As an owner and self-admitted fanboy of Triumph Motorcycles, I have to admit, I was quite excited when the company launched the Speed 400. It was a middle-weight roadster with good dynamics, a comfortable ride and most importantly, Triumph-level quality parts. What's not to like? There is a reason it won autoX's 'bike of the year' accolade - it's bloody good! However, once all the dust settled and I got to reflect on my first ride experience, the excitement quickly faded and how! Yes, it's priced well and does everything you ask of it and does it well, but nothing more. You want a proper street weapon? Duke 390. Want more features? Apache RTR 310. Want more power? Interceptor 650. It gets the job done but lacks the X factor. Coincidentally enough, Triumph Motorcycles also showcased another 400cc motorcycle alongside it - the Scrambler 400X. It promises to do all the Speed can but go beyond, literally and figuratively. So if I’m on the hunt for the best 300–400cc dual-sport motorcycle in India - is this finally the one? With that thought, I find myself hurling down a dirt road at 80km/h, and as I try to give my photographer the best shot I can, I simultaneously try to find the answer.
Triumph Scrambler 400X Review: Design & Dimensions
Triumph Motorcycles showcased the Scrambler 400X to journalists at the first ride event of its twin, the Speed 400. I never got to attend and therefore, while many praised the motorcycle for looking like its bigger, badder twin, the difference wasn’t so evident for me in photographs. However, once I got to see it in person, I can testify to the fact that the difference might be insignificant on paper but it looks significantly bigger. The major design changes, and highlights, are concentrated up front, like the 19-inch alloy wheel, larger 32-inch discs, headlight guard, hand guard, radiator guard and bash plate. The front-end has been beefed up and it definitely looks the part. If you are new to motorcycles, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and the Scrambler 900. Oh, and to top it off, all of the aforementioned accessories come as standard fitment and you get them with the base price you pay for the motorcycle. To add to the list, this bundle also includes the handlebar cross brace, which is meant to negate vibrations coming through to your hands over rough surfaces.
Now, the side profile is largely similar but you get 37mm of added ground clearance and a 40mm addition in its wheelbase. These additions, in my opinion, have gone a long way in giving the Scrambler 400X not only the off-road chop it needs but also the visual stance of a much larger motorcycle. The added dimensions, whilst making it look good, help the Scrambler with better stability, and even gets sharper rake over the Speed 400 to not sacrifice too much flickability. However, more on this as we come to the performance. As a functional upgrade, you also get tank grips as standard and these functioned well for my knee to rest perfectly while sitting or standing. The only visual design change was the addition of an oval metal plaque with ‘Scrambler 400X’ etched on it, another familiar touch from its bigger Scrambler siblings. If you look towards the other side, the Scrambler also gets a stubby, double-exit exhaust, which not only is swept up for offroad riding, but also makes the bike look even more special. Triumph has also tuned this exhaust for more bass, and I definitely think it sounds a whole better compared to the Speed. The ‘Zing’ of the Speed 400’s exhaust now is a proper ‘Braap’ with the Scrambler, and I loved it!
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Now compared to the Speed 400 which gets a one piece seat, the Scrambler gets a split-style, two-piece set up which looks a lot better in my opinion. To add to the style quotient, Triumph seems to have made the seat firmer over the Speed 400 in order to reduce fatigue and aid its touring ability. At the back, design of the Scrambler remains similar to that of the Speed. However, a difference that is invisible to the naked eye is the added 20mm of travel from the rear suspension, while the front suspension gets 10mm of added travel.
Triumph Scrambler 400X Review: Ergonomics & Features
At this point, you may be thinking that the Scrambler 400X is taller and therefore, a task to hop a leg across if you aren’t of the right vertical stature. And in that regard, it is exactly how you would have imagined. With ground clearance being higher and a 45mm addition in the seat height, my 5'7 (okay, fine, 5’6 and a half) frame found it to be a bit too tall. But all of it is necessary for the purpose it has been designed for and you'll just have to get used to it. However, once you climb on, the bike feels balanced and easy to handle but in tight parking/maneuvering situations, all of the weight which is now concentrated higher, can get bothersome. The riding position though, I felt was just spot on. It feels very natural to sit on or stand, in fact, in any condition. The handle bar is raised and falls easier to your hands, compared to the Speed 400. Overall, it wasn't difficult finding a comfortable riding position for slow or fast speed riding.
