Monday 7 April 2014


I'm enjoying the Ninja and I hope to track day with it this year at some point, but I'm also keen to expand my two wheel experience.  To that end it would be nice to have a bike that is a bit more drop friendly and willing to go off paved road.  In keeping with my '70s heritage I love the idea of a scrambler: an all-rounder that is stripped and ready for everything from road to off it.

Triumph makes a Scrambler model based on 'stripped down desert bikes with high exhausts' (that don't get blocked in dirt, mud and water).  But if you head over to the Triumph page you get the sense that the new Scrambler is more a hipster man purse than a scrambler in the real sense.

I was hooked on adventure bikes but I'm finding them a bit much.  I got an ADV magazine I hadn't seen before recently, and after reading the third straight piece about how adventure touring had produced a mystical understanding of reality I threw up in my mouth.  What used to be a Mondo Enduro style lark has turned into pretentious evangelism.  Why do people always have to fuck up what they love with hyperbole?  A DIY scrambler that I can get muddy and fall off of without worrying about plastic is my latest crush.  The video at the bottom with wacky Auzzies giving it the welly in mud is much more my thing.

Building a scrambler by stripping down a street bike and readying it for anything is an appealing project.  I found a 1986 Yamaha YZ Radian for sale.  The Radian is a naked sport bike with a detuned engine with better mid-range power, ideal for working in less than ideal traction situations.  This particular Radian seems well cared for and is only going for about $1000 (Canadian).

I'd strip off the fenders, shorten the seat to a single, lighten up the bike (which is already pretty light) and swap out the lights for LEDs.  I'd also throw some frame sliders and upgrade the shocks for heavy duty use and cover the fronts with dust covers.  I think I'd keep the cool chrome, analogue instruments.  The muffler would get the high mounted low profile scrambler treatment and last but not least would be some somewhat knobbly tires that would work both on road and off road.

With all those changes I think I could strip the bike down to about the 400lb mark. 

The point of a scrambler is to ride it anywhere and not worry about it.  It hearkens back to days before motorcycles were penned into tiny niches by marketing types more intent on selling a lifestyle choice than a machine you could make your own.  At the very least, it'd be hard for me to make it look like a week long trip has provided me with enlightenment on something so low brow.

Some Scrambler Links:

How to build a scrambler (EXIF)

Aftershock (The Bike Shed)