What Is a Scrambler Motorcycle: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a fan of custom bikes, you might be considering whether a scrambler motorcycle is right for you. With their vintage and rugged appearance, scrambler motorcycles have become widely popular for both on and off-road use due to their lightweight design and sturdy manufacturing.

So, what makes a scrambler motorcycle so different from traditional models on the market? What are the origins of this bike? What are the premier manufacturers to consider if you’re interested in purchasing a scrambler motorcycle?

For answers to all these burning questions about what is a scrambler motorcycle and more, keep on reading.

What Is a Scrambler Motorcycle?

Scrambler motorcycles are incredibly versatile because you can use them both as an on-road or off-road. Commonly known as dirt bikes, scrambler motorcycles feature unique specifications geared towards off-road events and sports. To clarify, off-road refers to any road that isn’t paved or isn’t conventional.

Scrambler bikes have relatively simple designs with lengthy suspensions and substantial ground clearance. A far cry from your average bike or 3 wheel motorcycle, scrambler models typically have 18-inch rear wheels and 21-inch front wheels. Whether you’re interested in purchasing this bike or want to know more about what is a scrambler motorcycle, check out the differentiating features of this bike you should know about.

● Dual rear shocks

● Scramblers usually have squared-blocked tires affixed to spoked wheels

● ingle or twin cylinder torque air-cooled engine

● High mounted exhaust pipes

● Padded set with short mount

● A small headlight and gauges

● A stripped-down design

How Does a Scrambler Motorcycle Differ From Traditional Models?

Several components set scrambler motorcycles apart from other on or off-road bikes. For one, the exhaust pipes are much higher to provide sufficient obstacle and ground clearance. These bikes typically feature upgraded suspensions that are durable enough to withstand harsh off-road conditions.

The features on scrambler motorcycles are also typically much smaller than those on traditional models. The lesser fuel tanks, lamps, and seats lend a stripped-down appearance to scrambler bikes while reducing the overall weight.


Curious about where scrambler motorcycles originated? Well, back when scramblers first hit the riding scene, bikers relied on them primarily for off-roading adventures. There wasn’t very much variance between the different types of models available.

Motorcycle scrambling started as a trial riding sport in the early part of the 20th century. Riders had to follow rigid regulations, and there wasn’t much wiggle room for racers. Eventually, racers opted for a more daring version of this sport, which they later called “scrambling.”

Scramblers raced on dirt courses that were much more demanding than what riders had contended with in years prior. Eventually, scrambling became an extremely aggressive form of invigorating racing. With the rise in popularity of scrambling, additional regulations were put in place, and riders had the opportunity to participate in official championships to test their riding prowess.

In terms of the bikes themselves, the scrambler design was once very similar to that of a cafe racer, where racers in the dawn of the 20th century modified and customized standard bikes enhance racing performance. Scramblers had to switch effortlessly from on-road to all degrees of terrain and back to the road. 

As such, riders created a stripped-down version of traditional motorcycles to achieve the scrambler aesthetic, with knobby tires, spoked wheels, and high exhaust pipes. The styles of these bikes changed considerably as the decades passed.

Once motorcycle companies started to design dirt bikes for off-roading, altering road bikes to scramblers started to die out. The heyday of motorcycle scrambling hit its peak in the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, many of the scrambler models from that area such as BSA and Greeves aren’t in production anymore.

Nowadays, the term scrambler motorcycle refers to a distinct look, with a vintage stripped-down style that combines the functionality of older models with the versatility of modern manufacturing. Once, bikers could only ride the old dirt books off-road, but you can ride modern scrambler motorcycles both on the road and off. As such, these models are an excellent choice in terms of value for your money and flexibility.

Triumph Street Scrambler

A classic among the scrambler motorcycles on the market, the Triumph Street Scrambler retails starting at $11,000. With a maximum power output of 64.1bhp at 7500rpm, and maximum torque of 80Nm at 3200rpm, the liquid-cooled 900cc parallel-twin engine capacity is just the icing on the cake. When you compare this bike to some of the other scramblers on the market, the value is exceptional.

The bike is light and fast on dirt tracks and excellent for city riding too. The Triumph Street Scrambler is also sturdy enough to withstand highway roads, making it a very versatile choice for both on-roading and off-roading.

The Ducati Scrambler

The Ducati Scrambler is another icon in the scrambling universe. With nine different model types to pick from, there’s something to appeal to every kind of rider. Every model except for one features a 903cc L-twin engine that produces roughly 75 horsepower and emits 45 pound-feet of torque.

The model and specs you pick will have a significant effect on the final price. Two of the most popular models, the Scrambler Icon and Scrambler Full Throttle, start at motorcycle values of $9,395 and $10,995, respectively.

The BMW R nineT Scrambler

BMW’s scrambler bike stands in a class of its own. With an air-cooled engine, 110 horsepower and 84 pound-feet of torque to offer, it’s not hard to see why the BMW R nineT model is so popular with riders everywhere. The engine runs at 1,170cc on tap.

Other accouterments like the elevated exhaust, front wheel diameter, telescopic forks, and smaller tank offer a stripped-back look. The ergonomic design could see you through many adventures both on the highway and off the beaten path. 

Prices start around $12,995, making this model one of the more expensive scrambler choices on the market. However, with so many features to offer riders, you’ll definitely get plenty of bang for your buck. And of course, you could always consider used motorcycles with low mileage to bring your total outlay down.

Closing Thoughts

Back in the day, riders who wanted a scrambler motorcycle had to build it themselves. With the continued popularity of scramblers into the 21st century, you can purchase your scrambler directly from the showroom or a private seller on an online motorcycle marketplace without having to stress about getting all the specs right yourself.

With that said, whether you decide you want to take on the project of designing your own

scrambler or purchase it outright, there are some key features you should pay close attention to. Keep in mind the increased torque, long-travel suspension, spoked wheels, and tires when looking at scramblers. Also, a short saddle that offers the functionality and ergonomics you’ll need for diverse terrain could be invaluable.

Not sure whether a scrambler motorcycle is in the cards for you or if it’s time to take the plunge? Use a motorcycle loan calculator to estimate how much you’ll have to pay each month and assess your budgetary goals. Perhaps you prefer riding through the wilderness or driving through your city at sunset. Maybe you love to cruise on the highway on cool summer nights.

In any case, it’s not hard to see why the scrambler is a fan favorite for riders everywhere. Who doesn’t love the vintage, raw aesthetic of this multipurpose bike?