Triumph Scrambler and me
July 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm #4091
Hi all! I have been lurking, popping off in a few threads for a while now. Here are my questions and background.
I recently moved from the Bay area to the Sacramento area with my wife and as part of the compromise was given the thumbs up to get a bike! I will be using it for commuting to work about 50 miles each way on 2 lane highway 99 during off peak traffic hours. In the beginning it will be solo, later I hope to do some 2 up riding with my better half on the back, both for commute and pleasure. Some day trips or overnights will be planned, but as we are both very, very over-worked they may be dreamed about more often than realized.
My main reasons for wanting to get a bike are to make the commute more fun and affordable, to get a new hobby that my Pop may take back up with me too eventually, and to treat myself for all the hard work I have put into my job and reap some rewards for it.
I am very, very safety minded and plan to take the course before I buy and wear as much gear as possible for the hot (well over 100 degree) weather in the summer here. I am not intrigued by the crotch rockets either in style or speed. I don’t plan to push myself or test the limits of the machine I get, but I do want to enjoy myself and be comfortable and have enough power to feel safe on the highway for commuting.
I really, REALLY like the look of the Triumph Scrambler for 2010. It is an 865cc, but not a sport bike so will it be too much for new rider? Since I haven’t sat on any yet and don’t plan to until I take the course, I am still going off of looks and the romance of the sport, but I wanted to get a few opinions on this vs other bikes for my use. Also, I am a little guy, 5’4″ and the scrambler has a relatively high seat at 32.5″. Can this be lowered without compromising it too much or should I look for a shorter bike? Will it be comfortable for commuting? Do the high pipes interfere with 2 up riding for the passenger? I like the Bonnie too, but the scrambler just makes my heart beat a little faster….
My bosses at work are giving me the same story I have been told I would hear, that I will outgrow a small bike too fast, that even the bonnie will have me bored too soon with the lack of power (it happened to one of them) and that I should look at the BMW f-gs 800 or 650…but I know I will not be the same sort of rider that they are and I don’t like the look of that BMW. I won’t be going off road all that much but would like to be able to do some gravel roads and dirt roads, maybe even logging roads if I make it up to Canada on it to visit my brother.
Thoughts from you guys would be appreciated!
PS I am not super concerned with the price tag at this point to an extent…so that will not be a huge factor in my decision.July 9, 2010 at 12:42 am #27400gitchy42Participant
Try not to get stuck too much on the size of the engine, look at the performance numbers. Most standard/cruisers are under-powered for their displacement, when compared to sport bikes, an example is that the Scrambler that you are looking at produces 58 HP, where the Zuke GS500 (considered a great starter bike) produces about 50 HP, with 2/3rds the displacement. Another issue with the larger standard/cruiser bikes is that they can be fairly heavy, which makes them a little harder to handle and harder to right in the event of an unscheduled dismount. However this ends up making these larger bike more user friendly than a similar sized sport-bike.
As far as the exhaust, it looks like it has decent heat shields (can’t tell for sure in the photos I’ve seen), which should keep the heat manageable, as long as you are wearing decent pants.
For lowering the bike, you may be able to gain an inch on the bike by shaving down the seat. Any adjustments made to the suspension will effect the handling of the bike, but I’m not sure how. There are a lot of alternatives in the standard/cruiser market that have lower seat-heights.
As far as commuting with it, please no one hurt me for saying this. One thing to consider is whether or not you are planning on doing any lane-splitting when your on your way to work or home. This is generally considered dangerous, and is illegal in many (most?) states, however it is legal in Cali. I am NOT endorsing the practice, but I just want to point out that if you do plan on doing it you may want to consider a smaller bike with narrower handlebars.
Well…those are my thought, let us know what you decide on!July 9, 2010 at 1:35 am #27403Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
This Triumph is a little heavy for a beginner, and you should ask about having it lowered to make it easier to to put your feet down. I would ride an older, smaller bike for a few weeks, to make the Triumph a lot easier to ride.
There are other bikes better for gravel roads, such as the Kawasaki KLR 650.July 9, 2010 at 2:41 am #27404
My commute right now is pretty easy, free and clear. I make it my practice to arrive at work way in advance so I never worry about traffic too much, and so far I have not encountered any on my commute anyway. I took notice of some advice on this site already about leaving a nice big time cushion when you commute so you never find yourself stressed out or nervous or wanting to push too hard for fear of being late. I don’t plan on lane splitting but may consider it once I get way more experience if it seems like a comfortable thing to do. For now it is not a consideration.
