I simply can’t start a review on any Ducati Scrambler without first commenting on its confusing lineup name. For those uninitiated, the term Scrambler was initially used to describe an on-road motorcycle specifically adapted for off-road duty with longer suspension travel, knobby tires, motocross handlebars and a raised exhaust pipe. Triumph resurrected the genre back in the mid-2000s by building just that. Ducati then curiously used the name to create a sub-brand of models, many of which are not Scamblers at all. Like the Scrambler Café Racer, for instance. Now featuring no less than ten variants, I had the chance to ride the Full Throttle model down in Los Angeles. It’s a Scrambler that’s not a Scrambler. Got it? Good. Let’s proceed.
Naming conventions aside, the Scrambler Full Throttle was re-introduced in 2019 with styling elements inspired by California Flat Track racer Frankie Garcia rather than the bikes seen in On Any Sunday. Complementing the black and yellow colour combination are the flat-track-inspired seat with contrast stitching and pillion seat cover, racing number plates, a front mud guard, Termignoni exhaust with dual tips and wide aluminum handlebars. You can get one in yellow and black, or conversely black and yellow.
My ride was limited to asphalt, so I didn’t get it sideways or test its flat tracking ability. The 18-inch Pirelli MT 60 RS tires were made for both asphalt and dirt duty, but I didn’t do any off-road riding while I explored the Greater Los Angeles Area. For those looking to spend more time off the pavement than on, the Desert Sled model features Pirelli Scorpion Rally ST rubber and fully adjustable suspension.
Climbing aboard and raising the bike off its side stand, components feel robust and substantial in quality despite its sprightly 189 kg (417 lb) running weight. The standard seat height is 80 cm (31.4-in) with a lower option of 78 cm (30.6-in). The contrast-stitched solo seat is wide at the back but narrow at the front. This, combined with the placement of the handlebars and pegs, meant that I often found myself scrunched up into the tank. Offering ample comfort for rips around town or longer commutes, my posterior did start to get a bit sore but only after a full day of riding. The Full Throttle may be inspired by a flat tracker, but the 144 cm (56.9-in) wheelbase, 24-degree rake and 11.2 cm (4.4-in) trail make it a capable urban assault vehicle. Its handlebars felt high and wide compared to the Café Racer I rode last summer (because they are, duh) making it less conducive to lane splitting, but providing leverage to easily roll the bike into turns with control and confidence. Its steering is light, allowing it to easily be tossed into canyon corners or maneuvered through heavy LA traffic. Not only visually unique, the various Scrambler models are functionally and ergonomically different. Within the tubular steel Trellis frame, is an air-cooled 803cc L-Twin engine making 73 hp and 49 lb-ft of torque shared among other models in the Scrambler lineup. An 1,100cc powerplant making 86 horses is also available in some models. Both get a six-speed transmission and chain drive. It fires up, rumbles and accelerates with the torque of a big single. Which is to say – fun.
The throttle is sensitive. Properly modulating the right hand at low rpm did take couple times to get accustomed to but was easy to get the hang of. Braking is equally ample thanks to the single 330mm disc with 4-piston Brembo caliper up front. The 245mm disc and single-piston caliper in the rear felt like it could have used a touch more bite. Both ABS and Cornering ABS come standard, but I was never in a situation where either came into play.
Aside from the aesthetics for 2019, the FT received re-calibrated suspension, a lighter hydraulically actuated slipper clutch and its digital dash now gets a fuel level gauge. All welcome additions. The digital dash also has an easily readable gear indicator, speedometer, clock, temperature gauge and a handy side stand alert. Suspension is on the firm side, but not abruptly so. The rear Kayaba shock is adjustable for pre-load but was well-suited to my 175 lb frame at the stock setting so I didn’t bother messing with it.
Curiously absent in a modern motorcycle of this price is a variable riding mode function. Perhaps the goal is to simplify the experience for the riders Ducati is looking to attract. The 13.5 L (3.5 gal) fuel tank is ample but did drain quickly when riding enthusiastically, so the ability to easily shift among eco, urban and sport modes could offer a more bespoke experience. Regardless, the Full Throttle is a blast to ride and very approachable. It offers enough power to be playful without being scary. There’s only so much acceleration you can use on the street without losing your license anyhow. Wheelies are not an issue.
The Triumph Street Scrambler or Indian FTR Rally would be the Full Throttle’s closest competition. The $12,450 Triumph’s 900cc parallel-twin puts out 65 hp and 59 lb-ft of torque while the Indian comes with a 1203cc V-twin engine producing 123 hp and 87 lb-ft of torque. But also the added sticker price of $16,499. Admittedly I haven’t ridden either yet to get a basis of comparison, but CMG contributor and occasional jean model Jeff Wilson did review the 2020 Indian FTR 1200 S. The basic Scrambler architecture has proven to be a versatile one, allowing it to be modified into a wide variety of applications. Of the models I’ve ridden thus far, the Full Throttle is the most approachable and user-friendly. Its ease of use, ample performance and relative comfort for an accessible MSRP of $12,495 make it a compelling package. If the Full Throttle isn’t for you, there are plenty of other Scrambler models to choose from.