~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Time Travel: The New Triumph Scrambler


Time Machine: 2006 Triumph Scrambler 900. (photo borrowed from www.advrider.com)
Continuing on with my current fascination for the new Triumph Scrambler 900 I was reading assorted motorcycle forums and a few people were commenting on the fact that the new Triumph is antiquated technology. "Who's it for?" "Sure to be lousy off road" "The high pipes look like a leg cooker" "Why not 100 horsepower??" They do miss the point entirely. Moreover they do not realize that the day will come when they will wax nostalgic for the present KTM 990 and BMW 1200 GS and younger riders will guffaw at the 2006 bikes' lack of mag-lev suspension and hydrogen fuel cell ceramic magnet motors. I can forgive the current generation though since they were probably not even born yet when real Triumph scramblers roamed the deserts and race tracks of America. They don't have any recollection, no personal tie to the history behind the look of the new Scrambler.

I decided to peruse the web a bit for info on desert sleds of yore and see what was out there. If you can't ride something you can always look at pictures and dream.

 
Popular Science, Nov. 1966
Along the way I found a page, "The Steve McQueen Desert Scrambles Page", put together by Pete Snidal a few years ago. It's taken from the pages of vintage November 1966 Popular Science Magazine and consists of an article by Steve McQueen giving his riding impressions of the great dirt bikes of the day including the Greeves and the big new Honda 450 twin. 
It's a fun read for motorcycle buffs and a great illustration of why the new Triumph Scrambler will be a big success. If you consider the time frame of the article and the relative ages then and now of guys like me, you can see how the Triumph legend and image is deeply ingrained in the minds of those of us who have been around a while.

McQueen's winner in the comparison? The Rickman Triumph, of course! Steve reckoned the new 2-stroke engine bikes were coming on strong though: "These two-strokes have a lot going for them, but frankly l'm too attached to four-strokes to be completely won over." Later on he'd race and win his share on a 2-stroke Husqvarna but I suspect it was the old thunder of a Triumph twin that he preferred. In his last years when he went wandering about on the highways it was on an old chopped Indian, not a modern bike.

Back to the the new Scrambler. Modernist naysayers aside, just imagine for a moment if it were still 1966 and this new Triumph comes out. The 1966 bike press and enthusiasts would be going absolutely nuts over a 900cc, 54HP street legal scrambler. They surely would be wondering "Does anyone actually NEED a 900cc off road bike?" "A 54 HP dirt bike just for trail riding??" "Crazy!!" "That's the kind of power race bikes make!!" "It has a DISC BRAKE!!"  The all conquering Triumph 900 Scrambler would be front page news in every motorcycle publication in the world and only REAL MEN need apply for this beast!

Fast forward to 2006: Now it's just a new/old nostalgia bike, over weight, under-suspended, and underpowered. "Who's the target market?" someone asked in a message I read today. Hmm...

I'll take a red and white one, please. I'm man enough for the beast and a lot of guys my age who weren't Steve McQueen in 1960-whatever (or could even afford a bike like his then) will want one too.  Now, where'd I put my old waxed cotten Belstaff jacket? (size 36)

17 comments:

Gymi said...

I'm right there with ya Doug.

Buffalo said...

Good job. Good reading.

stumblebum said...

I gotta disagree with you on this one, Doug. Triumph is gonna have a tough time selling this bike in the States. For $8K you can get a highly-capable off-road machine. Or a 100 HP street bike that handles and stops extremely well. I ride a '75 Triumph Bonneville every day. I love Triumphs and always have. My advice to people attracted to "retro/classic" bikes is always the same. Instead of buying a NEW retro Triumph, spend $3K and get a REAL vintage Triumph. And throw the money you have left over at a nice sportbike.

aka k said...

I'll take a blue and white one (when i've sold the car) to remind me of my first bike, a similarly coloured Tiger Cub.

From a brit perspective, this bike is very attractive. A good restoration job would be same money over here and would come without the 2 year warantee. And besides, what would I (as an old codger) do with a 100HP on an English country lane? I think they'll do a bomb with this bike amongst us wannabe born again bikers.

Nobody said...

Awesome reading Doug,thank you.
I am not a rider,
-don't even own a liscence.
As a vagabonding globetrotter for the past six years I don't own more than what fits my bag. Suffice to say that I couldn't afford the Scrambler at this point in my life. However, I have fallen in Love ;) and there is not a single day that I don't dream of this bike. There is some kind of magic the scrambler invokes, -which other bikes don't do (for me). I will try to get my liscence and maybe one day...

Scotty said...

Guys

My old man popped round yesterday on his new Scambler, I was in the kitchen at the time but I knew it was him because I could tell by the noise.
This bike is retro genius and should rightly bring a tear to the eye of any bloke 40 plus.

He was out clocking up some miles so he could get it serviced in time to take it to the Isle of Man Manx to show off and was quite literally haveing the time of his life (the beuty of old with some of the technology of today) I know my mum will be a lot happier at the the thought of him hurtling around on this as apposed to his Manx Norton and other classics he owns.

Triumph have nailed it with this, quality.

Scotty

Steve Williams said...

I have had my eye on Triumphs since I was a kid. My wife gave me the thumbs up to buy a T100 last summer but I sort of got sidetracked and bought a Vespa LX150 instead. Long story.

Anyways, I was riding through a storm a few months ago and as I am heading home I decide to stop at the local Triumph dealer. I arrive to find that Triumph is there with a truckload of bikes and the offer of a ride. There sits a 900 Scrambler with no one signed up for it. I have been eyeing them up for awhile.

Unfortunately everyone is huddled inside waiting for the rain to stop before riding. I waited for a half hour trying to convince them that the roads are fine, that I just rode my Vespa 80 miles and that a 15 mile run on the Triumph would be easy.

