Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
It’s four years since Ducati revived its Scrambler and while the range has grown since then the 803cc ‘Icon’ version has remained its mainstay. For 2019 it’s getting significant updates including revised looks and improved technology.
In its short life the Scrambler has already become a mainstay of the Ducati range with more than 55,000 sold. Now the company is embarking on a mission to revamp the range, and the Icon version is the first to be revealed in second-generation form.
The revamp does highlight one of the eternal problems with ‘retro’ offerings; it’s hard to immediately distinguish it from its predecessor. After all, it looks that way for a reason, and to mess with the styling would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Ducati isn’t alone in having this problem; Triumph has the same issue when it updates the Bonneville, and on four wheels machines like BMW’s Mini and Porsche’s 911 go through endless generations with only the most subtle of styling tweaks to distinguish them from their predecessors. When your success is based on your appearance, a facelift is a bad career move.
On the 2019 Scrambler, picking out changes is like one of those ‘spot the difference’ puzzles; you really need to have a first-generation machine alongside it to pick out the new bits. Notable changes are the restyled headlight, featuring a black ‘X’ behind its lens, and the new front indicators, which are now self-cancelling LED units. The single clock is also updated, including gear and fuel level indicators, while the bar controls are revamped with a new adjustable brake lever and a hydraulic clutch instead of the old cable-operated version.
Moving back, the tank’s removable, replaceable side-panels are redesigned with a chunkier look. Behind them, the seat is restyled and reshaped, while right at the back the tail light is now a full LED unit.
Below all this there’s a new exhaust heat shield and silencer cover, although the pipe underneath is unchanged, and the gear and brake levers have been redesigned.
Mechanically, the 73hp, 803cc, air-cooled twin is the same as before, as is the frame and all the other major components. The suspension, visually unaltered, has been massaged with new settings to improve ride comfort.
The wheels are unchanged, and the visible bits of the brake system – the discs and radial Brembo caliper – also look the same as before. But there’s an important invisible change here; Ducati has added the latest Bosch 9.1 MP Cornering ABS system, as used on the bigger Scrambler 1100, to the base 803cc Icon model.
Although Ducati hasn’t mentioned the other variants of the Scrambler range yet, the firm says that it’s the first result of an evolution process that it cringingly refers to as ‘Joyvolution’.
The implication, of course, is that other revamped Scramblers aren’t far behind the Icon. Surely we’ll see similar updates to the mechanically-similar ‘Classic’ and ‘Full Throttle’ variants in the very near future, while the more significantly different Cafe Racer and Desert Sled can’t be far behind either.