What Is A Scrambler Motorcycle?

Do you know what is a scrambler motorcycle? Scrambler motorcycles are motorcycles that are used for motocross racing. They are also used to race on track roads that are closed-off and short. The track roads are often laden with many obstacles.

what is a scrambler motorcycle
Photocredits: Michel Curi, flickr.com

The motorbike had a fuel tank that was smaller than the average motorcycle. This makes the motorbike very compact and light. The long suspension gives the allowance for the motorcycle riders to jump while speeding.

Video: What Is A Scrambler Motorbike?

If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here:

What is a scrambler motorcycle?

A scrambler motorcycle is a motorcycle that is made for motorcross, street and off-road use.  Scramblers are classic motorbikes which have been customized for extra speed. They have taller suspensions, knobby tires, spooky wheels, and highly placed exhaust pipes.

The engine of a scrambler can be a two-stroke engine or a four-stroke one. Their sizes also vary. They can be from 50cc to 500cc.

In professional settings, the motorbike is divided into two depending on the displacements that they have. They can be MX or MX lite.

MX Lite category has a two-stroke 125cc engine and a four-stroke 250cc engine.

MX category, however, has a two-stroke 250cc engine and then a four-stroke 450cc engine.

The variation in displacement, torque, weight, and power of the scrambler motorcycles are totally variables. They even out the fierce competition between four-stroke and two-stroke engines.

The scrambler motorcycles usually have large engines. The engines are most usually a twin-cylinder and four-stroke engine.

The scrambler motorcycles are also used for freestyle motocross.

Contrary to what most people think, the scramblers have been in existence for quite a long time. In fact, the scramblers of today are just upgrades of the old ones, like version 2.0.

The modern scrambler is a remake of the style that was prevalent in the 1960s when the scramblers were the in thing.

The scrambler origin is just like many types of off-road motorcycles. In the early days of the 20th century, club motorbikers would take a standard or multi-purpose motorcycles that were available and transform them to suit their needs.

In those days, dirt bikes were not available. So, if you needed any dirt bike, what you had to do was to get a regular track bike. This will be enhanced or modified to suit what you want the bike to do for you. That was how the scrambler motorcycle came to be in existence.

The motorbikes are usually adjusted for speed. Racers wanted motorcycles that could move really fast and help them win races.

Café racers always chose the normal racetracks for their races. But the scrambler racers were speed conscious and more adventurous. They would choose the closest line in between the start and the finish line. They did not care where these paths or tracks would lead.

It did not matter if it led through a stream, muddy pathways, or fields. They would drive through virtually anywhere but the prescribed racetracks, like the other cafe racers.

Their manner of riding was called ‘as the bird flies’ manner. This was troublesome for regular bikes and that was why the motorbikes were modified.

The motorbike had to transit from well-paved roads to different terrains and back to the road again. Due to this, the regular bikes were modified to suit any kind of terrain that it would encounter. The motorbikes were stripped, and their weights were reduced to enhance acceleration.

This is because, the heavier the bike was, the harder it was for it to move really fast as was needed.

The motorcycles were given suspensions that were taller than that of the regular ones. Spokes were added to the wheels, the tires used were knotty ones that would be able to withstand the stress of any type of terrain.

The scramblers had to adjust the position of the exhausts. The exhaust was brought up closer, directly under the seat. This was to enhance ground clearance.

These adjustments are the main attractions of modern scramblers. They are the features that added to their appeal and aesthetics.

The style of the scrambler is dependent on the decade the scrambler was made in. Various decades since 1960 had a special feature that was imbibed in the motorbike.

The popularity of the scramblers increased as the fame of motocross racing started growing.

Motorcycle manufacturers utilized this opportunity and started making dirt bikes that were all-purposes and used for racing off-normal racing tracks.

As motorcycle manufacturers began making dirt bikes, the practice of turning regular motorcycles into scramblers declined. Subsequently, it stopped totally.

Why did riders start creating scramblers?

Riders started creating scramblers because of the quest for more excitement in riding. They turned regular bikes into scramblers. They were tired of the rigidness of the sport and so decided to do something more fun-and boom! The scrambler.

How Did The Scrambler Get Its Name?

