Test Ride: 2017 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2

The Ducati Scrambler has been a godsend for the Italian marque. The funky, spunky, and downright fun little bike in its original iteration was immediately adored by critics and consumers alike – and leapt north of 15,000 worldwide sales in rapid time. When I first rode the Ducati Scrambler in 2015 I was awed by it. I still am.

Ducati is banking that people will opt for the Sixty2 because they want something less intimidating than the full-blown unit.

So it’s little wonder Ducati is branching out with multiple iterations of the future classic. This one, the Sixty2, is equipped with a 40 hp, 25 lb-ft, 399 cc L-twin engine. Other editions get the 803 cc twin with 73 hp and 49 lb-ft of torque.

Other than a change in displacement, the Sixty2 is virtually identical to all the other Scramblers. The Sixty2 also gets conventional forks instead of upside-down units and has a 15 mm longer wheelbase courtesy of a larger rear sprocket, but the rest of the chassis is the same. At 183 kg wet, the Sixty2 is only 3 kg lighter than the base-model Icon.

And despite the smaller engine capacity and less expensive front suspension and brakes, the $8,895 Sixty2 is only $1,000 cheaper than the $9,895 Icon.

So this is no budget offering, Ducati is banking that people will opt for the Sixty2 because they want something less intimidating than the full-blown unit. It helps too that this bike fits nicely into the markets where power-to-weight and capacity limits dictate what people can legally ride as a first bike.

The Sixty2 has gravitas, substance, and sex appeal, but it lacks the fun factor of its gruntier twin. Also, the clutch action is 800 cc heavy, not 400 cc light. And the conventional front fork lacks the visual impact and control of the upside-down units. Lastly, the two-piston 320 mm ABS-equipped front brakes are not as powerful as the four-piston 330 mm ABS brakes found on the Icon, and they should be.

As a relatively small bike the Scrambler is agile and handles spryly, but it is bought alive by the bigger engine. With the smaller lump, I just couldn’t get excited as I do for the Icon.

But this Scrambler is not aimed at power-hungry bikers. It’s aimed at the coffee-shop set in faux vintage clothes and faux vintage (we hope faux, because safety) helmets who are new to riding, and/or attracted to the imagery of motorcycling.

People who want something cool and retro, without the bother of carbs and points and regular breakdowns. Those people don’t need 803 cc, they need something that fits them. And this seems to fit a fair few of them, judging by the sales numbers. I took the Scrambler Sixty2 to Toronto's MotoSocial and it got more than its fair share of interest among the ultra-diverse custom and cafe racer-rich crowd. 

A social-media-heavy marketing campaign that captures the essence of motorcycling freedom is at the core of Ducati’s Scrambler strategy.

Why Sixty2? It’s the year Ducati debuted the original single-cylinder Scrambler. It’s a heritage name that just happens to sound all cool and insta-social.

This is no accident.

At the same time, the company rightly highlights the bike’s incredible versatility. It will carve canyons and gravel with aplomb, and Ducati’s North American Public Relations Manager is known to take his to motocross tracks for the fun of it.

One side effect of being a parent who rides motorcycles is often I have to drop my daughter off at school. If I want to then ride to work that day, I have to push her the three kilometres to school on the motorcycle. It’s a great workout, and she loves it.

I welcomed the wide bars and svelte figure of the Scrambler for this task – it’s an easy bike to push around! Maddie has also become somewhat of a seat reviewer, and confirmed my initial feelings on the Scrambler – it has a really hard seat. Borderline uncomfortable. There are a host of upgrades and custom seats available, including three different seat height configurations, so I would advocate shopping for those.

Pushing Maddie to school on the bike also means I get access to epic jokes, like this one: “Daddy, is this a Scrambler?”

“Yes”

“Then where are the eggs?!”

She didn’t know how apropos that comment was.

At the end of the day, this is a bike that packs a spectacular visual punch, and gives the rider much of the same Scrambler goodness you get from the rest of Ducati’s range. But the sweet spot is the Scrambler Icon, with more power, better brakes and better front suspension, for only $1,000 more… you’d have to really like orange to go in this direction.

2017 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
Engine Displacement: 399 cc
Engine Cylinders: L-Twin
Peak Horsepower: 40 hp
Peak Torque: 25 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: N/A
Cargo Space: N/A
articles_PricingType 2017 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
Base Price $8,895
A/C Tax N/A
Destination Fee N/A
Price as Tested $8,895
Optional Equipment None
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 7.2
10 Styling
5 Powertrain
9 Quality
7 Comfort
8 Practicality
6 Drivability
8 Usability/Ergonomics
8 Fuel Economy
6 Features
5 Value