As you would expect, the SCR ticks all the usual scrambler boxes with flat handlebars and 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wire wheels shod in chunky Bridgestone Trail Wing tyres. However the rest of the bike does break from the norms. Heavily based around the firm's surprisingly good XV950 cruiser, the SCR has the same air-cooled V-twin engine housed in the cruiser's chassis. Yamaha has modified it very slightly with a new subframe, suspension and riding position to not only increase the bike's ground clearance by 145mm - to give it some off-road credibility - but also alter the riding position to a more upright stance with the cruiser feet-forward pegs moved backwards and the seat height increased. This new attitude, added to a styling refresh that sees metal mudguards, a bench seat, fork gaters, a new tank and wide bars added, completes the XV's transformation to an urban scrambler. Kind of...
You can change the clothes...
The Yamaha is the only scrambler style of machine that has taken the converted cruiser path and this is instantly apparent in its ride. Getting the bike off its sidestand you spot its hefty 252kg wet weight and while on the go it doesn't feel that chunky, the fact its chassis is a cruiser at heart results in virtually no ground clearance. Anytime you need to lean the SCR over the hero blobs scrape, which although amusing at the start is a bit concerning as if you overcook a bend you are left with very little safety margin before the solid peg hanger touches down. And then there are its brakes, or more precisely brake. The single front disc is only gripped by a two-piston sliding caliper, which is woefully inadequate on a bike as heavy as the SCR and its ABS system isn't fantastic either. The rear is a bit stronger and I know cruisers riders will point out that you use both brakes, but even the rear has too much lever movement for me, reducing your confidence in its performance. Add to this suspension that feels a little basic in its damping and despite a nicely relaxed riding position and good styling, the SCR950 isn't amounting to much. Yet here is the odd thing: in a very strange way, after a day riding it the SCR actually started to grow on me...
Think of the SCR950 as a more relaxed cruiser without the traditional feet forward riding position and with high bars fitted instead, treat and ride it as such, and it's actually pretty cool. The air-cooled 942cc V-twin isn't very powerful at all, but it does vibrate pleasingly to give the bike a bit of spirit and with 59lb ft of torque is reasonably grunty. I would never describe it as thrilling (it has just 54hp) but it is pleasant and suits a relaxed ride. Clunky gearbox aside, if you want to just chill out at legal speeds the SCR is more than up for the job. And if you are only on a gentle ride then the poor brakes and ground clearance are far less of an issue. Although I'm sure the fact that every time you stop you seem to catch your shins on the pegs, which is both painful and frustrating, will still irritate many riders. Maybe that's why Yamaha have called it a scrambler, because you need to wear off-road boots while riding to protect your shins!
Is it really a scrambler?
As you can see from the pictures, we did take the SCR950 up a gravel track. To be honest, it felt like a fish out of water as not only is it heavy and long, the suspension bottomed out and made very nasty noises over potholes. A gravel track is its absolute limit and you would be an idiot to try anything more extreme, which may be why Yamaha have called it an SCR not a Scrambler. So what is its point in life?
Watch the video here.
Engine: 942cc air-cooled V-twin SOHC 4v
Power (hp): 54@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 59@ 3,000rpm
Top speed: 110mph (est.)
Weight: 252kg (wet)
MPG: 50 (est.)