2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC Review: Street and Dirt Tested

Triumph has turned the scrambler segment on its head with the 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE and XC. In a segment characterized by many machines that look the retro dirt-racer part, but fail to deliver in off-road settings, Triumph has thrown down the gauntlet and sought to redefine the motorcycling community’s expectations.

Comprised of two distinct models, the XE is a serious off-road heavyweight with ADV-worthy hardware (2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE review here), while the XC variant promises great road handling that won’t shy away from a trail or romp on the dirt track.

We packed our bags and headed off to the Faro, Portugal, located in the Algarve region to give both bikes a whirl. The lush, green, picturesque landscape is home to the Wim Motors Academy where we first tested the XC’s off-road prowess, then took to the surrounding trails, and eventually ended our two-day ride in some amazing canyons.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC review1. The High Power 1200cc Bonneville eight-valve, liquid-cooled parallel-twin motor gets an overhaul for the Scrambler. Triumph trimmed fat from Thruxton-based version of the Bonnie motor, spiced it up, and teased out some more power. Engineers installed a lightweight crankshaft, lightweight alternator, mass-optimized counterbalancer shafts, and a revised clutch assembly to free up the motor. Packing a nod-inducing wallop on the street or trail, the Scrambler claims to produce 90 horsepower at 7400 rpm and 81 ft/lbs of torque at just 3950 rpm. Outright weight was reduced by using a lightweight engine cover and using a magnesium cam cover.

2. Tractable, smooth power is at your fingertips when aboard the Scrambler 1200 XC. Having loads of low-end torque at your disposal is an advantage, but it also needs to be user-friendly. The Scrambler 1200’s powerplant is a perfect example of that, with that initial throttle hit coming in nicely. Riders can stroll through the entire rev range, especially when rolling the gas on in the canyons. With peak torque coming online fairly low in the revs, one might think this engine would be too much for the trails, but that is not the case at all. Thanks to its friendly yet spunky nature, getting a handle on the power curve is as easy as can be.

3. Nothing says scrambling like high-pipes, and the new 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC’s mufflers sing a mighty tune. For the Scrambler 1200, Triumph engineers are giving the people want they want and more—a potent, burbling exhaust note that won’t get banged up at the first venture onto the dirt. The great looks come at a price. The exhaust will roast you at a stop and with the wind in your face, it’s not an issue. Also, the exhaust, in conjunction with the battery box, bows your legs a bit when standing on the pegs.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC test4. A ride-by-wire throttle accommodates five riding modes. Once behind the XC’s bars, owners will discover five riding modes: Rain, Road, Sport, Off-Road and a customizable Rider mode. As you’d expect, the four preset modes will adjust the throttle map, ABS, and traction control levels. Off-Road utilizes an off-rode throttle made, disables ABS in the rear and uses an off-road tailored TC setting. The Rider mode will allow you to create a mode of your choice. Also, traction control can be completely disabled from the menu; however, ABS cannot be completely disabled. Also, cruise control is standard.

5. The XC’s electronics package is more than adequate, despite not being up to XE spec. The XC makes use of wheel-speed sensors and forgoes the niceties of the XE’s IMU. Curiously, ABS and TC levels use the same nomenclature as the riding modes, rather than the more-typical numerical systems. Despite not having IMU support, the electronics do a great job on and off-road. While Rain, Road, Off-Road, and Sport work as you’d expect and don’t intervene unnecessarily.

6. The Off-Road mode caught my attention for some good reasons. Once you’ve taken your shiny XC onto the trail, you’ll be able to experience something that I find truly interesting. Triumph engineers developed a great TC setting that slows the rear wheel spin in a way that so that inexperienced off-road riders will begin to grasp how the bike breaks traction. When you feel it engage, you can give it more throttle, and it’ll continue spinning up without ever actually letting go completely. When I got comfortable, I eventually turned off the TC entirely and kept it in Off-Road mode, due to how tractable the motor is.

7. The Scrambler 1200 XE and XC take two different paths; which route you choose will be up to you. To satisfy both types of riders, Triumph has bestowed a Scrambler 1200 in two forms—the XE with ADV geometry and long-travel suspension, and the XC with more street sensibilities. The XC’s swingarm is shorter than the XE’s by 1.3 inches, and its wheelbase is over an inch shorter. Rake is just over one-degree steeper at 25.8 degrees. Together, the tighter geometry makes for a livelier experience on the road and sharper handling overall. In the dirt, the XC is lower to the ground, and a bit more confidence is inspiring being closer to terra firma.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC for sale8. Let the scrambling begin with ample suspension. A fully-adjustable 43mm Showa fork and twin Öhlins shocks, with nearly eight inches of travel at each end, will take care most anything you’re likely to throw at them. Despite having roughly two inches less travel than the XE, the XC’s suspension feels similar. Its suspenders aren’t soft; they edge towards the stiffer side in the upper portion of the stroke. When you’ve roared onto the trail and the suspension is put to the test, it operates smoothly. The commendable damping keeps it all predictable, and it’s tunable.

