The modern Triumph Bonneville Scrambler appeared back in 2006. An off-road styled version of the Triumph Bonneville, it also took many visual cues from the iconic TR6 Trophy, a bike that was made famous by Steve McQueen.
Powered using the same 865cc air-cooled, parallel twin engine as that of the Bonneville of the day, Triumph altered the firing order from its 360-degree crank to a 270-degree crank. This gave the Scrambler a more unique sound and feel than that of its donor engine.
Triumph Bonneville Scrambler 2006 Spec’s
- Engine: 865cc air-cooled parallel-twin
- Power: 56bhp (42kW) @ 7000rpm (carbs) 59bhp (44kW) @ 6800rpm (injected)
- Top speed: 104 mph / 167 kph
- Fuel tank: 16L / 4.2 Gal
- Front tyre: 100/90 – 19
- Rear tyre: 130/80 – 17
- Seat height: 825mm / 32.5 inches
- Dry weight: 205kg / 452 lbs
Also copied over from the Bonneville was the double-cradle steel tube chassis and twin rear shocks. The Scrambler only differs from the Bonneville with its off-road styling. Use of higher handlebars, high mounted side exhausts and dual-sport tyres gives it that rough and ready-for-action look.
Unfortunately, a look is all it is. As they say, the Scrambler may “talk the talk” but cannot “walk the walk”. The ground clearance is too low, front and rear suspensions both too soft with no real adjustment systems available, and even with semi-knobbly tyres, taking it off-road would be an uncomfortable ride.
If you cast away the idea of going into the dirt, and start thinking of the Scrambler as a rougher looking Bonneville, it makes more sense. Cruising around town looking cool and edgy is what the Scrambler is about, knowing that this bike makes you look and feel like a million-dollars adds a bit of excitement to an everyday ride.
The Scrambler, along with the entire Bonneville range, received a welcomed update in 2008; a new fuel-injection system to replace the now dated carburettor system.
The fuel-injection increased the power from 56 bhp to 59 bhp, improved fuel efficiency, and made the bike easier to start during the colder times of year. These were the only significant changes the Scrambler would receive before being replaced in 2017 for the new Street Scrambler.
With the more recent rise in the popularity of scrambler style bikes, the cost of an early second-hand Triumph Bonneville Scrambler has increased in recent years.
There are very few of the original carburettor models available on the market these days, however, it is the fuel-injected model you would want to invest in. These start at around £4,800 for an earlier 2012 model with 15,000 miles on the clock. If you’re willing to push your budget a bit to the £6k mark, you can get a wonderful 2015 model with less than 7,000 miles on the clock.
Triumph Scrambler Street Twin
- Engine: 900cc Liquid cooled parallel twin
- Power: 64bhp (48kW) @ 7500rpm
- Top speed: 110 mph / 177 kph
- Fuel Tank: 12L / 3.2 Gal
- Front tyre: 100/90 R19
- Rear tyre: 150/70 R17
- Seat height: 790mm / 31.1 inches
- Dry weight: 203kg / 448 lbs
In 2017, Triumph remade the Scrambler and started using the new 900cc Bonneville T100 engine as the base for the new Scrambler. This meant the new Street Scrambler would have a capacity and power boost of 35cc and 5bhp on the outgoing model. The extra power supplied came from the liquid-cooled 900cc engine, along with the required Euro 4 compliance.
From the outside the Street Scrambler doesn’t appear to have changed much from its predecessor, but take a closer look and you’ll see the huge raft of changes Triumph has made.
The raised pipes are of a newer design, you can see the radiator of the new liquid-cooled engine, the handlebars are slightly wider and the whole bike is more compact than the 2006 model, sporting a smaller 12 litre tank as well.
To make the bike more rider-friendly, Triumph installed a completely new electronics package with traction control, ride-by-wire and an LCD multi-functional dash setup. The forks and rear shocks increased in length without compromising the seat height, the clutch became slip-assisted, and an overhaul on the braking system added more stopping power alongside a switchable ABS system.
With all these improvements, the Street Scrambler offers more precise handling, a smoother ride, and stronger and safer braking; all perfect for a novice rider moving up to a larger capacity machine.
It still comes with dual-sport tyres however this time they have a purpose. Triumph’s official presentation states that the Street Scrambler can tackle “light off-road surfaces.”
Flat trails and gravel have now become a possibility, but anything more than this and the suspension will let you know it doesn’t want to play anymore.
