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Review: 2017 Scrambler Ducati Cafe Racer

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About Mark

Mark Holgate is the driving force behind Exhaust Notes Australia, one of this country's premier automotive websites, with in excess of 1 million visits every year, and literally hundreds of car reviews and motoring stories.

With more than 20 years experience as a journalist, and five years as a professional blogger, he brings a wealth of knowledge about cars, bikes and everything in between.

The lads from Exhaust Notes road test a Ducati that harks back to the cool and groovy motorbikes of the 1960s.

Its black-coffee paint job and retro styling harks back to the 1960s, a time of cool and groovy motorcycles ridden by Rockers through the streets of London.

Cafe Racer extraordinaire.

Cafe Racer extraordinaire... the 2017 Scrambler Ducati Cafe Racer

But this is 2017 and while the bike may look like an original cafe racer from the '60s, it’s packed full of new-millennium performance.

From the 54 on the lateral number holders, to the black frame and gold wheels, the 2017 Scrambler Ducati Cafe Racer just oozes retro. The bike got looks sitting at the lights. It got looks when parked at cafes. People talked to us in traffic, wanting to know what it was – it literally has that much street appeal.

People just seem drawn to it. We got asked how much we’d sell it for. People wanted to sit on it and ‘get the feel of it’, and that right there is one of the nice things about this bike, it fit almost everyone, male, female, tall or short. Just one person had a negative comment – that it should be Ducati red.

The numbers adorning the side of the bike are significant because they once belonged to Bruno Spaggiari, a highly successful Ducati rider who raced in the 1968 Mototemporada Romagnola classic road race. It’s a good looking piece of kit and after just two years since the initial release of the Scrambler range, and with a beefier 1100 model just launched, it looks like it’s here to stay.

As a daily rider it could be the perfect bike, or close to it. On the road it is well behaved and easy to ride. Weighing in at 188kg, it feels lighter than it is, thanks to the fact it is very well balanced.

The engine -- being the classic Ducati L-Twin Desmodromic configuration,coupled with the excellent single stainless-steel muffler and Termignoni silencer -- gives you a brilliant engine noise from the 803cc power plant, and there is a fantastic little pop when you release the accelerator. The sound on acceleration from the 54kW and of power and 67Nm of torque is pure Ducati.

The L-Twin configuration also provides a lot of control when decelerating, reducing the use of the brakes and giving the rider a greater feeling of control. The gearbox and gear change is very smooth and sure in traffic, and on the open road, providing you with confidence that it will just work, leaving you to just enjoy the experience.

The four-piston Brembo brakes will bring you to a stop in no time flat, keeping you safe and sound, and the ABS system attached to the brakes is excellent. The riding position is comfortable, but we felt that the seat was a touch on the hard side. If it was softer you could really enjoy a long ride on the weekend or a trip away.

Aside from that one little criticism, the bike was a joy.  It was not twitchy at all in traffic and is very smooth. It’s well behaved and lots of fun to ride, without encouraging you to do silly things. Cornering is a joy. Winding roads are a blast and provide you with all the excitement that a bike should provide, without any nasty surprises.

In short, the handling is excellent. The mirrors being mounted on the end of the handle bars means they actually work and are not a superfluous addition, like so many motorbike mirrors.

What this bike does is bring back the simple joy of riding a no-nonsense, easy-to-ride machine, that makes you smile and will continue to make you smile, whether in traffic or on the open road.

You’ll keep smiling when you learn that the service intervals are every 12,000km and the price will make you grin from ear to ear. The Cafe Racer hits the road at $16,990. A small price to pay for this much fun.

Our test bike was provided by Ducati Australia. To find out more about the 2017 Scrambler Ducati Cafe Racer, visit your local Ducati dealer.

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