Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and XE (2019) | Review

BikeSocial
By Michael Mann
MannOnABike BikeSocial's Web Editor. Been riding bikes since 1984 and writing about them since 2013. Commuted in Central London for 10 years, fast and smooth road rider, does a reasonable job in a track day quick group. 6 ft and 14 st.

On the road is the XC while XE is off-road

 

‘The Real Deal’, Triumph’s trumpet-blowing press release begins. ‘Hmm, I’ll be the judge of that’, I think to myself as the last note of a faux fanfare blares in my ears. Fast forward to the mid-December riding launch in Portugal and our first taste of the bike is, curiously, off-road. I’ve not long clambered onto the higher-spec and little bit taller Scrambler 1200 XE model, in blue incidentally. I’m following Triumph test rider Felipe Lopez onto the damp and not-very-flat track at an off-road lover’s playground in South-West Portugal… and within 10 yards my pre-off-road nerves have dissipated and I’m already thinking this could be a dark horse among challengers for bike of the year. That’s big talk for sure but just a glimpse through the impressive spec sheet and you’ll be immersed in understanding how much time, development and resource the Hinckley-based folk have poured into the two Scrambler 1200’s – known as XC and XE. They’ve not just thrown some modern classic spec into a mixing bowl with a hearty dollop of adventure. Nope, this could well be the 50’s scrambling renaissance…with the bonus of on-road silkiness.

 

This isn’t just a question about whether the Scrambler will scramble. It’s now about whether it will out-scramble all other scramblers? Does it have to live up to its name or is this a new generation? And will it be good enough on the road to be worthy of a having two hats?

 

VIDEO: 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200XC and XE - first impressions
At the press launch in Portugal it was straight off the bike and in front of the camera for our own Michael Mann. Here's a little more about the bike and his first riding impressions.

Price

  • XC: £11,500 (available end Feb)
  • XE: £12,300 (available end Jan)

 

The 1200XC is available in two twin colour schemes: Khaki Green and Brooklands Green or Jet Black and Matt Black while the 1200XE also has a two colour option range: Cobalt Blue and Jet Black or Fusion White and Brooklands Green. Both come with a 24-month unlimited warranty and first major service interval of 10,000 miles.

 

1200 XE and XC are both available in two twin colour schemes

 

Power and torque

Peak power isn’t a headline figure; 89bhp at 7,400rpm is the claim but Triumph sort of shrugs its shoulders and make no secret about power not being their primary focus, deliberately so for the modern classic range. It’s the torque figure that really matters particularly with the Scrambler 1200 and its off-road agenda. 110Nm (or 81.1ft-lbs) is the peak torque figure at 3950rpm which pulls quickly and with force from way down low. On the gas out of a slower corner or leaving a junction and the XE with its longer travel USD Showa forks (250mm vs the XC’s 200mm) boing into life as the rear squats a little. I like the feeling of a little movement from the front suspension when in an upright position on a bike such as this, it provides feedback but isn’t enough to make you feel sea-sick.

 

Peak power is almost at the red line, and I found the parallel twin getting a little breathless after 6,000rpm. The upper gears are tall enough to not let that be a concern, and it’s not necessary to push the revs towards the red line in real life.

 

Power and torque figures

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The liquid-cooled, 1200cc, parallel twin comes straight out of the Thruxton, updated with its own ‘Scrambler tune’ while carrying a little less weight and inertia thanks to the magnesium cam cover, revised clutch assembly, a lighter alternator and new crankshaft.

 

First and second gear are tailor-made for the gravel and dirty bits away from the proper roads with plenty of drive low in the rev range but under a decent punch of acceleration and you’re quickly popping through the 6-speed ‘box. For the smooth(ish), corner-laden Portuguese roads in the hills north of the Algarve, I found 3rd gear pulls well from corners almost tight enough to almost be classed as a hairpin. Every one of those 110Nm working hard and in unison for decent progress.

 

A variation of this 1200cc motor has been used in the Thruxton, T120, Bobber and Speedmaster, all with slightly different tuning. It’ll be in the forthcoming Speed Twin too, so Triumph have certainly had their money’s worth and if it’s so good, why change it? Full of character with the now familiar 270-degree crank helping the luscious, deep vibrating concert discharge itself from the twin high-level exhaust system with stainless-steel headers and brushed stainless steel silencers. And in true Triumph Scrambler style, it warms your inside leg (calf on the XE, thigh on the XC) which is all very well on a chilly day but I can’t imagine it being much fun in higher temperatures, sitting at the traffic lights.

 

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and XE (2019) | Review

Economy

The 16-litre fuel tank will be good enough for about 150-miles before the orange-light-of-panic interrupts your flow. A claimed figure of 58mpg vs. the press ride figure of 50.4mpg is a difference of 30 miles. It’s not a massive figure but equally Triumph needed to keep the 205kg (XC)/207kg(XE) dry weight from escalating, in turn ensuring how any additional weight would upset the balance and performance of the bike. It’s a fair compromise given that either model could be used off-road and, in the right hands, with real guile.

