Triumph Motorcycles is set to unveil its new Scrambler models in April, but in the mean time, we look back at the 2006 bike that started the resurgence of the segment. Read on to find a competent and cool bike for a very reasonable price.
Triumph’s Scrambler 900 became available in 2006, adding yet another avenue for a buyer into its Modern Classics range.
Here we are taking a look at the original Hinckley Scrambler, which has since morphed into a much more sophisticated beast that in 2021 boasts new-fangled gear like: switchable ABS, switchable traction control, ride by wire, torque-assist clutch, immobiliser and a USB power socket. But forget all that. This one is about the bare bones jobbie of 2006 and how it stacks up as a used buy.
As a style exercise, it was probably a bit of a winner. It certainly gave Triumph yet another avenue to hark back to a rich history (with particular links to the TR6C), evoking the “On Any Sunday” phenomenon that was at the embryonic stages of a big resurgence. The bike very nicely paid homage to the McQueen Desert Sled days, and Triumph has always been very canny of getting in front of the game when it comes to range strategy. It was a masterstroke of forward thinking that left its rivals errr… scrambling to catch up. Sorry about that.
The bike made use of the brand’s 865cc, air-cooled, DOHC, fuel-injected parallel-twin, and was good for 43kW at 6800rpm and 68Nm at 4750rpm. While those numbers might not be blowing your hair back, it’s a lovely flexible unit that is a willing and free revver, with a good dose of torque.
Chassis dynamics see a tubular steel cradle frame used, non-adjustable Kayaba 41mm forks, and Kayaba twin shocks with adjustable preload at the rear. Suspension was adequate for the bike, if a little austere and utilitarian. In short, it worked well.
Brakes were a single 310mm disc with Nissin dual-piston caliper at the front and a single 255mm disc with Nissin dual-piston caliper down the back. Stopping power was very good. Triumph was — and still is — yet to build a bike that lacks in the braking department. The Scrambler continued the tradition admirably.
In a bit of a first for a bike of this ilk, there were optional heated grips and a very neat-looking handlebar brace and pad, headlight guard and loud exhaust.
The simple fact is, if you are buying one of these, look for one with the pipe fitted. It won’t cost any more, and it sounds grouse. Yep, the instant and “in-your-face” nature of the bike is well suited by the less-than-subtle bark of the Scrambler optional unit.
The bike featured nice spoked wheels (19in front, 17in rear) and if they were there to pay homage to the whole McQueen thing, they couldn’t be cast. That simply would not do.
The bike lacks a tacho and it is missed. It’s just nice to know where a bike makes its power and being able to apply that to suit riding situations.
Fuel range is reasonable at 16 litres, and seat height an accessible 825mm.
There’s no doubt the bike looks like an adventure tourer with its wide bars and chunky knobbies, and indeed acquits itself alright in light off-road going, but there is limited tie-down facility, which is not aided by that high pipe, precluding the use of throw-over panniers.
Seat to peg relationship is good, the bars were set a little forward for me at 178cm, but bigger blokes suggested they were in just the right place for them.
It’s a simple matter of loosening off the clamp and spinning the bars into the position that best suits. Good adjustability there.
On the road
The Scrambler tracks well enough once coaxed down into a big lean and is nicely light at 205kg (dry), but the simple fact is that handling is let down on the tarmac by the Bridgestone Trail King 101 tyres that were the fashion of the time.
If you are more than 70 per cent bitumen-based, fit road tyres rather than settle for the compromise of dual sport rubber. While they are reasonable for grip, they set up a wobble through the steering head on the overrun, and you can never quite forget just how much air there is between those knobs.
The engine is the bike’s highlight, making very useable power in all the right places. When wanting to pull out of tight, 35km/h advisory signposted corners, it’s a case of slamming open the throttle and letting the power lift you out of a lean and fire you neatly into the next. It is deceptively quick, offering lovely response from everywhere.
In tighter circumstances, those wide handlebars work well, offering great leverage. Not so much in the longer straight, where they put the rider a little chest on, limiting aerodynamics.
The gearbox offers slick changes and the ratios seemed about right for what we were up to in the mountains.
Things to looks for
The chrome and shiny bits drop away markedly over time.
You’ll be looking at a bit of tarnish on a well-used 2006-2008 model. If you get a well-loved unit, continue the upkeep. These things need to be under cover, lest they return to the earth at a quick-smart clip.
Most of this is because Triumph thought it was a good idea to clear-coat almost all of the alloy on the bike. This made it look all sorts of shiny when new, but it crazed over time. Good news here is that once blasted off, the metal will be spotless underneath. A great bargaining chip there just for you.
The carbs were a pretty cheap setup. Once a bike has done a reasonable mileage, say around 40,000km, they are pretty worn and won’t maintain synchronisation. New carbs are cheap, so don’t let that stop you.
The rear suspension was ordinary from the get-go and will be well past its best on most examples. Bung on a set of IKON shocks or up-spec to something like a brace of Öhlins and you’ll be all set.
There was an optional tacho available for the bike. If you get the choice, buy one with the tacho fitted. Most of the add-ons that were on the accessory list are still available from the factory –—back-up from Triumph has always been good.
The seat is hard. That’s all there is to it. If you are errr… heavy or tall, think hard. Of course, there are optional seats from mobs like Corbin at a reasonable quid.
Condition and kays will play a big part in pricing here. I reckon you are looking at $3500-$5500. Keep in mind the points above when negotiating.
An absolute plum with low mileage is probably going to work out cheaper than a roughie that you have to add bits to. As always, offer low and come up to the mark slowly. He’s selling, you are just browsing. That’s the smart vibe.
This bike has a rough chance of becoming a bit sought after. Already research is showing they are thin on the ground. You’ll never retire on the gains, but it’s nice not to go backwards.
There ya go, hit the classifieds!
Used bike rating: ***
INFO MOTO’s used bike rating system explained
* Dud. Give it a big miss.
** Are you sure? We certainly aren’t.
*** Do your homework, but this one is in the game.
**** A bike that will serve you well indeed.
***** Quick. Stop reading this and make the offer!
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 29 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.