With looks to die for, Triumph’s niche Scrambler 1200 XE is surely just a gimmick to squeeze every penny out of the most lucrative segment segment in motorcycling. Pete finds out.

Pete takes the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE for a test ride to find out if it’s as good as it looks.

The modern interpretation of the 1950s scrambler made its presence known a few years back now and the fad shows no signs of abating anytime soon. For the most part, these have been home built or custom builder creations, and only a handful of manufacturers such a Triumph, Ducati, BMW and Indian have jumped on the bandwagon with factory produced scrambler-styled machines.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

Triumph, arguably the king of vintage-inspired motorcycles has three Scrambler models. The Scrambler 900 – up until this year known as the Street Scrambler – as well as two versions of the Scrambler 1200, the XC and XE, and of course a bunch of limited-edition models within each range which Triumph loves to produce. The Scrambler XC and XE are similar machines, but the XE is far more off-road ready and sports a 21-inch front wheel, long-travel suspension and some extra techno gizmos.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe
triumph scrambler 1200 xe

First released in 2019, the Scrambler 1200 XE has remained unchanged until it received updates to the engine and to its dapper high-level twin exhaust in 2021 to meet Euro 5 standards.

According to Triumph Australia’s main marketing man Chris Harris, “the main difference is the relocation of the catalytic converter from near the header pipes to near the muffler to further help dissipate heat from rider’s legs”.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

That barley-visible change has made a big difference to rider comfort. Where the heat from the previous model’s exhaust made it difficult to grip the bike when you rode off road, or cooked your leg flab when riding slowly, the newly located cat has made all the difference – heat, at least for me, is no longer an issue.

Despite Triumph having to mess with the go-bits to meet Euro 5, peak power of the Bonneville derived 1200cc eight-valve parallel-twin engine remains the same at 66.2kW (88.7hp) but reached 150rpm lower in the rev range at 7250rpm. Peak torque also remains unchanged at 110Nm, but it hits 550rpm higher on the new model at 4500rpm.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

The XE pulls hard all the way to the peak power mark – I’m always surprised by how hard Bonneville engines go, perhaps that’s because it looks old fashion, so you subconsciously expect it to perform in the same manner – they don’t! Despite this, the torque is where the fun is.

The torque comes on early, and the engine feels most comfortable while cruising along between just above idle and where peak torque is reached. It’s sitting just under its 4500rpm at 110km/h which means grunt is on hand instantly to perform overtaking manoeuvres, and fat torque in the lower gears means getting the front wheel skyward is a simple task.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe
triumph scrambler 1200 xe

The 2022 model has a claimed wet weight of 230kg, while the Euro 4 version tipped the scales at a claimed 207kg dry. Taking the 16L of fuel, 3.8L of oil and 1.89L of coolant into account puts the 2022 model at about 208kg dry.

It’s a credit to Triumph that it has managed to keep the power and weight essentially unchanged while still meeting Euro 5 regulations, there are some bikes getting around with less power than before, or they’ve had a capacity increase to retain the same squirt.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

Apart from Euro 5 changes, the XE is the same machine as the previous model, and why not, the first model was a hard machine to fault mechanically, from a comfort standpoint and especially from a visual point of view. To say Triumph nailed the look is an understatement, I mean look at it – it’s unique, tough and it looks like it’s ready for Steve McQueen to fang down a dirt road being tailed by gun-wielding WWII German soldiers – I reckon it’s one of the best-looking machines on the road.

Helping the overall look along is an awesome finish and the attention spent on the little details make the difference between a bike that’s cashing in on a fad and a bike that may just be a classic in its own right one day.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe
triumph scrambler 1200 xe

There are quite a few soft roaders on the market at the moment and although it’s a themed motorcycle, the XE is capable of tackling some serious off-road terrain. It is sporting a chunky 47mm fully adjustable Showa upside-down fork with an impressive 250mm of travel, and a set of fully adjustable Öhlins twin rear RSU shocks also with 250mm of travel. Compare that to KTM 1290 Super Adventure R with 220mm front and rear, the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure with 210mm front and 220mm rear, and Ducati’s Scrambler Desert Sled with 200mm back and front, and it’s obvious that Triumph truly intended the XE to be a bike that performed on dirt.

The suspension is right on the money for my speed and weight on the dirt, which means that lighter riders may have to fiddle with the adjusters on both ends to soften things up a tad. The initial stroke is soft enough to soak up anything a tar road can throw at you and most of what a well-groomed gravel road will, but firms up nicely through its stroke. Neither off road nor on did I manage to bottom the XE out – not bad for a 200-plus kilogram bike with a 110kg rider on it. There’s a bit of dive at the front but once the fork pushes through its initial stroke, dive is prevented from getting to the point of being a problem.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

Unlike every other scrambler-styled machine, the XE is fitted with a 21-inch front rim further increasing its off-road credentials. On our test bike, the lovely side-laced tubeless wheels were fitted with Metzeler’s superb Karoo 3 adventure rubber which are excellent off-road and surprisingly good on road. As good as they are on tar, the Karoo 3s are the limiting factor when on the road, so I never had the opportunity to really push the limits of the XE’s cornering abilities. However, in general, the XE is as solid as a rock in a corner and feels up to doing a very good pace with the right rubber fitted. It’s not the snappiest steerer around, but I wouldn’t call it slow to tip in, it just requires a bit of muscle when picking it up off the side of the tyre and flicking it onto the other.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe
triumph scrambler 1200 xe

With such long legs, the XE is a tall drink of water. Its 870mm-high bench seat puts it at the upper echelon of adventure seat heights but, even so, the seat-to-peg distance is a little cramped for my 186cm frame. Apart from that, the ergonomics are good for both road and off-road adventures. The wide MX-style ’bar is adjustable and while you’re in the adjusting mood, you can also flip the folding foot levers one way or another depending if you’re wearing road boots or chunkier MX-style ones.