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

A 21” front wheel tells you that Triumph haven’t simply put a big wheel on for show, they mean business when it comes to the trail riding side of things. Wire-spoke wheel; check. Metzeler Tourance tyres are good for the road, even in the tricky damp and squirmy conditions, while the off-road bikes we used had their mirrors removed, suspension softened a little and the Metzeler’s had been replaced with the handbook approved Pirelli Scorpion Rally rubber.

 

Coupled with the new chassis, the Show/Brembo/Metzeler trio performed with precision and predictability on the roads, offering a complimentary ride in terms of comfort and handling. Not something I’d have expected initially but then again, the big R1250GS I rode recently is a hell of a road riding machine too. Even with the big front wheel, it manages to glide around the corners and providing enough grip to hustle in style. The XC’s differences with geometry in terms of having less suspension travel and a shorter swingarm makes it a more dynamic on the road.

 

Away from the Tarmac and, when stood on the pegs, you start to bother branches, the XE’s peg height plus my own 6ft is a tall combo and thankfully the handlebar is adjustable otherwise the clutch/brake lever are simply uncomfortable to operate. The bike had my back; I was a little nervous on the softer terrain where the front would dig in if I didn’t carry enough momentum and on occasion the rear got very squirrelly but applying a bit more throttle got the rear to sit, the front to lift and it sorted itself out, making me feel a little heroic. I played it down but those following knew of my auto-bottom clench moment.

 

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and XE (2019) | Review

Brakes

M50 4-pot Brembo callipers grab hold of twin 320mm discs. For a street bike with off-road ability, it doesn’t get much better. Oh, wait. Yes it does because the XE model comes equipped with Cornering ABS courtesy of additional IMU which the XC doesn’t have. The brakes a finger-light yet provide the right kind of confidence it their stopping power. For the two days of off and on road in all sorts of weather conditions, not once did I find trouble. With such an amount of suspension travel, particularly on the XE, the front dives of course but to off-set that, the parallel twin provides back-up with its own natural inertia in the form of engine-braking. On the downhill off-road sections, this gave a novice like me the confidence to look ahead and pick my way in between the ruts and rocks instead of worrying if I was applying too much front and not enough rear brake.

 

Comfort

An 840mm seat height on the XC but 30mm higher on the XE would normally not be a fear for riders of any stature or ability, with the modern day narrow waist of seat/fuel tank although with the high side-mounted over-and-under exhaust, your legs are pushed further apart which could give those with a shorter inside leg cause for concern. The commanding position with high, wide bars and the combination of decent ground clearance and plenty of leg room is testified when I say that after a day in the saddle on road (no standing on pegs), comfort hadn’t crossed my mind. Even with a peaked AGV helmet and no form of wind protection, mind you this isn’t a bike for 100-mile motorway blasts.

 

Equipment

Well, where to begin. Hope on board and the first thing to notice is the updated TFT display. The same 5-way joystick operated system brought the Tiger 800, Tiger 1200, Speed and Street Triples of 2018 up to date, and a more advanced version now adorns the Scrambler 1200. Simple to toggle through the range of options with the joystick while the Home and M (for mode) buttons on the switchgear offer additional levels of tailoring the ride. Five rider modes are offer on the XC; Rain, Road, Sport, Off Road and Rider (customisable with power, ABS and Traction maps), while the XE has Off Road Pro for those who fancy higher quantities of lairiness. Click the button, close the throttle momentarily and the mode is switched.

 

It doesn’t end there though. 3-stage heated grips are standard on the XE as is the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) allowing for cornering ABS and Traction Control, illuminated backlit switches are helpful in the dark, while a torque-assist clutch makes pulling away and changing gears a one-finger operation such is its sensitivity. Keyless ignition, single-button cruise control and a USB charger are all standard fit.

 

Setting a precedent is the new integrated GoPro control system – once the accessory Bluetooth module is fitted, the camera can be accessed and controlled via the TFT display and joystick. The same goes for the integrated Google-operated sat nav.

 

One issue I have with the Scrambler being an off-road centric machine is the lack of a centre stand offered as standard, nor a high enough mudguard to protect the radiator but both are among the 80+ accessory range that also includes Arrow silencers, luggage, engine bars and a flyscreen.

 

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and XE (2019) | Review

Rivals

While the new Moto Guzzi V85 TT may have already been names as a rival by some, I believe it’s down to how the Triumph pair are going to be interpreted or ridden. Many will opt to keep it on the black stuff only but if it’s a true cross-over model then it ought to compete with similarly machinery in terms of focus and power like Honda’s Africa Twin or BMW’s F850GS, perhaps even the Tiger 800 but then limitations with wind protection and luggage options would hinder the Scrambler 1200s. However, if it’s down to appearance then what about this foursome?

