Its A Bikers Life - A daily dose of everything Motorcycle.: Reviews

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December 28, 2018 at 11:30AM

Honda’s Super Cub isn’t as practical as their own, and considerably cheaper, SH125 scooter (£2699). There’s no underseat storage for example. Nor is it as fun as their recently launched Monkey bike...

Credit: MCN Bike Reviews.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

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December 27, 2018 at 05:15PM

We salute Kawasaki for helping to keep the 600 class alive with its new ZX-6R, but apart from styling, detail touches and gearing, it's not too different to the old model. That's no bad thing because...

Credit: MCN Bike Reviews.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

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Check out more Biker Family content @ It's A Bikers Life.




December 25, 2018 at 09:00AM

If you couldn’t be arsed to read my ramblings and want to here another view from the Triumph Scrambler 1200 press launch check out this comprehensive vid from Superbike Magazine‘s John Hogan and the team at Bike World.

The post Triumph Scrambler 1200 – Bike World appeared first on The Bike Shed.



Credit: Bikes – The Bike Shed.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

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December 23, 2018 at 11:14AM

Over the last few of years Taiwan has been stamped firmly on the custom map some talented workshops. We recently featured a slick looking Bonneville (see the feature here) which was built in collaboration with Cowboy’s Chopper, creators of this 1974 Honda CL360.

We hope to feature more from these guys in 2019 in the meantime follow their work on  Facebook | Instagram

The post Cowboy’s Chopper CL360 appeared first on The Bike Shed.



Credit: Bikes – The Bike Shed.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

What do we do here?

We're all about that Biker Family here first and foremost. Other content includes: News, reviews and Biker lifestyle in pictures and videos. Harley Davidson family community. Hot babes, bike enthusiasts, custom motorcycles and choppers.

Check out more Biker Family content @ It's A Bikers Life.




December 22, 2018 at 01:42PM

Written by Andrew Jones

Let’s not beat around the bush; Bandit9’s critics have been many and varied. They called out the shop by insisting that all their bikes were nothing but Photoshop renders. They questioned their creativity and even suggested they stole ideas. Such is often the fate of those who choose to rock the boat. But for shop owner Daryl Villanueva, none of this really mattered. Like anybody with an honest-to-goodness mission in life, he knew where he was going and what he was doing. And hey presto, the Petersen Automotive Museum, The Haas Moto Museum and the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum have all agreed by opening their wallets. Here’s his latest piece of magic – a Royal Enfield Classic Chrome Bullet he calls ‘Merlin’.

“It was an interesting year for Bandit9,” says Daryl with more than a little understatement. “We were fortunate to be part of the Custom Revolution exhibit at the Petersen Museum in LA. Then we got a call from Royal Enfield to work on a couple of projects with them. I really consider us quite blessed. I’ll take some time during the holidays to reflect on where we’re going. We’re tackling apparel in 2019; We still need to crack that. Maybe I won’t get a holiday after all.”

The inspiration behind Merlin was a little unusual; a luxury timepiece. “We wanted to create a very complex piece hidden behind a simple, familiar and legible form. While the face of a watch is beautiful, to connoisseurs, it’s the movement inside – the way it’s made and its heritage that they appreciate. We wanted to approach Merlin in a similar fashion. We wanted to make sure it’s something you could pass on, hence its simple, timeless format.”

Besides an incredibly ambitious timeframe of 3 months, Dazza says that the hardest part was the design itself. “I thought the Bullet was perfect. I love it the way it is and I told the gentlemen at Royal Enfield that I actually did not want to touch it. So I had two choices: don’t touch it at all or completely revamp the motorcycle. Thankfully, they gave us the freedom to do our thing.”

With a limited timeframe, the team had to pick their battles; changing the proportions was really important to how they saw the finished product, so the frame was re-designed to a hardtail with a nice swoop at the bottom. “We just let the teardrop tank and exhaust follow the frame to keep the lines of Merlin neat. We also cleared the rear to keep the visual mass of the bike in the center between two 21 inch wheels and created fenders that really hug the tires.”

