Yamaha SCR950 Scrambler - First Ride

The new V-twin scrambler on Yamaha's Bolt platform

Editor Morgan Gales riding the new SCR950 on some dirt trails outside of Julian, CABrian J Nelson

There’s something about a scrambler that inspires hooliganry. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s essentially a street bike with the walls around it broken down. The knobbier tires, higher ground clearance and taller bars just scream “hop that curb and let’s see where this road goes! And this one! And this one!” The Yamaha SCR950 is built to be a pure, simple, adventure chasing fun-machine, and it’s just that.

Yamaha knew exactly who they were building this bike for. It’s not your off-road enthusiast and it’s not your urban two-wheeled brawler. It’s the guy who bought a Virago on Craigslist because it ran well for $1600, then modified and customized it while learning how to ride the thing. It’s the guy that wants a bike that reflects him, shows a bit of his personality, and will be a lot more reliable than the old bucket they can pick up second-hand. This is a bike you can ride to work and back all week, then go and romp some trails on the weekend. You’re not going to be dropping a knee or hitting the triple, but you’ll still be smiling the whole time.

SCR950 saddlebags
The SCR950 with windshield and saddlebag accessoriesBrian J Nelson

The SCR950 has a very simple, old school feel that will welcome new riders, and be a refreshing change for those used to other modern bikes. There is no traction control or ABS on the new scrambler, which I love. I know, I have been in situations where ABS has really helped me out, but I don’t believe there is any place for it on this type of bike. I want to be able to stomp my right foot and throw the rear tire when I want. I want to be able to rev it up and drop the clutch to get a little slideways in the dirt turns. The SCR950’s low-end torque and low center of gravity makes these things easy, and while it is heavy, delivers smooth and even power throughout.

All simple and clean up at the handlebarsBrian J Nelson

Coming from the true cruiser styling of the Star Bolt, then the C-Spec, the SCR950 has undergone some decent changes. The entire tail section has been reworked to fit the higher scrambly bench seat. The same shocks used for the C-Spec mount lower on the frame, but aesthetically, I really wish there were some taller shocks that mounted at the same height as the seat. It looks like a corner was cut to keep using the same old C-Spec shocks and save a buck. The foot controls were moved back a little bit and higher bars were added to make moving around on the seat and standing while riding a bit easier. When riding in a straight line, it took about 30 minutes for the seat to drop out, but as a short ride commuter or for weekend scrambles when you’re moving all over the seat anyway, I’m sure it would be just fine.

SCR950 tail section
The new tail section and seat on the SCR950Brian J Nelson

Lately it seems like Yamaha can do no wrong. Everything they have come out with has been stellar, but honestly, we want more. As it stands, the SCR950 is a perfectly “sport-heritage,” motorcycle that doesn’t really push the envelope of performance or style. It’s classic, it’s easy, it’s safe, and it’s fun. But if they were to use the engine from the XSR700, we would have a completely different beast with heritage styling, an eye to the future and a higher level of performance. The Bolt platform has a lot of customization potential, and we love it for that, but the engine is still a little heavy and docile for this type of riding. If you want a bike that is good looking, affordable, reliable, and customizable, the SCR950 is a great choice. If you want a fast scrambler, go for the Ducati.

SCR950 street
Getting into some turns on the SCR950Brian J Nelson
Engine Type 58-cubic-inch (942cc) air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke V-twin; 4 valves
Bore x Stroke 85.0mm x 83.0mm
Compression Ratio 9.0:
Fuel Delivery Fuel injection
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive Belt
Suspension / Front Telescopic fork, 4.7-in travel
Suspension / Rear Dual piggyback shocks, 2.8-in travel
Brakes / Front Wave-type disc, 298mm
Brakes / Rear Wave-type disc, 298mm
Tires / Front 100/90-19
Tires / Rear 140/80R17
SCR950 exhaust
The new upswept exhaust on Yamaha's SCR950Brian J Nelson
L x W x H 88.6 in x 35.2 in x 45.9 in
Seat Height 32.7 in
Wheelbase 62.0 in
Rake (Caster Angle) 28.4°
Trail 5.1 in
Ground Clearance 5.5 in
Fuel Capacity 3.2 gal
Fuel Economy** 51 mpg
Wet Weight 547 lb
scr950 brakes
Front disc brake on the SCR950Brian J Nelson

Morgan's Gear in Photos:
Helmet: Biltwell Lane Splitter
Vest: Saint Unbreakable Denim Vest
Gloves: Rev'it! Sport Abbery Road Gloves
Pants: Uglybros Motorpool Armored Jeans
Boots: Wolverine Evans Boot