With Triumph now offering three different water-cool variations on the Scrambler concept, we thought we’d take a look back at the last air-cooled Scrambler which can now be picked up for a great price in the used market.
Built to invoke the spirit of the 1960s scramblers that took on the rough roads of the era, Hinkley’s last air-cooled incarnation of the Scrambler was quite a versatile and capable machine, just at home outside the local cafe as it was exploring down a long dirt road.
It is that versatility that has made the Scrambler a favourite for riders the world over, with famous riders including the late Steve McQueen, David Beckham, and actor Chris Pratt. One of three custom Scramblers that starred alongside Pratt in Jurassic World was even auctioned off raising over $US 60,000 for charity
The 865cc engine is based on the same unit found across the Triumph Bonneville range of the time, but Triumph tinkered with it a bit to suit the personality of the Scrambler. As a result, the Scrambler engine has a 270 degree crankshaft over the 360 degree unit of the Bonneville, which helps the engine provide a unique feel and thumping engine note.
Tuning has been altered to suit, while also helping to provide maximum torque from as low in the rev range as possible - peak torque of 68Nm is achieved at only 4,750 rpm and you’d be at nearly 6,000 rpm to achieve the same number on the Bonneville engine.
Compared to the Bonneville’s of this era which has a peak power output of 50kW, the Scrambler is missing a few ponies with 43kW, but this is also attained at a lower rpm and with all that previously mentioned low down torque the Scrambler, I feel the Scrambler makes for the more fun bike to ride between the two, especially in the twisties.
When new, the Scrambler 900 retailed for $15,990 plus on road costs, but these days you can pick up a low kilometre example for about $10,000.
That’s a decent saving which will let you start chucking on offroad and touring inspired accessories on board the Scrambler.
For that price you also get a bike that has the looks of a true classic - even more so than the current models - and on and off road performance that can’t be looked past. Triumph really nailed the styling
Triumph NZ added a couple of extras to our test bike, with a headlamp grille to protect the light from (presumably) stones being thrown up on gravel roads, as well as the $919 accessory silencer kit that does everything but silence the beautiful parallel twin.
KTB supplies the springers with 41mm forks up front with 120mm travel, and stylish chrome twin shocks with adjustable preload in the rear wheel travel contribute to the Scrambler’s seat height of 825mm - 85mm taller than the Bonneville.
Cruising along the motorway the Scrambler produced a nice subtle rumble, but as soon as I cracked open the throttle , a rasping, throbbing rumble erupted from the pipes. It was all too hard to resist and probably contributed to my need to fill up sooner than the claimed 3.9 litres per 100km claimed fuel economy. That said, it was definitely worth the extra trip to the pump.
If you’re unfamiliar with Scrambler style exhaust pipes, well, it is something you have to get used to. Unlike how the grouchy licence testers from the NZTA would prefer, getting both feet firmly on the tarmac while stopped at traffic lights is a thing of fantasy, with the pipes noticeably reducing your ability to put your right leg down if you’re not of the long legged variety.
I did find the overall narrow width of the Scrambler perfect for sneaking past cars to the front of the queue where there was plenty of space to come to a standstill.
Once out of the city the Scrambler really shows it can do everything and anything you ask of it.
The knobbly looking Bridgestone Trail Wing tyres are a perfect match for the Scrambler and hold the road well when the road gets twisty, with the bike being a real joy when you start leaning into each corner and then thunder out with a fistfull of throttle.
Off the smooth stuff and on gravel the Scrambler really comes into its own.
Contrary to my initial thoughts,it was not a heavy, lumbering beast on the slippery dirt and gravel roads of Riverhead. Instead, the Scrambler felt confidence inspiring and sure footed as I stood on the pegs and took in the great scenery.
Braking is handled by two piston Nissin calipers front and rear. With the key omission of ABS on the Scrambler you know Triumph really do want it to take the path less travelled.
On the road coming to a stop is easily done with no signs of the wheels locking up, yet on gravel locking up the rear brake was simple and helped keep the Scrambler stable while riding down hills.
Even if it is cliched you can’t describe the Scrambler as anything but a ‘jack of all trades’. Sure it can’t keep up with the best of them on or off road, and there are some better looking classic styled machines out there. But unlike those bikes the Scrambler can and will have a fair crack at anything its owner wants to try. For some people that makes it as close as anything to the perfect all rounder.
With Triumph recently moving to water cooled engines there’s now even more reason to look to this generation of Triumph Scrambler if you are after a reliable retro machine.