2023 Ducati Scrambler 803 Icon - Review

Technical Review – Ben Purvis – First Published 7 November 2022


Price: £9995 (Icon), £10,995 (Full Throttle and Nightshift) | Power: 72bhp | Weight: 185kg (Icon and Full Throttle), 191kg (Nightshift)


Ducati is all too familiar with the problem it faces in updating the original 803cc Scrambler range into a second generation: once you have a bike that’s iconic for its appearance it’s hard to make it look new without losing the essence that made it a success in the first place.

And its easy to overlook what a success the Scrambler has been – with a production run of 8 years so far and over one-hundred-thousand units, the Scrambler quickly became Ducati's bestselling model.

Like the 916 and the Monster, both bikes that proved hard to update or replace in the past, the Scrambler has a ‘look’. It’s been carried over to the heavily revamped second generation, but as a result you might not instantly see how substantial the changes are.

The subtlety of the styling revisions belies the depth of the updates beneath, with the new chassis and updated version of Ducati’s classic DesmoDue air-cooled V-twin just the tip of the iceberg. Around 70% of the components in the 2023 Scrambler are new.

We joined Ducati in Valencia for the European launch of the Icon to see if the new Scrambler is a clean-sheet redesign, or business-as-usual.


Pros & Cons

  • Classic looks and Ducati name, with an affordable price
  • Lighter than before, with new chassis
  • Updated tech includes traction control and TFT clocks
  • Great choice of colours and accessories providing limitless possibilities for custom schemes
  • Carry-over looks mean people might not notice that you’ve bought the latest generation.
  • Quickshifter only standard on Full Throttle
  • Much of the TFT connectivity is only available as an extra
  • Competition has caught up and are now offering more for less
2023 Ducati Scrambler Review | Revolution or Evolution?

We join the 2023 Ducati Scrambler on the sunny streets (and subdued parking garages, thanks to the wind) of Valencia to see if the new bike still has the great retro feel of the original.

Red, Thrilling Black and '62 Yellow are standard colours for the Icon. Full Throttle comes in Red/Black only, NightShift in Blue only


Review – In Detail

Price & PCP
Engine & Performance
Handling, Weight & Suspension
Comfort & Economy
Technical Specification


2023 Ducati Scrambler - Price

A 2022-spec Ducati Scrambler Icon would set you back £8195 and while it remains the last brand-new bike you can nab with a Ducati badge and a four-figure price tag the 2023 version jumps right up to the border of the £10k mark with a £9995 tag. Meanwhile, the higher-spec ‘Full Throttle’ and ‘Nightshift’ versions of the bike – technically identical but with better equipment and more stylish looks – are nudging 11k in 2023 form, both coming in at £10,995 before you start adding options.

Inflation is inevitable so we must expect prices to climb. If we take the original 2015 price for the Icon (£6995) and recalculate for inflation, we get a price around the £8900 mark so the extras on the 2023 model have added around £1000 to the price.

While we can always find ways to justify price increases, you can't get away from the fact that in the eight years since the original Icon was released, the competition has caught up with great value retro bikes, packed with technology, and still coming in at reasonable prices. Ducati has always been a premium brand though and there will always be a cachet value in the Italian brand, but in the current economic climate, only time will tell of this has been a step to far.

PCP Deals

At time of writing, it’s too early to get any confirmed PCP deals on the Scrambler, but with higher-than-normal residuals, we expect the monthly payments to be the most affordable and popular way of financing new bikes.

The bikes are all due to reach dealers any time now – production has been confirmed as being in full swing - and there’s plenty of opportunity to increase your spend with a bulging accessories catalogue that includes three optional exhausts, a host of bolt-on cosmetic parts and a whole wardrobe of matching clothing.


Exhaust downpipe routing is changed for 2024, allowing much easier access to the oil strain plug


2023 Ducati Scrambler - Engine & Performance

With 72hp on tap (73PS, 53.6kW) at 8250rpm, the peak power isn’t increased for the 2023 Scrambler, but that doesn’t mean the 803cc ‘Desmodue’ V-twin hasn’t been updated. In fact, Ducati has worked hard to make its traditional air-cooled, Desmo V-twin meet Euro 5 emissions limits, with the last chance to sell the old Euro 4 version in a new bike expiring at the end of this year.

The key change is the addition of a ride-by-wire throttle, which also means the Scrambler has been able to adopt traction control for the first time, as well as having two riding modes – ‘Road’ or ‘Sport’ – each applying their own throttle map and traction control settings, as well as TCS being independently switchable and having more settings.

The ride-by-wire also means the Scrambler can be fitted with an up/down quickshifter, which is standard on the Scrambler Full Throttle and (a £237) optional extra on the Icon and Nightshift models.

