Embargos, NDAs and gentlemen’s agreements have prevented me from getting really excited about the eagerly anticipated launch of Triumph’s all-new 1200 Scrambler as I haven’t been able to share enthusiasm with anyone in the office, let alone the outside world. Sure, there have been spy shots and thanks to the rampant pace at which news travels around the social media web only the most off-the-grid hermits will have been surprised by yesterday’s leaked smartphone images from the dealer conference in London, but still, we’ll have to wait until this afternoon to find out what’s what. Although Dutch has been part of said conference for the last couple of days, has had a good poke around and sit on the bike he’s kept pretty shtum but looks to have started to say goodbye to his much loved 900 in preparation.
It’s also little surprise that the 900cc Street Scrambler would be followed by a taller, beefier big brother. The 900 is an absolutely brilliant motorcycle which I would have bought in a heartbeat, had I not been privy to the details of the forthcoming 1200cc version. I want the extra power, a 6th gear, proper touring capability and a modern adventure bike. I’m just not ready for a Tiger 1200. Another excellent machine which I thoroughly enjoyed riding but I’m hanging onto my thirties by my fingertips and there’s still plenty of time for dad bikes. I want something that looks good and reminds me of the glory years of scrambling. I didn’t grow up in Utah in the sixties and seventies, I’ve never been to watch the Baja 1000 and my childhood field bikes were fluorescent and plastic. I still, like millions of others, crave that nostalgic shot in the arm. And this Scrambler 1200 might just be the drug of choice.
So we’re here in the Excel Centre in east, East London to witness the Scrambler 1200 XC and XE unveiling, along with a bumper selection of the world’s press. This bike is a big deal for Triumph, but it’s not the only new model to be launched. More on that later as Dutch has been riding new bikes on stage as part of the dealer conference and will report back soon. I was supposed to be riding in the off-road exhibition races this evening as part of Team Triumph UK but much to my huge frustration my knee fell out a few weeks ago and I had to cry off. I’ll regret that for sure. There is the official press ride to look forward to in December though, and I cannot wait for that.
Yeah, yeah, so you’re in the inner circle, well done big shot, what about the bike though!! Well, as you’ve probably guessed it’s powered by the same 1200cc parallel twin as the rest of the Bonneville range. Although it’s not quite the same, it’s been tweaked and tuned to give be capable of proper off-roading – in fact it’s got 12% more torque than the High Torque lump in the T120 Bonneville ! This is not just a jacked-up Bonnie though, far from it. The frame geometry is radically different and also differs between the XC and XE. The more road oriented XC has a slightly slacker headstock than the aggressive, dirt munching XE.
The decision to stick with a twinshock suspension setup must have been deliberated for hours. Initially I thought Triumph should have just sucked it up and gone for monoshock and linkage, like more or less every other adventure bike out there – surely the nostalgia and Triumph DNA could transcend a modicum of suspension modernity. But having seen the bike up close I’m glad Triumph’s engineers wouldn’t listen to my opinion even if proffered – the brace of super-long Öhlins shocks (developed especially for the project) pulls the design together. Without them the Showa fork and radially mounted twin M50 Brembos would have left only the classically shaped fuel tank and faux air-cooled engine to deliver the rose tinted flavour.
The 16 litre fuel tank would have been an equally difficult design proposition. Proportionally it had to look as small and peanutty as possible to resemble the dinky vessels of old yet placate the grumblings of true adventure riders who boast about their range between fuel stops. Real world trials will decide on the latter but it’d be my guess that only a few hardcore adventurists will be tempted away from their Tigers and GSs. It’ll be the folk like me that will sell their nan, and the contents of their garage to join a handsome caravan of 1200 Scramblers heading for a dusty and muddy horizon. I am pleased to see that someone listens to our suggestions though. The new tank is without a visible seam. Dutch has been covering his with retro rubber trim and I considered a angle grind and weld job on my Street Twin.
As with the rest of the Triumph Modern Classics range, the custom scene has clearly been an influence. As standard mudguards are aluminium and there are neat touches all over the bike that a few years ago would have been the height of innovation if featured on the Bike Shed, Bike Exif et al.
The opening of Triumph’s Adventure Experience in Wales was of course no coincidence either. This bike is supposed to be a competent off-road weapon, and it’s been designed as such. I’ve spoken to actual grown-ups who helped develop it, and some who subsequently straddled the thing for a shakedown and the response is similar. With eyes like saucers and palpable enthusiasm the superlatives flowed. We’ll see tonight just how good it is in the hands of some pros and not so pros on an indoor dirt track. Damn, my knee is now 80%, I wish I could be one of the not so pros.
As stock, tyres are Metzeler Tourance on tubeless rims – 21″ front and 17″ rear, which also have the benefit of externally mounted spokes should one get snapped crossing the Kalahari. And that’s not meant to be a joke. Expect to see Triumph supporting some epic trips to prove the validity of the 1200’s off-road credentials. This isn’t a dual sport (as the yanks call ’em) machine. This is a really decent looking and burly scrambler that has on-road manners built-in, rather than the other way around.
It’s not all retro cool though. The traditional instruments have been replaced by a sophisticated full colour, personalised, TFT display that connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone. Not just for calls though, it makes the most of Google Maps with a system especially designed for the 1200. There’s also patented Go Pro connectivity integrated which we’re looking forward to trying out later in the year.
As for the details and specs the list is fairly exhaustive. The takeaway for me from the press briefing is that I want an XE (E for extreme) with the full-on Baja spec. And that’s this isn’t just for show either. Stunist and the guy behind Triumph’s Street Scrambler video Ernie Vigil will be competing in the Baja 1000 in just a few days. Us lesser mortals will have to settle for one of the two Inspiration Kits, and the extensive list of aftermarket accessories.
At a glance it’s a task to decipher the differences between the XC and XE. The XC is more road biased with 200mm of fully adjustable suspension travel front and rear while the XE boasts 250mm as well as a slightly longer swingarm. They’ll both have keyless ignition and cruise control, back-lit switchgear, rider modes, cornering ABS, reversible bar risers and a whole stack more…. the list is fairly exhuastive and we’ll report more on this minutia at a later date, but for now here are the key specs of both models Scrambler 1200 Specs 2018. Suffice to say that the ‘base’ spec is premium, but word on the street is without a particularly premium price tag. We’ll have to wait until December though for exact numbers.
Keep an eye on the Triumph website for updates and I’ll report back in a few weeks once I’ve spanked the thing across Portugal.
All gallery images are full size, simply click on one.