2017 Triumph Street Scrambler Review
What is a scrambler? And, more importantly, what defines a scrambler in 2017? Discuss the topic with five different motorcyclists, and you’ll get five different perspectives.
There is always the historical aspect—the Triumph TR6 Trophy of the 1950s and ’60s provided the ideal platform for those seeking various styles of riding, from blasting through California deserts to New England forests to commuting in the city.
A street bike initially converted for dirt use by racers, the TR6 Trophy eventually was given up-pipes by the factory in 1967, making the transition to dirt a bit easier. From the 1950s to 1970, the TR6 Trophy won competitions as varied as the 750 class in the 1957 International Six Days Trial (now ISDE, for Enduro) and the 1970 Bartow-to-Vegas Hare and Hound.
As far back as the 1950s, the TR6 was winning scrambles championships (precursors to motocross) throughout the United States. The name scrambler for streetbike-based dirt bikes stuck as a marketing term in the 1960s and continued into the ’70s.
Skip ahead to 2006, and the modern concept of the scrambler returned, but with its cultural appeal geared towards hipness over racing. That year, Triumph resurfaced the name with its 900 Scrambler, which was based on the 865cc Bonneville of the time. The 900 Scrambler, and the slightly updated models that followed through 2016, were considered by Triumph to be street-only motorcycles, despite the high-pipes and dirt-ready tires.
Certainly, there was no denying their styling, which led to a huge underground of scrambler builds on all types of motorcycles, and big sales. Triumph says that since that 2006 model appeared, over 70,000 Scramblers were sold. Pop culture certainly helped with sales; the Triumph Scrambler featured in the BBC One series, Doctor Who, and ridden by English Football star David Beckham in documentaries.
For 2017, Triumph is now catering to both the hippness and the off-road worthy with a new edition to the Hinckley brand’s Modern Classic line, the Street Scrambler, which is based off the top-selling Street Twin platform. Why the Street Twin platform? Triumph says the Street Twin sales doubled any other motorcycle in the 2016 Triumph lineup.
I headed to Seville, the capital of the historic nationality of Andalusia in southern Spain, to ride Triumph’s latest Scrambler and challenge Triumph’s both on- and off-road capability claims. It should be noted immediately that the Scrambler is better than its predecessors in every way.
Gone is the air-cooled 865cc parallel twin, and in its place is much stronger liquid-cooled 900cc parallel twin, with distinctive 270-degree firing order transplanted from the Street Twin. The engine continues to produce 54 horsepower at 6000 rpm, and 59 ft/lbs of torque at 2850 rpm, but it’s retuned for stronger mid-range power.
Riding through various terrain—from cobblestone streets in town to some of the smoothest twisties in Europe—power was always on tap, slowly and gradually building through 6000 rpm. There was never an issue in town, or pushing it on the b-roads, though it could use some more horses on Spain’s open smooth highways. But, that could compromise the 58 mpg I got while running through the 3.2-gallon fuel tank (a gallon smaller than the previous Triumph Scrambler).
The twin is mated to a five-speed transmission, which initially provides some online-brochure shock; I figured it was time for Triumph to finally get a Bonneville-based bike into the modern world of six-speed transmissions.
However, the five-speed tranny works. I never needed a sixth cog, even when ripping triple-digits on some straightaways. The transmission is geared perfectly for typical second-through-fourth town riding, and first gear is a bit lower for added initial power off-road.
What every modern motorcyclist will embrace is the new electronic suite on the Scrambler, which features traction control and ABS as standard equipment. The TC and ABS only have a single setting, and can be shut off—something vital for off-road situations.
Though only a single channel, the TC provided minimal interruption while engaging on some frosty Spanish roads. The ABS was the same way, until I was emergency braking at over 75 mph.
Of course, these are issues when the Scrambler was pushed, and each system should work fine for typical riding situations on road and off-road (fire road excursions). I spent 80 percent of my day with both systems off, and would only use them during wet street situations.
The Street Scrambler is built on the same chassis as the Street Twin, but with slight revisions for off-road worthiness through revise rebound and compression damping settings for the suspension, plus incrementally longer twin shocks.
Though set up differently, the KYB’s suspension travel remains the same as the Street Twin at 4.7 inches. With most off-road adventure bikes having more than six inches of suspension travel, this seemed short for off-road duty. The wheelbase also shrunk two inches from the Street Twin to just shy of 57 inches, resulting in quicker steering.
Surprisingly, in the minimal dirt sections I rode—only three miles worth—the suspension was more than capable. I did bottom out slamming through some v-shaped concrete platforms that were placed throughout the off-road section (to slow people down or harass motorcyclists), but that was drastic.
Because Triumph says most Street Scrambler owners will mainly ride fire roads rather than tougher terrain, the suspension travel works. Just remember to take the rubber inserts out of the riding pegs; the rubber immediately got slick during a water crossing, and I had trouble with standing—a combination of the rubber pegs and my street-savvy Oscar by Alpinestars Rayburn boots.
