Ducati may have painted itself into a figurative corner with that flurry of promotion and mythical nation building attached to the Scrambler debut a few years ago. After all that initial excitement, the company has looked around (or probably even anticipated) wanting to extend the life of the platform and broaden its appeal by building new models upon it.
Initially there was the big Scrambler and then there was the more affordable little Scrambler—pretty evolutionary. It’s a common practice, as illustrated by the cover of our May issue, with Triumph expanding the Bonneville line to include a Scrambler iteration.
Harley-Davidson exists on the strength of only six families to move business forward (see ‘All in The Family’ this issue). BMW is also spreading the rNineT family to three models with its rNineT Racer.
The good news for the company is that its latest, the Ducati Scrambler—the Café Racer—is an attractive, interesting motorcycle as Bertrand Gahel reports in this issue. The not-so-good news is that I get a bit of a headache every time I hear the name Scrambler Café Racer. Aren’t those two things supposed to be at the opposite end of the spectrum? It’s like saying Motocross Sport Tourer or Cruiser Cafe Racer. But hold that thought.
Just the other day while perusing the used bike listings online (which are not like the used car listings where your eyes glaze after too many 10-year-old Camrys and Elantras) I came across a 1982 Virago—so far, not so exciting, but this particular Virago had been nearly completed as a Café Racer.
It had a unique aftermarket subframe, a very interesting bench seat and low clip-ons. It was someone’s project that had been started but, as these things often go, never quite finished. The price was right and the incomplete result was fascinating. When I tried to find the listing the next day to send the link to CB Editor John Campbell, the Virago Cruiser Café Racer was gone. Vanished like the unicorn of motorcycles.
Like me, another rider must have seen the genesis—the near fruition—of a cool motorcycle, something that looked like little else on the road. Perhaps a Ducati designer seeking further inspiration to extend the Diavel “don’t call me a cruiser” platform snatched it up from afar.
There are going to be more “crossover” motorcycles to come. Harley-Davidson has promised an astonishing number of new motorcycle releases (100) over the next 10 years. Due to the volume, some will have to be something other than new cruisers. The company wants to dramatically expand its customer base and not all of those potential new customers will want a cruiser. Technically, Harley-Davidson (via Buell to be accurate) has already given the world a liquid-cooled streetfighter, a sportbike and an ADV machine. Somewhere out in the hills live a few riders on Honda’s ADV scooter, the news of which flashed up briefly but now seems to have subsided.
Well over 10 years ago BMW gave us a boxer powered cruiser, the R1200C, and the company seems to be again flirting with cruiser styling with its K1600B, which began life as a big sport-touring machine similar to the Gold Wing-based F6B.
Given the state of the game perhaps a model designation like “Ducati Scrambler Café Racer” shouldn’t make my head throb. And there is always an antidote.
For those who like constants to be constant, there is the Suzuki GSX-R1000 seen on the cover this issue. This bike is exactly what it has been since it arrived in slightly larger displacement back in the mid 1980s. Yes, it is lighter, faster and more technologically advanced but it does the same thing that it did for the same type of rider 30-odd years ago. Some things really do not ever change.
Okay that headache is fading.