How can you prepare for a test of the Scrambler without giving old Steve McQueen a thought? On any Sunday, The great escape… “I live for myself and I answer to nobody” McQueen said. Scrambler 900 is all about lifestyle, a lazy sun-drenched surfin’ California lifestyle.
By Tor Sagen/Photo: Claire McQueen (McHugh that is…)
The Bonnie Scrambler feels right straight away. I can almost feel the salty warm sea air flowing through my hair through my full-faced helmet. But I’m not in California; I’m in old foggy Blighty. So how come I get this calming sensation I’m on my way to the beach to do a bit of off-road riding and watch the surfers? It’s because I’m surfing with the Scrambler. The big parallel twin does nothing but thumping out smooth torque below me and the handlebars are just as wide as I like it. Stress relief is all it’s about and the Scrambler is damn good at it. From looking at the sturdy tubular frame, with some rust on the VIN number, and the two stretched high mounted exhaust pipes in the morning to watching the sunset between the handlebars in the evening. Wakey, wakey, who am I fooling? I’m in the moistest place north of the rain-forest and its cold as hell. Still the Scrambler does this sort of thing to you-simply the great escape.
Triumph Scrambler 900 is the natural follow up to 2004’s Thruxton 900. Compared to Thruxton the Scrambler is very docile and laid back. There’s not as much horsepower on tap and the riding position is much more relaxed. The seat height is low, slightly too low for me since the seat is so soft. My legs would have felt much more comfortable if I could just sit slightly higher on the super soft seat. But who cares, I’m Steve McQueen and I can stand up and eat barbed wire if I wish. The tyres are not as knobbly as the one’s on McQueen’s 1964 “278” Enduro bike, but they do look the part. They are Bridgestone Trail Wings on spoked wheels and can handle some gravel if need be. But the bike is more a statement than anything else. Ride it because you like to remember those days rather than trying to act them out. You are better off with a Honda CRF or something if you like to jump. The weight is felt immediately when off the hard tarmac. The double rear suspension has not got enough travel and you don’t want that mud under the nice rear mudguard anyway. Scrambler 900 works best when cruising in the country side or commuting to town. For cruising around the country side the gentle 900cc parallel twin makes you relax much in the same way as on a big cruiser. The riding position is more upright and the handlebars tall and wide. To see if it handled well I rode it as quick as it would go as well. Top speed is probably around 110Mph and Scrambler is stable enough for what it can do. In the bends it is easy enough to lean it from left to right and Scrambler feels very stable here too. Especially on really worn down tarmac the Scrambler 900 holds its own over most other modern classics. The Trail Wings, stable chassis and wide bars give good control. The suspension is on the soft side where the front fork feels softer than the double rear shocks. The chromed rear shocks can be adjusted for preload and perhaps I would have softened it slightly to be in tune with the front for my use. The 865cc parallel twin develops 54bhp @ 7.000rpm and 69Nm @ 5.000 rpm. The Thruxton 900 has got both more horsepower (15bhp more) and torque, but at higher revs than the Scrambler 900. The engine is fed with double electrically heated carburettors-perfect for those ice-cold Californian mornings. On the Scrambler all there is to do is to short shift as soon as possible up to fifth and stay there for smooth and pleasant acceleration. You never feel like you need to go anywhere in a rush and life’s like a box of chocolates. When you do need to stop the brakes have got a good feel and particularly in conjunction with the rear brake they feel more than up to the job stopping the 205 kilos. Most of the time riding the Scrambler I never felt the need to apply the brakes hard, there is loads of engine braking and I never went fast enough to feel the need.
Just the Scrambler design and Triumph badge is enough to sell this bike. There is not much I can or will say that can change that. Scrambler 900 is a lovely piece of retro looking machinery. Scrambler 900 made me relax and I found myself exploring the side roads I usually fly past on other bikes. I did not feel completely in tune with the rear suspension, but I reckon with a pillion on it would have been perfect. I can’t imagine any other bike that would better introduce a pillion new to motorcycles to the great experience riding is. Scrambler is calm and easy, ready to hit the beach Steve?
Surfing the tarmac
Good-natured engine makes a perfect beginners and re-introduction bike/Price