On the road, and more specifically, around the city, the benefits of the new rider modes become immediately obvious. The early scramblers had a reputation for having a snatchy take up at low speeds and many people fitted aftermarket throttle-tamers in an attempt to cure this (I fitted replacement grips from Rizoma on my 2016 Classic model which provided a different throttle cam profile).

In 'road' mode, this snatchiness has been eliminated, providing a gentle and predictable throttle take up. Combine this with the lighter clutch (more on that later) and the whole urban ride of the Scrambler is drastically improved. On the launch, we spent a good hour riding in the stop-start traffic of Valencia – normally an arm deadening feat – and the new model behaved impeccably.

Switch in to 'Sport' mode though and the snappiness of the original engine is back, giving instant response for swift riding and making the most of the wide, flat torque curve.

The updated engine makes 48.1lb-ft (65.2Nm) of torque at 7000rpm, down from 49lb-ft (67Nm) last year and arriving noticeably higher in the rev band, as the old model peaked at only 5750rpm.

As an owner of the original 2016 model, the low down torque is still one of the great assets of the Scrambler, and so when I read that peak torque was now at 7000rpm, I was afraid that Ducati would somehow spoil the feel of the bike, but on the road, the riding experience doesn't reflect the change.

There's still tonnes of grunt from low-down, helping punch away from corners and stop-start traffic. Even at cruising speeds, the pickup is still impressive but now the torque just keeps going, well onto motorway speeds.

A quick chat with the Ducati engineers after the test rides revealed the reasons why the headline figures don't quite add up with the riding experience.

While peak torque does indeed come at 7000rpm now, that doesn't mean that there has been a loss of torque further down the revs – there's still loads of torque at 5750, just as there was on the older bikes.


Torque charts are illustrative only, but show how peak can move without much overall change


We couldn't get any official torque and power curves from Ducati and the napkin-diagram that the engineers used to explain in broken English are long since disposed of, so I've mocked up some images to demonstrate the principle. The first is based on a 2019 model and shows peak torque at 5750rpm, the second has the same torque curve, but cranked up at the end very slightly. Because the overall curve is so shallow, a slight drop at the front and a slight lift at the back pushes the peak back quite a way. Yes, torque is reduced earlier in the range, but only by a fractional amount and that’s why the bike feels the same on the road at these speeds/revs.

The change is at 7000 – the old bike was beginning to drop torque at this point, but the 2023 model is still level and pushes on. It’s a very subtle change and one that caused much discussion, but an important one that a cursory glance through the spec sheet would miss.

As mentioned above, other alterations to the engine include a new, more compact clutch with a much-needed softer pull and a range of weight savings including revised covers, removing a total of 2.5kg from the motor compared to its predecessor.

As in the past, there’s also a 47hp restricted version on offer to suit A2 licence holders.


Rear shock has moved inboard for 2023


2023 Ducati Scrambler - Handling, Weight and Suspension

At the press launch, there was a lot of emphasis put on the reduced weight of the bike – down 4Kg on the outgoing model, and while this wasn't immediately noticeable on the road, any weight saving is always welcome.

Much of the reduced weight (1.7Kg) is down to change of battery for a lighter model but, along with the engine changes detailed above, there's also loss in the redesigned steel trellis frame which, while mostly unchanged at the front, now has a bolt on rear subframe in place of the original welded unit.

At the back, a new swingarm has been developed and the old rear shock – which was offset to the lefthand side, has been swapped for a more conventional-looking arrangement with a central strut. There’s still no rising rate linkage, though, and the shock itself is a Kayaba unit, as before, adjustable only for preload.

The forks are the same 41mm Kayabas that featured on the old model and have the same split configuration with springs and oil in both forks, but the damping cartridge only in the right-hand fork leg, so the handling of the new model suffers from the same shortcomings as the previous models. That’s not to say the suspension is bad, its just not as good as current technology allows – this is after all a relaxed urban bike, not a trackday hero.

Testing the bike around the city and out of town on mountain switchbacks, the bike is just as flickable, predictable and confidence inspiring as it ever was.

The wheels are new, with a more intricate spoke pattern, but carry over the same sizes as before, with an 18-inch front with 110-section tyre, and 180-section rubber on a 17-inch rim at the back. Stock rubber is unchanged with Pirelli MT60RS tyres adding to the chunky nature of the bike and still, in my experience, providing excellent levels of feel and grip in all conditions.

