2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Review: Tested On- and Off-Road

The 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE has been one of the talked about motorcycles coming to market since its public debut at EICMA. A large displacement Scrambler with actual off-road chops has been on the wish-list for many riders, and now it has arrived.

The Scrambler 1200 lineup consists of XE and XC models. Although the two motorcycles share an engine, frame, wheels, and many other components, the XE boasts wider handlebars, refined electronics, long-travel suspension, and other off-road centric additions to make it ready for more serious dirt riding.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE off-roadWe spent two days in the Algarve region of Portugal, romping around the Wim Motors Academy off-road compound, taking to trails in the lush farmlands, and hitting the canyons to put the Hinckley factory’s lofty claims to the test.

1. Triumph’s eight-valve, liquid-cooled parallel-twin High Power 1200 engine returns, with some key updates to give it the Scrambler Tune. Using the Thruxton R’s engine as a starting point, the Hinckley engineers introduced a lightweight crankshaft, lightweight alternator, mass-optimized counterbalancer-shafts, and revised clutch assembly to allow the motor to spool up more freely. The result is a light, punchy, playful motor. The Scrambler Tune ekes out more performance from the High Power engine, claiming to achieve 91 horsepower at 7400 rpm and 81 ft/lbs of torque at 3,950 rpm—roughly 12.5 percent more horsepower and four percent more torque than the T120.

2. The ride-by-wire throttle on the 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE has a mode for every situation. Owners will be able to explore six modes— Road, Sport, Off-Road, Off-Road Pro, Rain, and a custom Rider mode. The five preset modes adjust the throttle mapping, ABS, and traction control intrusion, depending on the given mode. Off-Road mode disables ABS in the rear, and uses a trail-specific TC level. Off-Road Pro disables all aids. The Rider mode allows you to run any throttle map and any level of rider aids, including off.

3. The 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200’s powerplant makes on- or off-road riding blissful. Tractability is the key to that statement, and from the moment you twist the grip, the p-twin engine begins building its power perfectly predictably, enabling any willing rider to confidently light up the rear, peppering their friends in the process.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE street test4. Having a smooth initial throttle application is crucial off-road, and the various riding modes don’t disappoint, especially with a torque-rich engine such as this one. Rolling the throttle on won’t be met with disaster, as riders will quickly come to terms with the 1200—they’ll be reveling in it with roosts of approval.

5. A slick six-speed gearbox comes equipped with a torque-assist and slipper clutch. The Scrambler 1200 clicks into gear confidently and smoothly. Better yet, the torque assist function keeps the clutch pull incredibly light, while a slipper clutch reduces wheel-hop when you botch a downshift.

6. The XE boasts IMU-supported cornering ABS and lean-angle detecting traction control. ABS and TC are described in the same nomenclature as the power modes—Rain, Road, Sport, and Off-Road—instead of the usual numerical levels that we commonly see. Off-Road ABS allows for aggressive front braking in the dirt, letting you slide the rear as you’d like. The Off-Road TC is fascinating as it teaches riders to understand how the motor breaks traction, yet it doesn’t eliminate spin either—it merely subdues it. If you give it more gas mid-slide, it will let go a bit more, but never become unleashed. To hang it out, you’ll want to go into Off-Road Pro.

7. Triumph made it clear with the chassis—the 2019 Scrambler 1200 XE is trail ready. Despite the XE and XC sharing a purpose-built steel cradle chassis, they do have distinct personalities, and it begins with the chassis geometry. To improve the XE’s off-road stability, the XE features a longer swingarm and relaxed rake compared to the XC. The XE’s nearly 62-inch wheelbase and almost 27 degrees of rake are ADV-like, and certainly appreciated when you’re bouncing around on a fire road, as you’ll be laying down a wide footprint in the dirt. On the road, it does mean that the XE is slightly a bit statelier in the corners.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE in dirt8. If the message wasn’t clear, perhaps the fully adjustable long-travel suspension—nearly 10 inches at each end—will drive the point home. Up front, 47mm Showa cartridge fork soaks up the hits, while twin Öhlins piggyback-reservoir shocks handle the duties out back. The suspension feel leans towards the stiffer side initially. It is more or less on par with ADV options on the market, avoiding the seesawing that leggy off-road machines can sometimes do. Once you’ve taken to the trail and set to work, the suspension moves through the travel in a plush and controlled manner, keeping the chassis in line or helping it settle up quickly over rough spots.

9. The long-travel suspension isn’t shy on pavement. Once you’ve made it back civilization, the Scrambler 1200 XE romps over the street’s impurities without a second thought, and its taught chassis will translate all of that information to the rider, luckily, without becoming uncomfortable. At faster canyon paces, the tall XE doesn’t transform into a floppy mess that is stereotypical of dual-sport machines at street paces.

10. High-pipes help complete the Scrambler look, and they serve a purpose. Modern Bonnevilles sound good, but this is the way the 270-degree crank parallel-twin’s tune was meant to be heard. Their size, along with the battery box on the opposite side, does bow your legs a bit when standing on the footpegs. However, that means squeezing the bike when riding off-road is incredibly easy. The high-pipes will tend to roast when sitting at stops; however, when the temperature dropped, and the rain came down, I was glad to have the extra heat.