And for the off roading/gravel, it is not going to be a big part of the hours I put on the bike, but I like the idea of being able to if I want to someday. I know there are better rated duos, including the bmw gs and the klr, but off road is a distant second use for me.
I know that only placing ass to seat will tell me how this bike will work out for me, but I am floating the balloon to see if anyone has a positive or negative academic response for me or even better from experience with it. I mostly just really love the way this bike looks. I like others too, but every time I see a pic of the scrambler it just moves me. Love at first sight.
I am not super worried about the weight if I have to pick up the bike. Even though I am short, I am pretty strong and have worked physical jobs most of my life. I AM concerned about how easy it will be to learn on with the center of gravity and my short leg reach.
I wish the MSF was available during the weekdays, I work weekends and that is what is slowing me down from getting started now.July 9, 2010 at 11:40 am #27411MunchParticipant
For the MSF check local Harley dealers and see if they have the riders edge course. It does require a bit more money as with most things HD……but usually they have week day and week end classes.
As far as picking up a bike. Learn how to do it correctly and almost any adult can do it. In our MSF course I watched a 5 foot nothing lady get a fully laden Valkyrie back up after being shown how.July 9, 2010 at 11:45 am #27412CBBaronParticipant
The Triumph Scrambler is heavier than most recommended beginner bikes but the power is probably managable, though it is still twice as powerful as a Ninja 250R and probably 3X the power of the other 250cc bikes.
The BMW is another possible choice, even more powerful and lighter weight. I’ve seen alot of good reviews of the F650GS on advrider.com. I know it can be lowered easily to help those with shorter inseams.
Beaware that both of these bikes are considerably more expensive than the Ninja 250 and GS500 and will be harder to find used. Buying a used Ninja250R, GS500 or similar is an expensive way to get a motorcycle. You can learn, both how to ride and what you like/dislike about the motorcycles before spending much more on a bigger bike. The Ninja 500R, Ninja 250R and GS500F all have standard riding positions and are very capable of your commute. One of these might be a good place to start then you will have a better feel for what you really want in a motorcycle.
CraigJuly 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm #27416eonParticipant
If you manage the MSF class with relative ease then I would say this is a manageable first bike. Its power to weight ratio is a lot less than the SV650 which some folks on here started out on. I know nothing about the engine characteristics but I would not expect it to have the sudden power delivery of the highly tuned sport bikes. The weight/height may be a problem but we are talking about zero mph drops here and it looks like it can handle that (so long as you are prepared to get scratches on your new bike) but I am concerned about the height. 5’4″ and 32.5″ inch seat height sounds like a tricky combination. You would certainly want to make sure you can manage that before buying.
If you struggle a bit in the class I would recommend something a little tamer to start out on, it would make those first few hundred miles a whole lot easier.July 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm #27419JackTradeParticipant
Starting with a Suzuki TU 250, just until you’re sure you’re ready for a bigger bike?
They’ve got basically the same 1970s styling that the Scrambler has, but in a slightly smaller package with a smaller engine. Given your height, you’d probably fit perfectly on it, and it’s quite light weight and reasonably powered for a commuter bike.
Get one to start, then maybe in a year or so move up to a Scrambler?
There’s a Scrambler in my apartment building…black with green highlights, and I totally agree…there’s just something about them (though personally, it’s the Thruxton that makes me really drool).July 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm #27420ranetteParticipant
I am also vertically challenged, 5’6″, with an inseam of 29″ on a good day. I also started on bike larger than most would recommend, a Ducati GT1000. A few more HP than the Scrambler, a bit lighter, certainly a little more there on the top end, but probably pretty similar in power delivery and as an overall experience.
If a Scrambler is the bike that has you up at night thinking about it, I’d say go for it. You might find a more optimal bike to learn on, but you could certainly do much worse. As for the oft repeated mantra of how easy it is to buy a used Ninja 250 and sell it later for pretty much what you paid for it, I personally hate buying and selling used vehicles(the main reason I lease all of my cars). The one advantage I did have was 6 weeks on a 150cc scooter that got me somewhat used to being on two wheels. That was invaluable, and I’m not 100% certain how I would have done on the Duc without those miles. I know it might be easier said than done, but if there were any way to borrow or rent something small for even a few weeks that would probably be a huge help.