Despite the carry over spec of much of the frame, wheels and suspension, the bike feels quite different out on the road. Not different enough for it not to be instantly recognisable  - it still feels familiar, but the bars are a fraction lower and closer to the rider, the seat a fraction higher (the suspension a fraction better than my 2016 model – the fork springs got a tweak in 2019) – it all adds up to a better riding experience without losing the approachable and lively nature that made the original bike such a success.



2023 Ducati Scrambler - Comfort & Economy

Although the Scrambler is clearly designed for city use rather than long distances at high speeds, the wide bars, low pegs and sensible 795mm seat height (with optional 810mm and 780mm versions in the accessory catalogue) mean it's as easy to ride as ever.

The seat has been redesigned again for 2023 and is a massive improvement over the earlier models, which suffered from a seat shape that forced you into a single position, and continues to improvements made in the 2019 facelift model.

Probably the most noticeable change for 2023 is the new 4.3-inch TFT colour dash wrapped in a surround that mimics a more traditional circular gauge, allowing access to the optional Ducati Multimedia System, which adds smartphone connectivity.

I was a big fan of the retro-style digital clock of the older models and wasn't too bothered at the lack of gear indicator and fuel gauge on my 2016 bike, but spending a few days with the model just showed what I've been missing. Along with all the usual information you would expect (including air temperature  - yay!), the TFT is easy to read in a range of light levels and auto reverses in lower light conditions to avoid dazzling. This is also permanently switchable in the settings if, like me, you prefer the blacked-out look.

It's not just a case of Ducati plugging in a 'stock' TFT system either. Much of the onboard software, graphics and colour schemes have been designed specifically for the Scrambler and I particularly like the way that the TCS settings are given user friendly descriptions – TCS setting 4, for example, is described as 'safe/stable'.

The menu driven system is easy to use with menu/enter button being the indicator switch and the up and down buttons clear and easy to find/use.

My only disappointments with the new system are the speed of boot up of the new TFT system – quite often you can start the bike and ride away before the system has finished playing its opening animation, and that the main selling point for younger riders – the connectivity with your phone, is not enabled as standard. To charge (what we expect to be around) £250 extra to enable these functions seems a bit rich when you have already paid a premium for the bike.

With 54.3mpg economy, the 13.5-litre tank should be good for a range of up to 161 miles and this was born out on the road test where a day of 'spirited' riding over around 120 miles saw most of use with only one of the four fuel gauge blocks left on the display.



2023 Ducati Scrambler - Brakes

Like the suspension, the brakes go into 2023 without major changes. There’s a single 330mm disc at the front with a radial four-pot Brembo caliper and a 245mm disc and single-piston caliper for the rear wheel. As on all Ducatis, there’s IMU-controlled Bosch cornering ABS as standard – still relatively unusual at this price/performance level.

Despite the braking system being carried over from the previous model, the braking feel didn’t quite match my expectations. The front of the new bike feels a bit less immediate with a much softer action. My suspicion is that this a deliberate act to ease newer riders into the bike. There's always enough braking force when you need it, but that initial bike seems somewhat lacking. A swap of pads might cure this, or it could just be that the new bikes that we were riding needed some extra breaking in – time will tell.

On the road, the rear provides enough action to scrub off excess speeds while keeping the bike stable on approaches to corners and required quite severe abuse to get the ABS to intervene. As with previous models, rear ABS is permanently on – there no option to switch it off for some off-road fun, though the fuse box is easily accessible if you really want some rear sliding action.



2023 Ducati Scrambler Rivals

While the Ducati badge and the comprehensive lifestyle accessories may be a main factor for some customers, the market for retro-inspired roadsters is a busy one so there are plenty of alternatives to consider.


Triumph Trident 660 | Price: £7895

Clearly lacking any off-road pretentions, the Trident takes many of the features that makes the Scrambler such an enjoyable road bike and deliver them in typical Triumph style. Peak power is up slightly on the Scrambler, despite the smaller capacity, while the triple engine gives a distinctive soundtrack.

Power/Torque: 80bhp/64lb-ft | Weight: 189kg


Kawasaki Z650RS | Price: £7949

Much more of a retro roadster vibe than the Scrambler, but still packed with the funky 70's vibe that makes the scene to appealing. Substantially cheaper than the Scrambler, but down on power and torque. Both bikes available as A2 and probably a closer match in this guise.

Power/Torque: 67.3bhp/47.2lb-ft | Weight: 187kg


Moto Morini 6½ Seiemmezzo SCR | Price £6699

Clearly not the premium Italian marque that Moto Morini once was, the now Chinese owned brand is back with some budget versions of popular bikes, and while not able to match the Scrambler for quality and image, provide a great budget-friendly introduction to the naked retro market.

Power/Torque: 60bhp/40lb-ft | Weight: 200Kg


Which colour is your favourite?


