Everybody loves a scrambler. It’s no new thing, just an old trend, coming around. They were invented in the deserts of California in the 60s – Mohave desert racers. Slap on some wide bars and trail tyres, lower the gearing and you’re street scrambling for real. On Any Sunday.
I remember checking out a Ducati 450 Scrambler in the late 70s; even then it was a legendary machine. And I remember my first XS650 bought a few years later (left). One of my all-time favourite bikes, a Jap Bonnie wheeled home in two parts for 120 quid and reassembled in a basement. Incredibly, the XS was Yamaha’s flagship until the ‘Supershaft’ XS750 triple came out in ’76, soon followed by the XS Eleven and the FJs.
Catapult forward like a snapping bungy to 2016 and Yamaha’s XSR700 was claiming it to be ‘the new XS650’, even if it was just an MT-07 makeover. As you can read here, my quick spin on an MT-07 confirmed that there is no such thing as a dislikable parallel twin with a 270° crank (right); all the throb of a wide-angle V-twin without the space issues.
A few weeks ago, riding through Morocco on my WR250R with less speed and comfort than I’d wish, my mind started wandering… In advance of the same engine being used in a T7 Ténéré a year or two away, I wondered if anyone had tried shoehorning an MT-07 (‘FZ-07’ in US) into a ligher chassis, as some have successfully done with the CB500X into CRF-L frames?
Sure enough, on advrider’s ‘Needs Some Assembly’ forum a guy is on it; chipping away at the myriad problems in slowly working the tall, 685cc twin into a trimmed and enlarged WR400 chassis.
I’m lacking in everything it takes to pull off something like that – it’s a project that’ll never cover its costs. Done plenty of that in my time.
But perhaps the more retro-styled XSR variant of the MT-07 could be modified a little to make it a dirt-road scrambler: wide bars, some protection and trail tyres, Mohave style. How hard can it be?