2017 Triumph Street Scrambler Review – Worthy of the Scrambler name
Words: Peter Elliott Photos: Peter Elliott, Geoff Osborne
When a cloudless blue sky beckons, and the hot, dry hills of childhood adventure are disappearing behind you – accompanied by a serious growling from the twisted throttle of a Triumph Scrambler – a couple of emotions rattle in the helmeted skull.
The first is adrenaline-fueled joy and the second is a poignant nostalgia. The last time I visited Kennedy’s Bush on the crater rim Summit Road above Christchurch I was about 10-years-old in the company of my mother, with her granite-loaf sandwiches and pockets of nuts and apples.
The old stone shell is exactly as I remember it, now nearly 50 years later. The area still seems like another country even though it’s a mere fifteen minutes from town (on a bike), and the sense of distance and removal is refreshing.
But more amazing than all of this sensational weather and emotional distance, is that while traversing the entire summit road from Godley Head to Teddington turn off, I saw almost no vehicles and only three other grinning motorcyclists. Is there any other city in the world which has such an incredible road on its doorstep, and almost no-one riding it?
Arriving at the turnoff over Gebbies Pass, I was presented with a choice; left and back through Ted-dington and Governors Bay, or the long way round via the long flat roads of Tai Tapu? Well, aboard a Triumph Scrambler, run-in and going beautifully, and those sensational corners and views, the decision was an easy one.
I turned round and went back the way I’d come. The stupid grin never left my face as I remembered every twist and camber, touch of gravel and road repair.These kinds of surfaces are home turf for the neat, free-revving 900 mill, built for exactly this sort of terrain and gifted with suspension and tyres to devour it rapidly.
If anything the rear suspension was a trifle soft for my 98kg, and we met bottom on a couple of corners, but adjustment is achieved with a couple of flicks of the wrist. While not being the fastest production bike on planet earth, nor a true off-road machine dedicated to dirt, mud and rocks, this is an equitable compromise and much more in tune with the riders of today. An actual Scrambler, worthy of the name.
In a sullen glowing dark blue metal flake, this bike has real street presence and the twin chrome pipes on the starboard side give a mighty salute to the ’70s retro styling. Water-cooled and fuel-injected this 900 is designed very well indeed in my opinion.
The noise alone is enough to make you turn up your leather collar, don your Rayban Aviators (after trimming the beard stubble just so), pull on the desert boots, roll up the cuffs and head for the cool-est cafe in town.
I was fortunate enough to meet the owner of First European Motorcycles in Christchurch, Andy Birchall, and I was given a tour of his workshop where they are delivering superbly presented Triumphs and exotic Italian metal, but it was his fettling of custom bikes that really made me appreciate his dedication to excellence.
His own Thruxton R, with deep lustrous custom paint on tank and side covers is a thing of rare beauty. His attention to detail is impeccable. Even down to lowering the twin gauges about a centimeter, “because they look better and more compact like that” and it gives his own bike an edge of smoking aggression.
He has a racing pedigree and you can see his experience in the way the building is organised around a spotlessly tidy huge workshop, complete with grinning mechanics. These guys shook my hand, grease and all, and I appreciated the simple nod to ‘fellow motorcycle nut’ acceptance without demur.
These guys are an asset to Christchurch and it won’t be long before we see some more bikes out on these fantastic Canterbury roads. As an answer to earthquake rebuilds and road closures, motorcycling seems a blindingly obvious choice.
A bike handles the road changes, and would seriously reduce congestion brought on by endless sodding unannounced detours. I find it hard to believe that this is not the most popular motorcycling city in the country, there are roads… and there are fabulous long straights, mountains and ripping twisty hills.
Little villages and cafes beckon all over the plains, whether Akaroa and Banks Peninsula, Arthur’s Pass, Hanmer, Mt Hutt, Lakes galore, The West Coast, Murchison, Kaikoura and the best Pinot Noir in the country at Black Estate near Waipara, all offer sensational roads and locations.
Get your motor runnin’ head out on the highway… and do it on a big modern Triumph. Awesome.
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler Specifications
- Engine – 865cc, air-cooled, DOHC, parallel twin, 360º firing interval
- Bore & stroke – 90 × 68mm
- Claimed power – 43.4kW (58hp) @ 6800rpm
- Claimed torque – 68Nm @ 4750rpm
- Fuelling – Multi-point fuel-injection
- Clutch type – Wet, multi-plate
- Starter system – Electric
- Transmission – 5-speed, chain drive
- Frame – Tubular steel cradle
- Suspension – KYB 41mm forks, 120mm travel front; KYB chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 106mm rear wheel travel rear
- Rake/trail – 27.8º/105mm
- Brakes – Single 310mm disc, Nissin two-piston floating caliper front; Single 255mm disc, Nissin two-piston floating caliper rear
- Wheels – 36 spoke 19 x 2.5-in front; 40 spoke 17 x 3.5-in rear
- Tyres – 100/90 R19 front; 130/80 R17 rear
- Seat height – 825mm
- Wheelbase – 1500mm
- Weight (dry) – 214kg
- Fuel capacity – 16 litres
- Price – $15,990 + On Roads
- Contact – www.triumphmotorcycles.com.au (link)