The Street Scrambler is still a fairly new bike, as a result there are not many second-hand ones to push the price down. That being said, a well kept 2017 model with around 5,000 miles on the clock comes in at around £6,500, should you catch it at the right time. Brand new models start at £9,300 but with over 120 accessories, that price can jump up pretty quickly.
Triumph Bonneville Scrambler 1200 XC & XE
- Engine: 1200cc Liquid cooled parallel twin
- Power: 89 bhp (66.2kW) @ 7400rpm
- Top speed: 135 mph / 217 kph
- Fuel tank: 16L / 4.2 Gal
- Front tyre: 90/90-21
- Rear tyre: 150/70 R17
- Seat height: 840mm / 33 inches
- Dry weight: 205kg / 452 lbs
Triumph’s latest addition to the family is the new Bonneville Scrambler 1200. The 1200cc version of the Scrambler comes in two variants; the road-focused XC and off-road XE.
Triumph themselves describe the Scrambler 1200 XC as an all-road machine that can play nicely in the dirt when the mood takes you. It is the XE however, which is designed to tackle the more difficult terrain when you decide to venture off into the landscape.
Both variants house the Triumph Bonneville liquid-cooled parallel twin 1200cc engine also found in the Bobber and Thruxton, albeit with a few tweaks for more torque in the power delivery and a throatier exhaust note.
Unlike the previous Scrambler generations, Triumph has engineered the 1200 with off-roading at the forefront of its collective mind. They have upgraded the front wheel from 19 inches to 21, the rear shocks are longer and now fully adjustable, as are the long-travel USD forks (the XE model having 50mm more travel in the front and rear than the already improved XC).
The 1200 also comes with adjustable traction control, switchable ABS, a torque-assisted clutch, ride-by-wire, cruise control, keyless ignition, LED lights all-round, a USB charging port and several riding modes to choose from.
All of this can be controlled from Triumph’s 2nd generation TFT screen with an integrated Bluetooth connectivity package with GoPro controls. The XE alone gets an additional “Off-Road Pro” riding mode and an Inertial Measurement Unit, controlled cornering ABS and cornering traction control.
That truly is a giant leap forward from previous models and pushing into new territory for the Hinckley-based bike builder.
The 1200s takes its looks directly from the Street Scrambler, with the newer technology just hinting at it being a completely different beast. I guess if it isn’t broken…
Two years on and there are a surprising number of second-hand ones in the current market. For £9,000 you can get a 2019 XC variant with less than 5,000 miles on the clock. A factory fresh XC will cost £11,500, with the XE priced at £12,300, and naturally you’d probably like to browse the 80+ accessories beforehand to make yours more unique.
Can a Triumph Scrambler go off road?
Triumph built the Scrambler 1200 models from the ground up with off-roading in mind. Enduro and stunt rider Ernie Vigil rode a near-standard 1200 XE at the 1350 mile, on/off-road NORRA Mexican 1000, finishing an impressive fifth place overall. If you had any doubts about whether it could take on the rougher places of the world, this should hopefully ease them.
The styling, weight and overall size is very different to Adventure/Rally bikes of today. I don’t think Triumph has pushed the Scrambler family into that category, merely adapted the off-road technology to allow the Scrambler to perform as its namesake suggests.
The older Bonneville Scrambler 900 and Street Scrambler do not share the same vision or components compared to that of its larger 1200cc sibling. Testing them on anything more than a flat gravel track and you’ll understand why they have never been advertised as true off-roaders. Let’s try to keep them on the road where they prosper.
Is a Triumph Bonneville Scrambler a good first bike?
Stepping up from a 125cc on to your first large capacity machine can be a daunting task. There are many options to choose from, and it can become overwhelming quite quickly. Starting with knowing what type of bike you want can help narrow that search down.
If you had your mind set on a scrambler bike without the need to discover the wild country trails, then an older model Triumph would be ideal. Not only would you be getting the bike that kick-started the modern scrambler market, but you’d be investing in a novice-friendly, quality machine that would look great, ride great and stay that way for some time to come.
The ideal choice for a first big bike would be the Scrambler Street Twin rather than the original Bonneville Scrambler. It has modern robust engineering, a smoother, more economical engine, and comes with a host of extras to make it as rider-friendly as possible; ABS, traction control, a slip-assisted clutch and improved brakes to name a few.
With a newer, second-hand Street Scrambler having only a slightly higher price tag than the equivalent Bonneville Scrambler, the small extra investment of £500 means you’d be getting a significantly better bike for your money.