Matt Bubbers knows a lot about cars, but he doesn’t know much about motorcycles. Undaunted, he’s still as excited about two wheels as anyone can be. His enthusiasm is infectious. He’s like a dog humping the leg of the motorcycle world.
So we’re giving him a chance to tell us about bikes from a different perspective than our own grizzled, jaded point of view. Last August, he spent a week with a Ducati Scrambler and he’s finally telling us about it now.
We’re not sure if this is a review of the bike or not, but we know Matt has some interesting points to make. Just don’t let him anywhere near your legs.
Having a solid four-and-a-half weeks of motorcycle riding experience under my belt last summer, it was high time to saddle up a mean slice of Italy’s finest, cheapest, sexiest two-wheeled machinery and show it who’s boss. Maybe I’d pop some wheelies, do some skids, tame that 400cc monster and tell the world. Ride to a café and look awesome. Plonk down that helmet and be like: Yo! Ask me about my motorbike!
Err, no. Instead, I’m thinking: Don’t drop it. Don’t drop it. Please don’t drop it you klutz.
The Scrambler Sixty2 is a bike for new riders, which I certainly am. It’s also a bike aimed squarely at plaid-clad, vinyl-record-loving, fancy-haircut-having wannabe-riders, which I also am. (Minus the haircut. TopCuts: I’ll never leave you, baby.)
I’m uniquely unqualified to review motorcycles, despite the fact that someone thought it would be a great idea to let me review McLarens and Lambos and other exotic four-wheeled machinery for my day job. So, no, this is not a motorcycle review.
This is simply what it’s like to ride the Scrambler Sixty2, if, like me, you’re brand new to riding.
The idea of the Scrambler is more intimidating than the actual machine. After poring over the specs and photos online, seeing the thing in person, I was shocked how small it is. This thing? I can ride this thing.
Swinging a leg over is like mounting a playground see-saw made for kids. It’s low, which I love. All I’ve got to compare it to is my own, old Suzuki DRZ supermoto, which is tall and upright like a Dutch bicycle. By comparison, the Scrambler is like a BMX bike.
Both feet on the ground, it feels super stable. Most of the terror about dropping it evaporated. The bars are wide, although it felt heavier than I expected lifting it upright. Walking with it, it feels heavy too. But, again, it’s so low the weight is totally manageable even though I’m not exactly Dwayne Johnson. (Ducati quotes 183 kg for the bike with all fluids.)
While we’re talking numbers, seat height is 790 mm, or 31.1 inches. There’s a high seat option — 810-mm, 31.9-in — which probably would’ve fit my 5’10” self better.
The key is a big plastic triangle because — I don’t know — it’s Italian? The Sixty2 starts with an electronic whistle and settles into a very polite, breathy whirr. No choke! Fuel injection! This thing is cutting edge, folks. Light years ahead of my Suzuki. The throttle was sometimes a bit jerky, but more than likely that was my hack-ish, amateur control. Over a week of riding, I got used to it.
The Scrambler made for an ideal comrade riding around the city. It was forgiving of my terrible riding and hard to stall — although I still managed to. The clutch was light and gearshift crispy, with a nice “chunk” that let you know you’ve shifted correctly. My boots were cramped on the foot controls though, which was annoying.
Rush hour in Toronto sucks. But when there’s an air-cooled internal-combustion motor exploding gas between your legs on a 30-degree day in August, rush hour is sweaty. Like: swampy. But once moving, the heat is bearable. The bike out-accelerates cars easily. The Scrambler felt super nimble too. In my notes I wrote, “90-degrees easy!” Even at low speeds, doing all those sharp right turns was intuitive. Sometimes the turn signal button would take a few presses to cancel the signal, though. Was I doing something wrong?
I had to ride on the highway to return the Scrambler. It was fine. No wind protection, but comfortable enough. Did I enjoy it? No. But only because riding on the highway is a nightmare. At about 6,000 rpm, the Sixty2 did 120 km/h. Both the bike and I felt much more comfortable riding at lower speeds.
At $9,195, the Sixty2 is far from the cheapest choice for new riders, but it feels like a quality machine. Everything is tight, from the dashboard to the clutch to the way the key turns in the ignition. Also, it’s a Ducati, which is Italian, which is cool. (Yes, I know it’s assembled in Thailand. Don’t kill my vibe.)
Leonardo da Vinci was from Italy you know, and one of his paintings just sold for $450 million. So … bargain!
Riding the Sixty2 left me curious to try the bigger 800cc version. It’s $1,200 more, and 800cc seems like a lot, but because it’s the same size as the Sixty2 I’m thinking it’d be equally easy-to-ride. Maybe next summer. I’ll work up to it.
So, let’s tally up what we’ve learned here:
• Would the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 make a good first bike? Yes.
• Did I drop it? No!
• Is it cool? Not really, not like the bigger Scramblers.
• Was it fun? Yes. It’s a motorcycle.