“We spent the majority of our time with the small parts. The seat is from the underside of an old Vespa saddle with the springs attached to a frame. We had to resize and reshape it to complement the rest of the bike.” Like the exhibition (or glass) backs of expensive watches that expose the internal mechanism, they decided to do away with the leather cover and leave the springs exposed.

“We spent the majority of our time with the small parts. The seat is from the underside of an old Vespa saddle with the springs attached to a frame.”

“The speedometer was of obvious importance and again, we looked at some fine watches to see how we could adapt their ideas to the motorcycle world. Personally, I’m a fan of Panerai watches and I’ve always loved the radial nature of their dial. It catches light in a mesmerizing way. And we engraved Roman numerals on the dial in place of the usual Hindu-Arabic numbers.”

After whetting our appetites for this wrist watch speedo, Daryl continues his glowing description of the bike’s jewel in the crown. “The case is made from steel and tapers subtly at the bottom. The bezel is made from polished bronze and should get a nice patina after time.” It pains us to say that after all that, there wasn’t a photo available at the time of publication. We’ll see if Daryl can’t help us out with a shot.

Of course, this dial is Daryl’s favourite part of the bike, too. “It’s nice to spend time on a single detail. If we didn’t have time or budget constraints, I could’ve spent far more time on it. I would’ve figured out how to use sapphire crystal instead of glass. Maybe I could have given it a crystal magnifier so it could show the speed digits like a watch magnifies the date. It’s details like this that I would love to add, but the real world demands you ship your products out,” he sighs. Stupid deadlines.

Bandit9 – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by Jeremy Wong ]



Credit: Pipeburn.com.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

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Check out more Biker Family content @ It's A Bikers Life.




December 21, 2018 at 02:22PM

Written by Martin Hodgson

Once the seat of the Catholic Popes, the fortified city of Avignon in southern France is resplendent with stunning Roman and Gothic architecture; but it also has a rich motorsport history. The Circuit de Lédenon is nestled on the opposite bank of the Rhone and F1 legend Jean Alesi’s father once built Monte Carlo winning rally cars here. Now there is a new man in town, tucked away in a small workshop, Matthieu Volpi builds motorcycles to the most exacting of standards. His latest Volpi Motorcycle creation is this stunning 1972 Honda CB350 flat tracker, designed for the learner who wants it all.

Over recent years such has Matthieu’s reputation grown that his small shop is bursting at the seams with customer’s bikes waiting their turn for his magical touch. Inside, everything from the latest BMW S1000RR superbikes to old school cool Kawasaki Z1’s line up to be next in the queue. But his passion is for the custom builds that also allow him to show off his creative flare as well as his meticulous mechanical nous. However for this project he had something unique in mind, a flat tracker for the road, built to a very high standard and for a very particular sector of the market.

Like many European countries, France places a power limit of 47hp for new riders and Matthieu was looking for a bike that fit this criterion; who says learners can’t have cool bikes too. With his talent for building old Honda‘s the CB350 made perfect sense and he managed to track down a ’72 example, although she’d seen better days. But not to worry as once back at Volpi Motorcycle there wasn’t an inch that would be left untouched. The first order of business was stripping it down to a basic roller and getting to work on the frame.

All the old rust, oil and grime was cleaned off before the whole chassis was ground smooth, excess tabs removed and imperfections filled. Then the grinder was whizzed into life and the entire rear subframe was cut off and slung to the floor. In its place a new, drastically improved piece was fabricated, with a neat up kick to support the seat to come. Extra bracing was added, new upper shock mounts affixed and then Matthieu constructed an integrated box to store the wiring neatly under the seat. The swingarm also gets some modifications with the heel guards built into the design with Volpi logos for good measure.

“Then the grinder was whizzed into life and the entire rear subframe was cut off and slung to the floor.”

