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2009 Triumph Scrambler 900MSE Ratings

2009 Triumph Scrambler 900\"Everything old becomes new again\" or so the saying goes. That quote can best describe Triumph’s 2009 Scrambler 900. The Scrambler brings back the days of when teenagers wanted to mimic Steve McQueen’s coolness or Marlon Brando’s rebellious a

AddedDate Added: 19th June 2009
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Editor Contributor's Review

Having been around since 1902, Triumph is the world\'s longest continuous production motorcycle manufacturer. They’ve seen many achievements like when they won the Isle of Man from 1971-1975 but also hardship when in 2002 a fire caused massive destruction to their factory. Through it all Triumph has never wavered on their ability to build quality motorcycles and the Scrambler is no exception.

Let’s get one thing out of the way shall we? The Scrambler’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for the latest and greatest motorcycle on the market look elsewhere because the Scrambler doesn’t have insane HP, monobloc brakes, bright bold graphics or digital-this and digital-that. If that’s what you need then you’re missing the whole point of the Scrambler. That said, if you’ve always wanted a retro-looking 60’s inspired, British on and off road motorcycle then you’re in luck as the Scrambler fits the bill.

Walking up to the Scrambler you can’t help but notice all the styling cues of yesteryear. The high-level exhaust pipes, one piece seat, single headlight, retro-style turn signals, round mirrors and chrome spoke rims make you want to break out your bell bottoms and start listening to a Doors record. The dash has a single speedometer gauge with old school type indicator lights for oil pressure, high beams, neutral and turn signals. What’s that you say? You want a digital dash showing gear position, rpm and data logger? Pfft, that’s for boys, the Scrambler is for manly men (3 days of beard growth and a pack of Lucky Strikes are optional).

Once under way the 475 lbs. (full of fluids) seems to disappear as the Scrambler is quite agile. With a wheelbase of 59.1 in. and a rake of 27° and trail set at 3.15 in. cutting through traffic shouldn’t be a problem. The rubber pads on the sides of the fuel tank help you grip the Scrambler if you decide to venture out of rush hour traffic and into some of your favorite winding roads.

I found the seating position rather comfortable and the handlebar to peg ratio was perfect for my 6\' tall plus frame. Seems all too often I find myself feeling like I’m on a torture rack in order to go riding. It was great not to worry about a stiff neck or having to take two Advil for an aching back after being out on a bike (in this case the Scrambler) for a full days worth of riding.

The Scrambler is powered by an air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin engine, displacing 865 cc. The 270° firing interval produces a very unique sound and as such won’t be confused with any other twin, triple or inline four you can think of. Let me warn you right now that if you don’t have a good bail bondsman you better find one because if you decide to put the optional Arrow exhaust on, your neighbors will surely be calling the police faster than you can say "9-1-1 What\'s your emergency?" They’ll get you for noise pollution, disturbing the peace and/or any other town ordinance you might be violating. Of course once you hear the sound emitted from that exhaust system you’d gladly deal with upset neighbors because really, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

The engine produces most of its torque in the sub 5,000 rpm range and feels strong to redline (7,500 rpm) but not in an overpowering sort of way. With a maximum power output of 59 HP @ 6,800 rpm and 51 ft lbs. of torque @ 4,750 rpm you’re not going to get whiplash when cracking open the throttle but that’s OK as this is the type of motorcycle to ride at a leisurely pace. If you want ultra performance perhaps I can interest you in a Daytona 675?

The engine is housed in a tubular steel cradle frame with a twin-sided tubular steel swingarm. Although there are many types of materials and frame designs available today (double cradle or perimeter frames, trellis frames, etc.) Triumph’s choice for the Scrambler shows that they not only wanted to protect the engine and other vital parts from damage but also to maintain their consistent retro-styling theme.

A multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection system is used that not only meets Euro 3 standards but keeps the retro-theme intact since the fuel injectors are cleverly concealed by throttle bodies designed to look like traditional carburetors. If I never have to remove floats again or worry about jetting issues than that’s fine by me. There is a manual fast-idle adjuster (located on the left side by the faux carb) which when used helps the Scrambler warm up to optimum operating temperature. This was particularly useful during a few cold morning starts but as the day heated up it wasn’t touched again.

As for throttle response, it was smooth and crisp and I had zero issues shifting the five speed gearbox with the wet multi plate clutch. Speaking of the clutch, it’s cable driven and not hydraulic but I assumed you guessed that since we’re not talking about integrated MotoGP technology. Clutch feel was just right (after adjusting the lever to its farthest position due to my big hands [I’ll leave the joke for you to fill in]) and engagement was spot on. This is something that some other motorcycle manufacturers with multi-million dollar R&D budgets could learn from.

Suspension wise the Scrambler comes standard with non adjustable 41 mm conventional forks up front (120 mm of travel) and twin shocks with twin chromed springs (adjustable for preload and 106 mm of travel) out back. This system worked well but I can’t help but wonder what a fully adjustable inverted Ohlin’s front fork and piggy-back rear shock setup would do. Most likely you’d get into more trouble than ex-Chicago Governor Rod Blagojevich because you’d be doing triple the speed limit and coming out of corners on one wheel which would land you squarely on your local police department’s most wanted list. Maybe that bail bondsman’s number will come in handy after all.

Keeping you in contact with the ground are a pair of Bridgestone TrailWing tires mounted on 19 x 2.5 in. front (100/90) and 17 x 3.5 in. rear (130/80) wheels. The tires have a dual purpose tread and function properly but for me they just don’t seem apt for street use. Yes, I’m aware that super sticky Michelin Pilots or Pirelli Diablo’s aren’t made in these sizes but surely there must be a better compound/tread pattern offered by Bridgestone? A quick check at Bridgestone’s web site and I’d try a pair of their Battlax BT45’s and go from there.

Braking duties are accomplished by Nissin using standard rubber brake lines and a single twin piston caliper up front grabbing a 310 mm disc. In the rear there is another twin piston caliper squeezing a 255mm disc. This is really the only chink in the armor of the Scrambler. When I first applied the brakes I thought; "uh-oh, I hope I stop in time" because the initial feedback wasn’t what I was accustomed to. After my Spidey senses stopped tingling and I got familiar with just how the Scrambler’s brakes worked all was right in the world again.

Riding the Scrambler can best be described as "a blast." It didn’t much matter whether I was stuck in traffic or on some curvy back road as I enjoyed it all. The engine sounds fantastic when clicking through the gears and with an upright seating position and a light clutch it really makes for a visceral experience.

Surprisingly the Scrambler got decent fuel mileage even with my heavy handed right wrist. With a fuel tank of 4.2 gals. I was averaging in the mid 30’s before I had to visit a gas station. If you do happen to forget to look at the trip meter no worries as there’s a low fuel light embedded within the speedometer. Once that’s illuminated start counting the miles and begin your quest for fuel.

There’s no doubt that the Scrambler has a certain characteristic about itself but who doesn’t want to customize their ride to separate themselves from the pack? To that extent Triumph has a full line of accessories just waiting for you to add them. At the top of my list would be the aforementioned Arrow exhaust, tachometer, lockable fuel cap and number plate. My trusty steed had the first two options along with the headlight grille, blacked out mirrors, skid plate and foam handlebar brace. All of these additions will certainly make the Scrambler stand out more so then it already does but I’d like to see Triumph offer more performance minded modifications for those HP junkies in the group (guilty as charged your honor).

In an age where some motorcycles tout incredible HP figures or computers that seem to be ripped out of NASA’s space shuttle it’s refreshing to ride a motorcycle that is just that: a motorcycle. No need to worry about "taking it easy" since you have a missile underneath you or if you’re going to high-side coming out of a turn because the suspension is as tight as a rope holding a cruise ship to a dock. That’s right, the Scrambler let’s you enjoy the ride and does it in a fashion that reminds you of just how rich Triumph’s motorcycle history really is.

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