 

 

Ducati Scrambler 1100

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

BMW R nineT Scrambler X

BMW R nineT Urban G/S

Engine

1079cc L-Twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled

803cc L-Twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled

1170cc, Air/oil-cooled, four-stroke twin-cylinder boxer engine, four radial valves per cylinder

1170cc, Air/oil-cooled, four-stroke twin-cylinder boxer engine, four radial valves per cylinder

Power

84.5bhp (63kW) @ 7500rpm

73bhp (54kW) @ 8250rpm

110bhp (82kW) @ 7750rpm

110bhp (82kW) @ 7750rpm

Torque

65lb-ft (88Nm) @ 4750rpm

49lb-ft (67Nm) @ 5750rpm

85.5lb-ft (116Nm) @ 6000rpm

85.5lb-ft (116Nm) @ 6000rpm

Weight

206kg (wet)

209kg (wet)

220kg (wet)

221kg (wet)

Seat height

810mm

860mm

820mm

850mm

Fuel tank

15 litres

13.5 litres

17 litres

17 litres

Price (from)

£10,695

£9,750

£11,470

£11,480

 

Not one of these have the technological complexity to match the Triumphs, and with its own blend of modern classic appearance with adventure prowess, perhaps it stands alone.

 

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and XE (2019) | Review

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200XC and XE verdict

The XE has bundles of character and importantly, more of an identity. It’s serious about scrambling, not just a fad that might appease the attention-seekers. In the same way a Range Rover can do extraordinary things off-road, 99.9% of owners don’t, yet here is a serious motorcycle that can, will and should be utilised on green lanes, fire tracks and even trickier off-road sections. Don’t believe me? Give it a go. The XC is of course more road-bias and offers a marginally more comfortable ride but with just an £800 difference, the XE is by far the more superior bike with its presence, gravitas and bundles of additional clever bits. Though it’s wider bars and height may push the shorter or less confident rider toward the XC.

 

It stands out from the crowd with the quality and depth of its electronics and rider aids but is adept on the mucky stuff too. OK, it’s no CRF250 but you wouldn’t hustle on the B-roads with so much aplomb, have a ride that is both comfortable, refined or exciting, or get 150-miles from the tank.

 

Your mobile phone does more than just make calls. Your television does more than just show programs. Welcome to the new generation of Scrambler. It doesn’t just scramble.

 

Three things I loved about the 2019 Triumph Street Scrambler…

  • Engine torque and sound
  • Strong build quality and butch appearance
  • Hi-tech spec

 

Three things that I didn’t…

  • Have to hold the clutch lever in to start the bike
  • You’ll be doing well to get more than 150-miles from the tank
  • Still got to mind the inside of your thigh (XC) or calf (XE) getting too hot on the exhaust

 

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200XC and XE spec

 

 

Triumph Scrambler 1200XC

Triumph Scrambler 1200XE

New price

£11,500

£12,300

Capacity

1200cc

 

Bore x Stroke

97.6mm x 80mm

 

Engine layout

Parallel-twin

 

Engine details

Liquid-cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle

 

Power

89bhp (66.2kW) @7,400rpm

 

Torque

81.1lb-ft

(110 Nm) @ 3950 rpm

 

Top speed

Approx. 115mph

 

Average fuel consumption

58mpg (claimed)

50.4mpg (as tested)

 

Tank size

16 litres

 

Max range to empty (theoretical)

207miles (claimed)

177 miles (as tested)

 

Rider aids

TFT multi-functional instrument pack with digital speedometer, trip computer, digital tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, service indicator, ambient temperature, clock, keyless ignition, torque assist clutch, cruise control, USB charging socket, GoPro control system, turn-by-turn navigation, Triumph app and rider modes: Road, Rain, Sport, Off Road and Customisable

 

Plus:

Off-Road Pro

Optimised Cornering ABS

Optimised Cornering Traction Control

IMU

Standard fit heated grips

Hand guards

 

Frame

Tubular steel with aluminium cradles

 

Front suspension

Showa 45mm fully adjustable upside down forks, 200mm travel

Showa 47mm fully adjustable upside down forks, 250mm travel (in gold colour)

Rear suspension

Fully adjustable Ohlins twin shocks with piggy back reservoir, 200mm rear wheel travel

250mm rear wheel travel

Front brake

Twin 320mm disc, Brembo M50 4-piston radial Monobloc calipers, ABS

Plus Switchable Cornering ABS and Brembo MCS lever

Rear brake

Single 255mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating caliper, Switchable ABS

 

Front tyre/wheel

90/90-21 / 36-spoke, aluminium rims

 

Rear tyre/wheel

150/50 R17 / 32-spoke, aluminium rims

 

Rake/Trail

25.8°/121mm

26.9°/129.2mm

Dimensions

2,285mm x 840mm x 1,200mm (LxWxH)

2,325mm x 905mm x 1250mm

Wheelbase

1,530mm

1570mm

Seat height

840mm

870mm

Dry weight

205kg

207kg

 

To insure this bike, click here

 

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and XE (2019) | Review
Latest News from Bike Social

Latest News

  • Racing prizes on offer from MotoGP charity
  • Three Peaks Challenge by BMW F850GSA
    Three Peaks by Motorcycle World Record Broken
  • John McGuinness on TT 2020
    McGuinness on TT: “Nobody’s kicking my door in for my signature”
  • Harley-Davidson HD350 signed off for production
    Harley-Davidson HD350 signed off for production