All this handiwork was then treated to a blast and a good coat of hard-wearing powder in a colour perfect for camouflaging days in the dirt. Now with the chassis back, it could be turned into a roller and swinging the back-end are a custom set of YSS shocks. But it’s up front where the extra effort went, the standard sticks are gone and in their place a pair of USD Suzuki RGV125 items have been adapted to fit. These of course were completely rebuilt back to factory specs and the modern caliper and drilled rotor supply superior stopping power. A Derby front hub makes the spoked conversion possible and both ends are wrapped up in Heidenau rubber.

Now it was time to make the little CB look as good as the rest of the build and starting at the front the factory headlight has been ditched for a race board with twin LEDs serving as the headlights. The next changed required the moving of the ignition key to under the seat and then a later CB tank with fuller lines was massaged to fit. The tailpiece is simple but perfectly executed, giving the tracker look and a little more acreage to lay on the paint. The bright orange with white contrasting stripes is the perfect combination to capture a keen young eye and the seat gets the stitching to match.

It can handle steep slopes, too

To say Matthieu takes engine building seriously is an understatement and he’s the man when it comes to old school carbies in the south of France. The little 325cc Honda twin might be a basic motor, but he’s assembled it with the dedication and care you would normally expect from a six-figure race engine. Every last component is stripped, blasted and repainted, every seal, gasket and bolt replaced and if a component isn’t perfect it doesn’t go back in. The gearbox had some excess play, so you guessed it, it too was torn down and rebuilt to factory specs.

To get it all running again the old wiring would always prove a weak point and a handcrafted loom with new coil does the job. Even the electric starter motor is rebuilt with NOS parts and given the beauty treatment. Then it was over to the K4 carbs that are rebuilt to suit the other breathing mods to come and fitted up with foam filters that deal with the dust better than their mesh counterparts. The final piece to the engine puzzle is the stunning exhaust; the stainless tubes tuck tight to the engine and finish out with slash cuts to match the lines of the frame.

With a hell of a learner bike on his hands, the final details are all about making the bike practical for its young owner and to keep the French plod happy. New switchgear brings things into the 21st century, while a tiny little tail light and turn signals get the right registration approval. Volpi has even crafted a quick change front headlight and rear guard for when practical has to come before beauty. Now, wherever you look there isn’t a single part of the bike that hasn’t been touched and improved by Matthieu’s magic hand. But more importantly the hopped up and stripped down Honda is a blast to ride and one young Frenchman is leaving 2018 with a rooster tail of rocks in its eyes!

[ Volpi Motorcycles – Instagram | Photos by Jean Sebastien Batailler ]



Credit: Pipeburn.com.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

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December 21, 2018 at 11:52AM

If it was our money we’d save our cash over the pricier Ducati Multistrada 1260 S model and opt for the standard Ducati Multistrada 1260. On the road you don’t miss many of the extras from the S. The...

Credit: MCN Bike Reviews.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

What do we do here?

We're all about that Biker Family here first and foremost. Other content includes: News, reviews and Biker lifestyle in pictures and videos. Harley Davidson family community. Hot babes, bike enthusiasts, custom motorcycles and choppers.

Check out more Biker Family content @ It's A Bikers Life.




December 20, 2018 at 12:25PM

Written by Marlon Slack

Greece’s The Real Intellectuals are a rough group of motorcycle nuts who hawk their goods from downtown Athens. In their shop they sell motorcycle gear and apparel and thousands of beers to local bike nuts. Occasionally they run a madcap dirt event dubbed ‘The Rotten Race’. Not content to just sink booze and watch from the sideline, they teamed up with local shop Urban Mechanics to build an entry, a 1990 Yamaha SR500.

Being the go-to place in Athens for sweet motorcycle apparel it’s no surprise that they’re given a heads up when people are wheeling and dealing in motorcycles. And that’s how they came across their donor bike – the SR500 was sold to them by friend of The Real Intellectuals, Bill Georgoussis, who also snapped the pics you see here.

Now if you’re in the States, your mind may have already been blown by the idea of an SR500 built in 1990, some eighteen years after they were pulled from showroom floors. But Yamaha’s big-ish capacity single remained in production well after the USA lost interest. The Europeans kept on loving the things and the SR, which has its roots back to the XT500, would be perfect for the Rotten Race.

