In the same year Ducati introduces a V-4 superbike, ditching the engine configuration synonymous with its name, it also gives us the Scrambler 1100. It's not a SuperSport, or a Monster, or any other definitive Ducati. It doesn't even come in red.

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
To give the Scrambler 1100 a premium look, Ducati used very little plastic on the bike. The only major parts made of plastic, such as the seat pan and airbox, aren’t readily visible. The Special even has aluminum mud guards, instead of the plastic ones found on the base model and the Sport.Milagro

Ducati’s strong heritage and history has bred a legion of Faithful who bow to the diadem of Desmo and enshrine the reliquary of dry clutches, trellis frames, and curvy red fairings. Ducatisti worship at the cathedral of Imola, and bless the patron saint Taglioni (may he rest in peace). How is the Ducatista to interpret the Scrambler 1100? Yes, it’s beautiful, but is it a Ducati?

If you've watched Ducati's Scrambler 1100 marketing short film, The Getaway, starring Imogenocide, Goldeluxe, and Dave Hardcastle (does that sound like the cast of a '70s Italian stag film, or what?), you might be even more dubious, tempted to write off the 1100 as a bike that's more style than substance, more market-niche than definitive Ducati. Until you ride it, that is. The Scrambler 1100 is the genuine article.

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
From right: the base-model Scrambler 1100 ($12,995), available in ’62 Yellow and Shining Black; the Special ($14,295) in Custom Gray; and the Sport ($14,995) in Viper Black. In addition to the black/yellow paint (perfect for the Pittsburgh Steelers fan), the Sport gets Öhlins suspension front and rear.Milagro

For one beautiful sunny afternoon in Portugal, the Scrambler 1100 Special carried me on twisty roads clinging to the coastline—its 1,079cc air-cooled desmodue growling from apex to apex, its exhaust crackling and popping in that special Ducati way.

The 1100 comes in three variants. I rode the Special, which at $14,295 is the middle sibling price-wise. It’s the brother who gets his worsted wool suits tailored on Savile Row, has his own pair of lasts at a cobbler in Milan, and shaves with an ebony-handled straight razor. The Special’s special treatment includes spoked rims, aluminum fenders, a premium seat cover, a polished swingarm, chrome header pipes, and that posh gray paint job. It’s a sophisticated look that belies the beast within. It’s sort of like if Dame Judi Dench trashed hotel rooms with the Rolling Stones: You’d be surprised, but not entirely disappointed.

The engine, derived from the Monster 1100 EVO—the predecessor of today’s 1200—has been redesigned especially for the Scrambler 1100: new single throttle body, dual spark plugs, different gearing, etc., but the same piston, conrod and hot cams as in the donor motor. You can take the engine out of a Monster, but you can’t take the Monster out of the engine. That’s a good thing.

The perfect primary balance of a large-displacement 90-degree Ducati twin is one of motorcycling's great sensations. If you've never ridden one, there's something almost organic feeling about the way the engine configuration translates reciprocating motion into visceral presence. The 1100 feels like a Ducati.

Riding through oceanside tunnels and revving the throttle just to hear the holy thunder of the booming twin is really all the justification this bike needs, to be honest. Or maybe that's just me. The 1100 sounds like a Ducati.

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
Air-cooled, upright rear cylinder, and snaking exhaust: three things that can make a rider toasty in slow-moving traffic. Naturally, excessive heat is not an issue at speed.Milagro

When you ride a big twin, the old adage "there's no replacement for displacement" really holds true. The liter-plus motor paints the town Ducati Red, delivering power in big swaths of exuberant torque to the pavement, like de Koonig applying paint to an oversize canvas. The rear squats, the front does a little dance (there's no steering damper), and comparisons to tractors come to mind. And it's all available practically from off idle, before tapering off around 8,000 rpm. The 1100 goes like a Ducati.

In addition to its premium finish and lusty motor, the 1100’s technical package goes a long way toward justifying the price tag—if revving the motor in tunnels just isn’t enough for you. The first bit on the tech sheet that stands out is Bosch cornering ABS, a safety feature which until now has only been found on more top-spec, non-Scrambler Ducatis, like the Panigale, XDiavel, and Multistrada. The IMU also controls the LED turn signals, automatically canceling them after the bike returns to upright. They work well, except at low speeds when the bike doesn’t lean enough for the IMU to register the maneuver as a turn. The 1100 has three ride modes, four levels of traction control (and off), and is Ducati Multimedia-ready.

