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My Icon Review

5120 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  BiKenG
First, a little bit about me so you know where I'm coming from:

Riding experience - 2002 Suzuki GSX-R 600 for 4 years. GSX-R was a horrible starting bike, but by the time I was done I was able to drag a knee, wheelie, etc. Then 5 years off of riding and now the scrambler. So not a ton of experience - but competent.

Size - 5'8 -190 pounds

My choice was between a Yamaha FZ-07 and Scrambler. I decided to get away from the sports bike as there was no good street legal way to have fun on it. A 600cc supersport doesn't even begin to be fun until after 10,000 rpm. This time I wanted something fun to commute on, but still had some giddyup and go. The Scrambler got the nod over the Yamaha for styling, resale (I figure it might hold it's value over yet another naked bike), and ultimately ABS which was a big priority for me.

Price - I know everyone is curious what you can get this bike for. I paid MSRP of $8,500 plus a $129 doc fee and sales tax. No crate, delivery, etc. Sales tax was 7.5% so I paid around $9,390 out the door in Ohio.

Looks - I won't talk a lot about looks as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will say it looks even better in person. The knobby wheels seem to make more sense and all the features just pop a little more. It does look tiny when parked next to other motorcycles - almost toy like. If you're the kind of person who will feel the need to constantly remind people that there's an 803cc engine despite it's tiny size, maybe this bike is not for you.

Ergonomics - Riding position for me is super comfortable. I think I fit this bike about perfectly, but I'm afraid that over 6'0 things might get a little tight. I'm just barely flat footed when seated. Mirror position was difficult to adjust, but once I got it, it provides much better visibility than the old bike. My only complaint is the turn signal indicator button. It seems to me like it's not in a natural position - like I'm really trying hard to reach it. The cancel turn signal button doesn't provide a lot of feedback either, so I end up tapping it 2 or 3 times just to be sure.

Seat - Seat is very comfortable...at first. After about an hour in the saddle, my butt goes numb and as you can see from my size, I have some padding. The good news is that since the seat is one long bench style seat, I can just slide back to the passenger seat for about 5 minutes and I'm as good as new.

Wind - Above 75 mph I feel like a sail. I wouldn't want to do multiple hours on the highway without a screen/deflector. Anything below 70 mph is just fine. 50 mph and below, the lack of a windscreen is not noticeable.

Engine - FANTASTIC. This is by far my favorite part of the bike. It pulls in every gear at every rpm range. Real linear delivery. I almost prefer to push the bike around 3 thousand rpm because it provides a nice grumble and vibration that is so much different than my old sports bike. Compared to the gixxer, the power is so much more accessible and fun. I have no doubt that after about 40 mph in a drag race a sports bike would start to pull away and at 70 mph the Scrambler would be left behind in the dust. However, anything below 60 is just so much more fun on the Scrambler. On a side note, if you're used to fairings and a water cooled engine, you'll be surprised how hot the Scramblers engine is at a stop.

Transmission - I rather like the transmission on this bike. I was very nervous about all the false neutrals I've been reading about and thought they might translate into a mushy transmission. My experience is quite the opposite as every gear has a nice snick to it. I have hit one false neutral shifting from 4th to 5th. While this shouldn't ever happen, I can say that I was wearing tennis shoes which flex a bunch on an upshift and I was really soft on my shift. I tried to replicate my false neutral but couldn't. I feel that if I were in a proper riding boot, this wouldn't have happened.

This bike could also really benefit from a gear indicator as 4, 5, and 6 are pretty short and close together. The good news is that the bike pulls hard in any gear. The bad news is that if you're the type that "counts down" to first gear when slowing down, you may forget what gear you started in when decelerating.

Throttle Response - Way too touchy. This is a big negative of this bike. If you're in 1st or 2nd and performing a tight right hander (maybe 15-20mph) the throttle response is an issue. What can happen is let's say you're a little too fast around a sharp slow turn: First you release the throttle and the bike dips from engine breaking, then you roll back on the throttle to complete the turn and the bike bucks and jerks back to life. Now you're moving too fast again so you release the throttle and the bike dips again... Without careful throttle control or re-clutching, at best you may look like an idiot. At worst, a beginner may pull the throttle and turn wide into oncoming traffic.