“But Yamaha’s big-ish capacity single remained in production well after the USA lost interest.”

I’ve seen art gallery sculptures that don’t look that good

“We wanted the Yamaha to resemble a vintage tracker from the 1970’s,” TRI’s Nikko says, “with classic lines and also some more modern parts to be able to ride it out into the streets”. The perfect combination for a custom ride, if you ask me.

But things didn’t move too quickly. “The bike was in the The Real Intellectuals store for almost a year without moving it at all,” Nikko recalls. “But I was thinking everyday what we could do with it. I always wanted to build a vintage tracker. So slowly I collected all the parts that were needed and asked my good friends at the Urban Mechanics to do it”.

Urban Mechanics is another Athens shop, this one with its sights firmly on producing custom motorcycles. Run by a duo, Michael Kork and Thanos Sinos, they were the perfect pair to take on the TRI’s newest project. But they had only three months to finish the bike in time for The Rotten Race.

Yamaha’s SR. The bike that keeps on giving…

Three months is a damn short period of time. In just twelve weeks they stripped back the frame, detabbed it, polished the sidecovers, painted the barrel and head, fitted new rear shocks, changed the controls and everything else that comes with a build like this. But the hardest part was the tank.

“We gave them a chopper fuel tank, but it’s tunnel was too small for the SR,” Nikko says. So the bottom had to be cut and widened to make it fit perfectly to the SR. After that, it was finished with a new coat of paint and fitted with a set of Dunlop’s new K180 tires.

The end result is a tidy little SR tracker that makes our dark hearts glow. It’s low, it’s light, it’s built around a terrific basis and it’s designed to get a little dirty. We’re looking forward to seeing what the Real Intellectuals wheel out for next year’s Rotten Race!

[ The Real IntellectualsFacebookInstagram | Urban Mechanics | Photos by Bill Georgoussis ]



Credit: Pipeburn.com.

As their channel suggests, they have awesome Biker content and we just love to showcase it. There's simply not enough time in the day to share everything they have, but rest assured they are real favourites here at It's A Bikers Life. Check back often and don't forget to hit us up on our social channels at the top of the page.

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December 19, 2018 at 04:42PM

The revival of the scrambler as a style, a genre even, has brought with it some ambiguity as to what scrambling actually is. Fire up the YouTube and search for old pathé footage of early sixties scrambling events and you’ll see open faced daredevils hooning through fields and across deserts. Clearing 60ft triple jumps or crossing continents it ain’t, and this bike, Triumph’s all-new Scrambler 1200 has been designed with that firmly in mind. As with the rest of the Modern Classics range the Scrambler 1200 is aimed at a distinct market niche, promising riders within it much of what they want, along with some of what they didn’t know they needed. As a result there really isn’t anything to compare the 1200 to. During the presentation, power and torque figures were charted against the revamped Street Scrambler 900 but to my mind these are completely different beasts and it seemed slightly incongruous making the assimilation.

On paper the 1200 Scrambler is also a little misleading. I prefer to ride motorcycles to spec sheets and I’ll do my best to avoid joining-up stats and figures with hyperbole. If you’d rather scoff at my opinion and want to make your own mind up, there’s a techy pdf after the last photo below. And before anyone chimes in with comments about the bike being just a T120 Bonnie with long forks, pipe down and go sit on your hands.

The now familiar heart of this new bike is the ‘High Power’ version of the engine that shares the same origins and architecture as the T120 Bonneville, Thruxton, Speedmaster and Bobber, but there are key differences across those models. Here, there is a single throttle-body to improve torque and reduce girth between the knees. The cam cover is made from lightweight magnesium alloy, side covers are ‘mass optimised’, as are the balancer shafts, and the alternator (unlike the rider) has been on a diet. The torque assist clutch is smaller and has been redesigned, there’s a new, low inertia crank, high compression head and finally a dedicated Scrambler tune. And thankfully this new-age parallel twin runs the 270 degree firing order, which’ll equate to an ear boner even with standard pipes.

