Photo: Ducati Scrambler Caught at WDW 2014

07/23/2014 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS


Ducati has just finished up the desmodromic orgy that is World Ducati Week 2014, where thousands of Ducatisti gather to celebrate all things Ducati. One of the highlights of the festival this year was Borgo Panigale’s showing of the Ducati Scrambler.

A mix of yellow shipping containers, cabanas, and sand, the Scrambler reveals were held for about a dozen Ducati fanatics at at time, in a controlled room where no cellphones were allowed.

It’s hard to say whether Ducati thought it could prevent photos from the event from leaking onto the internet despite these measures, or if the Italian motorcycle company just likes putting up a good front for its marketing buzz. Either way, some images have come out from the event.

Here’s the first such image, showing the Ducati Scrambler in its retro-yellow paint scheme. Clear from the photos are the final lines of the tank, and the exhaust header routing. Also visible is the forward cylinder of the air-cooled v-twin engine, as we’ve seen from other spy photos.

There are obvious cues in the design to the Ducati Scrambler from the 1960’s and 1970’s, though Ducati has made some departures from the original, namely with its two-cylinder engine and lack of wire-spoked wheels.

From the marketing, Ducati seems to be targeting a younger demographic not currently found in the brand. It will be interesting to see how the Scrambler is received by Ducatisti and non-Ducatisti alike, and we imagine pricing will be a critical factor in the bike’s success. Thanks for the tip Angelo!

Photo: Ducati Corse (Unofficial Facebook Page)

  • Andrey

    So what features and benefits will this offer, over and above the other models?

  • paulus

    styling looks reminiscent of the Suzuki van-van and other retro types.
    Pricing will be the critical factor… especially as it is not red and not a single sided swinger ;-)

    I look forward to seeing one soon.

  • Angelo

    Hahahahaha Love these italians branding their bike as a scrambler lolol Clearly they dont have enough dirt in Italy, From the pic i see hardly a scrambler

  • Andrea

    Being a Ducati is a benefit itself. No other bike factory give parallel emotions while riding. I used my 749 for the track, then I bought a 636 Ninja too. Of course Ninja is powerful, but the emotion of bending a Ducati in the corners is pearless.

  • terpinator

    Are there any reports on what size engine the Scramber will use? Will there be a range of engines, as in the monster line up?

  • Terry

    @Andrea – do you work in marketing for ducati by any chance?
    The treason the younger demographic aren’t typically owners is cos the things are too expensive and pitched at the lifestyle brand, middle class types.

  • Andrea

    @Terry, unfortunately not, but I wish.. ;-).
    I don’t know which models are sold in the US, but in Italy some Ducati entry bykes existed (a little bit less nowadays, to say the thruth). The issue of the cost is of course due to the volumes. Honda produces millions of 2-wheelers/year versus the around 40k of Ducati, so investment coverage weight on teh final cost of a Ducati is necessarely higher.

  • Xan

    @Andrea: emotions like anger and frustration as all of the ninjas go zooming by while your Ducati is broken down on the side of the road? That’s actually the biggest issue I see with this thing. Trying to target young, single bike, not so well off folks from a brand that has a pretty bad track record on reliability just won’t work. Millennials grew up on Honda and Toyota cars that will run with naught but oil and gas for 20 years. If this thing isn’t rock solid reliable, they either won’t touch it or it will be sitting on showroom floors year 2 after the first year all fall apart.

  • Xan

    @Andrea: Economies of scales are a thing, but the bottom line is that if this thing is 20%+ more than the comparable Japanese bike, it’s going to gather dust on the showroom floor. Generally they only way smaller companies survive is by providing products or services that the bigger guys don’t. Ducati can do this in a 15k bike, but I sincerely doubt they can in an 8k bike.

  • Andrea

    @Xan: Maybe we can agree on the fact that motorbikes are superfluous goods. Should anyone need to commute, a scooter is sufficient. Motorbikes are for those looking for emotions. Give a look to the Mini car by BMW. It’s the less reliable car in Europe, but whom of the purchaser care of that? Nobody, as it’s not a car but a sort status simbol.
    70’s and 80’s Ducatis were unreliable. Nowadays is different, but they still need more care in maintenance than the Japs. Just do that when prescribed and you can enjoy your bike for years.

