Motorcycles

Ducati's midsize Scrambler Icon gets a major update

The motorbike adds big tech and rideability updates for 2019, including cornering ABS.

Ducati

Ducati's Scramblers are simple motorcycles. With their stripped-back look, character-filled air-cooled engines and confidence-inspiring ergonomics, they represent an unintimidating yet exciting kind of motorcycling that's appealing to both new and experienced riders.

It's been a popular formula, with Ducati -- not traditionally a super high-volume brand -- selling in excess of 55,000 of them since the line launched in 2014. But the line has lacked something in the way of technology that other motorcycles in this price range are offering. Ducati moved to remedy that with the larger, more aggressive Scrambler 1100 series, and now that tech is trickling down to the midsize scramblers with the new Scrambler Icon, which was announced Monday.

The new 2019 Scrambler Icon is a technological update to a simple formula that we know and love.

Ducati

The biggest news on the 2019 Scrambler Icon is the inclusion of the excellent Bosch cornering antilock brake system. This system uses a number of sensors to determine the amount of lean the bike experiences in a corner and adjusts its brake modulation to suit. This significantly reduces the risk of a midcorner crash when a newer rider mistakenly applies the brakes.

Also new is the inclusion of updated switchgear, a new headlight with LED daytime running lights, LED turn signals and importantly, an upgraded instrument cluster with fuel level readout -- the strange, backwards sweeping digital tachometer remains unchanged. Again, a super nice feature for a bike aimed predominantly at newer riders. Also of note is the inclusion of an easier-to-use hydraulic clutch with an adjustable lever, to cater to all sizes of rider.

The rest of the Scrambler formula has been mercifully left alone. The engine is the same 803 cubic centimeter air-cooled L-twin with desmodromic valves. It still produces around 73 horsepower and 49 pound-feet of torque while emitting one of motorcycling's great exhaust notes.

While the Scrambler has always been an approachable and easy-to-ride bike, the addition of Bosch cornering ABS should make it more forgiving than ever.

Ducati

Aesthetically, the new Scrambler Icon is available in two color palettes: 62' yellow and atomic tangerine. Both have black-painted frames and engines as well as brushed cylinder head cooling fins. It's a solid look. Also standard are gray wheels with tubeless tires, another boon for new motorcyclists.

One other thing that's neat, and not something typically associated with motorcycles of this type and price point is the availability of infotainment. Yeah, on a bike, weird right? Well, apparently the Ducati Multimedia System -- which is available with the purchase of a separate Bluetooth module -- will pair with your device and allow you to stream music, navigation instructions, display text messages and more. We'll have to see if we can convince Ducati to let us demo this system so we can see how it compares to other similar systems from brands like KTM.

Another thing worth pointing out, even though it isn't new for this year, is the fact that the Scrambler line keeps its 7,500-mile service interval. That should be welcome news to those who've heard horror stories about Ducatis and their need for frequent, expensive service. The Scrambler is a simple bike, so while it may cost more than a comparable Japanese bike, it shouldn't leave you financially ruined when service comes due.

Ducati says North American pricing and availability will be announced at the global launch for the Scrambler Icon next week.