines for 2 days of riding. With the new Desert Sled and Café Racer amongst the mix, a good amount of varied hoonery was definitely on the cards.
It was a mongrel team of riders that all turned up on the day, a good mix of blokes and sheilas who all seemed to hit it off instantly. This would be the foreshadowing of an excellent 2-day riding adventure across roads and twistys, dirt and water. The plan was remarkably simple – gather all the Ducati Scramblers that we could, ride their brains out, and enjoy it all the while. On the menu were the Scrambler Icon, Classic, Sixty-Two, and the brand new Café Racer and Desert Sled models.
The battle plan for day one would be to all ride together until we broke free of the traffic confines of Sydney. After a pit stop, and many coffees, two groups would be formed and broken off for the day. One would be on the Café Racers for some road and cornering action, and the second team would be snatching up the adventurous Desert Sled options for some fire trails and water crossings.
First we’ll touch on the naughty, dark little number that is the Scrambler Café Racer – a bit of a contradictory name, but we don’t mind. This is a standout from the new Scrambler line, and has gone for a more road savy/urban approach that has tapped into the ever-popular café racer niche. With it’s forks brought in, compared to the rest of the Scrambler line, and clip-ons attached, this is a remarkably light and nimble machine. It’s begging for corners, and a lot of joy is brought to your soul once you tuck over and lean in.
The Café Racer is a little bike, make no mistake. Though the taller riders of the day didn’t seem to have many complaints, so it’s not just us short bastards that can enjoy such machines. Riding close in check were the more standard Scrambler Icon and Classic models, eagerly keeping up with the dark Café cousin. Riding out through to Kurrajong and Wiseman’s Ferry was great in itself, but once we remembered we had escaped the office and work obligations, the fun really set in.
The on-road and off-road teams finally rendezvoused after hours of fun and swapping bikes. The local pub would be the victim for our hungry bellies, although upon arrival we were told the kitchen was closed “5 minutes ago”, now I’m not one for conspiracies but this seemed awfully suss. Maybe they didn’t like our haircuts? Maybe they were Harley riders? Maybe the kitchen actually was closed and I’ve got issues? It’s hard to say really, and maybe it’s all true. Regardless, the local pie shop up the road filled the spot just right. How good are pies but?
With the pies tucked away safely in our fat little bellies, we got wind of a beautiful lookout spot out near Blackheath. With the sun slowly making it’s way down, this seemed like a great way to finish the day and so the entire gang of Scramblers set out once more. We made it to our picturesque location with time to spare. The sun gave off dividends as we soaked up the incredible, albeit freezing, scenery.
Once the sun was gone it was a unanimous decision of “fuck it, it’s freezing, let’s get the fuck out of here.” To retreat to warmer housing, which also happened to have plenty of booze. Go figure? A big cook up was just what we needed, with everyone jumping on board to help with the feast. Young Patrick even learned how to chop vegetables for the first time, with L’Oreal from Ducati being very proud. The rest of the evening was very uneventful, with no one doing any creepy or sexual dancing at all.
The following morning saw everyone rise with only mild hangovers, probably from too many finely sliced vegetables. Today would be the same riding, however with each group swapping bikes. This is where the very exciting, very new Desert Sled model would come into play. This incarnation of the Scrambler series might be what should have been originally released years ago, it’s got plenty for hitting the beaten track and applying a bit of mischief and adventure into your rides.
This bike is in true retro form, throwing back to the stripped-down machines of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s that would be tearing up desert of the famous Baja desert race. With plenty of suspension, seat height, ground clearance and MX-styled bars, this is a much different riding form to any of the other Scrambler line. A completely different machine to the Café Racer (duh) and a much more dedicated off-road feel than the standard Scrambler line.
The Desert Sled is the heaviest of the Scrambler line, thanks to some much-welcomed additions. The frame has been reinforced to deal with the abuse of off-road riding, along with bigger suspension and a longer swing arm. The air-cooled 803cc L-twin engine that is in all these Scrambler models has been minimally changed, although with some welcome and subtle ones. The snatchiness of the previous Icon series has been eliminated, courtesy of a more progressive throttle opening and some work on the ECU. This hasn’t taken away any of the fun, but means you can control it when you want.
We took two of these Desert Sleds down some fire trails, across dirt, gravel, and the odd water crossing. They held their own, and, while not a completely dedicated dirt or adventure bike, it definitely performs well and is a tonne of fun both on and off road.
Despite the flashy new models of Scrambler taking up a lot of the attention for the day, the previous models held their own and maintained their stance as a versatile and enjoyable bike. Even the LAMS Sixty-Two model kept up, once it caught up on the straights mind you.
With dust having entered just about every crevice in our souls and hundreds of kilometres smashed out, it was time to return our faithful steeds back to the Ducati barn. Heading back east, the traffic began to return. Congestion, beeping, and the usual not-very-good-people you find on Sydney roads.
Back to Sydney.
Back to the office.
A special thank you to Ducati Australia for the bikes, and for all the cheeky boys and girls that made it such a great time.
Photography by Josh Mikhaiel and Throttle roll