  • ZootCadillac

    Oh Jensen, did you learn nothing from the Superlegerra debaclé? ;)

    Italy are apoplectic that this image was smuggled out. No cameras were allowed in the viewing area. They are actively attempting to trace whoever posted this image first. Somebody is getting blacklisted, at the very least.
    I was told explicitly. ” don’t post it, don’t retweet it, distance yourself from it”

    So I’m keeping out of it ;)

  • ZootCadillac

    @Terpinator 796 air cooled.

  • It will be a $9,990.00 USD 700cc and will be fun to take to the local bike night for attention.
    Nothing more. Triumph beware.

  • Terry

    @andreaI understand your point but not everyone buys a bike for the reasons you mention, those reasons are simply lifestyle and image bssed and a bit shallow imho.
    I buy a bike for its performance and ability, is it the best example of its type, can I get the best out of it and it out of me. Does it do the jobs I want it for.
    Ducati for me are the apple of the bike world, without the sales volume. Too much about image and aspirations. And purely aiming at the well to do, relatively speaking. If they really want to attract new customers, they need cheaper bikes that those people can realistically own.

  • Xan

    @Andrea: Actually the vast majority of people buy vehicles for practical reasons. You mention a BMW mini (not real sure what you’re talking about there) but there are 100 Honda civics for every one of those BMWs. What Ducati is assumedly trying to do here is say “hey, I can sell you something similar to that Honda civic for 20% more money, with twice the cost of ownership, but it will say Ducati….. Which is super cool”

    That works for the second bike crowd, but it will fall flat with the economical commuter crowd. Certainly there are some trust fund hipsters that will buy this thing instead of a cafe racer or moto guzzi, but that isn’t the crowd you aim at while trying to make a mass market bike.

    I’d also be willing to bet that the vast majority of potential Ducati buyers will look at this and the monster side by side and never look at this again.

  • Ian

    Hmm… personally I think this crappy, hipster beardie weirdie horse has bolted and the trend is on the way out. Might be cool for those who genuinely appreciate the original.

  • Zoot, a photo of an unreleased bike gets plastered all over Facebook, and I’m not supposed to cover it? Puh-leaze.

  • @Xan,
    Spot on! Ducati has become the very “lifestyle-brand” that Duc owners mock Harley Davidson for being.
    You’re dead on about the reliability too. Starter clutches, rectifiers and myriad other components that fail at ridiculously low mileage, failures that simply do not occur on “other” bikes. But hey, “character goes a long way, I guess.
    Ducatis are no longer exotic but simply expensive, great-looking, second-rate Eurocrap.

  • coreyvwc

    So many people so opposed to a simple yet fun motorcycle.

    It’s got a good engine, and it’s got a place for you to sit.

    Sometimes the ingredients for a good time are really that simple…

  • Slappy

    Haters gunna hate. But in my experience as a motorcycle industry professional, that is because you have never owned a Ducati, or probably any European bike for that matter, so you have absolutely no clue wtf you are talking about.

    Criticism of the name Scrambler? Like your beloved Triumph Scrambler is any more of a real scrambler, at a hefty 865cc and 500lbs? It’s just a name, for god sakes. The original Ducati Scrambler 450 didn’t have high pipes either! Get over it!

    Criticism of Ducati in general? Cuz you don’t understand the feeling or sound that makes Ducati different, and thus cannot appreciate the finer things in life.

    Criticism of the price? Wait and see… You have a “Scrambler” that’s 100lbs lighter with 20 more hp than the Triumph, with a better engine and sound, for likely around the same price range sub $9k, when what are you complaining about?

    Criticism of Lifestyle Branded? Because Ducati has personality, charisma and soul, because they have history and heritage and a strong identity which has created a cult following, and that’s a bad thing?

    Criticism of hipster marketing? Well, hipsters are motorcyclists too. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Now let us have our bike!

