Motorcycles and motorcycling, as well as the people who ride them, are changing. Over the past decade, among many enthusiasts, there has been a noticeable swing away from focusing on raw power, performance, and top speed in favor of more simplistic riding experiences. A large segment of the motorcycle community—which includes experienced riders as well as newbies—are enjoying a resurgence in the fun of a basic motorcycle.
This is reflected in the growing number of smaller, user-friendly motorcycles on the market. Scramblers and retro machines are experiencing a particular boom, due to them being smaller displacement, easy to operate and maintain, fun to ride, and perhaps most significantly, affordable.
There are as many theories behind this trend as there are people who ride. Some say the performance of modern motorcycles has evolved so far beyond what can be safely or legally taken to public roads that reason has intervened. The deluge of technology, engineering, and electronics may have overwhelmed many enthusiasts who have no intention of ever pushing themselves that far, ushering in more playful and casual appetites.
One of the manufacturers that has come into prominence simply by virtue of having proffered retro-style motorcycles for years is Royal Enfield. And one of the bikes in their stable that fits this new paradigm is the Scram 411.
The Scram 411 plays quite well into the no-frills notion of urban two-wheel mobility, with a capacity for some light off-road riding. The Scram borrows a number of mechanical elements from its brother, the Himalayan, but possesses its own unique look, which is ushered along by a wide range of striking paint schemes.
The bike attracts a lot of attention. I was approached numerous times by riders and non-riders asking about the bike. It’s that kind of non-intimidating presence that is fueling Royal Enfield’s sales, especially among new riders.
Powertrain & Performance
With just 24.3 horsepower, produced by the 411cc four-stroke single-cylinder air-cooled engine, the Scram is limited in terms of freeway rambling. It was an endeavor to reach and maintain freeway speeds as the single-cylinder engine needs to build momentum to get to 70 mph.
Thankfully, the counter-balanced engine exhibits very little vibration for a small single. The Scram 411 is devoid of any kind of rider aids, such as traction control or ride modes. It’s motorcycling at its most organic.
However, instead of criticizing what the bike can’t or shouldn’t do, let’s focus on what the Scram can do. It has the potential to deliver a great deal of riding fun, courtesy of an easy-to-operate demeanor with lightweight and perfectly adequate functionality.
The bike inspires you to grab a helmet and head out for a short, spontaneous jaunt, old-school style. I’ll admit, riding the 411 took me back to my youth, when a motorcycle consisted of a throttle, clutch, gears, and brakes.
With a seat height of just 31.3 inches, the Scram will fit a wide range of bodies, with the bike’s slim silhouette allowing shorter riders easy reach to the ground. The single-piece seat works reasonably well even over the course of a 140-mile riding day. Ergonomics are comfortable for the types of jaunts the bike was intended for—local, round-about town riding or easy, casual venturing into the country.
The 411 has just five gears to spread its humble power over, with the ratios evenly spaced to make the most of those precious 24 horses. Riding the 411 requires you to be aware of revs and gear choice to ensure you get the most out of the modest power.
One aspect of the Scram that I immediately appreciated was getting into Los Angeles’ famous rush-hour traffic. The narrow, maneuverable Enfield easily slipped between lines of stopped cars and had me gleefully whisking along to my destination.
If you don’t live in California or another state with lane-split laws, you’ll still benefit from this welcome maneuverability. The bike is ideal for the inner city, allowing you to effortlessly get from point A to point B with efficiency and fun.
As for off-roading, the Scram would not take a great deal of abuse. That said, if you’re merely traversing a dirt road or a questionable stretch of pavement, it will do fine.
In that regard, the 7.8 inches of ground clearance should be adequate for anything the Scram might be put into. For me, at 5 feet, 11 inches, the standing position had the bar feeling very low, forcing me to hunch over the front end.
Frame, Suspension, Wheels, and Brakes
The dry weight of the Scram 411 is 407 pounds, to which a full 3.9-gallon tank will add 24 pounds. On the topic of fuel, the 411 sips gas like a bird—though keep an eye on the gas gauge, as it tends to drop somewhat erratically and unreliably after you hit a quarter tank.
The frame is steel tube-style in a split cradle configuration. The forks are telescopic, non-adjustable 41mm units providing 7.48 inches of front end travel, while a linked monoshock grants 7 inches of travel in the rear. Both work well enough, although you’ll feel any sudden potholes in your spine.
The Scram is fitted with a street-friendly 19-inch front wheel (as opposed to the 21-incher on the Himalayan) and a 17-inch rear, in spoke patterns. The bike wears Ceat tires in an appropriately soft, cut-knobby pattern to accommodate light off-road riding.
Having a smaller front tire than the Himalayan gives the 411 a slightly steeper rake. The result is a sharper response in terms of handling, with the bike responding well to rider inputs while maintaining decent stability in corners.
I did find myself having to ease into the brake levers a little early and with some real force in order for the single 300mm front disc and its two-piston caliper—working in concert with the 240mm rear—to bring the Scram to a stop. The dual-channel ABS works well enough, with some mild chatter if you dare to jam the binders hard.
The ABS system cannot be turned off, which isn’t a real issue, given that the off-road capacity of the Scram is not intended for anything beyond easy dirt roads.
Fit & Finish
Let’s be fair—in order to produce a motorcycle with an MSRP of a little over $5,000, Triumph has to somewhat compromise the build quality and finish. That said, the Scram 411 manages to pull off a nice look, especially with the two-tone paint scheme. The header pipe mimics a larger-bore machine, sweeping down and under the bike and coming up alongside into an attractive muffler.
Cosmetically, Royal Enfield chose to incorporate badge plates to cover the leftover frame mounts for the Himalayan’s fairing. They don’t serve any purpose other than to hide the mounts. But surprisingly, they were a talking point.
The headlamp wears a cast metal bikini cowling, which flows with the lines of the bike. Instruments are minimalistic with just two dials—a small circular, analog speedo that has a small LCD window, and an even smaller gauge that has a few pieces of bike info and is there for optional navigation.
There’s a rear grab bar for the passenger (although I wonder how well the “little engine that could” might handle another body). Yes, the Scram 411 is a little rough around the edges, but that actually serves to endear itself to the bike somehow.
The Bottom Line
In all honesty, any issues we might find with the Scram 411 are easily brushed aside when you consider that low price of entry—$5,099. If your riding is going to be simple, around-town motoring and occasional brief venturing into the surrounding countryside, you will probably have a ball.
For an experienced rider, the 2023 Royal Enfield Scram 411 will feel toy-like, yet is still capable of serving up a great deal of fun. It can take you into spirited territory of getting everything that is to be gotten out of an engine—how many modern bikes can you say that about?
One very appealing aspect of the Scram 411 is the wide range of dynamic colors. There’s Graphite Blue, Graphite Yellow, Graphite Red, White Flame, Silver Spirit, Blazing Black, and Skyline Blue. You’ll certainly find a paint scheme that will appeal to you.
2023 Royal Enfield Scram 411
+ a whole lot of good-natured, simple fun
– struggles at freeway speeds
Distributor: Royal EnfieldMSRP: $5,099
Engine: air-cooled, 1-cylinder, SOHC, 2-valve
Power: 24.3hp @6,500 rpm; 23.6lb-ft @4,500 rpm (claimed)
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated clutch
Wet Weight: 432lbs
Seat Height: 31.3in
Fuel Capacity: 3.9gal
Colors: Graphite Blue, Graphite Yellow, Graphite Red, White Flame, Silver Spirit, Blazing Black, Skyline Blue