Triumph is betting hard on the Indian motorcycling market and why not? The 500cc+ segment has witnessed a lot of action in the past few years and this British brand has managed to grab a fair amount of market share with its wide range of models. The latest entry into their ever expanding line up comes in the form of the Scrambler 1200. It goes on sale at Rs 10.73 lakh and we rode it in an apt environment last week.
The Scrambler 1200 belongs to the Bonneville family and was launched internationally a few months back. The moment I saw it in flesh at Krishan Triumph (in Chandigarh), one thing was very clear. This is a stylish retro looking naked motorcycle that seems all set to take on adventure trails. It isn’t intimidating like the larger Tiger twins are and that just makes you feel relaxed even before you swing a leg over.
Our ride plan was to head to Shimla from Chandigarh and back the next day. We were divided into two batches with the first one riding the Scrambler up on day one and the second batch getting the bikes back. I happened to be in the latter group and wasn’t complaining at all. Why? This allowed me to witness what the Scrambler 1200 could do on a variety of roads and how well it sounded while powering out of corners. I by the way was on a Tiger 800 xRx on the first day, with its high perch allowing me to tower over riders of the first batch and also allowing me to have a visual treat of the bike’s minimal body panels, high set exhausts and a tank that is half finished in matt and half in gloss.
Do note that while international markets get two versions of the Scrambler 1200, the XC and the XE, India gets the former which is more road focussed without missing out on adventure abilities. Yes the XC sits lower with lesser ground clearance but this didnt seemed to a hindrance when I rode it on the trails and crossing over little streams in the scenic countryside of Himachal Pradesh. The lower seat height (840mm) will also be preferred by most Indian riders and for my 6 foot frame, the set-up seemed just perfect.
When I woke up in Shimla on the second day, weather gods seemed to be enjoying the Scrambler. A light drizzle accompanied by waves of misty clouds made the Scrambler look even better. The clean and simple front end is dominated by the a pair of 45mm Showa USD forks that provide 200mm of travel. The cross spoked wheels add to the retro charm and so does the off-set fuel filler cap. The tank itself, as I mentioned above gets a gloss finish for the front part, followed by matt finish for the second half. Have I seen this ever before on a motorcycle? No!
The large 1200cc engine shows its mass easily. A pair of exhaust pipes come out from the right side, into the high set mufflers. Looks oh so classic and just what a Scrambler needs to have. The seat ain’t too large and slightly on the thinner side but this helps you keep both feet firmly on the ground. The rear fender is simple and covers the 150mm wide tyres properly. The rear angle also highlights the Ohlins piggyback shocks that complement the front Showas nicely. These are top spec parts and full marks to Triumph for not Indulging in cost cutting measures. Another example for this are the brakes. The Scrambler 1200 gets two massive Brembo M50 four-piston radial mono block calibers for braking duties up front. The discs, at 320mm, are large too. At the back, duties are handled by a two-piston Brembo floating caliper with a 225mm dia disc. Before you think if this is overdone, let me bring up some info on the engine.
The heart of the matter here is a revised engine that also powers other models like the Thruxton. The 1200cc HP parallel-twin engine gets weight reduction too and a new crankshaft. The ECU is new and the aim was to work on a flatter torque curve to have an even spread of punch coming in. Yes, power output is wee bit lesser than the Thruxton but the torque is a lot more, 14 Nm to be exact. Throttling out of corners, this naked adventure street fighter jumped ahead with so much enthusiasm, even the magnetic tank bag I was carrying moved back from its position. And as I was riding downhill to Chandigarh, the assurance from the excellent braking set-up did add to the peace of mind factor.
The Scrambler 1200’s engine is the brawniest of the water-cooled Bonneville bikes. This high torque engine might not be loved by those who like wringing the right wrist every few minutes but will be a delight for riders who love using the low and mid range of a motorcycle, even for overtaking manoeuvres. This was apparent on the ride as the bike pulled cleanly from as low as 2000rpm around the narrow state highways and then chewed up miles once we hit the 4-lane part towards Chandigarh.
A ride on a multi purpose bike isn’t complete without trail riding. The rains did add to the adventure part and I loved sticking to the wet mode for the first one hour. For most, Shimla to Chail via Kufri is an easy tarmac ride, right? Not for us – the unexplored stretches that we rode on were covered with pine trees and the thorns, slushed out paths, broken trails and even water crossings. This is what was in store was us and I certainly had a grin plastered on my face. Standing-on-the-pegs is an apt position on such terrains and I soon selected off-road mode to let the rear step out when I wanted. As expected, the modes do alter the way power comes in and working of the ABS and traction control systems.
And just when I was beginning to enjoy the bike, I screwed up. During a tight u-turn for photo-ops, I stalled the Scrambler and dropped it. The immediate reaction to dropping a 10 lac+ motorcycle is to pick it up without thinking twice, right? I did that too, but in the wrong manner. Result? I pulled a muscle or two in my lower back and threatened to spoil my ride back. However, two pills later, I was happily riding the Scrambler at speeds crazy enough to wet my palms. The relatively thin seat did provide adequate comfort my bum and a sore lower back!
This is also a forgiving machine. It lets you enjoy beyond your comfort zone without making you nervous. Make no mistake, it is a heavy motorcycle and takes time getting used to before you flick it around corners. Thankfully though, unlike adventure bikes, it doesn’t have a top heavy feel and this helps at lower speeds. By noon, the sun was out, tarmac dried up and this finally allowed me to use the mode I was waiting for – the sport one. The exhausts, even though stock, belted out crackling notes as I rode down to Kandaghat.
So, was I truly impressed with the Scrambler 1200? There were a few things that did result in a straight face inside the helmet. On straights, anything over 120 and you need to hold on tight. May be a standard fly screen should be on the offering. And once I hit Chandigarh traffic, the heat from the engine and the exhausts was a bit too much to bear. A rider will need to be very careful so as not to burn off hair from his right thighs. Its that bad.
But that aside, the Scrambler 1200 is a multi-tasker. In the way it looks and the way it functions. Its a sports tourer for short stints, a capable adventurer, a naked street missile and a lot more. Plus the character of the big bore engine is what makes it so impressive. The plateau of torque and the roar from the exhaust will delight loyalists too.
Before I end though, a quick discussion about the speedometer console and a new Triumph app. The console is all new and the second generation TFT screen looks quite bling for a retro bike. It comes with two themes and is programmable by the rider. A lot of information is on offer but the clever part is that once you are done toggling with the rider info display, it disappears from the screen so that you can just concentrate on how fast you are going and how quick the bike is revving. Cool no? Next, you can even align the cluster as per your riding posture – just makes it so user friendly. And as an accessory, owners will be able to purchase a Bluetooth module – this will allow them to pair their phones with the console, thus getting features like turn by turn navigation and even controlling a GoPro on the move. Impressive. But the features go on – the Scrambler 1200 also get keyless ignition that just makes daily biking so much more fuss free.
Triumph will also be offering over 80+ accessories for the bike including an inspiration kit. Priced about two lakh over the Street Scrambler, the added performance, better dynamics and higher kit makes this bike a good value proposition. If out and out sportsbikes or larger adventure machines aren’t your taste, the Scrambler 1200 could make for a good choice.