  • jeram

    the way the tank mounts to the bike and the plastic at the front makes the bike look cheap.

    This bikes needs a kit to ditch the airbox!, not for performance but look at all classic bikes including the BMW nine-T. The one thing that ruins the look is the giant plastic airbox.

    We need pod filters so we have the ability to ‘see through’ the bike!

    Lovely bike, but wish it had wire wheels!

  • Jake

    While I agree somewhat with the “hipster appeal” marketing BS that seems to permeate these non-sport bike releases, it’s not Ducati’s fault people seem to fall for it. Ducati probably makes a good bit of profit off selling Sandisc memory sticks that are twice as expense as a non-branded identical chip or selling fancy sweatshirts and stuff. If everybody could sell that schtick they would.

    That said, this bike looks cheap. Plastic all over and from the looks of it, fairly poorly integrated into the design.

    If it’s under $10k and doesn’t have crap suspension it could still be a really fun bike. I’m a sucker for scramblers though.

  • ZootCadillac

    Sorry Jensen, I should have added something that suggested the sarcastic tone in my head and the cheesy grin on my face as I typed that. It was intended to be a little joke along the lines of ” oh no, it’s the superlegerra all over again “.

    Yes, this image was way, way out in the wild long before you posted it.

  • ZootCadillac

    Some controversy in this thread. I know that there is blowback to the ‘hipster’ culture in the US but really in Europe it’s barely a thing. Teenagers and those in their years following always find some form of cultural niche to fit into every generation. It’s just so they can differentiate themselves from their parents.
    For me it was punk, original punk, in the UK.

    You see I’m almost 50 years old and it’s probably precisely because I’m that age that a bike like this excites me.

    I think every rider knows where it started for them. For me it was on waste land near my parent’s house, there were huge tracts of it from a disused railway alongside a large canal waterway. All the local kids got bikes and rode them up there.

    One of the first bikes I rode was a Suzuki TS250 (would have been a K, L, maybe an M, unsure, it was painted twice before i got it used )and if you have seen one of those then I think you would agree that’s the epitome of a scrambler. I barely knew what a Ducati was back then, other than some Italian obscurity that we never saw in England. Turns out they did their own scramblers and they were not a great deal different to the Suzuki TS.

    Will this bike be another one of those? I doubt it, for numerous reasons but if it brings the slightest hint of those long summer days up and down the hills, going home filthy and bruised after having more fun than you believed was possible then I’m all for it.

    And that’s the thing. No matter where it’s marketed or whom, to the reality is that none of that matters. Buyers will come from all walks of life for many different reasons.

    By the way. Bike in the photo and in the container at WDW was a prototype and could not even be sat on ( by anyone, staff included ) so there may be a few things subject to change.

    Regarding the colour? Well, I’m sure other colours will be available but the scheme is a direct copy of one of their 70’s bikes. How could anyone object when the whole point is to resurrect an icon?


  • Coreyvw

    Spot on man, my thoughts exactly. But there’s more to Ducati Appeal than just the sound! (Attention to detail) has always been the biggest eye catcher for me.

    Every brand new motorcycle in the world has a plastic airbox. It’s illegal not to have one, just like in cars.
    And stop with the wire wheels, they’re heavy and require old fashioned tubes in the tires.

  • sburns2421

    I love and have owned Ducatis but I am expecting to hate this bike.

  • smiler

    Another face filled comment from Xan: “but the bottom line is that if this thing is 20%+ more than the comparable Japanese bike, it’s going to gather dust on the showroom floor”

    They generally are, so why are Ducati sales up 30% globally and Japanese sales stagnant? Why did the Superleggera sell out when it is four times the price of the nearest Japanese bike gathering dust on the showroom floor.

    Just because Ducati has expanded it’s range why does this now make Ducati a lifestyle brank. The Scramber is essentially an update of the Scramlber that Ducati made in the 70’s.

    As for there not being enough dirt in Italy. Apaprently there is non in the US because no one even makes one.

    If you actually knew any Ducati owners (perhaps outside LA or Miami) then the idea that people buy Ducati’s like people buy Harley’s is a joke, really.

