It feels like I spend so much time focused on adventure bikes that I tend to forget the fun that can be had on other genres of motorcycling.
While still admittedly having one foot in the adventure camp, Royal Enfield’s Scram 411 is much more road-oriented than it would appear.
A sub-type of Royal Enfield’s Himalayan adventure bike, the Scram utilises the same frame and engine as the Himalayan but in a more approachable and urban-focused form.
That means at its heart is a 411cc air and oil cooled single cylinder engine with a modest 24.3hp and 28Nm of torque. This is in turn transferred to the rear wheel by a 5-speed gearbox and chain drive.
It sounds unimpressive, and to be fair my 250cc Honda puts down roughly the same peak power figure. But out on the road, the two bikes could not be further apart in the way they ride and it's all due to that torque figure.
Where my Honda needs the absolute snot revved out of it on the open road the Scram just gently chugs along. Hills at 100kph don’t need a rapid downshift of multiple gears just to maintain speed with the Scram able to maintain speed quite nicely thanks to its generous torque spread.
It’s classic Enfield in the way it rides and the brand is renowned for its long-stroke engines. I do find it curious that this engine wasn’t used for the Classic 350, Meteor and Hunter, as it has just what is needed to push the Scram along at the legal limit without you feeling like you are abusing the bike trying to wring every last ounce of power from it.
The Scram isn’t just a Himalayan without the windscreen. Enfield has made a number of changes to make the bike more accessible and easier to use.
Converting from the Himalayan to the Scram sees the front wheel move from a 21-inch unit to a 19-incher, while at the same time ground clearance drops from 220mm to 200mm. Despite this, the seat height is just 5mm shorter than the Himalayan at 785mm, a result of Royal Enfield swapping in a rather plush single-piece seat for the Scram. In terms of comfort, I had no issues with the seat on the Scram. Though I didn't put in any particularly long days in the saddle while I had it to test all-day comfort, I think it'll be reasonably good if you decided to take on a long weekend ride.
The cockpit features a large analogue speedo with an LCD insert offering an odometer, two trip meters, a clock, a fuel gauge, and even a gear position indicator. There’s also the neat Tripper navigation pod that (via the Royal Enfield app) can display Google Maps directions to your next destination. It's an optional extra on top of the SCRAM 411's $8,290 entry price, but an extra that is well worth budgeting into your purchase. Not only does it give you the extra functionality, but it also helps fill out the dash visually which I rather like in a bike.
While it is marketed as an urban-oriented bike rather than an off-road adventure machine, I couldn't resist the urge to take it on my favourite gravel and twisty road route around Mt Pirongia in the Waikato to see just how versatile the Scram could be.
In the corners that lovely bottom-end torque helps the Scram scamper from corner to corner. You can really have a lot of fun on a twisty road with this bike without reaching any kind of limit that most would consider dangerous. It's like a friendly puppy, it gives and gives and then it runs out of steam where a larger bike would lope on with gusto.
Hitting the gravel on the Scram is no issue, though I found that the standing position wasn't the most comfortable in factory trim. The subframe and airbox covers are quite wide above the pegs and put your legs in a bit of an awkward position. It is more the kind of bike that you remain seated on for the most part I think, only switching to a standing position when absolutely necessary.
Despite its off-road-inspired design, the ABS on the Scram 411 – like many modern scrambler-style bikes on the market – is not switchable. I found the front brake didn't suffer from an over-eager ABS unit, however, the rear tended to pulse the ABS more than I would have liked. I managed to disable the ABS by performing a burnout on the gravel (a technique that works on many other bikes including Harley-Davidson's LiveWire). This confuses the ABS system enough for it to disable it, however, in doing so it also turned off the speedo. I suspect the two systems are linked so probably best to keep the ABS on.
When it came to being a little more adventurous than gravel, the tyres and ground clearance of the Scram become the biggest limiting factors. With 200mm of ground clearance, the Scram tended to get hung up pretty easily. Thankfully there is a factory-fitted aluminium skid plate fitted, but being reasonably thin compared to aftermarket items you won't want to beat on it too hard.
The tyres, made by Royal Enfield's supplier CEAT, do a decent job on the road and even in gravel and proved to hold on well enough. Get into slippery grass with a clay base and they quickly become overwhelmed.
But at the end of the day, I don't think the Scram 411 is really meant to go off into the scrub on challenging adventures. Like Enfield's other single-cylinder models, the Scram is meant to be an incredibly easy-to-use form of transportation which makes it ideal for complete beginners to start their motorcycling journey.
Like its other sub-500cc siblings, the power delivery is friendly and predictable, while the clutch action is superb. Sure, the levers could be a bit closer to the bars for those with stubby fingers, but that's easily remedied in the aftermarket. RE even has a large swathe of official accessories to personalise the Scram.
I think that's what makes Royal Enfield's bikes so lovable. Their affordable basic bikes to get stuck in at the shallow end of motorcycling, allow you to dabble in personalisation and progress your skillset before you move up the ranks to larger capacity machines.
Plus you can have a tonne of fun riding them to boot.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a Royal Enfield to start out riding on. They are just so good as beginner machines or just as basic bikes to muck around on and enjoy the basics of motorcycling.
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