The bench seat, peanut tank (de-seamed), rear looped subframe (complete with neat weld) and high level twin pipes balance the overall silhouette and the proportions are on the money. But the brief wasn’t to simply produce a bike that looked cool and plonk the 1200 Thruxton motor in, Triumph were hell bent on putting the scramble back into Scrambler and making up for someone else robbing the desert sled moniker.

As with the bonafide adventure bikes in the Triumph range there are two versions of the Scrambler to try and choose between – the XC and XE. The XC is the smaller, shorter one with 200mm of suspension travel fore and aft, and a shorter swingarm too. The XE (E for extreme) has a slightly thicker, gold anodised Showa fork with 250mmm of travel and an extra 32mm in the swingarm. Both have externally laced spokes, fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback shocks, Brembo M50 monoblocs (MCS lever and cornering ABS on the XE) multiple riding modes and a sophisticated dual contrast TFT dash. Both forks are Showas with the latest cartridge technology, and are fully preload and rebound adjustable.

There’s also a natty bluetooth integration module on the way later in 2019 which means you’ll be able to stick your smartphone in a padded, USB powered box under the saddle and use the switchgear joystick to make and receive calls, control your music playlists and perhaps most importantly, use Google Maps. The clear and concise TFT display will offer turn-by-turn directions thanks to a dedicated collaboration with Google themselves.

Triumph also worked with GoPro to integrate functionality, again via the bluetooth, so that riders can control the new Hero 7 Black action camera through the handlebar controls. These functions weren’t available at the time of the launch but will be shortly after the bike’s release next year.

So who is this bike for and what will they do with it? Well, for people like me I suppose. 10 years ago I had a BMW GS and I thought I was the next Ewan Boorman, yet now I struggle with the concept of owning a dual purpose bike that I’ll never take off road. Sure, people more capable than I can send a third of a ton of GSA or KTM 1190 up gravity defying climbs but for us mortals, where’s the fun in that? Sounds like hard work to me. Those things are fit for purpose, that being to travel long distances with loads of luggage. I have no time for such trips but I do want an all-rounder that will be happy to take a beating in the dirt and most importantly – put a smile on my face.

I had a hoot ragging the Street Scrambler off-road (click here) and loved banging around town and along local B roads on one but if a long motorway trip was involved, I’d drive. The Scrambler 1200 promised me the previously illusive one bike garage, and half the Bike Shed office checked the resale values of their current rides upon returning from the glitzy launch last month. But could it really be that much fun? Surely it’d be riddled with compromise and hampered by attempts to do too many things well.

A 21″ front wheel and 17″ rear sounds weird, and the twin shocks are long enough to suspend a trophy truck, so there was certainly potential for this bike to look like a tarted-up giraffe. But yet again Triumph’s designers have triumphed. And as with the rest of the Bonneville family the fit and finish is properly premium. Up close there are numerous neat touches that prove the design engineers’ credentials.

The catalytic converters are nearly invisible, lambda sensors are neatly set into the exhaust header collar and the rolled aluminium mudguards are as good as you’d find on a deBolex build. Cable ties are nearly impossible to find and care has been taken to make wiring harnesses and ugly bits disappear. There is a bit-of-an-afterthought section of loom behind the clocks but perhaps this’ll be remedied on the actual production models.

One upgrade I was very happy to see is the addition of threaded bosses for bolt-on pillion pegs. To my mind an essential for a dirt oriented machine. Not only is there a weight saving to be made (a small one admittedly) but it’s one less thing to catch a trailing leg on, and more importantly there’s less chance of the frame being deemed a write off if the thing is dropped. I’m amazed at how many production bikes run similar welded-on appendages.

The rear brake pedal and gear lever are sprung, ready for impact and the former can be twisted through 180 degrees to allow a quick height change. A few obvious features, but ones that separate the Scrambler 1200 from some of the wannabes in the market.

The global press launch was held over two days in Faro, Portugal which would give us lucky Brits the chance to be the first people outside the factory to test the marketeers’ claims. First up, a whole day at a purpose-built off-road centre in the mountains, perfect!

