Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Ride -- 2012 Triumph Scrambler

This edition of the Friday Ride features some beautiful scenery on a crisp November afternoon and a new set of wheels.  I've recently become the proud owner of this fine looking British motorcycle and rather than pedal today I decided to exercise my wrist and let some chilly fall air cool the 865cc parallel twin.

For the past twenty years I have ridden Japanese cruisers and over time I have grown tired of the foreword controls and raked out front forks of the traditional cruiser style bikes.  With my feet stretched out in front all my weight sat directly on my tailbone.  That arrangement was fine for short trips but any longer than an hour with no way to shift my body weight around grew tiresome to say the least. 

Over the years I have carefully considered a few factors that might define my idea of  the perfect motorcycle.  I first learned how to ride a motorbike in the mountains of Western Montana on a little Suzuki enduro.  I'll never forget that bike with it's wide handlebars and upright standard riding position.  My idea of the perfect ride is ambling along the back roads taking my time enjoying the view and the interaction with the machine I'm riding.  Many times in the past on my cruiser with low pipes and chrome all gleaming I'd come across a dusty dirt road leading off to who knows where.  Regretfully I would always stick to the pavement and have to put my wanderlust to rest, besides cruisers handle poorly on gravel.

When I first laid eyes on the Scrambler I thought that just might be the bike for me.  Then I saw some YouTube videos of riders out in the desert southwest on Scramblers and I was sold.  Today motorcycles are very much categorized by their intended usage and styling cues run the gamut unlike the auto industry where every sedan pretty much looks the same -sterile boring homogeny.

The Scrambler's lineage can be traced back sixty years to the Triumph TR6 Trophy with a 650cc engine. The TR6 was nicknamed the "desert sled" due to it's popularity with off road racers in the American South West in the 1950s and 60s and to this day the Triumph 650 is still a popular power plant used in dirt track racing.  The Trophy variants even made their way into popular culture in the Steve McQueen movie "The Great Escape" disguised as a BMW R75.  What motorcyle fan could forget the TR5 ridden by that cool guy from 1970's tv "The Fonz"?  It's no surprise a bike with such an interesting family tree would one day find it's way to my garage.

The Scrambler, one of several bikes in Triumph's Classics line shares the same 52.7 cubic inch motor as the Bonneville models with one exception.  A different cam changes the firing angle to 270 degrees instead of the Bonneville's  360 degree firing angle.  This change reduces overall horsepower of the Scrambler but improves the low RPM torque, a characteristic of an off road style bike.  Granted the Scrambler is really a road bike with semi-knobby Bridgestones I have a feeling it will serve me well on the occasional dirt road adventure.  The wide bar and standard riding position feels natural to me increasing safety and control.  Modern electronic fuel injection and hydraulic disc brakes front and rear along with the cool retro style completes the package.



  1. Looks like a beautiful, well designed bike. Love the pipes. May you ride many happy trails.

  2. I've been looking for the past couple of years for a reasonable motorcycle to get back onto a bike and the Bonneville an the scrambler are two that I have been considering for many of the same reasons you state. I'm too old for the crotch rockets and too uncool to be a bad ass Harley Biker. I hope you have some great trips coming up on your new toy. Stay safe and enjoy the country beside the super slabs.

  3. What a great choice! I'm a little jealous.

  4. I'm finding it enjoyable to compare your Triumph Scrambler notes with those of Jon Gruber on his.

  5. Your article struck a chord. I recently returned to motorcycling after having given it up for 27 years. I found that many of the modern bikes (e.g. hypermotards) with their weird (dare I say grotesque?) styling did not suit my anachronistic tastes. Then I stumbled upon the Triumph Scrambler and purchased one last year. It represents a good balance between the hunched over riding position of the sport bikes and the laid-back cruiser perch and looked like the bikes that I rode in my youth. With the addition of the TORs mufflers (video of my bike: it now sounds the part.

    1. Hey those TOR's sound killer. Thanks for sharing the link. I'm not big on customizing but I've been thinking of an exhaust upgrade.

    2. I chose the TORs mufflers because they are identical to the stock mufflers in appearance (which I think is a good thing) and are much less expensive than the Arrow system. They also noticeably help throttle response and this translates into smoother shifts and a more tractable driving experience (I even noticed a bump in fuel economy). Do make sure that you get the ECU re-mapped with the TORs tune by your dealer. In the end they produce a fantastic sound that makes this fifty-something feel young again.