In terms of features, you get the old Triumph Street Triple-style half-digital and half-analogue dial. Moreover, you'll also find switchable traction control, an off road mode (switches off the TC and ABS at the same time), USB type charging port and slipper clutch assist. The two flaws I did find which will help improve the riding experience. The first is the information toggle button, which switches off the ABS and needs to be pressed for exactly 5 seconds in order for it to function correctly. At times, I found it to be a bit too erratic and at multiple occasions, I found myself pressing the button and having to count to 5 in my head. Thankfully the off road settings can be switched on using the same button in just two seconds and that was a lot more intuitive. Now, I might be nitpicking but another issue that I found to be irritable was the fact that whilst sitting and riding, thanks to the sharper rake angle, it gets hard to see the fuel read out without standing up. The latter seemed to be the graver oversight, one which Triumph fans will scratch their heads over.
Triumph Scrambler 400X Review: Performance
Now we get to the meat-of-the-matter and that is its performance. Let’s start with the engine and you’ll find that it gets exactly the same 398cc, liquid-cooled engine making 40bhp @ 8,000rpm and a peak torque output of 6,500 rpm. As you all would be aware, this engine has no connection to the Duke 390 and I hope we are past that argument. Like the Speed 400, the scrambler also makes 80 percent of its usable power comes in as early as 3,000rpm, and that really helps with the usability of this motorcycle on-and-off the road. The engine feels buttery smooth and vibrations only creep in past the 6000rpm mark. The power delivery doesn't feel harsh or peaky, either. The power comes in strong and builds progressively all the way to the red line. There seems to be absolutely no flat spot with the engine and every twist of the throttle resulted in me surging ahead with gusto, regardless of the gear you are in. I’ll be honest, I felt like a real hooligan riding through the quaint, sleepy village of Kolad, Maharashtra. Every straight piece of tarmac was an excuse to do a wheelie, and every speed breaker was an excuse to jump it.
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The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox and a big plus point for the Scrambler is how well the gear ratios are tuned. First and second, they seem to be perfect for city and off road conditions. Triumph has reduced sprocket size down by one to a 14-tooth affair at the front, in order to help out with a more sprightly power delivery, and that really shows. The company has also reworked the cylinder heads and cylinder coating to negate any power loss at lower engine revs. However, what impressed me the most is how usable third gear was. Slowing down to 20kmph, even sometimes 15 km/h, and speeding up past three digit speeds - third gear felt like it might be the only gear you'll ever need. We concentrated our ride through country-side, B-roads and rough road conditions and I really didn't get enough opportunities to fully explore its potential in higher gears, so that will be something we reserve for a detailed review.
Triumph Scrambler 400X Review: Off-Road & Braking
In terms of handling, you get added height and a longer wheelbase, and in essence it shouldn't have been as agile and nimble as it felt. What really ties in the entire handling experience is the flickable front-end, thanks to the sharper rake angle. Not only was the Scrambler a beauty to handle on the road but it felt so friendly when you had to take it off the road as well. The bike has been built for those who are getting into motorcycles, or are looking to buy their first off-road ready motorcycle, and the engineering that has gone behind making it so approachable really shines through. I really did not expect it to be this good. In fact, it felt almost as sharp as the Duke 390 and that is really saying something. When it comes to comfort, the added travel from the front and rear suspension really iron out any bad patches of road, potholes or broken road conditions. Now while we couldn't experience any proper trails or off road conditions in the little time we spent with it, the small trails I did put it through were dealt with absolutely no drama. The bike was shod with MRF Zapper Kurve tyres and they go a long way in helping the Scrambler with predictable handling over rough conditions.
Also Read: 2023 KTM Duke 390 Review
In the braking department, while the front disc brakes are larger than the Speed 400, the rear disc set up remains intact. However, I really liked what the Speed 400 had to offer and the Scrambler has only improved upon. On the road, the brake bite feels strong, whilst also having a progressive response. Once you climb on and start riding, not only is the power non-intimidating and handling predictable, but the brakes also work in cohesion to build your confidence as fast as possible. While you do have the option of switching off ABS through the menu or via turning the off road mode, it does not get intrusive even if you have it switched on. The computer does allow for a reasonable amount of wheel lock and it is just enough to allow you to have a bit of fun on and off road.
Triumph Scrambler 400X Review: Verdict
So, is this the affordable off-road ready motorcycle that we all have been waiting for? I definitely think so. While the Speed 400 manages to be the do-it-all motorcycle for all your motorcycling needs, the Scrambler 400X is naughtier, fun sibling amongst the two. Not only does it manage to be approachable enough for everyday use, but is a strong candidate for the best middle-weight adventure-ready motorcycle in the market. I am a Triumph Trident owner and this has really lived up to the expectations I had from it. It is extremely usable on and off road, while being the tool I need to build my way up to big ADVs. In fact, I'm seriously contemplating picking one up for myself. With a price tag of Rs 2.62 lakh (ex-showroom), the Triumph Scrambler brings more than it needs to the table for me to pick it as over the Speed 400.