Welcome back Motosquirrels with installment number three of "Moto Size Matters" here at MOTOSQUIRREL!
Previously we were talking "Mean"-not really, about one of our favorite brands, namely, Kawasaki. Kawi, Kawi Kowee! We were hoping that Kawasaki would have surprised us with a mid-season announcement of an updated KLR this week (while keeping that wonderful thumper engine intact). They could have introduced a few OEM accessories to make the bike more approachable off the floor, more "Streetable" or even more off-road worthy.
One could argue that the KLR, (Out of almost all the bikes that exist minus the DR650), doesn't need any accessories offered at the time of purchase. It is fine just as “Large Marge”as it is and naked as well, only being adorned by it's 2008 upgrades, fairing and by a giant aftermarket if a buyer wishes.
But, as new or returning riders, why couldn't we get into the same options as the smaller Versys X300 or the larger Versys 650 which offer panniers as a touring or travel option? Why not sell the KLR as the adjustable, more rugged old timer that it is with the updates folks have been craving (As evidenced by this bikes world-renowned aftermarket- And NO, those flimsy little half fabric, half baked-in black pannier bags don't cut it!).
Side Note: Recently when visiting a local bike shop full of Dual-Sport bikes for sale both new and old, there wasn't a single one that would fit an experienced sport-bike rider Motosquirrelfriend who is 5'2” inches tall. With boots we will give her 5'4”!
She has tremendous experience with both street and sports bikes of all makes and models. She will ride you out of a new bike, a road lane or beat a sports car if you are willing to bet on it! The mass or the engine block size of a bike does NOT intimidate her, BUT the height does.
She wants to learn off-road and “Adventure” riding, although reassuring her that she has already had more moto adventures than most- doesn't cut it either!
Back to the browsing:
The Honda CB500X: Too Tall, The KTM 1190: Your kidding right?, The KLR650 (The one she wants or a bike like it) towers next to her and promises to squash her like a cave-girl under a fatigued dinosaur of the Jurassic era. Everything is just too darn tall. We always avoid the next “Dealership Dance Step” which is to offer the “Girl” an “XT250”- Yammy that is. But, guess what fellas...? She wants what you want. She earns good money, wants to dig the dirt, travel and be a bad ass! She doesn't want a little XT250- albeit a great bike in it's own right. This great rider girl wants the big horse just like you.
We have already argued that it is time for brands like Kawasaki to offer a serious line-up of accessories that challenge the aftermarket and show a true dedication to the heritage of such legends as the KLR. Why leave all the money to the aftermarket? It is time, in our view for Kawasaki and other brands like Suzuki to cash in on their own Ergo-Gear. Leave the wonderful thumper engines intact! Add digital TFT screens if you must! (Bravo to Suzuki with their introduction of their new retro tribute to the legendary "Katana"). Now, add in adjustability, comfort and fitment parts, windscreens and bar length options.....this is what we are focused on.
So ....back to my small friend who wants to ride big AND on the dirt. What is a girl to do when the Big Japan Three dissappoint? She looks elsewhere.
With lively word-of-mouth, video reviews, photos and brand site splash pages showing off the new KTM 790 ADV and “R” models seemingly everywhere, she is still in anticipatory shopping mode!
Love or hate KTM's willingness to throw convention to the wind, with this latest iteration of their Dual-Sport offerings, it is easy to see some of the methods behind their madness.
Just a single, lustful look at these (2) 790's should make it readily apparent that this company has “Lowered The Bar”- we mean this in a GOOD way when it comes to the overal geometry, set-up, weight distribution and standover considerations of this pair. We will focus on the more road biased version known only as the ADV 790, the other is designated with “R” which is the taller, more dirt-worthy out-of-the-box option.
But what are curiously missing with these designs is the giant gas tank on top of the frame. KTM has been producing both on road and off-road bikes with rearward placed plastic gas tanks for many years. What makes this latest approach different is the fact that the tank sort of lobs over and along both sides of the bike frame just in front and to the sides of the parallel twin engine. This giant tank sort of hugs the bike like that of a coffee bean bag over a donkey. This allows for more clearance up top as well as standover ability and lower weight distribution. Time will tell if this fantastically interesting take on an external gas tank will stand up to the abuse of heavy off-road riding.