Throttle response deserves a second paragraph. Let me be clear , you can absolutely get used to the throttle response - but consciously. As I'm rounding a slow turn I'm always thinking "okay, softly...just a little...be careful". For everyone who says it's something you just need to get used to, my response would be this -- Perhaps, but this bike in no way is made better by such a touchy throttle. The throttle is not a deal breaker at all, but I'm surprised Ducati did not get this sorted out in the factory.

Sound - I love the stock exhaust on the Icon. Loud, deep, and barbles just enough to feel like it doesn't match the size of the bike which is kind of fun. Not so loud as to be obnoxious or feel guilty driving through a neighborhood past midnight.

Suspension - I think the factory settings are perfect for me. Maybe I was expecting worse after reading other reviews, but I didn't feel like the front was jarring at all. Again, I thought it was about perfect for my size. Turns are a lot of fun on this bike as well. Lot's of ground clearance so you can certainly get your lean on if that's what you enjoy. Maybe not knee dragging, but enough street legal turn speed to put a smile on anyone's face.

Misc - Lots of gawkers with this bike. Everyone's curious about what it is. The funny part is you'll feel a little like a man without a home when you ride. You don't fit in with the Harley V-Rod, you couldn't possibly understand the lifestyle of that touring Goldwing, and you're just not cool enough to get a wave from the Yamaha R1.

Overall, this is the right bike for me and provides me a lot of smiles. Hopefully this review will help you decide if it's the right bike for you.
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First off Ohio, Welcome to the Forum, great to have you along :)

Thanks for the review, I agree with most of your remarks, I think you'll get used to the throttle response though, :rolleyes:
Good write up and I agree with most of the write up. Personally I don't find the throttle a problem. Just learn to "feather" it and all will be good. :)

I don't find the Scrambler any hotter than my Pani and most certainly wear solid boots for kicking it into gear. I can honestly say I've never had a false neutral on any bike in 30 odd years of riding. Yet when you talk to those that have it seems that they've been a bit soft in trying to get a gear. That's all it is, you have to be firm with them :)
Good review - I agree with most of what you say! I haven't got used to the throttle no matter how I've tried, but I'm hoping that having a different shock will help. I'm not so bothered by the front suspension as the rear. But for all it's shortcomings I just love it, it's the best bike I've had and probably will have! I want to ride it all the time at the expense of all the other things I should be doing .. :rolleyes:
Thanks so much for that thoughtful and detailed review. Thinking about the throttle-- would there be a benefit to adding a bit more friction to the throttle turn? I've read of folks adding a plastic washer between the grip and the switch housing on "ride by wire" bikes to provide a friction point and a more traditional feel to the throttle twist, making the bike more rider-friendly. Just wondering.

I agree with the others, a great review and you make valid points. Now that I've got more time on mine I'll say that the throttle and I have become friends. We've reached an understanding and I don't even think about it anymore; perhaps the same will happen for you. And for the first few hundred miles there were some false neutrals at 4-5 and 5-6, but they seem to have faded away also. Probably a combo of transmission wearing in and my foot learning the new shifter. And the engine noise is lovely.

One thing that I really love about this bike is the balance that I feel on it. I'm sorta tall and thin at 6'0 and 150 lbs., and slide all the way up against the tank when I ride. Entering and exiting turns is just second nature and there is no awkwardness at all. Can't say the same for the Triumph Tiger and Bonneville that I had, now that they are in the past I can see that there was more setup and preparation involved in executing a good graceful, comfortable turn on them. Maybe it was the extra weight, they were each a good 100 lbs heavier than the Scrambler.

As for the heat, I use as a reference the Guzzi 850 LeMans I had decades ago. In stop and go traffic the heat from those two fat cylinders vented straight up into my face and helmet. It was a great bike as long as it was moving. The Scrambler is cool by comparison.

