The new big-bore British bush bashers are here, a pair of tastefully retro soft-roaders with snarling 1200cc parallel twins, high twin pipes, long-travel suspension and a surprisingly comprehensive list of high-tech luxuries.
The retro wave in the motorcycling world is showing no signs of dying down – indeed, we may just be reaching its peak with bikes like the Indian FTR1200. And Triumph, which was one of the first companies to really run with the whole old-school thing, has just released pretty much the perfect British corollary to Indian's American flat tracker.
It's got a cradle frame instead of a trellis, a bulbous rounded tank instead of a flat teardrop, a flat, friendly-looking bench seat where the Indian's is more shaped, twin shocks instead of a hidden monoshock, and a big, fat parallel twin instead of the Indian's V-Twin. That's not to mention the Triumph's pair of signature high-rise pipes, the likes of which you'll have to get from the aftermarket if you go for the Indian.
The motor is the same 1200cc "high power" unit we enjoyed so much in Triumph's Thruxton R – a wonderfully grunty, thundery thing with a fun top end, albeit detuned a bit, from 96 horsepower and 112 Nm down to 89 horses and 110 Nm. The 120-horse FTR1200 and the 110-horse BMW NineT Scrambler will beat it in a drag race, but the Triumph has the edge on its Italian competition, handily beating the 86-horsepower, 88 Nm Ducati Scrambler 1100 on the spec sheet, as much as that matters for this style of bike.
The frame is new, as are the foot controls and adjustable handlebars. The dash is a huge step forward from previous Triumph Scramblers, and allows riders control over five different riding modes: rain, road, sport, off-road and a custom setting. These affect power, power delivery, traction control and ABS settings.
As well as the adjustable handlebar position, there are some nice little touches of luxury, too: single-button cruise control for one, as well as keyless ignition, USB charge points, and the ability to option up with tire pressure monitors and a Bluetooth module for navigation, phone, media and even GoPro control – that's a new one.
Up until this point, we've been speaking about both the XC and XE models, but they're differentiated in a fun way. The XC is the standard and lower cost model, targeted mainly at road and gravel riding, while the XE version aims to bump up the Scrambler's off-road chops and entice riders to throw it at some properly gnarly terrain.
Thus, while the XC and XE both use Sachs forks and Ohlins shocks, the XC gets 200mm of travel at either end and the XE gets 250mm. This raises the seat height, but also the ground clearance.
While both bikes run Brembo M50 Monobloc brakes at the front, on 320mm discs, the XC gets standard ABS and traction control, while the XE is optioned up with an inertial measurement unit (IMU) that gives it cornering ABS and lean angle-sensitive TC. The XE also gets a bonus "off-road pro" mode that switches ABS and TC off altogether so you can slide the thing around if you've got the chops.
The XE also gets adjustable foot controls and heated grips for a touch of extra comfort, as well as a few shiny farkles. The easiest way to differentiate the two bikes visually is probably by the XE's gold forks, where the XC runs black ones. Oddly, from these photos I think I prefer the look of the black ones. The XE also gets a dark stripe across the tank. Interestingly, both bikes run the same 21"/17" spoked wheel combo, so it'd be unfair to call the XC a tarted-up road bike despite its lower clearance.
Triumph has provided a pretty comprehensive specification sheet on these machines, but any mention of the new Scramblers' weight is conspicuous in its absence. On the other hand, look what you're buying: a big, comfy, 1200cc dirt squirter. The other bikes in this class mentioned above sit around the 210-220 kg (465-485 lb) range wet, and it's reasonable to expect the new Triumphs to fit in around the same. If you want something lighter, you're going to have to sacrifice some grunt or some old-school style. Buyers of these bikes know what they're getting themselves into.
All in all, there's never been a better time to be shopping for big-bore retro scramblers, and the new Triumph Scrambler 1200s look like a terrific addition to the category, even if we feel a little strange about the lack of fork gaiters. There's every reason to suspect these bikes will be extremely popular, and we'd love to take one for a spin!
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