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
Check out the slick cast subframe. It’s a bolt-on affair that can be easily removed for ease of customization.Milagro

Brembo M4.32 calipers—the same as on my ’15 899 Panigale, the SuperSport, and other performance-oriented Ducatis—are one more indication that the Scrambler 1100 means business. The hydraulic clutch feels light, and the gearbox is slick-shifting. No clunky Ducati box of yore here. I, for one, will forever love rattly dry clutches, but time must march on.

An all-new chassis and fully adjustable Marzocchi front suspension and Kayaba rear (adjustable for preload and rebound) make the 1100 game for the twisties. My biggest complaint, however, is the Pirelli MT60RS dual-sport tires that run on an 18-inch front rim. It’s the same setup as on the original Scrambler. To me, the front felt vague and I wasn’t as confident diving into corners as I am on conventional street rubber. The 18-inch front/17-inch rear wheels limit the selection of tires available too, but there’s still some fine options out there, so it’s not a deal breaker. It’s the biggest form-over-function flaw of the machine. Yes, knobbies look cool, but they’re not worth the trade-off in cornering ability. If you want an off-road Scrambler, get the Desert Sled.

Flat bars and a wide supportive seat provide good ergos for the all-day rides the 1100 will cajole you into taking.

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
The Special and Sport both have lower tapered bars than the base model 1100 for sportier riding positions.Milagro

Over dinner one night in Lisbon, I chatted with the group of young Italian designers and engineers responsible for the 1100. These guys are building a Ducati brand for a new Ducati audience. While the 1100 is oriented in the lineup for the existing Scrambler rider to work up to, it’s also a platform for the more mature rider who wants a timeless-looking Ducati that doesn’t sacrifice too much performance or tech for the sake of style. When style, comfort, ease of use, and performance are given equal priority in the design brief, you get a bike like the Scrambler 1100.

For the Faithful who bleed Ducati Red, the 1100 is the link between the Scrambler world—where a promo film that looks like an ad for a flavored vodka isn’t out of left field—and the sacrosanct world of Ducati: a place deeply rooted in history, performance, and a few trademark mechanical elements. The Scrambler 1100 brings it all full circle. It turns out, taking the Scrambler ethos to the nth degree just accentuates its inherent Ducati-ness. It feels, sounds, and goes like a Ducati—which is what makes it the definitive Scrambler.

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
The Scrambler 1100 is a physically larger machine than its little siblings. It weighs about 40 pounds more and has a wider tank and seat (that’s also slightly taller) as well as a longer wheelbase than the 800. Larger riders will feel more at home, but smaller riders won’t have too much trouble moving up from the 800 to the 1100.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special dash
New LCD dash is a riff on the original Scrambler’s, but expanded to properly display ride modes and settings. Also like the original, the digital tach sweeps from right to left (the wrong way!) along the bottom of the display. I’m sure riders grow accustomed to it, but I found it annoying and illogical.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special handlebars
Three riding modes: Active, which gives full engine and a “direct” throttle response; Journey, which keeps full power and softens throttle response; and City, which cuts output to 75 hp and gives an “extremely fluid” throttle response. Modes are selected by pushing the turn signal indicator. Together with the up/down arrow button, changing settings is fairly easy, though it will take a few minutes to figure it all out.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special exhaust
Embroidered seat, dual underslung exhaust. For a stock exhaust, it sounds good and has decent volume.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special LED running lights
Metal headlight surround, LED running lights.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special tank cover
Say goodbye to the original Scrambler’s plastic tank cover. Metal tank with anodized aluminum side covers looks great and should make customizing simpler.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
The many Scrambler variants have helped Ducati reach new demographics. It’s been a strategic success. Ducati has sold 46,000 Scramblers worldwide since 2015.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special engine
The gift that keeps on giving. Plucked from the Monster 1100 EVO and revised for 2018, the Scrambler 1100 is Euro 4-compliant and ready to rock.Milagro
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special
The 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special.Milagro
Price $14,295 (as tested)
Engine 1079cc air-cooled V-twin
Transmission/Final Drive 6-speed/chain
Claimed Horsepower 86 hp @ 7,500 rpm
Claimed Torque 65 lb.-ft. @ 4,750 rpm
Frame Tubular-steel trellis
Front Suspension Fully adjustable Marzocchi 45mm upside-down fork; 5.9-in. travel
Rear Suspension Kayaba adjustable for preload and rebound; 5.9-in. travel
Front Brake Brembo 4-piston radially mounted Monoblock calipers, 320mm discs w/ Bosch cornering ABS
Rear Brake Brembo 1-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ Bosch cornering ABS
Rake/Trail 24.5°/4.4 in.
Wheelbase 59.6 in.
Seat Height 31.9 in.
Fuel Capacity 4.0 gal.
Dry Weight 428 lb. dry
Available May 4 and 5 (US, Canada)
Contact scramblerducati.com