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I appreciate all the responses and feedback. I'm having a blast on the bike. Actually I'm having a bout of depression as the weather channel is calling for thunderstorms over the next three to four days where I live. Clearly the gods do not care about my happiness.

I wonder if the heat I feel is because I haven't ridden in a few years. Maybe my old bike was just as hot, but I can't remember. Maybe it's the black riding jacket, gloves, and helmet I bought like an idiot...but I do look cool if that counts for anything!

I got to tell you that turns are becoming more and more fun with this bike. Almost like you sink into the bike more than ride on top of it. Big smiles when it feels like machine and man become one.

After riding a bit more, I think the throttle response is still too touchy - but manageable. I'm not sure that more friction is the answer because I think the problem arises from a short throttle range.

For example, instead of the bike delivering 0% power at 0% throttle and 100% power at 100% throttle, it appears that I can get closer to 100% power at 30-40% throttle (estimation). As such, the power drastically changes from relatively minor inputs from the throttle. This makes rolling back on the throttle in 1st or 2nd gear a pain without clutching. I will say that I think launches are a breeze, so no issue there.
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I should have mentioned that I slipped these over the stock Icon grips - Amazon.com Grab On Grips Grip Cover - Fits From 1.25in. to 1.45in. OD - 4.25in.L Color Black MC401 Automotive -
They are dense foam sleeves which provide very good grip and increase the diameter slightly. I did it to make the grips fatter, because my fingers get cramped after a while from squeezing those skinny stock grips. The increased diameter probably alleviates the throttle sensitivity a bit.
Along with a smallish windscreen I am going to add and bags already on the way I believe there is going to be a good size market for custom seat mods. While I actually find the stock seat bearable for up to three hours most passengers I end up with always prefer some back rest. May end up looking kind of out of place on the bike but it doesn't have to be huge like many.

I have a feeling down the road there is going to be one huge aftermarket for the Scrambler. It just leans itself in that way.
I guess this is "off-topic" but I have had few false neutrals too, and all I can say, it was my own "fault". Both happend when I was overtaking a car on the highway, when changing from 5 to 6 gear. My "fault" was that I changed it too sloppy or too gently, that might caused to go faulse neutral. Changing it firmly and taking my time, it always goes in gear.
Having just had a test ride so far, I can't be 100%, but I do believe the slightly quick action of the throttle is manageable and soon would not be noticeable.

I say 'manageable' as it IS possible to control the throttle for a smooth response. It might just take a while for the muscles to remember. It is NOT the same as many bikes nowadays (predominantly the more powerful ones) which have a snatchy throttle that can never be managed. No matter how hard you try and how slow you open the throttle, it jerks, badly. The Scrambler is NOT like this. I too was surprised by its rapid response initially, but after half an hour, I was no longer even thinking about it.

By way of comparison, I also ride a FireBlade and that has a very instant response to the throttle. Again, it is manageable and soon becomes a non problem, but it is a fair bit quicker responding than even the Scrambler. I also ride a Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle which has a much slower throttle response than either the 'Blade or the Scrambler and when I first ride that after the 'Blade, it takes some getting used to opening the throttle more aggressively when starting off. For this reason I have ended up stalling it more than any other bike. But again, I very soon get used to it so it ceases to be a problem.

Perhaps the most obviously tamed throttle action is that of the KTM Super Duke R 1290. In the 'least sporty' engine mode, the throttle response is so slow it's almost like the cable has broken (yes I know it doesn't actually have a throttle cable). You open the throttle and nothing seems to happen, then the engine starts to slowly respond. It's worse than the V-Rod by far. But, select a sportier mode and the response becomes more natural (and overall is a great bike BTW).

Anyway, I don't think the Scrambler needs any changes to this. Very slow corners often require some feathering of the clutch on many bikes. The bigger and more powerful the bike, the more you will have to do this. Only on little small low powered bikes can you expect to negotiate tight bends without use of the clutch. I thought the Scrambler was utterly delightful in its superb usability. The best bike to actually ride I've tried in a long time - apart from my eVo4, but that's another story.
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