Leave it to KTM to try something entirely different!
But....here is the BIG BUTT again! All of KTM's bigger ADV bikes are quite tall! (This is fine by MOTOSQUIRREL if they stay devoted to creating new approachable designs etc.)
Every rider and every bike has his/her needs and purpose, sometimes the "Purpose" is just having fun. Let's face it Motosquirrels: Unless a bike has extremely difficult controls to work or super extreme ergonomics- ALL BIKES ARE FUN! That's why we ride!
These height numbers are approximate. It is hard to find exact measurements via KTM materials as referenced by Motosquirrel. But these are close according to what has been reported etc.
We were watching a favorite vlogger of ours, "The Chronicles of Mr. Fish", recently who is well versed in motorcycles and has endured working in dealerships. But like so many riders in the UK, he has been denied the wonderful experience and access to off-road riding. Like so many countries, Great Britain has suffered the last few decades by so many save the earth and nutters who demand that humans do not walk the earth because they feel nature will never recover. Well, we know that this is hogwash!
Back to our Vlogger! Luckily, our friend Mr. Fish has not been deterred. He has purchased in the last few seasons both a Honda Africa Twin (Unsweetened!) as well as a CRF 250 L Rally. At over 6 feet tall, Fish has found that although the CRF 250 L Rally is a decent height for him to learn green Lanes on, he still needed bar risers to suit his riding stance. All this is to say that it is a thrill watching an old dog learn new tricks! But, once again, it leaves us asking why Honda, as well as many of the other manufacturers aren't taking advantage of the opportunities presented at the time of purchase for better fitment and…… wait for it.....PROFIT? Are you going to tell the Squirrels of MOTOSQUIRREL that Honda or any other of the top bike producers out there cannot craft great risers to begin with? Come on HONDA!
Let's make the aftermarket work harder. We need to make riders fall in love with there bikes again! Fitment first.
A few notes to the unexperienced, returning riders, riders learning new riding types or styles or.....for that matter, riders that have changed in their own body weight or confidence:
A few things to consider when buying a new or old, trusty mount when it comes to ergonomics: (Some of these will seem a little um.....duh!- But still worth keeping in mind)
1. Sit on the Dam bike!
Whether at a bike event, rally, group ride, dealership, at a friend's garage and even, possibly on a stranger's bike- take advantage of being able to sit atop a motorcycle that you may be interested in! (With permission of the owner(s) first of course!). Motorcycle dealerships especially want you to sit on their bikes because there is a higher likelihood that you'll buy them. But the important thing here is that prior to riding a demo bike, and more importantly if you're NOT allowed to ride the bike you're interested in, it is of great importance that you get a chance to sit on the bike of your choice. Also worth noting, is that it's a good idea to sit for while on a motorcycle, especially after riding it, to better determine the customizations and accessories that you may or may NOT need. Don't leave the dealership without bending their ears about the availability of such upgrades that may be stock. Keep in mind that these accessories such as handlebars, foot pegs and the like from the manufacturer are almost always expensive. (That is the point of this article- to drive these dealer add-on pricing down with market expectation!)
2. Take a look at our rider triangle graphic! This oft talked about generic set of measurement standards is a great starting point but should not be the only determining factor when feeling out your bike. These proportions which are usually obsessed about by manufacturers do not have to be obsessed by you the rider, but definitely experienced. The measure from the handlebar to the seat or foot pegs or the height of the handlebar to the midline of the seat can all be thrown out the window when it comes to your own body's specific needs.
Keep these words written on a notepad when going to check out a bike and how it feels to you. The words are: FEET, KNEES, HIPS, LOWER BACK, UPPER BACK, SHOULDERS, NECK and lastly HANDS. Keep it simple. Just write these words down along the left hand side of your page. Either while you're checking the bike out or immediately afterward a demo ride, write down your immediate thoughts on how each of these areas of your body felt. All of them can work together or interrelate to make your ride more comfortable. This should work for all styles of riding. In other words, if you are doing sport bike riding or weekend track days, all of these parameters will apply WITHIN the position requirements of that sport or activity.
