Biker Boy

Review: Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer provides racing in style

The new Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer is a classy ride

Launched last month, the Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer evokes nostalgia, from the black-and-gold colour scheme inspired by the Ducati Darmah of the 1970s to the ribbed dark brown leather "single-seat" and bar-end mirrors, and lowered headlamp.

But the compact Cafe Racer is new and modern. It is Ducati's answer to attracting more riders to its lifestyle segment.

ERGONOMICS

While the clip-on handlebars suggest a sportier (and wrist-aching) ride, you are unlikely to be tired riding the Cafe Racer - it does not possess that nose-down attitude.

The reach to its wide handlebars is not extreme - the bars are now 15.5cm forward and 17.5cm lower.

The footrests remain in the same position as the Scrambler Icon, which was first launched in 2014 to much acclaim.

Of course, compared to the Scrambler Icon's taller handlebars that give your hands a more natural perch, the Cafe Racer's stance looks more aggressive.

POWER AND HANDLING

Brute force and power are not hallmarks of the Cafe Racer.

It has only 75hp and around 68Nm of torque, but the six-speeder compensates with the handling.

You will appreciate its calm manners, especially if you love cornering. I discovered this on the mountain and highway roads outside Bologna.

Our 180km test route was home to a dizzying array of corners, from high-speed sweepers to blind sloped hairpins.

We left Bologna in the morning. By noon, we had covered an estimated 1,200 corners.

The Cafe Racer's shorter wheelbase and smaller rake make it easy to nudge and lean the 172kg (dry weight) bike into turns.

The trick is to be in the right gear prior to entering a turn.

The smooth and improved throttle response ensures you do not experience a jolt during corner exits, even as the dual upswept Termignoni exhaust pipes grunt into a crescendo.

At 4,000rpm, the digital speedo read about 110kmh.

And do not let that single seat fool you - there is plenty of room to manoeuvre in the spacious seat.

For a basic suspension set-up - 41mm upside-down forks and pre-load adjustable rear shock - it was near perfect for my 64kg frame.

With less power on the fuel-injected Cafe Racer, the single radial-mounted and anti-locking front Brembo brake was more than adequate.

On harder braking and acceleration, I occasionally found my knees sliding forward and backward respectively, even as I gripped the classy-looking fuel tank.

While my wrists did not ache after four hours of riding, it was the windblast at higher speeds that got to me. But adding a windscreen would destroy the looks on the minimalist Cafe Racer.

TECHNOLOGY

Thankfully, the technology behind the Cafe Racer was kept simple.

It has anti-lock brakes, new LED lights and LCD instrumentation.

VERDICT

This is as close as it gets to owning a mid-size classy cafe racer that will not cost much to maintain.

It rides well too, despite fewer horses under the hood.

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