A Triumph if you bike like Bond
Unlike actor Daniel Craig, who plays British secret agent James Bond in the upcoming film No Time To Die, I do not have to dodge bullets or outrun gun-toting crooks while on the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE.
Still, I can imagine doing so on the XE, but perhaps in a less suave manner than 007.
The movie is scheduled for release in November, and the stunt bike featured in it was the inspiration for this year's ultra-rare and expensive Triumph Scrambler 1200 Bond Edition.
Perhaps aspiring martini-sipping 007s who prefer not to dole out huge sums on marketing hype will be glad to know that the Bond Edition and the XE ($31,630 without COE and insurance) are essentially the same - aside from minor graphics and cosmetic differences.
Indeed, the Bond Edition is based on the XE's technology, specifications and equipment, said British motorcycle manufacturer Triumph.
Shop with Shopee discount code to save on your next bike essentials adventure
At the heart of the XE is its 1,200cc engine which churns out 89bhp.
The grunt from the parallel-twin Triumph is reminiscent of the motorcycles left behind by British soldiers who fought in World War II.
Likewise, the image of a Triumph motorcycle in Scrambler guise has often been associated with a Hollywood motorhead, the late actor Steve McQueen, known for starring in movies with motorcycles, such as The Great Escape (1963), as well as racing them in real life.
Before you get all nostalgic, the ride-by-wire XE, which retains some past styling cues like its padded fuel tank, wide handlebars, pseudo carburettor covers and high-mounted exhaust pipes, is a motorcycle armed with the latest technology.
Behind its grilled headlamp is a digital dashboard that lets you monitor your riding selections from five ride modes, gear position indicator, traction control and cornering anti-lock brakes.
Look closer and you will discover gems like the Brembo MCS brake lever, tubeless semi-off-road tyres and aluminium braced hand guards.
Nevertheless, there are some things you have to accept before owning an XE.
With a seat height of 870mm, the bike is more suited for tall riders. Its small mirrors, while stylish, lack coverage and its dual-exhaust pipes have a tendency to slow-roast your right thigh, especially on long rides.
While the XE is capable of some off-road riding, do not expect it to behave like an anorexic dirtbike that can change direction instantly.
With a dry weight of 207kg and a long wheelbase of 1.57m, it requires commitment to make directional changes on dirt trails.
On the other hand, its wheelbase gives it straight-line stability which is enhanced by its robust suspension - gold Showa 47mm fully adjustable upside-down forks and dual fully adjustable Ohlins shocks.
But the XE excels on open roads, giving you a commanding view of what is ahead.
Its low-rpm torque ensures you get punchy acceleration quicker on its smooth transmission. It is also less tiring as the XE comes with a light (cable) clutch pull.
Where you are bound to notice the XE's go-factor is when you hit the sweet spot in revolutions per minute, between 3,800rpm and 6,000rpm.
While capable of a top speed of about 220kmh, things should not get out of hand when you need to stop quickly and safely because the XE is equipped with powerful Brembo brakes.
In top gear with 3,000rpm showing on the rev counter, the bike cruises at 90kmh.
On tarmac, its 250mm front and rear suspension travel, which is 50mm more than the base model Scrambler 1200 XC, will reward you with a more comfortable ride over bumpy road surfaces.
Granted, the Scrambler is not a high-revving motorcycle that boasts crazy horsepower and torque figures. But it will charge ahead faithfully, and its classic lines and presence are likely to cause a few bystanders to do a double take.