An example might be that you are a returning older rider who has a lot of experience of track riding, but nowadays your hands and wrists suffer from too much weight applied when riding in a tucked position. Our little list comes in handy when you can check off or write a quick little note alongside each word such as FEET, which will say something like "Feels good but too forward"etc. It may just have a smiley face because it is perfect- it's your reference so do what you please. In our example above, when our wrist protective rider finds the bars are a bit too low he/she needs to write down something akin to HANDS "Wrists- PAIN feels too low". If you do this BEFORE and after you ride you can better ascertain what needs to be done. Keep in mind that when you are affecting any ONE part of the triangle you will most definitely affect another. As the bars move up as in our above example, so does the riders spine angle travels more upright along with the helmet/head position- these are all compromises.
3. Just because a bike is right on paper- Doesn't mean that it is that great or appropriate for you in person. A great example of this, especially when considering older and Dual sport bikes, is that a lot of highly suspended bikes have a LOT of sag. If you are a tall rider DON'T assume that a bike will be tall enough or NOT sag under your weight. You've got to try em'.
4. Just because a bike is "LOW" doesn't mean that it is easier to handle for a shorter rider. So often shorter riders are sold cruisers or lower bikes that are very heavy. All is well and good until the smaller riders who may or may not have much upper body strength find themselves trying to push or duck walk their bikes out of a strange parking area, say at the side of an old town road that has a great slant etc. Better yet in and out of a garage that is built at the top of a very quick and severe embankment. In cases such as these it is actually easier to maneuver a more midsize or standard height bike which will enable the rider a better purchase of the motorcycle via the handlebars while standing alongside of it or by other methods.
5. Where are you REALLY going to ride? Everyone has the fantasy of adventurous riding all of the world or on the finest GP tracks of Europe! The reality, for most of us, is that at the very least we will have to travel some portion of terrible highway or commute to the very places that will pay us so that we may AFFORD to do some track days. This means balancing our dreams with the necessities of riding in environments which require us to feel comfortable, confident, safe (But NOT TOO SAFE) and proud to be a Motorcyclist. You may NOT wish to be on a lower bike (Because you are a shorter rider etc.) while riding in traffic because you find that you appreciate the ability to see out ahead of traffic as much as possible. For many, the sacrifice of not being able to plant both feet on the floor is well worth it when being able to see out and BE SEEN by cagers. MOTOSQUIRREL says that if you can dab either of the balls of your feet on the ground when you are in traffic- You have a ticket to ride. Don't forget that fantastic Frenchman who won so many Paris Dakar races on a massively tall mount ......and he was barely 5'4"!!
6. Don't forget thinness! (Check out our graphic) Just because a bike's specs list it as being tall, DOESN'T mean that you can't ride it! Many riders find that because the center of the bike is so thin, they are able to reach to more of the ground. Add in most bikes tendencies to sag.........and voila! You are riding!
7. THERE IS NO SEVEN! Just an observation: Here at Motosquirrel Headquarters we witness a girl rider monster her bike down our street everyday to and from work. She is small. She looks to be about 5'3" or so. She rides a growling, howling Ducati Diavel down the road. She is seated above most of the cagers, is loud enough for them to hear, they keep a fascinated distance away, she looks like she is having a blast, the bike kicks ass and.....wait for it....SHE is kicking ass! If you want to ride a certain bike, MOSTLY you will find a way! We just want the industry to help more!
Cheers for Now and thanks for reading!!
On to more inappropriate MOTOSQUIRREL groaning!
Dual-Sport is such a huge subject, hence, there's not enough space and time to cover so many of the great and not-so great company offerings both in legacy production as well as in newer design.
There is sort of a mixed bag of happenings within each major manufacturer when it comes to bike size, adjust ability and customizable accessories offered etc.
First on the list is Kawasaki. As mentioned above this company has to be commended for their recent attempt at rider fitment and there newer Ergo-Fit program for the Vulcan S. That said, we are talking about a very basic cruiser design where it is not that difficult to offer larger seats, reach back handlebars and adjustable or better placed foot pegs. In a low design such as this is not that difficult to accommodate larger seats and peg placement when the only directions that a designer has to worry about is going more upward backward or forward while the rider triangle is cocked somewhat backward (Just look up a million years of Harley Davidson designs and customs!). But when the overall engine clearance has to be of a certain height as in that of Dual-Sport riding things get a little trickier! How can a mechanical designer or product designer and engineers go about crafting a multipurpose motorcycle that has massive clearance, suspension travel, adjustable ride height, the ability to ride while standing on the pegs, allowances for both standing and sitting stances as well as accommodating possible pillions or bags? Better yet....how do they create a design that is changeable, malleable according to the needs of a rider(s) by it's adjustability, accessories offered or by the altering of a motorcycle's actual dynamics (Getting to that in a moment)?
