"The Real Deal." It's a bold positioning statement from Triumph regarding the 2019 Scrambler 1200 XC and Scrambler 1200 XE. Marketing hyperbole run amok? Not this time. After three days on Triumph's new big scramblers, I can say with confidence that these bikes live up to the hype. I'll go even further—the copywriters from Hinkley may have actually undersold the XC and XE.

My expectations were high from the moment of the Scrambler 1200’s announcement. Long-travel suspension, adventure-bike-worthy electronics, and classic scrambler styling had me drooling at the thought of top-of-the-range adventure performance without the techno-geek look. It seemed too good to be true. Two turns in on the longer-travel XE model, it was looking like Triumph’s big scramblers are the real deal.

Scrambler 1200 XE
2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE, $15,400.Kingdom Creative

Both machines share the same Bonneville high power 1,200cc parallel-twin powerplant developed on the Thruxton with a Scrambler-specific tune that claims 88.8 hp and 81.1 pound-feet of torque. The rev limit has been raised 500 rpm for a redline of 7,500 rpm. Power delivery can be best described as linear and torquey thanks to its 270-degree crank. Maximum torque is right around 4,000 rpm and slightly tapers off until the rev limiter, but even down at 3,000 rpm 75 pound-feet are available. Five rider modes on both the XC and XE control engine response and traction control; the XE adds a sixth mode—Off-road Pro—to Sport, Road, Rain, Off-road, and a rider-customizable Rider settings. Additionally, the XE features an IMU for lean-sensitive traction control and ABS, further pumping up the tech on the more expensive ($15,400) model.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC
2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC, $14,000.Kingdom Creative

The bones of the chassis are also shared between the two, with a new dedicated Scrambler frame using a tubular steel main upper frame with an aluminum cradle. This new frame is designed to offer on-road comfort with off-road capability, handling, and ergonomics. Tubeless, side-laced wheels are ready for moderate scrambling, wrapped with Metzeler Tourance tires in 21- and 17-inch diameters. For those looking to do hard-core off-road riding, Triumph has tested and approved Pirelli Scorpion Rally to offer more traction.

Bonneville parallel twin
Triumph’s high power Bonneville parallel twin powers both Scrambler 1200 models with the same spec.Kingdom Creative

From there the chassis of the two diverge. The XC is fitted with a 45mm Showa inverted fork, with what Triumph calls 1+1 damping (separate rebound and compression legs) offering 200mm (7.9 inches) of travel with Öhlins long-travel twin-spring piggyback shocks. Attached to an aluminum swingarm the rear travel matches the front. Billed as having an off-road focus, the XE gets a larger and longer 47mm Showa fork, stroking through 240mm (9.4 inches) while using the same fully adjustable cartridge design. At the rear the aluminum swingarm grows by 32mm in length to provide a complementary 240mm of rear-wheel travel. This also brings the seat height up from the XC’s 33.1 inches to 34.2 inches. The handlebar is also 2.6 inches wider with removable 10mm (0.4 inch) riser spacers to facilitate a more natural off-road standing position.

Öhlins twin-spring piggyback shocks
Öhlins twin-spring piggyback shocks offer full adjustment of preload, compression, and rebound.Kingdom Creative

Day one of the press launch in Portugal had the press jumping directly into the dirt on both the XC and XE models. By the second corner of the flat-track course meant to warm up the riders before setting out on a dirt-heavy loop, I was tossing the taller and longer-suspended XE around like a heavy, yet capable dirt bike. The Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires fitted to the first day’s bikes hooked up well in the wet Portugal dirt with a planted feel at the front and the right amount of slide in the rear.

Scrambler 1200 XE
With more aggressive Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires fitted, the Scrambler 1200 XE is a dirt slayer.Kingdom Creative

As a seasoned off-road rider, I prefered the Off-road Pro setting on the track and tighter trails around the Wim Motors Academy property, as it gave me full control with the traction control and ABS switched off. Out on dirt-heavy ride loops, Off-road worked great on both the XC and XE, allowing me to slide the rear end around on the brakes but still have the safety net of ABS on the front tire when turns got greasy. Not having the Pro mode on the XC is not a huge issue for 90 percent of those venturing off the asphalt.

Braking duties are handled by Brembo M50 Monoblock radial-mounted calipers matched to dual 320mm front discs in the front and a twin-piston floating caliper and 255mm in the back for both models. Radial master cylinders, also by Brembo, apply the hydraulic force with an adjustable lever, but the XE gets an upgraded MCS lever with more adjustability and fine-tuning of feel. Hauling the Scrambler down from speed on the street is effortless with a firm lever feel that offers excellent feedback. In the dirt, there is enough feel to be confident with the front ABS off in Off-road Pro mode (the only way to turn off the ABS completely).

Brembo M50 Monoblocks
Brembo M50 Monoblocks paired to a radial master cylinder slow the Scrambler 1200 XC and XE with authority.Kingdom Creative

Suspension action of both models is phenomenal for a scrambler-type motorcycle and excellent if you put them in the adventure segment. Initial compliance is soft on both, allowing the wheels to follow choppy or rocky terrain, while the mid-stroke and full compression are stiff enough to handle the more substantial impacts and undulations. When the going gets really rough the XE’s longer stroke comes into its own, giving the rider more travel to work with when pushing hard. I was able to bottom the XC several times on fire roads but only kissed the XE’s skid plate overjumping a smallish tabletop found on the mellow motocross track available to us.

