The scrambler is one of my favorite motorcycle sub-types. It’s kind of a hard to define type, but as they say about a certain film industry, “I know it when I see it.” Usually these bikes are built for street as well as off-roading. They often have a Mad Max style and sensibility, with a rugged look and custom features. But what exactly is a scrambler, and where did they originate? First let’s take a look at some of the more popular and unique custom builds of these cool motorcycles:
Scramblers are stripped down to the bare essentials and generally feature a higher than average seat and shocks. The handlebars are slightly higher than with a cafe racer, but they look similar. What gives a scrambler away sometimes are the offroad type tires. They look rugged and fast, not cushy and comfortable.
The extra suspension gives it a more dirt-bike feel than an average road bike, and they look like they are ready to ride down the nearest dry creek bed. Additionally, a raised exhaust is considered a key ingredient to the standard scrambler aesthetic. Spoked wheels are another imporant element to a proper scrambler setup, along with the knobby tires.
In the early 1920s in Britain it was a common pastime to race motorcycles from spot to spot via the shortest way possible; over hills, down ditches, through hedges. Motorcycles were very similar to each other back in the day, and any modifications for this offroad pursuit were done purely in the name of function. These races then spread to the United States an other countries, and early dirtbiking and motocross was born. However, the scrambler fell by the wayside when factory produced dirtbikes started to enter the fray.
Many people like to argue that the modern scrambler is little more than a fashion accessory or a fad now that more functional bikes have taken the place of dirtbikes and touring bikes. However these throwback styles are fun, and what’s wrong with some fun? Not only that, but many riders go to great lengths to customize their scramblers, creating a unique work of art that is functional in and of itself.
Nowadays factories and companies are creating scramblers right off the production line. They are now a legitimate subtype of bike that you can buy at your local dealer. They are rugged looking and you don’t have to know much about customization to get the look and performance that you want.
However, if you want to build your own scrambler from scratch, it’s recommended that you start out with an actual dirt bike to get the performance that a scrambler “should” technically have to go offroading.
Do you ride or want a scrambler? What are your favorite builds? Leave a comment below!