These are NOT easy tasks, AND to be fair to the designers of the past as well as an ever demanding customer base of riders who are lacking in mechanical skills of today........successful attempts at meeting the different physical requirements/needs of the customer WERE met and articulated in both the past and are now currently.
Enter the venerable and legendary Suzuki DR650 (I am not worthy). This super stalwart and foundational motorcycle of all things Dual-Sport was always adjustable! Suzuki has offered this model with lowering accessories such as a mechanically switchable shorter swing arm bone, the possibility to lower the front forks as well as a lower seat option. All of these options can be installed by the dealer and can lower the bike a good inch or more when being purchased the first time. How's that for been there, done that! Suzuki has always been in the habit of setting new standards when it comes to making motorcycles easier to ride, but not always when it comes to rider comfort or rider triangle adjustability. An example of this type of tweaking is their recent low RPM no clutch assist. Also their one touch engine start on many new bike models is a breeze!
But just as the saying goes "It never pays to be original", it should also be said that it never pays to keep an old original idea grandfathered in forever!
Both the Suzuki DR200 S and the Yamaha XT250 have been running the Dual-Sport small CC' segment for quite a while. The Yamaha receiving some very good upgrades in recent times including a more modern LCD display as well as having a rear disc brake and short seat height at 31.5". Although these bikes are sometimes disparaged as the "Dual-Sport Wife's Bike" in the U.S., throughout the world all folks of age, shape and size have and do use these incredible machines for work, commuting, adventure, farm-hand help and just plain fun!
Enter the Suzuki DR200S. This model has NOT changed for years! It is a small displacement Dual-Sport motorcycle used throughout the world! In so many ways it doesn't need to change. But many of today's riders are demanding conveniences, niceties, gizmos and comforts that these old models no longer offer. Whether due to emissions restrictions, Euro 4 standards, tax exemptions or grandfathered-in import licensing arrangements, great builders like Suzuki are not quick to change old and well selling machines such as the DR200S.
What we at MOTOSQUIRREL wish they WOULD do until the time for major model changes and launches is to offer some of the qualities/abilities that the big DR650 offers in a smaller package, i.e. adjustable ride height via suspension lower, seat height changeability AND why not offer bar risers or shape changes etc.? (We realize that all the Die Hard off road dirt lipped people are laughing when they can reference a million aftermarket parts for these bikes....but we are talking about off the floor puchases without much mechanical investment here) Look at the height differences between the DR200S, the Kawasaki KLX250 and the Yamaha XT250 and you will quickly see which company is offering a lot of rideability out-of-the-box! (See inserted graphics).
Back to Kawasaki ........(You are NOT off the Hook BIG GREEN!)
OK, two years ago you introduced a very well thought out Dual-Sport (We should start a new category called All-Sport! We tire of "ADV") in response to smaller or newer ADV riders or riders who have had all of the "Big Boy" bikes and realize their huge limitations when on real outland Adventures. We at MOTOSQUIRREL recommend visiting CSC Motorcycles RX3 and RX4 as well as viewing the "Bike Show" BMW G310GS vs. F800GS vs. R1200GS Part 1 here. Let alone the multitude of accounts of adventure riders who have ridden the world on mid-sized or smaller ADV bikes, enough said! Kawasaki responded in a focused way with there Versys X-300. This 300cc mini-wonder bike based off the Ninja 300 sportbike is a God-Send for those looking for an agile all-rounder as commuter during the week and gravel or fireroad finder on the weekend.
