The lightweight class has blossomed in the last few years, and now Ducati has bolstered the category with a versatile member of its Scrambler family with the Ducati Sixty2.
As one of the current new breed of legitimate small-cube street bikes, there’s a lot to like about the Scrambler Sixty2—for many, the fact it’s a Ducati will be enough. Like consumer items of any kind, some motorcycle marques have greater perceived value than others. That’s just the way of it.
The short time I spent with the bike, which is one of seven Scramblers that comprise the Ducati sub-brand, I came to appreciate its specific style of power and road manners. This is a chewy-rich entry in the contemporary lightweight class, a category that gathers strength with each new addition.
Yet it seems not so long ago when the only options for a lightweight streetbike were the Super Sherpa 250 and a handful of dirt bikes retrofit with mirrors and lights. Underpowered, vibration-prone, and mainly ill-fitting, they were only marginally acceptable as street motorcycles. Those days are long gone. Today, the lightweight category is peppered with lively choices for both novice and veteran.
But to fully appreciate the Sixty2 for what it is, you’ll probably need to look beyond its sticker. Nearly nine grand ($8,895) for a 41-hp 399cc air-cooled twin does seem steep, especially when you learn that the other Scramblers are 803cc versions and that one of them, the Icon, is available for only one thousand more dollars (MSRP $9,895).
At a glance, the Icon and the Sixty2 are nearly identical except that the Icon and the other five Scramblers feature higher-rate suspensions, aluminum versus steel swingarms and some fancier styling bits. Then there’s the matter of the Icon’s bigger mill, a 75-hp V-Twin repurposed by Ducati from its Monster 796.
Fueled and ready to go, the six-speed Ducati Sixty2 weighs 183 kg versus the Icon’s 186, so, there’s not much separation in that department either if your personal choice is predicated on light, whippy, maneuverability—which the bikes most certainly have going for them!
Leaving buy-in costs out of the discussion the Sixty2 is actually what it’s intended to be, a fun time waiting to happen. I realized this from the very moment I tumbled the ignition key and watched the tach do a cute little bar-filling dance around the outer circumference of the solo multi-purpose instrument gauge located just above the headlight. The gauge is full of information including a trip fuel indicator, maintenance reminders, and a nanny feature that tells you if the kickstand is down.
The two-valve 399cc twin housed in the Sixty2’s steel trellis frame delivers its factory-spec 41 horses at 8,750 rpm with 25.2 foot-pounds torque at 7,750 rpm. What this translates into is an agreeable punch down low with power tapping out fairly quickly at the top end. With a light pull on the clutch lever you can click crisply through the easy-shifting transmission and by the time you’ve notched third gear the bike is comfortably at highway speeds, which the power plant can maintain easily and free of vibrations though you shouldn’t expect to win any roll-on contests at this point.
But on city streets the relationship between engine and transmission ratios is so nicely laid out that you don’t find the need to constantly shift between lights just to get moving up to the flow of traffic.
The clear advantage enjoyed by the lightweight class is the sense of easy, unfettered movement that is inherent to a narrow-profile motorcycle. The Ducati Sixty2 gets full marks in this regard. The wide flat-track-style handlebars, long bench seat and spacious, upright ergonomics put the rider in total control. Though the standard seat height is 790mm (31 inches) there are higher and lower options. On my initial viewing of the bike in its standard seating configuration I feared that as a six-footer I’d be cramped in with short-coupled legroom. I was wrong about that. With my feet planted squarely below on claw-type pegs I was comfortably situated.
Accentuating the bicycle-like maneuverability is a highly responsive front end featuring a tight 24 degrees of rake (112mm trail), and a competent blend of Showa and Kayaba suspension that provides 150mm (5.9 inches) of wheel travel.
With a wheelbase of 1,460mm (57.4-inches) the Sixty2 maintains excellent stability even at highway speeds as it hums along on aluminum 10-spoke wheels shod with blocky-treaded Pirelli tires that are said to be purpose-built for the Scrambler line. The design of the rubber allows for grippy confidence on pavement and a level of light adventure on unpaved surfaces.
A very decent but not overly aggressive Brembo brake package consists of a single 320mm front disc with a two-piston floating caliper, and a 245mm disc at the back. The surprise feature of this brake setup is standard ABS.
With LED lighting, LCD instruments, an array of branded accessories and three colours to choose from, the Ducati Sixty2 is a well supported offering that could easily serve as an entry-level model or a welcome addition to the garage of even very experienced riders who might find they increasingly choose the little Ducati over their bigger bikes for the morning commute or for just a quick, fun scramble. Now if the factory could just do something about that MSRP.
by John Campbell