Motorcycles, like anything else are subject to trends. When I first started looking at bikes choppers were the big thing thanks in part to Orange County Choppers. The next trend I remember was the Adventure Bike Explosion. Adventure bikes are still going strong but the trend may be curving down. Almost every manufacturer has put out an ADV offering so we may be seeing the end. Don’t get me wrong, the BMW GS, the KTM Adventure, and the KLR are here to stay. Those three have had a dog in this fight from the beginning. But if public interest starts to wain then other manufacturers may not choose to continue with an ADV offering. And while I think ADV bikes still have a bit to go before the end of the trend, I was curious to see if I could guess at what the next big thing is. Since we were going to the Progressive International Motorcycle Show I spent the day playing guess the next big thing. Disclaimer: I have no inside info on anything. I just have two eyes and an opinion. So what do I see as the next trend? It’s sort of a two part trend but…..I this we are seeing the rise of the Scrambler and the mighty return of the Standard Motorcycle.
Let’s talk about the Standard Motorcycle part first. When I say standard motorcycle I mean a bike with mid controls and a neutral uprigh riding position. It isn’t a specialty bike. It’s not a cruiser, not a sport bike, not a dirt bike….it’s just a bike. For a lot of folk my age the bike that comes to mind is the mid 70s Japanese bike like a Honda CB 450 or a Yamaha TX 500. I’m starting to see that sort of design return to the motocycling world and I really like it.
Now let’s talk Scrambler. A scrambler is a regular standard motorcycle with better suspension, knobby tires, raised pipes, and dual rear shocks. They were bikes designed to go on and off road. If you think that these days we call those bikes dual-sports you would be right. Back then we didn’t. Manufacturers weren’t building purpose built bike that were on and off road capable so folks built them themselves. Now, they are retro and cool again and manufacuteres are cashing in on their appeal.
Personally I love it. I love scramblers. I love the way they look. I love what they stand for. Most Scramblers these days are manufactured to look a certain way as opposed to being appropriate for off roading. This became obvious when I first saw the Ducati Scrambler. It’s a great bike but the pipes lack the high position that a Scrambler needs for clearance. I haven’t really been able to like the bike since then. I personally believe that a Scrambler, even if it built for looks, should be able to do what a Scrambler should be able to do. It should be able to go off road a bit even if you never plan on so much as riding across a field. Of the Scrambler offerings I can think of on the market right now, I think only the Triumph Scramber could be reasonably ridden lightly off road. I could be wrong there but the video reviews I’ve been watching seem to lean that way as well.
Humerously, as I was putting together this blog post, I kept finding other articles talking about the rise of the Scrambler. So apparently, I’m right. The Scrambler is the new thing. And it really isn’t about being Steve McQueen. It’s about a love of a retro look. It’s about young hipsters getting into motorcycling and wanting a bare bone retro look. I don’t care why. I just know I like it.
I want to end by sharing those articles and reviews I found while putting this together. The first thing was this article from Common Thread on Revzilla called How hipster Millennials and scramblers might save motorcycling in the United States. I also really enjoyed this article on Steve McQueen review the scramblers of his day also found on Revzilla.