XC
There is more suspension travel to work with on the Scrambler 1200 XE, but the XC is more than capable for 90 percent of anyone wanting to hit the dirt.Kingdom Creative

No other scrambler or adventure has ever felt more similar to a dirt bike than the Scrambler 1200 in an off-road situation. Thanks to a slim, classically styled tank, large footpegs, a wide handlebar, and a flat seat, handling in the dirt is natural with a planted front end that communicated the level of grip well. Steering isn’t light, but it doesn’t feel unwieldy and helps to remind you that this is a 500-pound motorcycle. Triumph claims a dry weight of 452 pounds for the XC and 456 pounds for the XE.

Scrambler 1200 XE
Triumph’s Scrambler 1200 XE is as close to a dirt bike as a scrambler can get, even at 456 pounds.Kingdom Creative

Ergonomics nail the scrambler style with an upright seating position and a comfortable reach to the handlebar. Legroom is acceptable, but at the end of the day I would have liked a little more room to make the transition from sitting to standing easier. My only real complaint is the beautifully styled high pipes stick out a little too far where your boot or lower leg is while standing. This makes standing up less comfortable than it could and should be.

high pipes
The stylish high pipes on the Scrambler 1200 XC and XE look great but get in the way while standing.Kingdom Creative

The second day was a full day on the twisting roads found in the hills outside of Faro, Portugal. Tire selection would be the fitted-as-standard Metzeler Tourance for a more street-focus grip as the rain fell hard for the majority of the ride. Even with the wet pavement this is where the XC came into its own, outshining the dirt champ XE. With a lower seat height, shorter wheelbase, and skinnier bars the XC was at home blasting through corners with a slightly lower CG. Handling is quick with an easy tip-in and a solid feel while leaned over, even when bumps try to upset the balance. This is not to say the XE is bad on the street, but the taller overall height is noticeable when you transfer from side to side as it takes slightly more muscle to get it from one side of the tire to the other.

Scrambler 1200 XC
The Scrambler 1200 XC’s lower CG makes for a better performer on the street.Kingdom Creative

Although the two are similar, Triumph did a great job of differentiating the two models with a character that makes the choice between them easy for potential customers. True scramblers will find the XC the way to go with solid street manners with the ability to get in the dirt without worry in most situations. Those looking to get gnarly will undoubtedly go for the XE. The real question on many lips at the press launch was if this Scrambler could fit the bill as an alternative to more conventionally styled adventure bikes.

Could the Scrambler 1200 XC and XE add classic styling to the adventure world while providing all the capability? Yes, with a caveat. The power is there for covering long distances and the suspension would be adventure-class topping. Traction control, ride modes, ABS, and cruise control are all standard like any well-equipped ADV. Triumph’s collaboration with GoPro and Google adds two features not found in any segment, let alone the adventure world: control of the GoPro Hero7 camera through the TFT display along with Google turn-by-turn directions. Neither were available for our test units, but the demos in the press presentation looked slick and well designed. Triumph also has large side bags available to add storage capacity for long trips. The only issue for ADV usage is wind protection. There is a small fly screen available, but with wide bars, upright seating, and scrambler styling, an adventure rider’s body will be out there in the wind and weather on longer street stretches. It’s a trade-off—one that I would be willing to make with the XE for its off-road capability.

Scrambler 1200
Would the Scrambler 1200 make a great adventure motorcycle? If you don’t mind being more exposed to the weather, then yes.Kingdom Creative

Looking at the Scrambler 1200 XC and XE through either scrambler or adventure glasses, we’d say Triumph has built a motorcycle that sets a new standard with technology and suspension performance while keeping true to the cool that is a scrambler. It’s a bike that is a winner in both segments, and that is the real deal.

Triumph Scrambler
The Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and XE are the real deal.Kingdom Creative

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC

PRICE: $14,000
ENGINE: 1,200cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC, parallel twin, 4 valves/cylinder
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE: 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER: 88.8 hp @ 7,400 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE: 81.1 lb.-ft. @ 3,950 rpm
FRAME: Tubular mild steel, aluminum double cradle
FRONT SUSPENSION: 45mm inverted Showa fork adjustable for preload, compression, and rebound, 7.9-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Coilover twin Öhlins shocks adjustable for preload, compression, and rebound, 7.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE: 4-piston Brembo M50 Monoblock calipers, dual 320mm disc w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE: 2-piston floating caliper, 255mm disc w/ ABS
RAKE/TRAIL: 25.8°/4.8 in.
WHEELBASE: 60.2 in.
SEAT HEIGHT: 33.1 in.
FUEL CAPACITY: 4.2 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT: 452 lb. (dry)
AVAILABLE: February 2019
CONTACT: triumphmotorcycles.com

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE

PRICE: $15,400
ENGINE: 1,200cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC, parallel twin, 4 valves/cylinder
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE: 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER: 88.8 hp @ 7,400 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE: 81.1 lb.-ft. @ 3,950 rpm
FRAME: Tubular mild steel, aluminum double cradle
FRONT SUSPENSION: 47mm inverted Showa fork adjustable for preload, compression, and rebound, 9.4-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Coilover twin Öhlins shocks adjustable for preload, compression, and rebound, 9.4-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE: 4-piston Brembo M50 Monoblock calipers, dual 320mm disc w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE: 2-piston floating caliper, 255mm disc w/ ABS
RAKE/TRAIL: 26.9°/5.1 in.
WHEELBASE: 61.8 in.
SEAT HEIGHT: 34.2 in.
FUEL CAPACITY: 4.2 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT: 456 lb. (dry)
AVAILABLE: February 2019
CONTACT: triumphmotorcycles.com