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  • What is a scrambler?

    moto scrambler


    If you're a fan of custom motorcycles, you might be wondering if a scrambler motorcycle is right for you . With their vintage and rugged appearance, scrambler motorcycles have become very popular for on- road and off-road use thanks to their lightweight design and sturdy construction.

    So, what defines a scrambler motorcycle compared to the traditional models on the market? What are the origins of this bike? What are the main manufacturers to consider if you want to buy a scrambler motorcycle ?

    We will answer that in this article.


    Today, the term " scrambler " refers to a distinct look, with a stripped-down vintage style that combines the functionality of older models with the versatility of modern construction.

    The scrambler is a type of motorcycle that is not easy to fit in a box. It is therefore also not easy to give it a clear explanation for a novice. But one thing is certain: this is a motorcycle designed for mixed road and off-road use.

    As such, these models are an excellent choice in terms of value for money and flexibility .

    Scramblers are often made on the basis of more conventional motorcycles, stripped of any superfluous components, then fitted with various equipment and upgrades to make them more capable off-road . They are relatively simple in design, with long suspensions and significant ground clearance.

    As said before, scramblers have a distinct appearance which is largely due to their nature and the purpose for which they are intended.

    Scrambler motorcycles are incredibly versatile because you can ride them both on-road and off-road. To clarify, the term "off-road" refers to any road that is unpaved or unconventional.



    The term " scrambler " has been commonly used in the United States since the 1950s and 1960s to describe a street motorcycle with off-road potential and or ambition . However, the word actually has much older roots in the 1920s, when British riders raced over varied terrain. Trail running competition was originally quite rigid in its scope and offered little excitement to participants. This led to a group of disgruntled runners, who had grown tired of the old regime, to break away and focus on a more adventurous version of the sport, which came to be known as 'scrambling ' .

    The dirt tracks they race on are much more challenging than their predecessors and provide riders with more opportunities for highly competitive and exciting racing.

    According to an urban myth, a British commentator at the time described one of these races as "one hell of a scramble" and the expression stuck (Scrambler meaning “to jostle” in English).

    With the growing popularity of scrambling , additional regulations were put in place, and riders had the opportunity to compete in official championships to test their motorcycling prowess.

    When motorcycle manufacturers started designing street bikes for off-roading, the transformation of street bikes into scramblers began to fade away.

    Steve McQueen's mythical Triumph TR6

    Some of the iconic motorcycles that were used in the sport during its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s bear names that no longer exist, such as Ariel, BSA, Cotton, DOT, Greeves, Matchless, Tribsa and Velocette.

    As for the motorcycles themselves, the design of the scrambler used to be very similar to that of a cafe racer, where bikers at the dawn of the 20th century modified and customized standard motorcycles to improve performance. Scramblers had to effortlessly transition from the road through all degrees of terrain and back to the road.

    Triumph Scrambler, first of the name.

    While the first wave of scrambler motorcycles died out in the 1970s, the segment experienced a strong resurgence in the mid-2000s.

    Shortly after relaunching its Bonneville range, Triumph followed up this revival with the release of a scrambler version of the Bonnie , fitted with larger tyres, longer travel fork, wire rims, and new an overall design that included several nods to previous Triumph scramblers, including Steve McQueen's famous custom TR6 (pictured above).

    The resounding success of this new Bonneville prompted other major manufacturers to follow suit.

    Photo of the 2021 BMW R NINE T Scrambler. Source: BMW Motorrad

    Over the next decade, more and more motorcycle manufacturers began to introduce their own respective scrambler models , sometimes as scrambler versions of existing offerings and sometimes as purpose-built products. Brands like Yamaha and BMW introduced scrambler motorcycles into their lineups, companies like Moto Guzzi and CCM unveiled scrambler versions of models already in their lineup, and Ducati introduced a whole line of products under the name "Scrambler Ducati ", which in less than a year already accounted for more than a quarter of all Ducati sales.

    Photo of a Masai 50cc and a Triumph Scrambler 1200cc.

    Today, the range of scramblers offered by manufacturers is wide, ranging from 50cc to 1200cc. There is something for everyone. Chinese manufacturers are also surfing on the trend. They are very present on small displacements.

    Motorcycle customization is also responsible for the rise of scramblers. The development of preparers, available parts and social networks now allow anyone to find inspiration, advice, tutorials and parts to make their scrambler .


    With a view to all-terrain and versatile use, several special features are present on the scramblers.

    • Higher exhaust pipes for crossing the ground and obstacles.

    Here is the Royal Enfield Interceptor MCH Scrambler with a high ZARD exhaust allowing to gain 12 kgs.

    • Improved and raised suspensions to cope with off-road conditions.

    Here is a comparative photo between a Triumph Scrambler and Bonneville . Note that the length of the fork and shock absorbers is greater on the scrambler version.

    • A specific saddle

    Here is a nice brown saddle made for the Shanghai Custom street scrambler.

    • Lights, fuel tank and other accessories optimized to save weight and give a stripped-down look.

    The Royal Enfield prepared by Revival Cycles features a shortened rear aluminum fender topped with a small rear light, a small headlight and an aluminum front fender.

    • All-terrain or mixed tires for better off-road grip.

    Here is a Ducati Scrambler prepared by a Chinese tuner with Shinko E 804 studded tires.

    • Spoked rims for strength and versatility.

    Here is a comparative photo between a Moto Guzzi V7 III and the V7 is ROUGH version. The ROUGH is intended to be Scrambler type and benefits from spoked rims.

    • Air-cooled rather than water-cooled motors for a clean look and weight savings.

    The Autofabrica preparation (Type 4 model) is an example of a clean look.

    In fact, most scramblers could be described as having a ' stripped down ' appearance which isn't just for aesthetic reasons - they are actually stripped down, compared to road models only, which gives them a look and feel. retro feel that is proving extremely appealing to motorcycle buyers right now.

    Scramblers are designed to give their riders the best of both on-road and off-road worlds. However, it would be true to say that the appeal of a scrambler model goes beyond its ability to adapt to different types of terrain, while being fully functional and efficient on conventional roads.



    We have seen that a scrambler is an upgraded version of a standard motorcycle for off-road riding. We know that the scrambler comes from competition and today is a very common motorcycle on our streets. So we have defined the characteristics of a scrambler. Now it's time to look at the basics for making a scrambler in order to make your own scrambler .



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