THE Sixty2 is supposedly reminiscent of Ducati’s first Scrambler, launched in 1962. While that may have been a 450cc desmodromic single, the Sixty2 is an L-Twin of 399cc. Where it resembles the older sibling is in looks and simplicity. Its bigger brother, the 803cc Scrambler, has more modern underpinnings. Hence, the Sixty2 is aptly named, being as simple and as pure as the 450 Scrambler.
Ducati has seen fit to create the Scrambler as a (almost) standalone marque, creating a lifestyle around the ‘Land of Joy’ slogan. In their own words: “creative, youthful and spirited”, the new Ducati Scrambler is more than just a motorcycle, it enhances creativity, self-expression and the sharing of positive emotions. It is a universe of fun, joy and freedom made of motorcycles, accessories and apparel.
The Sixty2 is the smallest version of the Scrambler family. It shares the same frame, but makes do with ordinary 41mm telescopic forks and non-adjustable (except for preload) monoshock rear suspension. It has a steel tank in lieu of its bigger brethren’s aluminium clad ones. And it is none the worse for it.
The Sixty2 is designed to appeal to the more cost-conscious Scrambler fanatics. It gives away a few horsepower (it makes 40 horsepower) and weighs more or less the same (183kg), but the power is more than adequate. It makes steady power between 8,000rpm and 10,000rpm. The torque (30.1 kW) is more than adequate to see off normal traffic and makes you forget it is “only” a 400cc bike. Even the gear ratios are spot on for city traffic. Sixth is an overdrive for cruising.
The basic suspension is actually extremely good, being compliant while being firm enough for any surprises you may encounter on the road, such as potholes or speed bumps. Standard issue tyres are tubeless Pirelli MT60RS and they perform admirably, giving good grip in the corners and stay predictable throughout. The rims are light-alloy 10 spokers in dirt-friendly 18 and 17 inch sizes. Surprisingly, the Sixty2 comes standard with ABS, although it is not switchable. Brakes are Brembos all round, a single disc up front with a smaller rear backing it up. More than enough power and feel for anyone.
And thus, the Sixty2 is a capable urban warrior but being named Scrambler, it should be able to handle some off-road action, right? After all, its predecessor was modelled after the period’s motocross bikes. So it was that I took the Sixty2 to a faraway place called Kg Mat Daling. Located close to Taman Negara, it is the current favourite haunt of bigger dual-purpose bikes as well as larger cc endure bikes.
Mat Daling is fairly open, being under construction for a highway. But it also has tighter, technical sections as you leave the construction area and head for the Ulu Tembeling river. One particular climb is called “Bukit Neraka” (Hell Hill) where even full-blown 4x4s get stuck when it rains. Fortunately, we were spared the rain when our group were there.
This is where it gets surprising. I was not expecting the Sixty2 to be a capable off-roader. This exercise was simply to prove that the Sixty2 will survive an off-road excursion. But the Sixty2 lapped it all up and begged for more. Of course, in the heavily-rutted construction area, the lack of suspension travel meant I couldn’t keep up with the large dual-purpose bikes (they had more power and suspension), but I never felt that the Sixty2 was slow. The suspension was superb within its limits, the on-road compliance translating directly to off-road. The MT60s also provided more than enough grip in the conditions (more or less pure talcum powdered dust).
The technical sections (slow and rain-rutted, sometimes slippery clay) were more surprising. The Sixty2 only sometimes needed first gear and mostly utilised its 30 kW in second gear, grunting up steep hills, finding traction easily. The riding position felt off-road natural and I could easily move around to transfer weight where it was needed. The wide cowhorn handlebars absorbed any big shocks and allowed easy handling. Only the footpegs were found wanting, being fairly smooth. If it was raining, cleated footpegs would have been nice to have.
It would have been easy to simply test the Sixty2 in an urban environment and pass it off as a successful styling exercise. But the little Sixty2 proved its mettle off-road as well. Well played, Ducati.
If you simply must have an entry-level Duke, this is as good as it gets. And first-timers will love its friendly, easygoing nature and flexible power. Ducati got it right with the Sixty2 for sure. I can’t wait to test the Scrambler Desert Sled. That one will definitely rule Mat Daling.