The Scrambler motorcycle got its name from a commentator who was analyzing a motorcycle race in the UK in the year 1920. The name of the motorcycle has been popular in the US right from the 1950s and 1960s and was used to qualify any street motorbike that could race in the streets.

The name, however, was said to have originated in the UK, as far back as the 1920s. There was a race where the motorbikes had to juggle between two or more terrains. The commentator that day described the race as being a scramble. That was how the name got stuck.

In recent times, the scramblers have been more like a show motorbike. It is used to qualify the look of the motorbike than the purpose of the motorbike.

The modern ones are built to show the raw, nostalgic, and stripped-down model of the ancient scramblers. They do not really perform well off the road like the ones of the 1900s.

What Are The Characteristics Of A Scrambler Motorcycle?

In case you are considering making your own scrambler, or want a motorbike that looks like one, you should know how the scrambler looks like.

Below are the characteristics of the scrambler motorcycle.

1. A general stripped-down look

2. Two rear shocks

3. Knobby tires

4. Small headlight and mini gauges

5. High placed exhaust pipes. this is for the ground clearance.

6. A double cylinder engine or a single air-cooled torque engine.

7. A padded and short seat

8. A really small fuel tank

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Video: What Is A Scrambler motorbike?

This video shows what a scrambler is and why they are popular

What Are The Types of Scramblers?

Below are the types of scramblers:

1. Triumph scrambler

2. Ducati scrambler

3. Moto Guzzi V7 Stornello scrambler

4. BMW R nineT scrambler

5. Yamaha scrambler

6. Benelli Leoncino trail scrambler

Today, there are various types of scramblers available. Earlier on, you had to make do with what you and your ingenuity could make out of a regular motorbike.

Triumph Scrambler

Triumph Scrambler (Bonneville) was the first line of the modern scrambler. It was first made in the year 2006.

It was the sole scrambler that was available for sale to anyone who wanted to buy scramblers for almost ten years. It was made on the Bonneville platform, a platform that was already known for bikes with nostalgic looks.

It was very easy for the triumph makers to sell their bikes because they had a monopoly on the market. The bike was a solid one. For years they continued to improve on the bike. It had all the looks of the 1900s scrambler.

It did not come without disadvantages though, for example, the motorbike had just looks but did not have the performance. It was overweight, too heavy for real scrambling.

Also, the engine was not strong enough to effectively power the motorbike and was under sprung for any off the road travel. Asides the aesthetic, it was really terrible at scrambling.

As of recent, this scrambler isn’t made as a separate model. It is now made as an enhancement to the normal Bonneville motorbike.

Ducati Scrambler

what is a scrambler motorcycle
Photocredits: emkanicepic, pixabay.com

In 2015, the Ducati scrambler burst into the scene, breaking the 9-year hold of the triumph scrambler.

The 2015 Ducati was a remake of the 1960 model made in America with the same name. The Ducati was well made. It was an old school that was made in four different styles. Ducati had a strong V-twin 75HP engine. The Ducati bike had what the triumph lacked in performance. It had both looks and functions.

There was however an issue that critics had with this scrambler. The placing of the exhaust was not high up. And high exhaust was one of those important things that made a bike a scrambler. But this is something that can be overlooked since the Ducati bike had other awesome scrambler features.

Moto Guzzi V7 Stornello Scrambler

Moto Guzzi was not new, just like the triumph. They already were successful bike manufacturers, so the V7 being successful was not hard. The V7 has that old feel albeit with modern features like the gearbox with 6-speed, traction control than an ABS with dual-channel.

Even though the Moto Guzzi has the looks, it falls short in performance. Just like the triumph, it is underpowered and very heavy. This cannot be used for any sort of off-the-road traveling or stunt.

Critics also complain about the exhaust of the Moto Guzzi. Even though it is high, it is not placed in a way that appeals to the eye.

BMW R NineT Scrambler

BMW broke into the market with the r nineT scrambler. It was not like anything BMW had made before. It was sold out as soon as it hit the market. It was everything critics were looking for in modern scramblers. It could function like the retro scramblers; it was solid and refined.

It is even said that the RnineT looks better and stronger than the initial scramblers of the 1900s.