From the showroom both the XC and XE roll on the tried and tested Metzeler Tourance, but to really make the most of the Scrambler as an experience there’s a dealer-fit option of Pirelli’s Scorpion Rally. Our fleet of XC and XEs were wearing fresh knobblies, ready for an initiation on a damp and tacky clay oval that sort of resembled a flat track, although it was on a hillside and had four apexes. One lap was enough to top-up the confidence tank and I was ready for the trails.

Somehow I’d been bullied into the advanced group with some yanks, along with Matt, the enduro champ instructor from Triumph’s Adventure Experience in Wales. The pace was quick enough to leave no time to get used to the XC, straight in at the deep end. And my gosh is the Scrambler 1200 a flattering machine. With a dry weight ever so slightly the wrong side of 200kgs some were concerned it’s heft would be an issue, but that certainly wasn’t apparent to me. At no point did I think that I was on a heavy bike. Perhaps my inexperience showing, but if Global Brand Manager and presentation-giver Miles Perkins had told me the figure was 20kg less I’d have believed him. That’s the trouble with specs, knowing them in advance clouds your judgement. One of the other journos was moaning about the “500 lb motorcycle” before he’d even seen one, let alone ridden the thing.

I barely had to dance on the pegs, and bar inputs were minimal. At one point while fiddling with my GoPro mount I covered about a mile of dirt at 40mph one handed, which felt neither showy-offy or dodgy. In fact my WR250 is more tiring to ride, on the 1200 I could have ridden for hours, seated or standing.

Then there are the riding modes. The XC has Road, Rain, Sport and Off Road. The latter leaves the front ABS on and dramatically reduces intervention from the traction control system. What that means in real life is fun, available by the bucket load. Jam the throttle open on the loose stuff and you’ll be rewarded with controlled slides that only a Dakar hero would otherwise be capable of. Everyone in our group quickly abandoned trying to ride with finesse and turned wild-wristed hooligans, roosting everyone behind with each turn. Mud, slop, sand, loose rocks, gravel – it made no odds, the Scrambler revelled, willing us on to take more liberties. The motor span-up predictably without any cammy peaks, just a lovely linear dollop of torque and buttery power. And the ride-by-wire throttle appears to have had the initial slack taken out of it. I could be wrong but it sure felt like that dead spot was gone. If you’ve noticed this on previous Bonnie based models there’s a plastic clip mod that Dutch is soon to fit to his Hoxton – will report back if it works.

We all did as we were told in the presentation “try to ride sitting down, scramble, don’t ride like you’re on an enduro bike” which led to the next surprise of the day – the suspension’s plushness. Silky smooth and without drama the shorter shocked XC never ran out of travel or felt skittish. The XE is a different beast altogether. The frame is slightly different with a degree more rake, 8mm of extra trail, and the longer swingarm contributing to 4cm extra in the wheelbase, making for improved manners when the going gets really tough. The saddles on both are supremely comfortable and feel slightly memory foamish – I had no issue with clattering around while seated. And again, the weight didn’t impinge on usability when positioned higher up.

Combined with the taller suspension, and wider bars angled more towards the rider (reversible bar mounts) the XE initially feels a little more like a traditional adventure bike – big and tall. But not in a bad way. It also had a trick up its sleeve, Off-Road Pro mode. This allowed the front ABS and traction control to be turned off and a switch to a dedicated off-road engine map. Without the safety net of the apparently magical TC, I gave the XE a bit more respect, but I needn’t have bothered too much. The tractable and predictable power delivery made for a confidence inspiring and grin filled ride back to base, which included a short road section. We were supposed to turn the mode back to Road or Rain but I preferred the squirm from the Pirellis on damp tarmac when pressing hard.

Sadly, days of rain had made the level 2 trails impassable even for the pros, so once back at the adventure centre we took it in turns to scare ourselves on the MX track and scare the photographers on the flat track – ahem, oops. I caught up with one of the main guys in charge of developing chassis for Triumph, Felipe Lopez, at a minibike track at the bottom of the hill. It was hard packed and clearly had an additive in the soil as it was bone dry compared to the rest of the area. I didn’t let on that I do a bit of sliding in my spare time, but he was happy to let me spin a few laps on an XC. Even on a super tight track designed for 100cc kids bikes the Scrambler 1200 was a doddle to chuck around. Again, if I was blindfolded and told I was on an 800cc something or other I’d have believed it.