2023 Ducati Scrambler - Accessories

As you would expect, the accessories catalogue for the Scrambler is split equally between bits for the bike and clothing and merch for the rider - the Scrambler brand is as strong as it has ever been and clearly proves popular with owners.

Never one to miss a trick though, Ducati have taken the accessorising one step further with the 2023 model and are offering owners an innovative way to change the colour of their bikes.

The icon model comes as standard only in one of three colours – Red, Thrilling Black and '62 Yellow (a nod to the original 1962 250cc model which only came in yellow).

Alongside these colours though are 6 new schemes which are only available from the accessories catalogue. For just £260, you can buy replacement front and rear fenders, a tank cover, headlight panel inserts and coloured tags for the wheels. Swappable (with practice) in around 40 minutes, you can change the look of your bike quickly and easily.

The kits come in a mixture of matte and metallic gloss finishes and many borrow colours from previous Ducati bikes (the Sparkling Blue for example was last seen on the Desert Sled).

Available in Jade Green, Sparkling Blue, Rio Celeste (a river in Costa Rica that is a favourite holiday destination of one of the designers), Tangerine Orange (a hark back to the 350cc model of the 70's and the Classic model of the 2015 range), Storm Green and Velvet Red (the colour I had during the test, as seen in the riding images), there's a colour to suit everyone and provides a great way to truly personalise your bike.

I imagine the selling/swapping of used kits will become quite popular and this will allow users to pick and mix even more combinations to suit.

Expect sticker-bombed tank covers on your chosen internet auction site imminently!


Urban or rural, the Scrambler never fails to impress


2023 Ducati Scrambler - Verdict

When the new Scrambler was first announced last November and images hit screens, I was the first to write off the new model as a step too far away from the original. The combination of smoother looks, modern lights, TFT screen and ride by wire throttle all pointed to Ducati doing what they did to the Monster, adding and adding each year until the final model bears no resemblance to what made the bike a success in the first place.

Having spent a few days with the new model though, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. The new model is still a Ducati Scrambler in every way – still the same easy to ride nature, the same rugged good looks, the same characterful engine – it's just better than it was before.

Spending time with the design team at the launch event showed the passion that they have for the bike – many of them being on the project ever since the beginning. This deep rooted understanding of the project comes over in every aspect of the bike. From the mechanical changes to the revised styling, its clear that every change has been made with thought and purpose rather than change for change's sake.

As an owner of a Scrambler, the question I'm sure you're wanting me to answer is "Will I be trading mine in for a newer model?". The answer is... no. Not because the newer bike isn't better than my 2016 model - it clearly is - the engine is smoother and stronger feeling, the clutch lighter and gear change slicker, the styling is modern yet still instantly recognisable, the TFT screen brings the bike bang up to date.. the list goes on. But, in the same way that you wouldn't trade in your kids for more sporty versions, or swap your dog for a younger, less messy version, I've formed a bond with my bike. It's mine, and I'd miss its foibles. The fact that I can form an emotional attachment to the bike speaks volumes about the Scrambler. Mine got under my skin, and the new model will do the same to its lucky owner.


2023 Ducati Scrambler - Technical Specification

New price

From £9995 (Icon), £10,995 (Full Throttle and NightShift)



Bore x Stroke

88 x 66mm

Engine layout

90-degree V-twin

Engine details

Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled, electronic fuel injection, 50 mm throttle body with Ride-by-Wire system


72bhp (53.6KW) @ 8250rpm


48.1lb-ft (65.2Nm) @ 7000rpm


six speed, chain final drive

Average fuel consumption

54.3mpg claimed

Tank size


Max range to empty

161 miles

Rider aids

Riding Mode, Power Mode, ABS Cornering, Ducati Traction Control, Daytime Running Light


Tubular steel trellis

Front suspension

Upside down Kayaba 41mm forks

Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension

Kayaba monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload only

Front brake

330mm disc, radial Brembo 4-piston caliper with Bosch Cornering ABS

Rear brake

245mm disc, 1-piston floating caliper with Bosch Cornering ABS

Front wheel / tyre

Light alloy 3.00" x 18" (spoked aluminium on Nightshift)/ Pirelli MT 60 RS 110/80 R18

Rear wheel / tyre

Light alloy 5.50" x 17" (spoked aluminium on Nightshift)/ Pirelli MT 60 RS 180/55 R17



Seat height



185kg (kerb) (191kg kerb for Nightshift)


24 months unlimited mileage


12,000 km (7,500 mi) / 12 months

MCIA Secured Rating





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2023 Ducati Scrambler Icon Full Throttle NightShift Review Details Price Spec_17a


What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.