Off-road handling is improved by the 19-inch/17-inch wire-spoked wheels. The rims are shod with Metzeler Tourance street/enduro tires, a favorite of mine for long-distance pavement ADV riding where single track is minimal.
On-road, the Scrambler’s suspension caused no issues, even when pushing it on some tight twisty sections. This is the most agile Triumph Scrambler on the market, and allowed for endless grin beneath my lid throughout the day of riding, from leaning off during spirited street riding or standing up off-road.
Just like the legacy five-speed transmission, Triumph opted for a single disc setup on the front of the bike—a truly retro drum setup was fortunately avoided. There’s a 310mm single disc up front, and a 255mm disc out back, squeezed by twin-piston Nissin calipers of different designs.
The brakes provided adequate power for most situations, though slowing down from 80+ mph provided some lack of confidence in the feel of the lever. Off-road there was not one issue when locking up the rear for slides or just using enough front brake to set the pace.
The Street Scrambler’s seat height is 31.1 inches high—1.2 inches lower than the outgoing Triumph Scrambler. This presented absolutely no issues for my nearly six-foot height, and the seat is narrower, something that allows for easy movement while either riding off-road or transitioning weight on the back roads at WOT pace. Also, the seat is ribbed and comfortable for daylong rides, and includes a removable pillion pad that can be replaced with an aluminum rack (included with purchase).
The handlebars are a bit taller, and feel wider, which creates a stronger sense of control than the previous editions, which didn’t have as much ergonomic riding functionality built into their designs. The footpegs are also positioned slightly forward than before, a factor that certainly aided in the comfort of the Scrambler when either standing or sitting.
Although the Scrambler lacks a windscreen, wind blast was not as noticeable as on other naked motorcycles. Of course, this will cause some issues on sustained highway rides, especially if you are wearing an adventure or off-road helmet with a sun visor. Fortunately, the for the intended audience of the Scrambler, this won’t be a major problem.
The taller handlebars also add to the true Scrambler’s minimalist style, as does the single round gauge that includes the bare necessities—rev counter, gear position indicator, odometer, two trip settings, range-to-empty, fuel level, average and current fuel consumption, and clock, plus traction control and ABS settings.
Styling enhancements over previous editions include sharper tank lines, a seat design that flows seamlessly along the frame, an aluminum headlight bracket, an LED tail light, and the three-piece plastic skidplate (more robust protection is optional).
This latest version is the by far the best Scrambler that Triumph has built in the modern era. The styling gets more rugged, as does its off-road riding ability, though additional wheel travel would help with additional off-road ruggedness. On road and in urban situations the Scrambler lived up to its hip new image, and then some.
The Scrambler War is on between Triumph, Ducati, BMW, and Moto Guzzi. The 2017 Triumph Street Scrambler is going to be tough to beat on the road, especially for those who will sacrifice power for comfort and authentic Scrambler looks.
Photography by Alessio Barbanti and Matteo Cavadin
- Helmet: Klim Krios
- Jacket: Oscar by Alpinestars Monty
- Gloves: Oscar by Alpinestars Rayburn
- Jeans: Alpinestars Crank
- Shoes: Oscar by Alpinestars Rayburn
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler Specs
- Type: Parallel twin w/ 270° crank
- Bore x stroke: 84.6 x 80.0mm
- Displacement: 899cc
- Compression ratio: 10.6:1
- Maximum power: 55 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
- Maximum torque: 59 ft/lbs @ 2850 rpm
- Valve train: SOHC, 4 vpc
- Fueling: Multipoint sequential EFI
- Cooling: Liquid
- Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 w/ twin brushed stainless steel silencers
- Transmission: 5-speed
- Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
- Final drive: 520 DID chain
- Frame: Tubular-steel twin-cradle
- Front suspension: Non-adjustable 41mm KYB forks; 4.7 inches of travel
- Rear suspension: Twin spring-preload adjustable KYB shocks; 4.7 inches of travel
- Front wheel: 19 x 2.75; Wire-spoke steel
- Rear wheels: 17 x 4.25; Wire-spoke steel
- Front tire: 100/90 x 19; Metzeler Tourance
- Rear tire: 150/70 x 17; Metzeler Tourance
- Front brake: 310mm floating disc w/ Nissin two-piston floating caliper
- Rear brake: 255mm disc w/ Nissin two-piston floating caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 56.9 inches
- Rake: 25.6º
- Trail: 4.3 inches
- Seat Height: 31.2 inches
- Tank capacity: 3.2 gallons
- Estimate fuel consumption: 62 mpg
- Dry weight: 454 pounds
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler Colors:
- Jet Black
- Matte Khaki Green
- Korosi Red/Frozen Silver
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler Prices (MSRP):
- $10,700 (Jet Black)
- $10,950 (Matte Khaki Green)
- $11,200 (Korosi Red/Frozen Silver