Spied! Ducati Scrambler

New Entry-Level Offering Spotted in Prototype Form

PHOTOS: BMH Images

Last summer (_Up To Speed_, July 2013) we reported news that Ducati had trademarked the "Scrambler" name, and showed a concept drawing of what we thought a new-generation Scrambler might look like. Now we've acquired spy photos of a clumsily disguised prototype undergoing testing near Ducati headquarters in Bologna, giving us a much clearer indication of how this new model will likely be configured.

It’s hard to tell much about the new Scrambler’s shape from these pictures—the fuel tank is layered with duct tape and other surfaces are disguised with spray-paint dots—but it appears to combine a traditional round tank with angular upper-engine and subframe covers, supporting our earlier reports that this bike would have subtle retro cues without being an all-out retro along the lines of the ill-fated Sport Classics. Don’t put any stock in the lighting seen here—these look like hastily tacked-on Hypermotard parts—but expect something modern looking and fitting with Ducati’s current design language.

The steel trellis frame and dual-sided aluminum swingarm appear to be all new—not borrowed Hypermotard or Monster parts—and the riding position looks comfortable and accessible, with a low, flat saddle and a high handlebar that comes back considerably toward the rider. The air-cooled V-twin powerplant—not a new-generation single, like some suspected—is repurposed, likely the 796cc version from the existing Monster, since this prototype was spotted riding alongside a 796 Monster, presumably for benchmark comparisons. The exhaust is a conventional underbike arrangement, though we’re still hoping for a high-mount option consistent with the classic scrambler concept. The spoked front wheel appears to be a 19-incher, carried by a USD fork and fit with a single front disc brake—all exactly what one would expect to create an affordable yet desirable bike capable of attracting younger, entry-level riders to the Ducati brand.

That’s exactly what the new Scrambler is expected to be: a complementary alternative to low-priced Monsters and a beginner-friendly gateway to Ducati’s sophisticated and expensive lineup of superbikes, ADVs, and cruisers. We’re expecting to see the production Scrambler released later this year, as a 2015 model.

Unlike Ducati’s original, single-cylinder Scramblers produced from 1962-’74, the new version will be powered by an air-cooled twin to separate it from the high-performance Hypermotard.