Slowing the sucker down is a set of Brembo M50 radial Monobloc calipers with twin 320mm floating discs on the front, and a Brembo caliper on the back. You can’t say anything bad about Brembo M50s – they are brilliant in every way, but is it too much braking for a dirt-oriented machine? The simple answer is no. That same feel-rich characteristic that shows itself on the road is there for you on the dirt, so you know exactly what’s going on under your wheels. Make no mistake, grab a handful with the cornering ABS switched off and you’re going down, but unless your noob (or a knob) there’s enough finesse to get you through.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

In addition to the XE’s cornering-enabled ABS you also get cornering traction control, six riding modes (Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road, Off-Road Pro and Rider-Configurable). The riding modes can be selected while on the move except for Off-Road and Off-Road Pro mode. All rider aids can be switched off so you can lock up the rear on the dirt or climb a greasy mud hill once traction control has been immobilised.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe
triumph scrambler 1200 xe

All the tech can be viewed and adjusted via the full-colour TFT instruments and illuminated buttons on the two switchblocks – even the angle of the dash is adjustable to suit your riding position. There’s an additional Bluetooth module available which can link to your phone to provide navigation and GoPro integration. That’s all very swell, but why is a Bluetooth module even an optional extra? I don’t think you could buy another adventure bike for around the $24,890 that Triumph is asking for the Scrambler that doesn’t come standard with the connectivity.

To wash the sour taste of missing Bluetooth syndrome away the XE is equipped with a full LED lighting package, cruise control, keyless ignition and a USB charging socket, so it’s not exactly short on technology for the asking price.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe
triumph scrambler 1200 xe

In so many ways the XE is a brilliant motorcycle, both on and off-road and it possesses some serious adventure-bike credentials, but then things go a bit pear shaped when you consider this so-called adventure bike can only hold 16 litres of fuel in its vulnerable steel tank. Not only does that impede your dreams of heading into the outback, but restricts its touring ability, too. Add to that the lack of protection from the elements and big highways don’t look all that appealing on the XE.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

So what is it if it’s not an adventure bike? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot, and I’m still not exactly sure. I guess it’s a good short-range adventure bike, but then you may as well buy one of Triumph’s new, and I assume far less expensive, enduro bikes when they arrive. If you’re after a fair dinkum adventure bike, buy a Tiger, and if you’re after the Scrambler look without the hard-core dirt bits you could take home a Scrambler XC which has almost identical looks, a lower seat and you can pocket the extra $1440 the XE asks.

But there are some things I am certain of. If you want off-road chops, something a bit special and unique in a package that’s the coolest-looking adventure machine this side of the dividing range, you can’t beat the Scrambler 1200 XE.

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

SPECS

Engine

Capacity 1200cc Type Parallel twin, SOHC, four-valves per cylinder Bore & stroke 97.6mm x 80mm Compression ratio 11.0:1 Cooling Liquid-cooled
Fueling EFI

Transmission Six-speed Clutch Wet, multiplate
Final drive Chain

Performance

Power: 66.2kW @ 7250 rpm (claimed) Torque: 110Nm @ 4500 rpm (claimed) Top speed: 190km/h (est)
Fuel consumption: 4.9L/100km (measured)

Electronics

Type: Keihin ECU Rider aids: Continental cornering ABS, cornering traction control
Rider modes: Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road, Off-Road Pro and Rider-Configurable

Chassis

Frame material: Steel Frame type: Duplex cradle Rake: 26.9° Trail: 129.2mm
Wheelbase: 1570mm

Suspension

Type Showa/Öhlins Front: USD 47mm fork, fully-adjustable, 250mm travel
Rear: Twin piggy-back shocks, fully adjustable, 250mm travel

Wheels & brakes

Wheels: Spoked aluminium tubeless rim
Front: 2.15 x 21 Rear: 4.25 x 17

Tyres: Metzeler Karoo 3 Front: 90/90-21
Rear: 150/70 R 17

Brakes Brembo Front: Dual 320mm discs, radial four-piston calipers
Rear: Single 255mm disc, dual-piston caliper

Dimensions

Weight: 230kg (wet, claimed) Seat height: 870mm Width: 905mm Height: 1250mm Length: 2325mm Ground clearance: Not given
Fuel capacity: 16L

Servicing & warranty

Servicing First: 800km Minor: 16,000km
Major: 32,000km

Warranty: Two years, unlimited km

Business end

Price: $24,890 (ride away) Colour options: Sapphire Black, Matt Khaki/Green Matt/Jet Black or Carnival Red/Jett Black
Contact: triumphmotorcycles.com.au

Scramblin’ opponents

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
$20,000

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

Indian FTR Championship Edition
$26,995

triumph scrambler 1200 xe

BMW R nineT Scrambler
$22,780

TEST // PETE VORST
PHOTOGRAPHY // INCITE IMAGES

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