9. On the road, the XC shines, thanks to the tighter geometry and reduced travel. The Showa and Öhlins duo do a great job of keeping the XC in shape, allowing it to hold its line well, while also keeping most of the rough stuff out of the saddle or your wrists. In all, the more streetable direction of the XC pays off by giving it a distinct personality, one that is nimble-natured and user-friendly, a characteristic that I’ve found constant through all of the Bonneville bikes. It’s such a willing companion in the curves that you’ll probably start finding the peg feelers, once you’re acclimated.

10. The reduced travel means that you have less available stroke off-road. You can feel a hit or two when the pace picks up and the terrain gets tough. Its heft is also easier to deal with on the XC, as you’re able to plant your feet and keep it propped up when things get too hairy. Weighing in at around 500 pounds wet—Triumph doesn’t make a curb weight claim—I’ll take all the help I can get.

11. When it comes to braking, Triumph didn’t pinch any pennies. In the front dual Brembo M50 calipers grab onto 320mm floating rotors; in the rear, a single dual-piston Brembo caliper clamps onto a 255mm rotor. Feel at the lever is superb, with gobs of braking power at your disposal. It’s something you’ll have to be mindful of when you first hit the trail, as with great power comes great responsibility. In the rear, the brakes can be modulated well and will help you step the XC out. ABS performance is unobtrusive.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC12. Side-laced wheels are more than up to the task of riding off-road. You’re looking at a lot of motorcycle to be chucking around in the dirt, and those wheels are going to live a hard life. I hit a couple of rocks at high speeds and thought “Well, I’ll have to explain that to the Triumph PR guy,” convinced that the front wheel was going to be worse off. Thankfully, that conversation never came, as they took the abuse with flying colors.

13. Owners will have the choice of Metzeler Tourance tires or Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires, with a 21-/17-inch combination in both cases. For riders who aren’t going to be spending time much time off-road, the street-focused Tourance tire is a better choice, as it provides good grip on wet or dry asphalt. The Scorpion Rally tires are knobby, with the grip hooking up very well off-road. In the dirt, the Scorpion Rally steers well, but lacks side grip and can begin to feel vague.

14. If an upright standard bike is your style, then the Scrambler 1200 XC won’t disappoint. Coming in with a somewhat tall 33-inch seat height, the XC is over an inch lower than the XE. The XC is comfortable when sitting or standing up, with a natural reach to the bars, which can be adjusted. Reflecting its street emphasis, the XC has slightly narrower bars. There isn’t excessive knee-bend, either. Of course, the bike is naked, so you do take it to the chest a bit at high speed, but that’s just a characteristic of the naked category.

15. The second generation full-color TFT dash looks the part while delivering modern amenities. Easy to read in any light and loaded with several themes, as well as variations on those themes; the TFT display is wonderfully simple to explore with the new joystick controls on your left. For added functionality, owners can get an optional Bluetooth module and operate a GoPro camera and use Google Maps for turn-by-turn navigation.

16. There is a foam lined box under the seat equipped with a USB port. If you’re on the road and don’t have a charger nearby, don’t fret; connect your phone to the USB port while it rides in the lap of foam luxury for safe keeping. Riders who use their Bluetooth connections for navigation, phone calls, or music will find this to be a nice addition.

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC seat height17. When it comes to looks, it’s hard to argue that Triumph hasn’t nailed it on the Scrambler 1200 XC. The brushed aluminum bash guard, radiator guard, and number plate on the exhaust look awesome. The fit and finish are excellent, with nary an offending bolt or screw not having some fancy coating on it. You might not like the style, but you will be hard-pressed to argue it isn’t done well when seeing it in person.

18. The 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC gets to the core of what scrambling is all about—fun. When the dust settles, a motorcycle is only as good as the emotion that it evokes and in this case, the Scrambler 1200 XC keeps things fun. In a segment that has been inundated with bikes that are scramblers in name only, it’s a welcome option. The XC has countless accessories, a great engine, and good handling on-road, while not being a slouch in the dirt. But if you asked me what I thought when I pulled the helmet off, I’d say the XC is a blast.

Photography by Gareth Harford, Mark Manning, and Chippy Wood

Riding Style

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC 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
  • Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Showa 45mm inverted fork; 7.9 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Öhlins piggy-back reservoir shocks; 7.9 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
  • Rear brake: Single 255mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating caliper.
  • ABS: Standard (defeatable)

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 60.2 inches
  • Rake: 25.8 degrees
  • Trail: 4.8 inches
  • Seat height: 33.1 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 4.2 gallons
  • Estimated fuel consumption: 58 mpg

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC Colors:

  • Jet Black and Matt Black
  • Khaki Green and Brooklands Green

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC Price:

  • $14,000 MSRP

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC Review | Photo Gallery