Yamaha SCR950 Scrambler
15th June 2016
Sports Heritage | Charcoal Silver | Rapid Red
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Some might think this motorcycle is pretentious. Some might think it's confused. Some might think it's "obvious". And some might simply think it's "cool". But here at Sump, we haven't decided what we think about this new bike from Yamaha just launched into the US market.
It's called the SCR900 Scrambler, and this all-new machine fits into the firm's latest Sports Heritage mindset which includes the VMAX, the XSR900, and the SR400.
At its heart is a 942cc, air-cooled, 60-degree, four-valve-per-cylinder, fuel-injected V-twin. The bore is 85mm. The stroke is 83mm. The gears number five, and the clutch is a conventional wet multi-plate. Front and rear suspension travel is 4.7-inches and 2.8-inches, respectively.
The idea clearly is to create a bike that fits everyone's requirements be it commuting, touring, posing at the coffee bar, riding the local back roads, racing or just cruising around. That's a nice trick if you can pull it off, but the reality is that most folk require something a little more specialised, and there are plenty of more specialised machines on the market to cater to those needs. Put another way, if this motorcycle was in your toolbox, it would be an adjustable spanner.
▲ Yamaha SCR950 kicking up a lot of dust. This is about as rough as you'd want it with this streetster-cum-trailster-cum-poseur. It weighs 547lb and just doesn't convince us as any kind of off-roader. But as a general hackster, it's no doubt gonna find some friends out there.
Nevertheless, there is undoubtedly a market for general all-rounders. But for us, this Yam begs the question of (a) whether there's sufficient space in the crowded sector for this newcomer, and (b) whether the retro market is becoming a little stale.
Notable features on the bike include the two-into-one exhaust system, the belt final drive, the number plate styled side panels just waiting for whatever digits you can devise or contrive, the aluminium wire wheel rims (19-inch front, 17-inch rear), the retro fork gaiters, the LED tail light, the peanut (and flangeless) fuel tank, dual sport tyres, and the 298mm wave-type brake discs.
Squint a little, and you're looking at a contemporary update on the SR500 or Virago. Squint a little harder and you're looking at a Ducati Scrambler. Squint a lot harder and you're headed into Harley-Davidson Sportster territory with a touch of Hinckley Bonneville dialled in.
But this is no Duke, Sporty or Bonnie. It looks more like it hasn't really decided who get into a scrap with, so it's taking on everyone at once. And those are lousy odds.
Here's what Yamaha says about it:
"The SCR950ís open and flexible riding position gives the rider confidence to handle whatever the road presents. The double-cradle frame features sporty geometry with centrally mounted footpegs for nimble, responsive handling. And the front and rear suspension systems are tuned to provide comfort and agility while contributing to the bikeís stylishly low profile."
In other words, the firm has told us nothing really, and certainly nothing particularly inspiring. Nevertheless, the SCR950 has a certain poise and attitude, and it's growing on us, stylewise. But it hasn't yet hit that magic spot required to keep us up at night. Maybe later, but not yet. And it hasn't got a cool name with which to build an identity that will make it stand out.
There are two colours at present: Charcoal Silver and Rapid Red. And Yamaha hasn't been mean with the racing stripe paint. We haven't seen any UK prices so far (it's not clear if or when the bike will enter the European market), but in the USA the suggested retail is $8,699.
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