Ride Better I MCN 23 MCNEWS.COM
A garage with only one
bike that does it all is a
I don’t know if a true 50-50
bike exists. Honda’s Africa
Twin and KTM’s 1090 Adventure are close, but they’re still
a bit heavy for moderate to serious technical trail riding. The
scrambler concept originated
in the pursuit of impulsive fun.
You’re cruising through a rural
or mountain area, you come
upon a dirt road, make a quick
turn and off you go, in a cloud
BM W’s R nine T has amazing power, handles well on the
street and has high-end appointments that most people
probably wouldn’t want to get
dirty. The clutch problem and
burning oil smell on our test
bike were disappointing.
The Moto Guzzi Stornello
is lightweight and fun, but the
suspension is lacking off road.
It is a joy to ride, and seems
to best capture the spirit of a
scrambler. It’s light and nimble, turns quickly and delivers
a decent amount of usable
power. It’s a charming ride.
The SCR950’s only shortcoming was the brick-like
seat, yet it didn’t do anything
exceptionally well, either.
There’s plenty of power from
the V-twin, it has some simple,
nostalgic lines, but there’s
nothing here to fall in love with.
Taking it off road is a mistake,
and the folks at Yamaha admit
it is designed almost
exclusively for street.
Kudos for candor.
basic and not aesthetically matched.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
BMW styling proved to be quite effective, drawing interest wherever we
went. The silver tank, cross-stitched
camel seat, upswept pipes, round
headlight and rubber fork gaiters hit
all the right styling notes. Our test bike
emmitted a strong smell of burning
engine oil when stopped, which we
were later informed it shouldn’t have.
The Stornello offers a high-con-trast red frame and many details in
brushed aluminum, including side
and front-mounted number plates,
fenders, high-mount Arrow exhaust
and the pegs and foot controls. We wish
the gas cap was easier to reinsert—a
skill likely learned with practice. Moto
Guzzi took various cues from its own
scramblers of the 60s and 70s, including name and color from the 1972
Stornello Scrambler America. There is
also inherent retro authenticity in the
brand—V7s are built at the factory in
Mandello del Lario, Italy, which has
been in continuous production since
1921. The Stornello is a limited run of
1,000 numbered units worldwide (300
in America), unbeatable exclusivity. The
V7 platform also has more than 100
factory bolt-on accessories available, if
it’s not already custom enough.
The SCR950 gets many scrambler
styling elements right. It is a stylish and
quite functional way to tool around
town; just don’t expect it to scramble.
One admirer opined the R nine T may be
the bike a celebrity would ride around
Malibu once in a while to look cool. It
is an impressive piece of machinery,
has rugged good looks and the heart
of a champion boxer engine. With an
MSRP of $13,000, it might be too nice to
take off-road, thus the original R nine T
might be a better choice due to better
components. If the budget fits, this preci-sion-engineered beast with a few rough
edges might be your bike.
The Stornello is the smallest and
least powerful of this trifecta, but falls
directly in the middle on price. If there’s
something to be said for “character,”
then the V7 II is in a class all by itself,
with added charm in the unlikelihood
of seeing another one on the road.
There are many modern motorcycles
for less money, but then, you’d miss the
point of scrambling.
Value is subjective. There’s a point
where it’s worth the extra money to
step up to the next level. The SCR950
is likely to be the most reliable of these
three bikes, and it is by far the least
expensive, but it is also the least scrambler and the least engaging overall. It’s
not a bad bike, but it’s also not exceptional in any way, getting by doing
everything merely adequately. MCN