Here is the BIG BUT! BUT Kawi! Why doesn't this new all-welcoming wonder bike have all the options or at least a lower seat height option much as the Vulcan S? What gives? How about a higher seat option for that matter and bar risers? A 32.1 in seat is great....,however, why not also offer a lowering option for the truly small rider AND upgrades to outfit this bike as a more real off-road option for those who are ready to take it there (See Honda CRF250L Rally)! Also, many of us were hoping that the fine folks of Team Green would bounce up the CC's with the company's recent introduction of the Ninja 400 (Very cool bike) and the Z400. This engine BEGS to be given grunt and SHOVED into the Versys X!(Highway much Kawi?)
To close out our bitching at the very fine Kawasaki Heavy Motor Industries Group (Sorry Greendom- We still love you), you are elliminating one of the most iconic motorcycles of all time (Future article on this - promise), namely, the mighty KLR 650 and without a true Dual-Sport of similar size to replace it.....we, the riding public, are left with the more road oriented Versys 650 (A versatile powerhouse BUT not exactly dirt anything!). What is a new, returning or an experienced ADV rider who is turning her/his back away from BIGGER is better bikes to do (The KLR was definetly a tall beast but we will address this)?
If you look at some of our MOTOSQUIRREL graphics you will quickly see that the Versys X300, Versys 650 and KLX 250 are all above 32 inches. With very little adjustability "Built" in. What if we want a Versys 300X with a slight bit more leg room? What if we desire a 600cc class Dual-Sport that is approachable and customizable over time? Most riders abilities grow as they do more real dirt riding and eventually require more ground clearance etc......where are dirt guys/girls seat options darn it! (Oops now we sound like spoiled millennials!).
What we are trying to relay here, Lord Kawi, is that HERE is your opportunity to take BACK the aftermarket! One online query will prove, due to the KLR's success, for example, there is a world of forever deep aftermarket accessories available for the dirt or ADV market attending this model. Since the KLR sort-of cannot be engine updated (Restrictions...restrictions), why not design a newer more ADV oriented Versys as a rougher version of the current offering. Add in a more articulated rear suspension and (Perhaps) a more techno-rough (See KTM 790 ADV R) swing-arm plus ......wait for it......many adjustable parts which cater to ergonomics, riding style or for differences in intended use as included (Not smartphone speedometers). Sort-of a UniVersys 650! One for more road, the other for more off-road.
Stay tuned Motosquirrels for installment number three of this series where we will review how important and unimportant things such as seat height, bike weight and rider comfort can be as well as the very cool design madness of KTM and their new 790 ADV ......see you soon!
Have motorcycles begun to get taller again?
(Part 1 of a 3 part Series Titled: Moto Size Matters!")
Were the last few years just a manufacturers tease?
We here at MOTOSQUIRREL were most recently contemplating these very important questions!
For all those riders who are endowed with a towering physicality, we salute you.… But you're welcome to skip this article for now (But you really shouldn't)! For the rest of us more normally statured riders, let's dig in and pay attention!
The focus here (as always at MOTOSQUIRREL) is to address the very real and not so technical aspects of motorcycle riding, achieving better rider comfort, as well as gaining better skills. This is NOT just another product launch page.
Many of us who were learning to ride here in the U.S. in the past decade have made many suggestions to local dealerships, motorcycle manufacturers as well as online retailers about the need for bikes and equipment that fit the needs of ALL sizes of people.
We realize that it is impossible for most companies to make their products in a range of sizes to fit everything and everyone due to the very real lack of profit motive to do so, i.e. the Meta dictates of vast market research and the general needs of all manufacturers to stick to a tight budget. Nevertheless, we here at MOTOSQUIRREL think that many Moto Brands got some 'Splain'n' TO DO!
Both the Suzuki DR200 S and the Yamaha XT250 have been running the Dual-Sport small CC'd segment for quite a while. The Yamaha receiving some very good upgrades in recent times including a more modern LCD display as well as having a rear disc brake and short seat height at 31.5". Although these bikes are sometimes disparaged as the "Dual-Sport Wife's Bike" in the U.S., throughout the world all folks of age, shape and size have and do use these incredible machines for work, commuting, adventure, farm-hand help and just plain fun!