11. Triumph pulled out all the stops when it comes to braking on the Scrambler 1200 XE. Dual Brembo M50 calipers clamp onto 320mm floating rotors and, in the case of the XE, mates with a radial Brembo MCS master cylinder that features span and ratio-adjustment allowing you to get virtually any feel from the brakes you wish. The XE has extraordinary stopping power—it is the identical setup to the Street Triple 765 RS. In the rear, a dual-piston caliper works with a 255mm disc and is easily modulated. Additionally, the XE model has an adjustable rear brake lever.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE for sale12. Side-laced wire-spoke wheels are more than up to the task of riding off-road. Triumph doesn’t report this machine’s running weight; instead, we’re left with the meaningless “dry” weight of 456 pounds. With fluids and fuel, you’re looking at a bike knocking on the door of 500 pounds—perhaps even more. It’s a lot of motorcycle to be chucking around in the dirt, and those wheels are going to live a hard life. Thankfully, the aluminum rims survived my line choices philosophy, which follows a strict rule of “Hmm, too late now.”

13. When it comes to rubber for the 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE, you’ll have two choices. The Scrambler 1200s will come with Metzeler Tourance or OEM-spec Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires, with sizes of 90/90 x 21 and 150/70 x 17. Both tires perform respectably well, and have specific applications. The Metzeler Tourance tire is primarily focused on on-road use, excelling in wet or dry conditions with light trail capabilities. The Pirelli Scorpion Rally knobbies offer up far more grip in the dirt.

14. Upright and comfortable, the Scrambler can be ridden all day. With a seat height just above 34 inches, the Scrambler 1200 XE isn’t the shortest bike on the road. However, the narrow chassis allowed my 32-inseam to plant the balls of my feet on the ground nicely. Standing or sitting, the reach to the grips is spot-on for me. Should you wish to adjust it, you’ll have the ability to do so as well. The bench seat is comfortable, and the foot controls didn’t cause excessive knee-bend.

15. As this is a naked machine, wind protection isn’t there, and you will take it to the chest at higher speeds. A small windscreen would make extended trips doable. A small flyscreen is in the Triumph accessories catalog, as is a left-side pannier, a tank bag, and a 30-liter roll bag.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE top speed16. The XE has heated grips. They’re a great feature to have while riding in cold, rainy conditions, which we experienced. Handguards are standard.

17. A new, easy to read, modernized dash adorns the 2019 Triumph Scrambler XE. The second-generation TFT display is easy to read and navigate, thanks to the joystick controls on the left. A little bit of poking around will get you going in the right direction. There are three layouts for the dash with various quantities of information displayed. They can be viewed in low- or high-contrast mode. With an accessory Bluetooth module, riders will be able to control their GoPro cameras or pair their phone to the dash and use Google Maps for turn-by-turn directions.

18. USB charging with a foam lined box for a phone. Under the seat is a small box to house your phone and keep it charged during your ride. It’s a nifty feature for those that listen to music or use navigation and don’t want to eat up the phone’s battery life.

19. The Scrambler 1200 line combines style with function. The scrambler craze has hit the motorcycle market hard for the first time since the late 1960s. Often, these machines are adorned with rugged accessories that serve as little more than fashion statements. The 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE has a number plate, the Monza fuel cap, tank strap, and other additions give it that undeniably Bonneville styling, and reinforce the scrambler theme. An aluminum sump guard is certainly functional, as well as stylish.

20. Make no mistake; the 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE is the real thing. While the Scrambler 1200 line was born of the current Bonneville crop, its revisions may make it a similarly-styled cousin to them on paper—the utility, ease of use and fun of the Bonnevilles hasn’t been lost from the DNA. The Scrambler 1200 adds a genuine ADV-level of off-road capability, without compromising its on-road friendliness. The 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE took a beating on the road and off – leaving me impressed and effectively raising the bar for the scrambler segment.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE exhaustPhotography by Gareth Harford, Mark Manning, and Chippy Wood

Riding Style

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Specs

ENGINE

  • Type: Parallel twin w/ 270° crank
  • Displacement: 1200cc
  • Bore x stroke: 97.6 x 80.0mm
  • Compression ratio: 11.0:1
  • Maximum power: 89 horsepower @ 7400 rpm
  • Maximum torque: 81 ft/lbs @ 3950 rpm
  • Valvetrain: SOHC; 8 valves
  • Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 exhaust system w/ brushed silencers
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
  • Final drive: X-ring chain

CHASSIS

  • Frame: Tubular steel w/ aluminum swingarm
  • Swingarm: Twin-sided, aluminum
  • Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Showa 47mm inverted fork; 9.8 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback reservoir shocks; 9.8 inches
  • Front wheel: 21 x 2.15; tubeless 36-spoke aluminum rim
  • Rear wheel: 17 x 4.25; tubeless 32-spoke aluminum rim
  • Front tire: 90/90 x 21
  • Rear tire: 150/70 x 17
  • Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ Brembo M50 monoblock calipers and radial master cylinder; Switchable Cornering ABS
  • Rear brake: Single 255mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating caliper. Switchable Cornering ABS.

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 61.8 inches
  • Rake: 26.9 degrees
  • Trail: 5.1 inches
  • Seat height: 34.3 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 4.2 gallons
  • Estimated fuel consumption: 58 mpg

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Colors:

  • Fusion White & Brooklands Green
  • Cobalt Blue & Jet Black

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Price:

  • From $15,400 MSRP

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Review | Photo Gallery