Ducati’s Scramblers have made a marked impact in the motorcycle world since the first model was released in 2014. In the four years after, 55,000 Scramblers have been sold and have added significantly to the bottom line of the Italian manufacturer while opening up the brand to a new group of buyers. Branding and marketing efforts have also been a home run. What wasn’t a home run was the Scrambler Icon’s rock-hard seat, a junky headlight, and overall rough edges. The Scrambler Icon had character in spades and was a hit, but it could have been better. Enter the 2019 Ducati Icon Scrambler.
Ducati refers to ownership of a Scrambler as the “Land of Joy” and the 2019 Icon is touted as a “joyvolution.” Okay, Ducati marketeers, take it easy. Let’s not jump the shark with catchphrases and brand promises. Let the motorcycle do the talking. Because it does. Updated for 2019, the Icon received a handful of upgrades that raise its full potential while still delivering on the Scrambler formula of a simple, fun-to-ride motorcycle attached to wide handlebar.
The biggest gripe I had with the previous Icon model was the the seat. No matter how good the rest of the bike was, it was sullied by a chunk of foam and leatherette that just couldn’t make for a comfortable ride longer than an hour. Maybe I’m sensitive, but it was a shame, as the remainder of the ergonomic equation was spot-on. For 2019, the Icon’s seat is vastly improved, being flatter and slightly lower at 31.4 inches. The shape and foam now make a happy place to spend extended periods of time and I had no complaints after several hours on the bike.
Styling updates for the Icon are subtle and include new tank panels that give a little more presence to the tank, black 10-spoke wheels with machined accents, and black engine paint. A new LED headlight features daytime running lights on the outside diameter and an X inner frame borrowed from the 1100 model. LED turn signals and taillight complete the lighting package.
From the new seat the rider surveys a landscape with a wide, crossbar-less handlebar fitted with new switch gear that has a more substantial look and feel. A new hydraulic clutch master cylinder replaces the cable-actuated lever and lends symmetry to the layout, matching the axial pump front brake. Optional Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) Bluetooth connectivity up-specs a round LCD dash that perfectly fits the look and feel of the Scrambler, but black rpm bars sweeping clockwise across the bottom of screen are virtually useless. Since the the first tachometer was handed down on high, the tach needle has swept left to right. It’s a constant in the motoring universe. A rev counter moving in the other direction just doesn’t register with my pea brain.
Torquing on the tall handlebar and dipping the Scrambler into a rural Tuscan farm-road corner is wonderful. Promise fulfilled: It’s fun and simple and nothing can distract you from that. Handling is light with a low center of gravity that allows the Icon to flick over and back again without a big ask from the rider. Once leaned over, the new suspension settings hold the Scrambler up in the corner and keep it on track when encountering midcorner bumps and potholes. Although the only adjustment available is preload on the rear shock, it’s not a big deal. It you get bucked out of the seat or the tire comes unglued from terra firma, you’re going too fast. I know found too fast on my time on the Scrambler Icon. It’s happy to oblige ham-fisted corner bombing and just as much as cruising upright while enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the Italian countryside.
Powering the Icon is a tried-and-test 803cc oil-cooled L-twin, now dressed in black with machined highlights, that is claimed to produce 73 hp at 8,250 rpm and 49.4 pound-feet of torque at 5,750 rpm. A single 50mm throttle body with dual injectors supplies fuel and air while a new camshaft with 11 degrees of overlap provides a new smoothness to the engine. It is not a rocket ship by any means, but the Scrambler’s two-valve desmo delivers more than enough gumption to move forward with purpose when prodded. With a snap of the hydraulic clutch and a tug on the bars the Icon will loft the front wheel for a nice wheelie (my own Land of Joy) in first and sometimes second gear with the help of a bump or crest in the road.
Most important and noteworthy is the Brembo braking system now equipped with the Bosch 9.1 MP Cornering ABS. The addition of an inertial measuring unit to the Icon means the ABS now works when leaned over. After feeling out the brakes and ABS in a straight line, I bravely (no brains, no fear) hammered the front lever and stomped on the rear pedal while entering a downhill and off-camber right to really put the system to the test. I’m here and the Scrambler is not a twisted wreck in some Tuscan garden; it works, though your turning radius will widen, but not significantly, depending on the level of traction available.
Ducati’s “joyvolution” of the Scrambler Icon may not be a total model overhaul, but it’s more than just some new features, revised styling cues, an LED headlight, and new ABS. It is a significantly better motorcycle that might not be apparent when placed abreast with the previous model. And that’s a good thing because, most importantly, the Scrambler is about the elevating joy of riding. You don’t need to know how it does it, just that it does.
|PRICE||$9,395 (’62 Yellow) / $9,595 (Atomic Tangerine)|
|ENGINE||Air-cooled desmodromic L-twin, 2 valves/cylinder|
|CLAIMED HORSEPOWER||73 hp @ 8,250 rpm|
|CLAIMED TORQUE||49.4 lb.-ft. @ 5,750 rpm|
|FRAME||Tubular steel trellis frame|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||Inverted Kayaba 41mm fork; 5.9-in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Kayaba rear shock, preload adjustable; 5.9-in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKE||Radial four-piston caliper, 330mm disc w/ cornering ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||Single-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ cornering ABS|
|SEAT HEIGHT||31.4 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||3.6 gal.|
|CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT||417 lb.|