Just as the new technology era made anticipated promises to our world of a new and ever reaching way to communicate, so did it also promise an endless way to design and build in the most innovatively detailed and efficient means possible. Example: One could argue that, at this point, if a customer wanted to pay, perhaps, a little bit more for a manufacturer like BMW to pseudo -custom ( Bespoke for the Blokes) build a bike to fit an individual's specific physique -It WOULD or SHOULD be entirely possible. Albeit at an extra cost or at an extra wait-time penalty. This type of production would definitely have to be limited to changes that stay within the confines of the original product/design.
Back to Reality............
So.........what is a Motorcycle manufacturer to do? We have an ever growing population of salary earners in the east, a growing number of women riders in the west as well as a burgeoning group of younger-than-Millenials (Who are already bored with their "Smart" phones) and....THEY WANT BIKES!. All the above mentioned are generally of a smaller stature (Whether due to ever changing national, cultural, heredital, nutritional or other influences- which are BEYOND the scope of this article!), or are in need of motorcycles that are delivered with a customizable shorter seat height, approachable rider triangle and/or handlebar reach range.
Before we get into our Groaning and moaning, we wanted to spend some time acknowledging the changes and challenges that many builders and brands have already made! Extreme attempts to meet the sizing needs of smaller riders, newer riders, returning cyclists and especially those bikers who prefer smaller, changeable or more agile mid to medium sized motorcycles are plenty and noteworthy.
In just the past five years alone, brands like Triumph, BMW and Kawasaki have started to offer model specific designs meant to engage riders of all sizes, OR bikes that are ready-to-ride for smaller riders like that of Triumphs Tiger 800 XRX "low ride height" friendly LRH (Overly complicated naming conventions on the part of Triumph makes looking up their bikes that much more difficult-KEEP it SIMPLE Triumph!!) this mostly all-rounder bike by Triumph will surely get all sizes of riders into the ADV groove!
We must mention the "Ergo-Fit" system recently introduced by Kawasaki that enables a probable rider of their Vulcan S or S Cafe model the opportunity to retro-fit optional foot pedal placement, handlebar reach and seat height and length as well. This kind of from-the-dealer attention and proper fitting must be commended! What is great about the Ergo-Fit system is that it is scalable both up and down. Whether you are shorter-legged but longer in the arms, vise-versa, tall with a short inseam or, perhaps have other physio issues which might necessitate a single modification, well it COULD and often does mean the difference of whether or not a rider will be comfortable, confident and able to handle this model effectively or not. (It also must be noted here that offerings of simple mods like these are not only to garner more customers, introduce bikes to new riders or to even adapt to ageing riders etc. Many motorcycle 2nd party sellers, wholesalers, accessory manufacturers- even upholsterers! have benefited for years in offering aftermarket bike parts for trusty steeds in dealership line-ups. The manufacturers are attempting (Especially Japan) to get in on this action as bike-units sold numbers are lower recently in the West. Hey!- Why not be like Harley and offer anything under-the-sun for your Vulcan!?)
Here comes our love/hate bias when it comes to BMW! Although this company has been producing behemoths of metal for Off- Road use for what seems like a billion years.…. More recently, well let's be fair, about a decade ago this Bavarian brand started to offer shorter height seat options as well as suspension lowering setups for some of their midrange ADV adventure class motorcycles.
There are plenty of examples of how the industry is responding to a customer that is changing, a demographic that is on the move and ever demanding. To attract new customers it seems that company marketers, designers as well as engineers are flipping over backwards to apply any and every latest electronic gadget on their two wheeled wonder machine! All of these technological gizmos are wonderful toys to behold, but if a buyer cannot operate the motorcycle or feel comfortable on their bike....well...let's just say they may be standing there in a garage with a new bike while playing with a tiny screen. Motorcycles were meant to move and accomodate people moving on them!
BUT! The big BUTT! Are manufacturers slowly sliding back to their old make'm and let'm ride them just the way they are ways?
Let's take a look at a few more recent examples just to get started!
The Scrambler Icon 800 is an incredible little bike with tons of versatility and fun built in. This mini beast runs on a Duc L-Twin Desmodromic distribution, 2 valve per cyclinder and is "Old School" air cooled! It has 73hp @ 8,250 rpm, 49 lb-ft (67 Nm) of torque @ 5,750 rpm, weighs a mere 417 lbs. wet and....wait for it, has a seat height of 31.4 in (798mm) as well as having a LOW seat @ 778mm or (30.6 in.). Like 31.4 isn't low enough!