No luck. They stayed inside rubbing the bikes with diapers and I finally had to go with no ride. Have since tried to talk the dealer into letting me take one but so far no deal.

Someday I am going to add a motorcycle to my garage...

Lauren said...

I have to agree with you Doug, my dad (just 52 years young) just bought one in blue and will picking it up on Saturday! I am fulling expecting my two-year-old son's obession with motorcycles to begin the very same day...

carwraps.net said...

I bought a 2006 Scrambler and I'm in the USA–and I'm not old enough to have seen Steve McQueen in Popular Science. Wonder why I didn't just buy an old leaky Triumph and a Suzuki sport bike? That's a crazy comment. Not everyone wants to go out and dirve 120 miles an hour on the freeway, or wants to join the legions of stock-broker-turned Hells Angels. Some people just wear a T-shirt while other buy a shirt with style. That's the deal. This is an English Rock Star motorcycle, not something for the geek turned power monger, or the midlife crisis Harley. Thanks for the great read. I'll continue to to get smirks from the bikers and winks from their chicks. I'm sticking to my Scrambler.

Pete Pope said...

In the late 50's and early 60's, I didn't have the money to buy a real motorcycle. By the time I was through with the Navy in 1969, All of the bikes I wanted had faded into history (re: 650 Triumph, BSA Gold Star, etc.)Now I have the chance to buy a Triumph Scrambler that looks a lot like the one I wanted back in the day but with the new engineering benefits. It's called nostalgia and I'm going to take advantage of it.

Anonymous said...

Hey you old grumps ..... I have a Triumph Thruxton and two ZZR600's .... I just had a test ride on a Scrambler and I'm off to the bank tomorrow to get the cash for one, It's a great fun bike, isn't that what biking is supposed to be about FUN! GO ON HAVE A TEST RIDE AND MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND! Carf from Scotland UK

roy005 said...

The Scrambler is pure fun and that's why I ride! I'm a big fan of all things Triumph and I am glad to see this grand old marque doing well again. Sure, this is a niche bike that appeals to a narrow target market. Same for an Aprilia RSV1000R. Depends on what your definition of fun is. At my age I am lucky enough to have been riding on the street for 25 years and in the dirt for 10 years before that. I have another bike, a Triumph Daytona 1200 which I truly enjoy. However, nothing puts a smile on my face like the fun and nostalgia of riding the Triumph Scrambler. Old dogs like me will buy and enjoy them. Maybe the young turks won't like the Scrambler? Who cares. The motorcycle industry is in the healthiest state ever. So ride what you like and enjoy! Ride Safe!

craigbeep said...

YO ! Well down here in NZ (New Zealand) I'm the recent proud owner again (at the age of 56) of a '66 Tiger 100 and just happened earlier today to be browsing around the Akld M/Cycles showroom floor and there I spotted a matt black 900 Scrambler for the first time....and knew instantly I had better not touch that bike or I'd have to buy it!!! It's JUST PERFECT isn't it...it's interesting though how the modern engine is such a gentle tune at 54HP when you recall the last of the early 70's Meriden Daytona's were tuned to 80HP/LTR @ 40HP from only 500cc, but having said that they did have a tendancy to stutter in the mid-range on a light throttle (quite normal and accepted in those days) which is probably too idiosyncratic for these days aye..! Long Live Triumph!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I am the recent, proud owner of a 2007 Scrambler in the UK. Firstly, I'm "only" forty and secondly, I'm a biker of twenty five years, not a born aain and I use my Bikes regularly. Also, not being American, the Original TR6C for the US Market is not evocative to me in the same way as it is to the US readers. My Scrambler doesn't turn the heads of "non bikers" like a Gold Wing or a Harley, it doesn't go like my old bike, a Triumph Daytona 675 which was so fast, it was totally OTT on Public roads and the Scrambler is, a "modest" performer in every sense so, what is it?

It's Cool, cheap to run, relaxing to ride, manouverable in traffic, well engineerd, robust and it has kept faithful to what Bike designers forty years ago knew all about... CONSIDERATION for the RIDER! It's comfortable! Easy to fix, easy to ride, good to look at and clean and above all, it's slow enough to make you fall in love with riding again. If you used to spend 90% of your time on your Bike looking forward to 10% of your riding, like I was, your on the wrong Bike. Lose your ego and find Biking nirvana, buy a Bonnie...

Anonymous said...

Just bought 2008 scrambler. I can say it's what I've always wanted. I'm 62 & this is my 5th two wheeler. One was a nice Harley Low Rider and I get more comments and interest shown in the TRIUMPH !
I do remember when an "off road" bike simply ment high pipes & knobby tires! Jim

Anonymous said...

Hey there, another New Zealand Scrambler owner here who is really happy about this bike. When I first got it, I wasn't sure, and was disappointed with the fact that it wont go fast. I thought, wow, a 900cc should be able to keep up with the boy's, but no. Once I actually learnt what the bike was about, now I feel I will hang onto this one for ever. Pass it on to the kids. Also, now there are so many after market parts, you can do almost anything you want with these bikes. All the various Bonneville hybrids, scrambler, T100 and Thruxton all share a multitude of interchangable parts, and so you end up with Bonnevillised scramblers and sramberized thruxtons etc etc. its great, a customisers dream, only really seen with harleys in the past. And if power is the issue, there are some very nice performance parts available to knocjk the horses up to 70,80, 90+, depending on the money you want to spend. But all that said, the basic bike is virtually unbreakable. the motors are so strong. I love it.

Anonymous said...

I just bought a 'second hand' (1600km) 2010 Scrambler. This is the first new bike I've owned after a long string of second hand bikes. This bike is so much more than the sum of it's parts. I could not be happier. This one is definitely a keeper!

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