We hung out, just the two of us, for a while chatting about what went into making this bike so good. The refusal to compromise the Scrambler 1200’s off-road credentials was the overriding takeaway from our conversation, and if there was anyone to trust on such a matter, it’s Felipe. If you don’t know who he is then head to the Google, or click here.

Goaded by other riders we returned to the larger ‘flat track’ to do some skids. I gave the XC plenty. If there was a throttle cable it’d have been baggy by the time I’d finished, pinned to the stops the TC allows generous sideways action without incident. It is possible to override the TC on the XC which I tried, the gentle fuelling making for predictable slides. The photographer might not have thought so but I was gently dabbing the rear brake to ensure any showing off was kept in check. With nobody watching I’d have been happy to really let loose, and even without a steel shoe I reckon some decent laps times could’ve been had. The top spec monobloc Brembos are obviously complete overkill for this level of off-roading and I barely used more than the very tip of my index finger all day. When the ABS did cut in it felt progressive enough, but then again I’m happy with the front tucking from time to time so I’ll refer to one of the other journos on this point.

The technical MX practice track put me closer to my talent limit but again the 1200 flattered, skimming over mini whoops and choppy ruts with plenty of capacity left in reserve. And despite what I said about scrambling not being about jumping, owners are of course going to encounter reasons to be airborne, so a few of us felt compelled to thoroughly test the XE’s extra suspension travel. I’m shit at jumping, as you can see, but some of the others ‘sent it’ without incident.

It wasn’t just me that was feeling the Scrambler’s vibe. Nearly everyone was beaming and had had a blast, including the nervous off-road newbies. Compliant, plush, easy, forgiving, flattering seemed to be the adjectives of choice, and spirits were high. Surely with this much capability on the dirt the Scrambler 1200 would be a soggy mess back on the asphalt.

Day two was wet before we’d even left the hotel and by the time we’d climbed a thousand feet into the mountains visibility was 25 bike lengths and I was soaked. The first photoshoot was cancelled and the second hardly worth it. The silver lining though, trying both bikes in torrid conditions on shiny, slick roads.

The shorter XC is noticeably sharper at turn-in and its lower seat height settled nerves. Press launch photoshoots are a rushed affair. You have to send a bike through curves you’ve never seen before and with just a couple of passes make it look like you’re nailing it. Swapping over to the XE I thought I’d embarrass myself but the lanky suspension and 21″ front wheel belied their dimensions.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is that our lead rider was Isle of Man TT winner and crowd favourite Gary Johnson. Our group split and three of us chased him along twisting, flowing mountain roads only a biker could have built. The pace was initially a sniff too quick for my skill level yet the compliant and neutral handling XC lapped it up, the Metzelers offering grip that shouldn’t have been there. There’s a huge element of trust involved in following someone else into a corner twice as fast as you’d manage on your own, but I figured if Gaz was still upright on the way out and relaxed I’d have a fighting chance of making it to the lunch stop. The TC light was flashing like a disco strobe in Rain mode, yet all I felt was a gentle dulling of the power delivery, with no stutter or lurching, merely a sensation of covering the rear brake slightly. In Road mode the rear could be unsettled easily but I wasn’t about to send myself into orbit, so I stuck with Rain.

Grinding footpegs, in the wet, on a tall, soft Scrambler with dual sport rubber and 500 ft drops off the side of the road… that shouldn’t be possible, should it? “You were touching down?!! Fuuking eck, you’re a braver man than me” *Lincolnshire accent* Very flattering Gaz, but that’s clearly unfathomably far from the truth. However, if the 1200 can offer an average rider those levels of confidence it’ll surely have plenty left in reserve for all but the most talented owners.

