A WHOLE NEW LEVEL
A revolution in an age of revolutions
In retrospect, there was a certain inevitability about it. The more that ‘motorcycling’ became popularised as a fun accessible hobby, the more obvious it was that someone at some time was going to look at the Californian desert and think; “Hey, what if...?”
The 1960s was a decade particularly noted for its succession of cultural revolutions, and one such social awakening came at a time when certain groups of young people were relishing unprecedented disposable income along with the freedom to enjoy it.
Having kitted themselves out with motorbikes, gear and accessories capable of pushing off-road boundaries, an increasingly popular underground movement was flourishing out over the challenging dunes near Baja, southern California. This new pastime – known as ‘scrambling’ – was attracting greater numbers with the passing of each weekend.
THE EMERGENCE OF SCRAMBLING
Motorcycling had already established itself years previously as a significant lifestyle statement. No longer were bikes just regarded as a modest form of personal transport or the exclusive preserve of a racing elite, and an exciting new motorcycling movement was being swelled by a rising teenage sub-culture that avidly followed the non-conformist examples being set for them by Hollywood idols and rebel musician role models alike.
The introduction to the world stage of Triumph’s game-changing 650cc Bonneville T120 in 1959 had secured Triumph’s reputation for hard-wearing reliability, quality and capability all over the world and, crucially, particularly in America where ever higher levels of performance were generally demanded.
Thus, many in California earned their off-road stripes on a Triumph. The needs of scrambling were challenging, and it was those sturdy British models that emerged as the motorcycles of choice for enthusiasts eager for dependable bikes that would help them see how far they could go.
WHAT IS SCRAMBLING?
This new type of motorcycling was all about pushing limits on all kinds of natural terrain; a discipline which demanded a combination of skilful rider control and unwavering confidence in the performance, strength, and stability of the bike.
Over-estimating a motorbike’s performance on unpredictable surroundings could be costly, so right from the start scrambling enthusiasts quickly learned to favour Triumph T120 and TR6 parallel twin production bikes, and readily customised to suit individual needs.Scrambling enthusiasts enhanced their rides for their own very specific needs; by stripping bikes of fairings to lose weight, modifying exhausts so they ran well over ground level obstructions, fitting knobbly tyres to handle rough terrain, tweaking suspension for personalised comfort, and then letting their hair down as they went hooning it across the dunes.
In a decade of enlightened cultural self-awareness, scrambling riders were discovering a new kind of liberation for themselves. Freed from the constrictions of road riding, scrambling was – and still is – all about sliding the back end, riding the bumps, and hanging out with mates while testing yourself and your bike’s limits with fast flowing riding over dirt, sand, gravel, deserts and dry river beds.
Unencumbered by (obviously-sensible!) road traffic laws, riders discovered a whole new level of laid-back riding enjoyment, with rider, machine and natural surroundings all in harmony, and a frankly unbeatably cool way of hanging out with mates; racing for kicks rather than trophies.
And what they found was; this is FUN.
ENDORSED BY HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY
By 1963, when movie star Steve McQueen (the studio-styled ‘King of Cool’) had become a regular out on the dunes courtesy of his friend and off-road riding mentor Bud Ekins, the South Californian scrambling movement was in full flow, and so popular by now that Triumph had created specially modified factory scrambler versions of the TR6 and T120C Bonneville model.
Along with the race-ready TR6 ‘C’ the Bonneville T120 ‘TT’ came with more performance and stripped-down attitude straight out of the crate, raring to go with high pipes, less restrictive exhaust, a crankcase undershield, and Dunlop Universal tyres. It was a classic configuration, specification, and silhouette that fitted the needs of its riders to perfection.
And it was precisely that progressive attitude and distinctive style of the very first factory scramblers that would be revived in 2006 when Triumph re-introduced a new Scrambler motorcycle.
MODERN CLASSIC SCRAMBLING
Triumph’s 2006 Scrambler triggered the 21st century creation of the whole motorcycle sub-category of scrambler bikes and setting the benchmark all over again.
These - and successive updates eventually superseded by the current 900cc Street Scrambler - are still regarded as achingly good-looking urban classics, with high engineering specifications and distinctive Scrambler styling levels every bit as capable of turning heads on the streets as they were of drifting off-road. And, with a nod to the original 1960s movement, all set up to customise too.
But while the 2019 Street Scrambler’s rugged off-road attitude and cool versatility continues to go from strength-to-strength, it became clear that there was space in this thrilling market for a next generation scrambler that is every bit as capable of all-day road-riding as it is of meeting and beating even the most extreme adventure and scrambling experiences...
...a true dual-purpose motorcycle built for road-going comfort and extreme off-road challenges.
Everything, in fact, that a state-of-the-art scrambler should be.
That bike is the Scrambler 1200.
And it’s coming soon.