I don’t know about lowering options on the Scrambler, my Duc has a seat height of 31.6″. I can’t flatfoot it, on level ground I can get the balls of my feet down, on uneven pavement it can sometimes be an adventure. However, with time, you’ll develop a system that will make the height of the seat a minor issue. After my first year I investigated lowering brackets (none readily available for the GT1000) and some custom seat work(about $250), I decided to hold off and now don’t even think about it. I went into to it thinking that if the height of the bike cost me a low speed drop or two it was something I could live with. For the first year plus I had a few near misses, but never dropped it, then late last summer I had a brain freeze and dropped it, thankfully the only part that had to be replaced was a shift lever which I picked up for $25.
It goes without saying that the MSF is a must. I also work weekends but made it my business to take a weekend off to take the class. If that is impossible, it is more of an investment, but my bet is you could find a school that offers individualized coaching at a time that would be convenient for you.
Hope my somewhat similar experience is of some help.July 11, 2010 at 4:17 am #27437
Lots of good information and tips here. I appreciate it greatly. I am going to look into the alternative courses available that are not on the weekend soon! I can’t wait. I also did a bit of research on the scrambler on other forums and it looks like the seat can be changed with the lower one for the bonnie, but I first am going to make sure I even like to ride and take the course.
I like the idea of getting a tu250 or the vstar 250 first to get used to riding, but I am just not sure about having those on a highway commute. I get the idea that it might add a bit of stress to have to worry about faster traffic coming up behind me in my mirrors without the ability to get from 65mph to 85mph in pinch if I want to or need to without feeling like it is not right there for me.
I guess the next step is really just ass to seat and until then it is all academic, but thanks for the voices of experience! This site is great and I hope to be one able to give advice from experience in a little while now!!July 18, 2010 at 6:31 am #27563gitchy42Participant
That the TU250 is Fuel Injected!! A BIG plus over most of the other 250’s.July 19, 2010 at 3:20 am #27578
I like the look of that bike, and I really would rather start out smaller. I am just not sure about using it to ride on the highway for about 45 miles each way. It is an easy drive on a two lane highway with not a lot of traffic.
I am driving the route everyday in my truck and my wife’s car right now, and even in bigger vehicles I am seeing people do all kinds of wacky stuff that has me speeding up and slowing down to avoid them. I am nervous about being underpowered out there once I am not caged. Is this a valid concern with a 250?
Believe me, it is not because I think I’ll have more fun on a faster bike. I have really read and “heard” what folks on here are saying about a smaller bike being easier to handle and less stressful to begin with and I can see that translating to more fun. but I want to commute safely too.
The reviews on that tu are awesome and the price and mpg are too. If it can handle highway speeds and have a little in the reserve for when the gettin is good, I will strongly consider it and maybe move up later to something a little bigger and nicer.July 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm #27584ranetteParticipant
Maybe a compromise between the Suzuki and the Triumph?
A few pounds lighter, a couple fewer hp, about a 1/2″ lower seat height than the Scrambler. Certainly more capable than the Suzuki on the highway. Not that the other two aren’t, but I think the V7 Classic is a gorgeous bike. I believe they run in the same price range as the Scramblers. The thing that you have to be concerned about Moto Guzzi is the scarcity of dealers, though I did check, there is one in Sacramento. Whether they have a decent supply of bikes and parts is something you’d have to evaluate firsthand.
Here’s a very positive review of the Guzzi that speaks to both newbies and experienced riders alike. http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/2008-moto-guzzi-v7-classic-review-84978.htmlJuly 19, 2010 at 2:29 pm #27585TrialsRiderParticipant
Heavier more powerful bikes also take more to stop and change direction. You’re safer on the machine that you can handle than on one that can power out of a situation, unless you are concerned about road rage drivers in sports cars, 250 street bikes should be fine for 2 lane roadways, one up.
I traveled considerable distance on 2 lane roads for many years riding a TS185 Suzuki fit with full knobby tires and survived. Admittedly it’s the multi lane expressways that make a tiny bike feel like a slow moving vehicle, 45 miles on a 400 series highway would not be fun, a 500cc single or larger would be.July 22, 2010 at 6:50 am #27685
That V7 is nice too…really nice. I have been reading reviews on the tu250 and I like what I see, but a few folks have said it is a little weak on long highway runs which will be the majority of my riding.
I am way too busy for the next few weeks, but ASAP I am getting to that class and then I’ll know worlds more about what suits me instead of drooling over pictures. Thanks for all the insight. This site is full of really nice and smart people and I feel like I have learned a lot already. I’m glad I quit lurking!
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