Ducati, the premium Italian sportbike maker, reinvigorated itself as well as influenced the Moto industry when it launched its scrambler lineup. This cute almost demure and classically designed future retro bike took the industry by storm and is their number one marque. This motorcycle has many benefits and attributes that would attract all kinds of riders. Introduced in 2014, this well designed marvel came in different flavors such as cafe, sport-bike and even a would-be styled "Enduro" model- this original group aimed to please. But the most stand out feature that often gets disregarded, is the scramblers approach ability. Because of its small and practical size as well as curved shapes, a low seat height and easy rider triangle, this bike is like that of the rover mini of the car world. It is fun, easygoing and very fast when you want it to be and it also welcomes lots of different riders physicality (Albeit a bit small for riders above 6 ft. tall).
Most who ride this bike are impressed with it's power-to-weight ratio and handling. The seat height on these little beasts (Excluding the Desert Sled model) is a very approachable 31.4 in. and a low seat is available at 30.6 in. The stand-over is decent with a pretty thinly profiled transition to the tank. Most riders agree that this bike betray's it's engine size with it's smallish chassis/frame body presence. It just looks and feels small.( Note: We here at Motosquirrel ARE NOT in any way advocating for reduced sized or for regularly sized motorcycles of all types to be made smaller, on the contrary,- we appreciate when manufacturers stay faithful to the size and proportions of motorcycles according to their purpose, i.e.: nobody wants a tiny wimpy cruiser or a a two-up tourer to be made tiny. Absolutely not! But we want manufacturers to start creating a bit more flexibility in the fitment available with bikes as purchased to accommodate for different types of the human body, even if that means (As many bigger riders do) making it a bit easier for a BIGGER rider to feel more comfortable on, say, a cafe type etc.)
Just when you thought everything was happy in it's happy-place.........umm nope! Big Duc introduces the new Scrambler 1100 in 2018. This is a bigger, badder version of the more recent and best selling scramblers of the 800cc class.
At 454 lbs. wet weight, 65 lb-ft (88 Nm) of torque @4,750 rpm, better brakes (There are three model options in this class) and a Ducati Monster-ish stance, one could argue that it is LESS the Scramblers big brother, but more the Monster series less aggressive sister. But the point here is to mention that the bigger CC'd Scram grew taller!
We at Motosquirrel ask why? (See the posted illustration comparing the seat heights- Aprx.). With, albeit a hefty L-Shaped V-Twin, it does argue the Design Engineers freedom to set this engine low enough to retain the original seat-height of it's little siblings. We are all for making this bike a bit more stout, but where is the need to heighten the seat? We think many a would-be buyer of Scrambler 1100 may be turned off by how high it got. If Ducati wanted to create a hierarchical Scrambler series with the 1100 at it's top, it begs the question whether the company is ignoring the very reason that many buyers bought into the Scrambler series to begin with? If Ducati's marketing department are expecting the 1100 Scram to be more of a "Fun-Bike" for their more expensive buyers who don't wish to be smiled at on a smaller steed........well ....the Scrambler concept (as in the 60's) was founded on a smaller more vesatile bike originally. Rather than kowtow to higher end buyers (If indeed this is the case with the Scram 1100), why not feature older or more experienced riders (Once in a while) as second photo shots in their advertizing for the standard Scrambler series? Not to scare off the youth, but rather encourage more experienced riders to "Let their hair down" and have some fun! Italian bike style! This way they could open up a space for an Italian standard Bonnevile type bike with a larger engine as the Scrambler 1100 has with an easier going seat height or with adjustability built right in. In our opinion the 1100 series is much too serious a machine to wear the Scrambler badge! So....are Ducati Scramblers getting BIGGER? (We love the Desert Sled and feel that it should be left alone.....remember our form follows function opinion?)
Stay tuned dear readers for our second installment of this series where we talk about WHY these measurements are mostly important BUT sometimes meaningless depending on the size you are and your riding intentions. We will also mention some great "Ups and Downs" of some very popular Moto-brands and how some (Such as KTM) are meeting the size and riding demands of their customers. HEY! That's you and me! See you soon or maybe on the road!
Designer, artist, writer Motovlogger