    As for reliability, Ducati have tripled the service intervals on most of it’s bikes and the 1199 has the same service interval of the same for the past ten years Japanese sportsbikes. I have owned 2 Hindas and three Ducati’s. The Ducati’s were as reliable as the Honda’s even though the last 2 ducati’s were also used on track days.

    In a Survey in the US in 2013 BMW’s were seen to be the most unreliable but had the best satisfaction levels from consumers. Funny that.

  • Can’t agree with a single thing you said smiler.

    First off, Ducati sales are not up 30%. Sales are only up 3% this year so far over last year, and 2013 was up only 4% over 2012. If anything, Ducati has flatlined since its sale to Audi.

    Ducati has been a lifestyle brand since the TPG days, it was actually part of the business plan written by Minoli. Nothing better shows this than Ducati’s play on its racing heritage and performance — it helps them sell a lot of lifestyle merch too. There are definitely people who buy a Ducati solely because of what’s written on the tank.

    Part of what was so important about the Multistrada and Diavel was that it was the first time Ducati moved away from being a “Superbike Company” and into a brand with a full range of machines. The Scambler is an extension of this idea, and it also tips Ducati’s toe into the off-road segments.

    In terms of reliability, Ducati is on par now with other European manufacturers, but the Japanese brands still rule the roost, anecdotal evidence not withstanding. That’s according to Ducati’s own internal metrics.

    It’s funny you mention the Consumer Report article, because they conclude that strong branding is why Harley and BMW riders show satisfaction with their machines, despite being less reliable than their “soulless” Japanese counterparts.

  • Terry

    @Jensen – great post there.
    As for ‘There are definitely people who buy a Ducati solely because of what’s written on the tank’ – I would say that a fair percentage if not a majority of Ducati buyers are in this category. I say this based on personal experience and the sheer number of Ducati owners who don’t stop at just the bike, buying completely into the brand and covering themselves in anything with a Ducati logo on it.

  • @ Jensen,

    Well stated! Proof that one can be a fan without “drinking the Kool-Aid”.

  • AntiHero

    I, along with hundreds of others (8 at a time) saw the Scrambler in person and have to say that my first impression was how much fun it looks just sitting on its sidestand. It’s playful without being self-important, adolescent without being immature. The one on display was still a prototype, so ignore any complaints you have over fit and finish. I thought I was the only one to snap a photo of the bike (with permission, with the cover ON it). Looks like some sneaky, brazen hipster managed to sneak in with their google glasses.

    If you’re a motorcyclist, you should love what Ducati is doing, because they’re targeting it at a whole new demographic who is currently not riding. More riders = more rights for all of us. And if they’re successful with the scrambler, other manufacturers will be sure to join the party.

  • @AntiHero,
    As a rider, what rights are you lacking now? Are you not allowed to ride at any time, day or night? Are you not allowed to travel to any state on a motorcycle? Many states do not require a helmet, is this one of the “freedoms” that your state lacks? As far as I know, NO state requires bodily protection while riding – more “freedom”.

    More riders means more weekend dabblers, more accident statistics and more people who are their own worst enemy. Not everyone is meant to ride a motorcycle. Very few who do ride (in the US, at least) are proficient.

    Your anthropomorphizing this machine comes off as silly and pretentious marketing schlock.

    As far as prototype fit and finish, Ducati’s production fit and finish barely equals that of Suzuki and certainly does not reach the levels of Honda or Yamaha.

  • crshnbrn

    smiler says: “As for there not being enough dirt in Italy. Apparently there is non in the US because no one even makes one.”

    There are tons of dirt in the US, much of it spread out over wide-open spaces. Something Harley-Davidson and Victory/Indian would be wise to discover. Some of this dirt is even groomed into 1/2 and 1 mile ovals. Something I wish all manufacturers would realize, i.e. I want a Street Tracker.

  • Baja Bongo

    I’m afraid this might be Ducatis first fail but let’s hope the best as Ducati have one of the world best designer who’s actual passion is motocross so there is still a small hope even the picture ain’t very appealing… :)