It’s been boomtown in Bologna ever since Ducati unveiled its Scrambler family of motorcycles, with its numbers growing to fill plenty of niches in the segment. The one that started it all was the Scrambler Icon, which is still riding a wave of praise from its 2019 refresh with highlights that include cornering ABS, suspension tweaks, new dash functionality, a reshaped saddle, and a lighter clutch.Two seasons ago, the Italian brand reached into its bag of tricks and revealed its most affordable model yet—the Scrambler Icon Dark. The bright hues often seen in Ducati’s Land of Joy are exchanged for an attractive black visage and a lower $8995 MSRP.We put the 2022 Ducati Scrambler Icon Dark to the test on the highways, byways, and backroads to hit you with the Fast Facts.
Less is more with Dark models. Ducati has a long history with the “Dark” moniker, dating back to the 1998 Monster M600 Dark, forgoing flashy color options for sable-draped components and saving you coin at the till. Mechanically, the 2022 Ducati Scrambler Icon Dark ($8995) is identical to the Scrambler Icon ($9995); only minor cosmetic differences set them apart. The Icon Dark takes on sleek gloss and matte-black finishes, ditches machined embellishments on its 10-spoke cast-aluminum wheels, and opts for round mirrors, as well as a black ring mounted to its bright LED DRL (daytime running light). That’s quite a bit of scratch back in your pocket if the darker theme appeals to you.
An air-cooled 803cc L-twin engine captures the classic Ducati vibe. The Scrambler’s tried and true beating heart pumps out a respectable 73 horsepower at 8250 rpm and a healthy 49 ft-lbs of torque at 5750 rpm—plenty of punch to charm salty veterans while ensuring newer riders can fully embrace its user-friendly wallop. This spunky twin-cylinder mill dolls out its power via an extremely welcoming torque curve, delivering its lovely sampling of power with just the right amount of zest. A boisterous exhaust burble is your soundtrack when twisting the smooth throttle and keeps it old school with no fiddly ride modes. It’s a versatile, one-size-fits-all powerplant that works well across the board.
The easy-going nature carries on through to the six-speed gearbox. Well-spaced ratios and a nice serving of torque consistently deliver power when asked, but with all that accessible bottom-end shove, short-shifting and letting your throttle-hand do the work is a solid approach. Add in a light hydraulic clutch pull with an adjustable lever and a slipper clutch to keep wheel-hop at bay, and you can see how the Scrambler builds on an inviting motif.
Comfortable ergonomics suit the Scrambler’s many purposes. The Icon and Icon Dark’s casual riding position begins with a wide handlebar that props you bolt upright, though there’s still wiggle room to get your elbows out in the canyons or on a trail. Complementing that aspect is a flat 31.4-inch-tall saddle that lets you scooch to and fro as needed. The narrow chassis accentuates the accommodating seat height, aiding shorter-statured riders in reaching the deck. Rounding out the touch points are rubber-mounted footpegs low enough to prevent knee-bend while not compromising cornering clearance.
Playful handling is what this motorcycle is all about. The 2022 Ducati Scrambler Icon Dark’s relatively small size pays off in a big way since it translates to a bike that can thread the traffic needle, whip through canyons gleefully, or even go for a cheeky rip on a hardpacked dirt road with little to no effort. Stout and stable through the corners thanks to relaxed geometry, the Scrambler scoots along happily and is quite capable of running a respectably brisk clip on the twisty routes. Those characteristics encourage the fun and lean angles, which can lead to scraping the exhaust shield, reminding you to reel it in a hair.
The 2022 Scrambler Icon’s plush suspension holds up to the task at hand. Striking a balance is always tricky, yet the non-adjustable fork and preload-adjustable shock stand up to the rigors of the road handily. A compliant setup gobbles up whatever may cross your path. While that might seem at odds with maintaining composure when cornering, good damping prevents the pleasantly plush suspenders and chassis from feeling loose on the edge of the tire. You have to color aggressively outside the lines for the suspension limits to show, but that’s not the type of riding the Scrambler is about anyway.
The Pirelli MT 60 rubber does double duty on the asphalt and dirt. By Ducati’s admission, the Scrambler Icon Dark and most of its siblings are not off-road motorcycles—focused models such as the Desert Sled fill that role. Yet, it’s still more than capable of hitting a groomed fire road when the occasion arises, thanks to its stable chassis, tractable engine, and importantly, nod-worthy off-pavement grip achieved by the Pirelli MT 60 RS tires. That blocky rubber also purchases quite a bit of traction on the street.
Brembo braking is aided by cornering ABS. The same braking hardware returns, with a single disc set up at either end. Luckily, the honking 4-piston caliper and 330mm rotor handily haul this 417-pound bike to a stop. The initial bite is soft and unintimidating, letting you dig into the brakes without trepidation. In the rear, it’s the same story. ABS never flinched on the road and only made itself aware when in the dirt. Being able to disable it would be nice, should scrambling opportunities arise. Luckily, you can still stop safely if your inputs are controlled.
The vintage-themed LCD dash has plenty of functionality. You’ll have everything you laid before you, from a fuel gauge, gear indicator, rpm, speed, and more. It’s also compatible with the Ducati Multimedia System, though you’ll need an optional Bluetooth accessory to pair up to five devices. LCDs aren’t the brightest in direct sunlight, and the 2022 Scrambler could keep up with the Joneses with a fresher-looking color TFT display—they have recently spiked in popularity on other motorcycles at this price point.
The 2022 Ducati Scrambler Icon Dark is still the awesome all-around motorcycle we know it to be. There’s not much to finger wag at the Scrambler Icon Dark, considering it wears quite a few hats without ever seeming out of place. Moreover, it can satisfy riders from across the skill spectrum while fulfilling its duties as a commuter, canyon compatriot, and rabble-rouser without missing a beat. As long as you enjoy Matt Black, it can be had at an attractive price.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!