Ducati Scramblers (Desert Sled/Cafe Racer)
When Ducati introduced the Scrambler in India back in 2015, it formed the perfect stepping stone for riders to graduate from smaller bikes on to bigger ones. The Scrambler has enjoyed a fair amount of success in India since its launch and the latest two versions of the bike introduced at EICMA 2016, the Café Racer and the Desert Sled, should make their way to India mid-2017.
The Scrambler Cafe Racer doesn't deviate mechanically from the base bike and maintains the same frame, engine and even the fuel tank. What have changed are the handlebars, with this bike featuring low-slung clip-ons, along with bar-end mounted mirrors. To add to the leaned-over posture, there's also a new cafe racer seat with a passenger cover. Minimalism is the mantra with this cafe racer as it gets a tiny fairing behind its single instrument pod as well as a short front mudguard. Both wheels are now the same size -- 17" -- and sport Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres (a far cry from the on-off road tyres from the standard Scrambler), which is another big change. Keeping in line with the whole "racer" part of its new moniker, the bike gets a radial front brake pump to increase braking performance. Some new details include a new logo on the tank, a black engine with brushed fins and a black anodised aluminium cover over the Termignoni exhaust.
While the Scrambler has always hinted at a bit of off-road pedigree, none of the models so far have really delivered on the promise of mixing it up in the dirt, until now that is. This new Scrambler Desert Sled packs a whole lot of changes to make it extremely capable on the rough stuff. This includes a completely reinforced chassis along with fully-adjustable long-stroke suspension at both ends, offering 200mm of wheel travel at front and rear. The wheels are now 19"-17" (front-rear) rugged wire-spoke units and are shod with specially designed Scorpion Rally STR on-off road tyres. There's also a new tougher aluminium swingarm to handle riding on loose surfaces. To help with better control when mixing it up in the dirt, this Scrambler gets a flatter seat which now sports a height of 860mm. These apart, the Desert Sled gets a raised front fender, a new stronger handlebar with a crossbar, as well as a safety grille on the headlight.
Expected launch date: Q2 2017
Expected launch price: Rs 8-9 lakh (ex-showroom)
Ducati Monster 797
While the Ducati Monster 821 is a brilliant motorcycle, having a Monster at a more affordable price should work to the company’s favour. Originally the Monster 696 formed the entry point for many riders into the world of Ducati motorcycles, internationally at least. But getting that bike to India was a difficult prospect thanks to import laws prohibiting companies from bringing in bikes under 800cc. With the 696 discontinued, and promptly replaced by the new Monster 797 with its 803cc V-twin engine at EICMA 2016, we believe that Ducati will be able to bring this new bike to India some time in 2017. And even though it was designed as a "first Ducati" for younger riders, it is unmistakably a Monster in every regard, offering a properly sporty riding experience.
Under the bike's distinct red steel-tubular trellis frame rests an air-cooled 803cc V-twin motor from the Scrambler that makes 75hp of peak power and 68.6Nm of peak torque. The motor sends drive to the rear wheel through a six-speed gearbox with an APTC slipper-style clutch. Ducati claims a wet weight (without fuel) of 182kg, which combined with a wheelbase measuring 1,435mm, should make this baby Monster a nifty handler. Even the 805mm seat height should be fairly comfortable for riders of various sizes. Ducati's aim with this bike was to make a Monster that wasn't too aggressive or intimidating to ride. To assist the bike's handling, it gets 43mm upside down forks upfront as well as a preload and rebound adjustable monoshock at the back. The 17-inch alloy wheels are shod with Pirelli Rosso Diablo II tyres at both ends – 120/70 at the front and 180/55 at the rear. Braking duties are handled by twin 320mm discs with Brembo M4.32 monobloc calipers on the front wheel while the rear gets a single 245mm disc.
On the design front, this bike gets the same headlight and 16.5-litre fuel tank as its larger sibling. The headlight gets LED position lights and the tail-light is also equipped with LEDs. The instrument cluster is a full-LCD unit, but doesn't get the full-colour TFT treatment like the Monster 1200. However, it is compatible with the Ducati Multimedia System (DMS). For convenience sake, there is also a USB charger located under the seat. Ducati is also going to offer the Monster 797 in a "Plus" version that will get a micro windshield and a rear seat cowl.
DSK Benelli 302 R
The Benelli 302 R was showcased alongside the TRK 502 at EICMA 2015 in Italy, as well as at IBW 2016, Goa. In essence, it is the faired sibling of the TNT 300. But look closer and the Tornado 302 has plenty of differences, including in the design. Obviously, there is an aerodynamic front fairing, but you can see the crisper lines of the tank as well. The tank capacity has been reduced by two litres to 14 litres, as compared to the TNT 300. We recently rode the pre-production version of the Benelli 302 R and were suitably impressed. The production version will sport slightly different graphics and some subtle changes around the bike.
It also sports a steel trellis frame that differs significantly from the TNT 300; most notably, the side-mounted rear shock absorber moves to a more conventional position under the seat. Also, the rear swingarm isn’t a twin-tube design, opting for a lighter and more rigid setup. It will be equipped with 260mm twin discs at the front and a single 240mm disc at the rear, along with 41mm USD forks up front and a monoshock setup at the rear. ABS will come as a standard feature on the Tornado 302. The bike's 17-inch wheels will be shod with sticky Metzeler tyres.
However, when it comes to the engine you can expect a familiar package – 300cc, inline-twin-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine that churns out about 35hp of power and about 27Nm of torque mated to a six-speed gearbox. Competition in this segment will comprise more powerful twin-cylinder bikes, namely the Yamaha R3 and the Kawasaki Ninja 300.
Expected launch date: Q2 2017
Expected price: Rs 3.1 lakh (ex-showroom)
Send a message to Sherman Hale Nazareth
Issue: 211 | Autocar India: March 2017
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