As a couple of 14 year olds myself and a school bud spent the entire Summer break from school tearing up and down the field at the back of our street on a beat up Yamaha XT500 and any readers old enough to remember that particular Yamaha will see why I fell for the SCR950 Scrambler as soon as I set my eyes on it.
The SCR950 just screams at you to jump on and go have some fun and while other retro Scramblers such as the Ducati Scrambler look the business at first glance, a couple of walks around them and you soon start to realise you would be asking for trouble taking most of them anywhere near a dirt track.
Not the Yamaha though, it actually ‘looks’ like it was built for some decent off road use.
I certainly wouldn’t advise you go hitting the mountain trails on your brand new SCR950 though – it is after all, built on the Yamaha Bolt. Yep, that’s a Scrambler with the same frame and engine as Yamaha’s popular cruiser. They’ve even kept the belt drive as shown below.
The Nuts and ‘Bolt’
Being built on the Bolt cruiser means there isn’t as much ground clearance as you would like and the pegs scrape far too early when cornering. As Greg Drevenstedt of Rider Magazine said in his first ride review:
No, a cruiser, not even one that’s relatively light by cruiser standards, is not the ideal platform for a scrambler. Although Yamaha jammed out some sweet styling licks with the SCR950, the engine and frame are unchanged from the Bolt, so this scrambler isn’t particularly rev-happy (it prefers to be short-shifted), it doesn’t have much ground clearance or available lean angle and the front end is a bit too raked out.
Like the Bolt, the SCR950 has a 19-inch front wheel, but its rear wheel is an inch larger, at 17 inches, which, along with the new subframe, raises the seat height to 32.7 inches vs. 30.1 on the Bolt C-Spec and 27.2 on the Bolt/R-Spec. However, travel for the dual piggyback shocks is unchanged at a scant 2.8 inches (front travel is 4.7 inches).
Even with rear preload properly set (the only adjustment there is), with my 200-pound sack of meat in the saddle it doesn’t take much to bottom out the suspension. The SCR has firmer damping rates than its Bolt brethren, and the ride isn’t especially plush unless the pavement is smooth. Via ridermagazine.com
So Can It Scramble or Can’t It?
The short answer is yes it can. Here’s what Motorcycle.com said:
The SCR works great on asphalt. In fact, as someone who has attended introductions for every Bolt model available, the SCR is my favorite of the line yet. When it comes to riding in the dirt, the SCR was clearly designed for exploring fire roads that are frequently found in national forests. These are usually well graded with only occasional serious bumps and ruts caused by erosion.
In these conditions, the SCR exceeds my dirt ability. My more dirt-fluent compatriots at the introduction were flinging the SCR around with abandon, so if you have dirt experience and know how to slide a bike in the loose stuff, the SCR has you covered. Via motorcycle.com
Yamaha SCR950 v Ducati Scrambler
I love the Ducati Scrambler with its Italian styling but I have never been able to shake off the feeling that it’s trying a little too hard to look like a Hipsters idea of what an original 60’s scrambler should be. The Yamaha SCR950 on the other hand looks and handles like a standard road bike that’s been modified to handle the dirt tracks and that’s exactly what the original Scramblers were so for me the Yamaha is the best of the current retro scramblers on the market.
The chassis is designed to offer light handling and competent around-town performance, but actually did much better off highway than I expected it would. If you are looking for sporting prowess to rival the Ducati Scrambler, or Triumph Thruxton, this isn’t that bike. At $8,699 it simply doesn’t have the high-end suspension and brakes to compete, but it wasn’t meant to.
The intention wasn’t knock-out performance but all-around fun at an affordable price. On road, I was able to ride at a really enjoyable clip, with the real limiting factors being the dual-purpose tires, and very basic suspension. The 41mm fork isn’t adjustable and offers 4.7 inches of travel, while the preload adjustable shocks offer just 2.8 in. of motion.
On the asphalt, the ride was good, but the combination of the limited rear travel and a really firm saddle meant the ride quality could be harsh when cruising on less-than-billiard smooth roads. Off road, line choice was important to keep the suspension from bottoming out too nastily. But at a modest pace, it was very enjoyable on gravel, aided quite a bit by very predictable and stable handling manners. cycleworld.com
Yamaha have definitely got the scrambler styling spot on but it’s got a lot more besides the styling. The steel racing side number plates, fenders and tank make it feel a more genuine scrambler than most of the others on the market.
The SCR950 is not a bike to park outside the coffee shop!