Review: Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special

Good buying to be had in current model Scrambler runout.

As is often the case with the introduction of new models, the current Ducati Scrambler 1100 models are being run out at very attractive discounts.

And they are such a good buy because the only real differences in the coming PRO models are cleaner brake cabling, a remote rear fender, twin-stack pipes, new bars and different paint and graphics.

The current 1100 series consists of the base model, Special and Sport. All are powered by the 1079cc, 90-degree L-twin from the old Monster 1100, detuned slightly for emissions reasons to 64kW of power (86hp) and 88Nm (65lb-ft) of torque from 4750rpm.

It’s the same formula Ducati has used with the 803cc Scrambler powered by the old Monster 800 engine detuned to meet new emissions regulations.

Ducati’s 800 Scramblers are the Italian company’s top sellers, while the more powerful, sophisticated and expensive 1100s have not been as popular.

I’ve been riding an 800 Scrambler Icon for some time now and love it. But the bike is a toy and has its limitations. 

So, I tested a Scrambler 1100 Special from Brisbane Motorcycles to see if the extra weight, height, length and expense was worth it.

The Base model comes in yellow with mag wheels and black seat, Special is grey with black wire wheels, chrome pipes, brushed swinging arm, gold anodised forks and brown seat and the black and yellow Sport has Öhlins suspension and mag wheels.

They used to cost $19,790, $21,990 and $22,990, but are now $15,999, $17,590 and $18,200.

The 1100 models are slightly longer than the 803cc Scramblers with a more substantive new upper “trellis” subframe. 

So, at 206kg (454lb) in running order, it weighs about 20kg more than the 800 Scrambler.

However, the weight is really not evident, even when pushing the bike out of the showroom. 

It still has light handling and steering like the smaller bike thanks to a similar 24.5 degrees of rake and short 111mm trail. 

Drive_MOTORING

The seat is 20mm higher at 810mm, but again it doesn’t feel any taller in the saddle.

Yet the 1100 is so much more bike with a more powerful and refined engine that is easier and forgiving to ride thanks to its 30% increase in grunt. 

It also now has the ability to do some touring with the stronger rear subframe allowing luggage and a pillion.

But most importantly the fun is retained. In fact, the fun is amplified by the fact that the front end now handles properly.

The 800 Scramblers have a single spring in the 41mm Kayaba upside-down forks. 

It’s crass and crashes through any road irregularities. Under braking the front wheel will chatter and lose vital grip.

Fully adjustable 45mm Marzocchi forks on the Special add a whole new level of steering and handling that make this a much more fun, safe and comfortable bike to ride.

Comfort is also improved by the quality seats compared with the hard, plastic seats on the 800 models.

While the 800s are fun, they are also simplistic with rudimentary instrumentation which was last year updated with a fuel gauge.

The Scrambler 1100 models have comprehensive twin-screen LCD instruments with a host of information, plus self-cancelling indicators and three engine modes with adjustable four-level traction control.

While you may not need all this to have some fun on a motorcycle, they are the sorts of creature features you wonder how you ever did without.

Another feature you will wonder how you did without is the substantial upgrade in brakes.

From a single 330mm disc to twin 320mm semi-floating discs with cornering ABS it is a major increase in safety and rider confidence.

Despite being heavier, higher and longer, the bike is surprisingly competent on dirt roads, mainly thanks to the traction controls and switchable ABS.

I love my fun little Icon. But it lacks in brakes, handling, comfort, touring ability and creature features.

The 1100 is still great fun but increases your ability to tour the back roads and trails in comfort and safety.