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Reviewed: Ducati Scrambler Nightshift

nightshift2

We’re big fans of Ducati’s Scrambler at Insidebikes. With its cool lines and traditional air-cooled engine, it remains one of the last bastions of old school cool on sale today. Last year we rode the entry level Icon model, but this posher Nightshift offers a higher spec and a radically different style for an additional £1000.

Mechanically the Nightshift is no different to the Icon we first rode in the press launch over a year ago. That means you get the latest Euro5 version of the classic air-cooled 803cc engine, which is called the Desmodue by Ducati in light of its two desmodromically operated valves for each cylinder. It’s the last incarnation of the classic 90-degree V-twin (or L-twin) motor upon which the Italian company built its reputation, and it’s a real rarity to get such a traditional engine design through the latest emissions regulations. Claimed power is 73bhp, a few ponies down on the previous generation Scramblers. By today’s standards, the power is nothing to write home about, but as a Seventies styled retro it is more than enough. In fact, back in the era which inspired the Nightshift, 70bhp was positively in superbike territory. It just shows how far we’ve come.

 

nightshift1

 

And doesn’t she look well? To be honest, I don’t think I’d really seen much of the Nightshift at the winter shows. The mean and moody colours probably makes it blend into the background in a sea of blood red Ducatis but, here in front of me at a media day laid on by the manufacturer, it looks flippin’ amazing in the metal.

Unlike the bright and breezy Icon, not to mention the slightly upspecced Full Throttle variant, the Nightshift takes on a different stance. Where the others are obviously off-road and Scrambler in their approach, on paper the Nightshift is a slightly unusual direction to go in. The blacked out components and flat bars create a café racer look which seems at odds with the mildly off-road patterned Pirelli MT60 RS tyres, the same as those found on the Icon and Full Throttle.

At £10,995, the Nightshift costs £1000 more than the Icon but comes with some bits and pieces which many people will feel are worth the extra money alone. It runs spoked wheels (to the cast alloy items found on its siblings) and gains a very stylish brown stitched saddle. The bars give a different look and feel to the Nightshift, with the ergonomics placing the weight of the rider further forward. It’s probably the least comfortable of the trio but still not uncomfortable, if that makes sense.

There are many attractions to Ducati Scramblering. They are very accessible motorcycles, with low seat heights, soft power delivery and, at least by Ducati standards, affordable price tags.

 

nightshift4

 

The 795mm seat height is the same as the Icon, although there are accessory seats available which can either raise or lower that by 15mm. It’s easy to straddle, thanks to the narrow saddle, and at 191kg fuelled up it’s one of the least intimidating ‘big’ bikes you can buy. Ducati have fitted an 18” front wheel, which gives a little more presence than a pure road style 17”, without adding height in the way the more usual 19” would.

Thumb the starter and, to (mis)quote a song, there are going to be some sweet sounds coming down on the Nightshift. Ducatis always have a lovely tone to them and while Euro5 has robbed the latest generation Scramblers of a little of their soul, it still makes a rock and roll rumble that’s a little more distinctive than its rivals. The accessory catalogue does include some alternative Termignoni exhausts, which add a bit more bark back in as well, so if that distinctive Ducati desmo sound is important to you, you might want to set aside another £1650 for the slip on racing silencers, or £2200 for the complete performance exhaust system.

Those modifications are not necessary though, as the Scramblers are best enjoyed at more leisurely pace. We rode through the Cotswolds, on a press day arranged by Ducati UK, and were in a group of riders of mixed abilities, on a wide variety of bikes from the Ducati range.

Although we were on a variant of Ducati’s entry level machine, I don’t think there’s another bike I’d rather have ridden down those damp and bumpy, 50mph limited, A and B roads. It just allows you to be lazy in your riding and, given the choice between this or a 200bhp Panigale, I’d take this in a heartbeat. Retros may often be criticised for being poser machines but, on real world roads, this has more than enough to keep up with mates on a ride out.

Sure, you won’t be winning the bar room bragging rights but to (again) quote the Commodores, I bet you’ll pull a crowd. The Nightshift is a distinctive and cool machine that will surely appeal to non-bikers as well as your motorcycling mates.

And it’s not all old school tech either. You get some very jazzy full LED lighting, a really cool and functional 4.3” TFT dashboard, which can be user modified to show various different settings, two riding modes, four-level traction control, cornering ABS, smartphone connectivity and the option of a quickshifter, which facilitates clutchless changes both up and down the gearbox. The accessories brochure is also pretty comprehensive, with a whole host of options including luggage, small screens, alternative levers, indicators and a quickshifter, to name but a few. There’s also an A2 restrictor kit, as well as a complementary clothing range, which is suitably cool. 

 

nightshift3

 

Conclusion

Ducati’s Scrambler range has always been a good seller, with appeal to a wide range of riders. The Nightshift delivers everything that makes the standard version popular, with an added dash of café cool. We like it and, if your budget can stretch an extra grand over the Icon, it’s well worth a look if you’re in the retro market.

 

2024 Ducati Scrambler Nightshift specification

Price:                      £10,995

Engine:                   803cc, 90° V-twin

Power:                   73bhp/53.6kW @ 8250rpm

Torque:                  65.2Nm/48.1lb.ft @ 7000rpm

Transmission:       Six-speed, chain final drive

Frame:                   Tubular steel trellis frame

Suspension:          Non-adjustable 41mm Kayaba upside down telescopic fork. Preload-adjustable Kayaba rear mono-shock

Brakes:                   Radially-mounted, four-piston front brake callipers and 330mm discs with Bosch Cornering ABS. Single-piston floating calliper with 245mm rear disc.

Wheels:                 18” front, 17” rear, spoked

Tyres:                     Front 110/80-18. Rear 180/55-17.

Wheelbase:           1,449mm

Seat height:             795mm (780mm with low accessory seat or 810mm with high accessory seat)

Kerb weight:            191kg

Fuel capacity:          13.5 litres

Contact:                    scramblerducati.com

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