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About a fortnight ago, Triumph factory rider Ernie Vigil finished fifth in the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally, conquering the grueling 2150km+ Baja terrain that made the Scrambler name famous in the 1960s. Additionally, he managed the feat riding a stock Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE, besting equally-determined competitors piloting properly modded, lightweight dirt bikes!
Ernie’s achievement speaks volumes about the all-new Scrambler 1200 that we sampled recently in the treacherous trails around Shimla and equally bad roads between Chandigarh and the hill station. Unfortunately, we will not be getting the fully loaded XE variant but the slightly more easygoing XC. That said, the XC packs in everything a Scrambler should and some more. Priced at Rs 10.73 lakh, it offers a lot more kit than both Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled and Scrambler 1100. Is this the ultimate Scrambler we always desired but never found till date?
Yes. It’s been 13 years since the inception of the makeshift Scrambler that exists in Triumph’s portfolio in the guise of the Street Scrambler. The 1200 is nothing like the Street Scrambler, with the exception of the high-mounted exhaust. To start with, it gets the Thruxton’s 1200cc High Power motor, but with a unique ‘Scrambler tune’. It also gets magnesium cam covers, new crankshafts, a lighter alternator and lighter balance shafts for overall weight reduction.
The maximum output stands at a healthy 89bhp at 7400rpm and 110Nm at 3950rpm. These figures are higher than the recently-launched Street Scrambler by a whopping 40 per cent. Ride-by-wire now allows you to choose between five rider modes, namely Rain, Road, Off road, Sport and Rider. The rider modes remap the throttle response, ABS and even the Traction Control settings. You also get Triumph’s second-generation TFT cluster that is not only integrated with navigation and phone/music operation but also gets the world’s first GoPro control system. These functions were not readily available on the bikes we tested, but the software patch for these services will be released soon. Keyless ignition comes standard, although you do require the key to lock the handlebar. Underseat USB storage and cruise control too make it to the standard list of features.
The chassis has been tastefully developed with a single-minded purpose of scrambling, with the tubular steel frame with aluminum cradles specifically designed for the 1200. Even the swingarm is an all-aluminum unit for added flexibility. At the front, you get fully adjustable 45mm Showa USD with 200mm of stroke while at the rear there’re dual springs supplied by Ohlins with 200mm of travel.
Not just that, this is the first Scrambler and probably one of the most affordable superbikes in the market to come with Brembo M50 monoblocs. Even the tyre setup is ideal, with a 21-inch side-laced spoke rim at the front and 17-inch rim at the rear. Metzeler Tourance rubber comes standard, but if you’re into hardcore off-roading, Pirelli Scorpion Rally II tyres are factory approved as well.
The Scrambler 1200 definitely looks the part as well. It may seem to be intimidating for neo-retro buyers but like Triumph says, it’s a crossover between a classic and a scrambler. That may put off buyers but then there’s the Speed Twin to cater to them, so everyone stays in the family. Just like all other new-generation Triumphs, there’s a lot of emphasis on attention to detail. Take the case of those brilliantly-finished aluminium mudguards; they’re not only functional but look great too. The fuel tank is seamlessly integrated with the bench seat while the tank itself gets a stainless steel strap and Monza fuel filler cap. The XE looks a lot more purposeful, but the XC is by no means dull in comparison and if you love scramblers, this will definitely hit the right spot, especially the high-mounted exhaust. That’s the only design feature that prioritises form over function, but more on that later.
Simply outstanding. The engine is tuned for low-down grunt and the 1200 delivers on almost all fronts, be it on the road or even off-road. The dry weight is a healthy 205kg but once on the move, you barely feel the mass. The light clutch action adds to the joy as well. But the piece de resistance is definitely the engine. Thanks to the wet conditions, we ended up testing almost all five modes. Just like the Speed Twin, the fuelling is slightly twitchy in Sport mode, a very unlikely trait for a Triumph. Light throttle input and she goes like a bullet (no pun intended). The torque is staggering in the low revs and starts building up from as low as 2,500rpm. The engine redlines at 7500rpm but the torque delivery is so addictive, you’ll end up shifting sooner than later. Of course, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the top-end, but the bottom end is by no means a slouch.
All this makes the 1200 a potent weapon, not only on blacktop but even over the rough stuff. There’s ample pull in almost every gear and you’ll never be left wanting for more grunt. However, things are not as rosy as they seem. The high-mount exhaust looks fabulous but leaves much to be desired, constantly throwing heat at your calves and thighs, especially at slow speeds, making it almost impossible to live with this motorcycle on a day-to-day basis, especially in our metropolitans.
The ride and handling too is simply mind-blowing. The 1200 basically behaves like a classic motorcycle on the roads but when given the stick on rough roads, she suddenly changes her demeanour. The feedback from the Showa at the front is precise and you always know what the front end is doing, despite the long-stroke forks. The ride quality is perfect for a motorcycle of its kind and unlike the soft and cushy ADVs, the 1200 is agile too. Well, you never expect a scrambler to handle well on roads, do you? Fortunately, the 1200 brings the best of both worlds, delivering a setup that is just about perfect for our conditions. And yes it really shows the genes of the Thruxton when ridden hard around the twisties.
Absolutely. The Triumph Scrambler 1200 is a capable off-roader that can do almost everything a Tiger would without the additional bulk. The handling is definitely close to other classic motorcycles from Triumph’s range. Of course, there’s a lot of wind blast after 120kmph, but Triumph offers tonnes of accessories if you’re into touring. And then there’s the brilliant sticker. At Rs 10.73 lakh, it undercuts the base Ducati Scrambler 1100 by almost Rs 20,000 and offers a lot more. In fact, it even makes the recently-launched 2019 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled feel overpriced. With the Scrambler 1200, Triumph seems to be killing two birds in one stone. Isn’t that what an ideal scrambler is meant to do anyway?