The Object in Your Mirror
Its no secret that here at Beatnik we LOVE the Ducati Scrambler Range. So much so that we selected them exclusively for our 2017/18 rental fleet. We love the usability, the comfort and the performance all wrapped up in a bunch of stylish packages.
Being one of the founders of Beatnik I often get the privilege of riding the Scramblers when they are available however, there is one I have been walking past nearly every weekend. The Sixty 2. There it sits in our garage. Its headlight looking at me with a sort of wide eyed expression, just begging to be ridden out to some amazing location where it can show off its tangerine paint and its abilities on the New Zealand roads. 'Pick Me! Pick Me!' it seems to shout.
Now I don't have a good reason why I haven't put many miles on it. Seeming to choose it's 800cc brothers instead, time and time again. I also don't consider my self a 'large bore' only type, having done many a happy mile on small bikes during my time in Asia so, no rationale there. The Sixty 2 has also been a big hit with the LAMS and fully licensed crowd as well so, there we are. No more excuses. Time to get to know this eager little Ducati.
NEXX helmet over my cabbage, full gear all buttoned up as the 400cc twin hums to life with a quick push of the start button. All rite little Scrambler, lets see what you've got.
I ride out of the Beatnik HQ parking lot, directly on to SH1 and I'm on the way to Clarence and back. As luck would have it the weather immediately decides to turn nasty with head winds blowing directly against my progress. Even with the significant head wind the bike does well keeping its momentum and cruising along at 100kmph with out much effort. The first test of the bikes abilities would be on the pass that runs between Blenheim and Seddon. Its a good climb with some great corners as well.
The first thing that I noticed was how light the Sixty 2 felt. It's only a few kgs lighter (183 vs 187) than the 800 versions but it feels like a lot more as I transition from L to R corners. Very flick-able and instantly puts a smile on my face. Now, obviously this smaller Scrambler doesn't have the 'brute' torque hit of the big bro helping to propel it out of the corners or up hills so, I had to adjust my riding style a bit. Relying on technique rather than power to exploit the bikes chassis and engine, I soon caught on how to get the most out of the tangerine machine. Proper gear selection and getting on the throttle early made all the difference as I picked up the pace and whizzed up and over the pass.
A few more kms down the road, the Kaikoura coastline opens up in front of me but so did the clouds and they bring even more wind with them. Now, riding a naked bike into a heavy gusting head wind is not pleasant at the best of times and today is no different. In a situation like this, you start to realize some of the limitations of a 'small bore' bike. While the bigger bores have power in reserve to combat these things, the Sixty 2 had to work very hard to hold speed against this very strong head wind. It got the job done in the end, but you could tell it wasn't very pleased about it. This was an exceptional situation and rarely would you be riding in such conditions so I reserve judgment on the performance for now.
Nearing my destination of Clarence, the weather improves and the winds dissipate as I stop for a few minutes before doing a U-turn and heading back to Beatnik HQ. Standing there looking at the bike juxtaposed against the mountains and blue sky, I had to admit that Ducati have done a great job on the styling. Its just a cool looking motorcycle and as simple and no frills as it is, it seems to always stand out in a crowd. My phone dies as I take a pic but no problem, Scramblers come with a USB por........no wait the USB port is OPTIONAL on the Sixty 2. It's standard equipment on the bigger units and Ducati claims the absence on the Sixty 2 is a way to keep the cost of the bike down. I cant imagine that anyone who buys the Sixty 2 would back out of the deal for the extra few $ it would add to have it as standard issue. The purists out there will say "Ahh, who needs it. Your out for a ride not a chat." I would disagree as in this day and age of smart phones, GoPros, GPS units etc. , such a simple and inexpensive feature can be very useful and possibly get you out of a jam.
My little whinge about the lack of USB port coming to an end, I notice the winds have died down and the sun is out. Time to get on the gas and see what this bike was all about now that mother nature had taken a break. Zipping down the near empty road with its bumps and curves, I decide the suspension is more balanced and works with the chassis better than on the larger models. The full size scramblers suffer from stiff forks and can feel quite harsh on smaller/choppy surfaces but the 400's conventional forks soak up the roads imperfections with ease and the rear shock does equally as well, producing a very comfortable and predictable ride. Performance is also light years better without the pesky gale force head wind, as I cruise down the coast seeing waves crashing on my right and steep, intensely green hills on my left. Its all just excellent in this moment.
The rest of the way back is a flurry of smiles, hills, corners and shouts of 'wooo yah!' as the little Ducati simply eats up anything I throw at it and asks for more. 'I really like this bike', I think to myself as I ease off the throttle on the outskirts of town. Its a bike that is tame enough for new riders to feel confident but its also capable enough for experienced riders to have a blast while putting it through its paces.
I also decide its not fair to call it a 'smaller' Scrambler. It's specific type of Scrambler that offers a different but equally exciting experience for all levels of rider. Its also one that is going to be getting my equal attention now when riding day comes along so, watch out for that Tangerine flash in your mirror. Its is closer than you think.
Summary for the 2017 Ducati Scrambler Sixty 2
- Nimble, Light Feel
- Looks and Styling
- Fun to ride
- Would benefit from a bit more low end torque
- USB port optional but standard on 800 versions.