After lunch the sun finally did it’s thing and cleared most of the water, although shaded corners remained sketchy. Again we hustled and chased Gaz back down the mountain. And yes, it was as surreal as it sounds. TT hero + mountain + mates + capable bike = gigging schoolboy. The roads were some of the best I’ve ridden. Imagine sections from the Wall of Death laid out not quite flat, and just the right distance apart for flick-flacking between in 3rd, rolling up and down that silky torque curve. The 1200 will rev, 500 more times a minute than the T120 Bonnie, but I found little need to go past 5000-ish. Carrying speed through this magical terrain delivered the smiles and I was sure the guys in my group were having just as much fun.

Again I can’t really report properly about the Brembos’ power as I barely used them. A gentle single digit caress dealt with nearly every corner, complimented by progressive engine braking at the rear. Riding in a group I’m always conscious of trying not to cause the guy behind to reach for his own lever, so tend to under-brake and use the ‘box instead. The XE’s extra travel does become apparent though as it dives considerably more than the XC, but don’t take that as a negative. It’s merely something to plan for and not something riders will be sensitive to as they’re unlikely to be jumping Marquez style from one version to the next.

As aforementioned, the XE has a whiff of traditional adventure bike feel to it whereas the XC is more like a melodic and sophisticated supermoto. What I’d really like to do is take both to Lydden Hill and spank them around the rallycross course, wag the tail and see what a full-0n two finger tug on the brakes feels like. But again, not really what this bike was designed for.

Now, I’m not a Triumph guy. Some people go all weak kneed at the sight of Steve McQueen jumping fences or sledding through the desert on a TR6 Trophy. Sure, those are damn cool looking machines but I’m really not fussed about whether there’s a trumpet or a triangle on the tank. Nor could I give a monkey’s if the bike I was about to ride “isn’t a proper triumph because it wasn’t made in Meriden.” For me the Scrambler 1200 simply needed to perform and excite on its own merit. I’m a soft hearted nostalgist don’t get me wrong, but that wears very thin when aboard sub-par equipment. This bike made me want to ride it all day, into the night and then do it all again, many times over – something that’s been missing from my two-wheeled world recently. If it’s taken a bit of whizzy technology from engineering boffins to give me this feeling then I’m all for it.

The Scrambler 1200 is a riot on tarmac, delivers face-ache off it, looks as if one of the established custom shops has designed it, yet it’ll pick through city traffic with ease and will munch the miles (one button cruise control fitted as standard) with abandon, while offering the rider touring bike levels of comfort. If the sound of that doesn’t float your boat then cool, to each their own. But one thing is for certain, Triumph have another hit on their hands. And if you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned other bikes from other manufacturers, well, it’s because that wouldn’t be comparing apples with apples. The Scrambler 1200 is in a league of its own, for now.

And trust me, as a relatively inexperienced off-roadist, if you can’t ride the Scrambler 1200 in the dirt, the bike sure isn’t the problem – it’s you!

Triumph Motorcycles UK        Web  |  Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  YouTube

See more BSMC Ride Reports here

 

And if you’d like to try the very bikes seen here they’ll be heading from Portugal to the Triumph’s world class Adventure Experience in South Wales, ready for the 2019 season. We’ll be organising a BSMC trip in the spring, get in touch if you’d like to join us.

Scrambler 1200 numbers and spec stuff – here

For the full details, prices and a list of all options including inspiration kits and accessories (like some of these below) click here.

And keep an eye on Triumph’s social media. Test rider Ernie Vigil has recovered from his broken leg and is set to compete in the Mexico 1000 rally in April.

My Gear

Helmet
Roeg Parina
Goggles
Ethen x BSMC Scrambler

Jacket (off-road)
Rev’it! Zircon
Reviewed here
Jacket (on-road)
Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles ‘Division’
Available in-store

Trousers
Fuel x BSMC Sergeant

Boots
Forma Terra Evo

Gloves
Knox Orsa
Leather (on-road)
MX (off-road)

Base Layer
Bike Shed Roundel waffle

The post Triumph Scrambler 1200 – Ride Report appeared first on The Bike Shed.



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