Yamaha is one of the most prolific makers of motorcycles. They do not just make motorcycles; they also dabble into a lot of other stuff. It is not surprising that they also made a type of scrambler motorbike. Currently, Yamaha has a 689cc XSR700. It is the recent scrambler motorbike made by the Japanese giant.

Yamaha also has an SCR range which is quite affordable for the average scrambler lover.

Benelli Leoncino Trail

This is a type of scrambler that imbibes the true Italian spirit of cycling. It has spoked wheels, knobby tires, and used for suspension travel. This is one of the scramblers that can really go anywhere like the retro motorcycle.

It has an engine that is liquid-cooled, has four strokes, 500cc a 33lb-ft maximum torque, and a 48horsepower at eight thousand five hundred rotations per minute.

This is a strong one for scrambler enthusiasts. The forks at the back, handle everything suspension. the bike is imbued with a strong shock absorber.

There are other makes of scrambler motorcycle, but time and space would fail us to mention them all.

Do you know another high-performance scrambler other than those listed above?

Please feel free to share it in the comment section.

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What Is A Scrambler Motorcycle? – Related Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Scrambler A Good First Bike?

A scrambler is not a good first bike. It is not suitable for novices because of the following reasons:

  1. It is a highly customized motorbike and is difficult for someone who is just starting to ride motorbikes to maneuver. A new rider is prone to making riding mistakes and these mistakes on a scrambler bike can lead to ghastly accidents.
  2. The scramblers are costly.
  3. The cost of maintaining a scrambler is high.
  4. It is also costly for one to get insurance that would cover for the scrambler.
  5. It is hard to get parts of scramblers. They are few and very expensive.

What’s the Difference Between A Scrambler and A Café Racer?

The difference between a scrambler and a café racer is in the placement of their exhaust pipes. Scramblers take the quickest path between 2 points, however, that route may be muddy or filled with gravel. This was why the exhausts were placed high, so scramblers can follow any route they choose. 

Café racers take the normal road routes and do not change to dirt roads. Their exhaust pipes are placed lower. Nowadays, the scrambler is simply for the show and not for the performance it was known for years earlier. The café racer still maintains the looks and the performance.

Does Honda Make A Scrambler?

Honda makes scramblers. They made scrambler motorcycles in the 1960s. These scramblers were very popular in Europe, North America, and Japan. Out of the four main Japanese motorcycle producers, Honda is the one that has been known for making scramblers the most. 

Honda made use of the prefix, “CL” to differentiate between models of their scramblers. The scramblers made by Honda were very light in weight and they could handle diverse terrains. Nowadays, Honda’s classic version of the scrambler has rekindled the interests of people who love vintage motorcycles.

Are Modern Scramblers Really Scramblers?

Modern scramblers are not really scramblers in function. This is because most people who want the scrambler are just interested in the looks and not in the function. Gone are the days when riders actually took their scramblers out for scramble rides. 

Most people just want that nostalgic feel and not to actually experience scramble riding. There are now available, controlled scrambling tracks, which are less daring than the tracks of old. The modern scrambler just has the looks – the knobby tires, the highly placed exhaust pipes, and a long suspension. 

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Scrambler?

It costs 500 to 1,100 dollars to build a scrambler motorcycle. This is the cost for rebuilding and upgrading the motorcycle by yourself. 

For repainting the fender and the tank by yourself, it will cost you seventy dollars. This is enough to get the paint, the tapes, the primer, the Bondo, and the clear coat. A professional painter will charge you two hundred dollars for this.

A seat for your scrambler can be purchased on Amazon with 50 dollars. Professional seat fabricators will charge you 250 dollars to make the seat for you. They also make the seat pan which would rest on the upholstery. You can get a basic headlamp for 50 dollars and blinkers cost 30 dollars. It will cost you more to hire a professional to do the job than doing the job yourself.

Are Scramblers Comfortable?

Scramblers are comfortable. The scrambler motorcycle is the most comfortable dual sport motorbike. The handlebars of the scrambler are wide and high and this is suitable for a correct and comfortable riding posture. This posture makes you able to see what is before you better. 

The best riding posture is the broad chest posture. The handles are placed perfectly where your hands can reach when you are standing. The seat of the scramblers makes it easy for one to hop over and sit on the motorbike.