2006 Triumph Scrambler

Text: Neale Bayly • Photography: Neale Bayly, Laura Trigg

When you get away from all the facts, figures, and statistics, you have to admit that one of the most compelling reasons for riding a motorcycle is that it is just plain cool. Catering to this rationale, the new 2006 Triumph Scrambler is not going to win any performance contests or long-distance-riding awards, but it is without a doubt one of the coolest new motorcycles to hit the streets this year.

Concept and Transformation
Based on the venerable Triumph Bonneville platform that has been around since 2001, the all-new Scrambler uses the latest version of the 865cc parallel twin engine currently featured in the Café race replica Thruxton and the T100 Bonneville. Using a 270-degree firing order instead of the original 360-degree, the Scrambler differs slightly from the Bonneville, producing 50hp at the rear wheel, and a modest 51 ft.-lbs. of torque. Weighing in close to 500 pounds, it's certainly no powerhouse, but just one ride on the super slick, retro Triumph is enough to reveal just what makes the Scrambler one of the most enjoyable motorcycles to appear in years.

Whether cruising down to your local coffee shop, running errands, or out meandering along quiet country roads, the Scrambler's mild, easy-to-handle operation, and simplicity are guaranteed to charm even the most jaded motorcyclist. Featuring brisk acceleration, a comfortable riding position, and graced with a retro appearance that draws a crowd every time you park in public, life with the new Triumph Scrambler is an absolute blast!

Engine and Transmission
From the moment you set eyes on the new Scrambler, the engine stands out. In a world of inline, multi-cylinder, and V-twin motorcycles, the air-cooled parallel twin is almost unique, as it is meant to mirror the classic Triumphs of the '60s and '70s. The triangular engine cover looks as if it was lifted straight from a '69 Bonneville, and the oval clutch cover recalls the gearbox of old. This change to the original layout necessitated moving the drive chain to the right-hand side of the bike; so while the engines are similar in appearance, they are far from identical.

The left-hand side of the engine features a beautiful chrome primary cover that's also a close copy of the original, and at the front of the engine, what is actually an oil drain tube running between the cylinders deliberately mimics an old pushrod tube. Also, a secondary air injection system to reduce emissions sits next to the spark plugs in the cylinder head.

Using a 270-degree firing order gives the Scrambler a more V-twin type sound through the twin, off-road mufflers than the 360-degree arrangement. With a relatively mild 9.2:1 compression ratio, 90mm pistons move through a 68mm bore. Conservative camshaft profiles help the engine pull strongly from low down in the rev range, and it keeps pulling until it passes its maximum torque figure at 5,000 rpm. The twin CV carburetors ensure that this power delivery is extremely smooth all the way from idle to red line, with enviable on/off throttle transitions. The carbs also include a throttle position sensor and electric heaters in case of icing.

Power is taken to the rear wheel by an X-ring chain drive. The five-speed gearbox didn't cause any false neutrals or missed shifts during any of my testing. The Scrambler's shift action is precise, and the cable-operated clutch is light and easy to use, which I greatly appreciated when I got caught up in city traffic at the wrong time of day.


Chassis and Brakes
Almost as retro as the bike itself are the brakes. With just a single two-piston caliper up front and a similar unit on the rear, no one should expect sport-bike levels of stopping performance. The front disc is a modern-sized 310mm unit, but the system quickly gets overworked, and the softly sprung front forks exhibit a twisting motion during really hard stops. But when balancing the front with a hefty boot on the rear to help things out, you get a reasonable amount of braking power. It just takes a bit of reprogramming if you're used to a machine with dual front discs.

The tubular steel cradle frame has not been changed since the introduction of the first Bonneville, and the conventional 41mm forks are essentially the same, although they are longer for more ground clearance. The shock absorbers have been lengthened a similar amount, giving the Scrambler two more inches of seat height, at 32.5 inches. The front forks offer no adjustment, but you can change spring pre-load in the rear for a passenger or luggage.

Ride quality is good on smooth roads; but once on choppy surfaces, the suspension is soon overworked and feels harsh. Aftermarket shock absorbers and a spring kit in the front end are first on the list of improvements I would make, along with more braking power. Even though it has a plank-like appearance, the seat is comfortable; and, while I didn't put up anything close to Iron Butt mileage numbers, it proved suitable for a couple of interstate rides. With a 4.4-gallon tank and capable of returning 40mpg, the bike will take you over 150 miles at a stretch. The wide bars make the bike extremely maneuverable in town without turning you into a windsock on the freeway, and running 70mph is not a stressful speed on the un-faired Scrambler.

Up front, the Scrambler uses a 19-inch spoke wheel, with a road-biased knobby, 100/90-17-inch tire. In the rear, a similar type 130/80-17-inch tire wraps around the chrome rim. These work very well on the street, and for short jaunts on fire trails, or graded gravel roads, they work a lot better than smooth street tires. If you're not all that serious about getting in the dirt but like an occasional back-road excursion, the Scrambler is up to the job.

Accessories and Arrangements
As delivered, the new 2006 Triumph Scrambler is a visually pleasing machine, with its two-tone paint scheme, knobby tires, and very stylish, chrome, side-mounted exhaust pipes - that is until you see an accessorized Scrambler. Taking cool to new heights, Triumph is going to have new owners reaching for their checkbooks. The range of options includes racing-number plates for the rear, an alloy bash plate, off-road silencers for a deeper sound, engine bars, fly screen, and a single seat with rack. Add the headlight grille, the handlebar brace, and the tachometer, and the Scrambler looks ready to go cross-country without touching pavement. A center stand, cover, and alarm are among the other accessories available.

Summary
Full of character and built to put the fun back into short-hop motorcycle rides, the 2006 Triumph Scrambler is a refreshing take on the retro motorcycle theme. There's little chance you'll park it next to another brand of motorcycle with the same style. And the biggest challenge for a new owner may be convincing the unsuspecting public that the Scrambler is a brand-new motorcycle, not a top-shelf restoration of your old '70s Tiger.
Enjoy the Ride!

TECHNICAL SPECS:

2006 Triumph Scrambler

+ high fun factor, pose value, extremely cool

- weak brakes, budget suspension

Distributor Triumph Motorcycles
www.triumph.co.uk/usa/
MSRP $ 7,999
Engine four stroke parallel twin,
DOHC, eight valve
Displacement 865cc
Bore x Stroke 90mm x 68mm
Carburetion twin CV carburetors
Power 54hp @ 7,000rpm
Cooling air
Ignition digital-inductive type
Transmission five-speed
Frame tubular steel
Front Suspension 41mm conventional fork
Rear Suspension twin chrome shocks
with adjustable pre-load
Rake/Trail 27.8° / 4.1in (105mm)
Brakes front/rear single 310mm disc/
single 255mm
Tires front/rear 100/90-19 /
130/80-17
Dry Weight 451lb (205kg)
Wheelbase 1500mm (59.1 inches)
Seat height 32.5in (825mm)
Fuel Capacity 4.4gal (16.6l)
Fuel Consumption 40mpg approx. as tested
Colors tornado red/fusion white,
caspian blue/fusion white,
roulette green/aluminum silver