Yamaha SCR950: PH2 Review


Another day, another scrambler style motorcycle, as manufacturers jump on the fashion bandwagon. We currently have the BMW R nineT Scrambler, the Ducati Desert Sled (which is a scrambler style bike) and the firm's actual Scrambler range, the Triumph Street Scrambler and even the short-lived Moto Guzzi Stornello. There are probably a few more that I have forgotten about, but you get the general idea. Well for 2017 they have been joined by Yamaha's new SCR950, with the SCR part standing for... yes, you have guessed it, scrambler. However Yamaha are taking a bit of a different path with its new pseudo off-roader.

No doubting it looks very good
No doubting it looks very good
Scrambler style, cruiser heart
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...

Handling leaves a fair bit to be desired though
Handling leaves a fair bit to be desired though
Think outside the box
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?

Good fun and likeable, if not all that brilliant
Good fun and likeable, if not all that brilliant
To some riders the SCR950's styling will really appeal, which I get. It does look pretty cool if you are into that kind of thing and is bang on fashion. The lack of ground clearance won't worry cruiser fans and I suspect neither will its poor brakes or heavy weight. If you want a chilled out, and good looking, scrambler-esque machine the SCR950 is well priced at £8,499 and fun - just don't view it as a traditional scrambler: this is essentially a cruiser dressed up to look like a scrambler, and as such it handles and rides accordingly. Weirdly, this odd positioning in life actually marks it out as unique and gives it genuine, and surprising, appeal despite its obvious handling and performance limitations. A quirky yet oddly endearing machine.

Watch the video here.


YAMAHA SCR950
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.)
Price: £8,499

 

 

 

 

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Comments (10) Join the discussion on the forum

  • MarJay 05 Apr 2017

    I can't help but think this is 'too little too late' from Yamaha. The hipster 'trend' is dying, you can tell as something that starts off as underground and becomes so mainstream that motorcycle manufacturers embrace it, it must be on the wane. Sainsburys sells Vinyl albums for pity's sake!

    BMW might have managed to capitalise on it with the R nine T and Triumph can go back to making misty eyed 1950's alikes, but I think the other manufacturers with their brown-seated monstrosities might struggle. I mean, have you seen the Diavel Diesel? Sheesh.

    Soon 1990's sportsbikes will be the next big thing, mark my words. ZXR750's will be an appreciating asset soon.

  • Spannerski 05 Apr 2017

    252 kg and 54bhp - What!
    Posers only.

    Or buy on an old 1100 virago and put flat bars on it.

  • rog007 05 Apr 2017

    MarJay said:
    I can't help but think this is 'too little too late' from Yamaha. The hipster 'trend' is dying, you can tell as something that starts off as underground and becomes so mainstream that motorcycle manufacturers embrace it, it must be on the wane. Sainsburys sells Vinyl albums for pity's sake!

    BMW might have managed to capitalise on it with the R nine T and Triumph can go back to making misty eyed 1950's alikes, but I think the other manufacturers with their brown-seated monstrosities might struggle. I mean, have you seen the Diavel Diesel? Sheesh.

    Soon 1990's sportsbikes will be the next big thing, mark my words. ZXR750's will be an appreciating asset soon.
    End of thread.

  • Loyly 05 Apr 2017

    This sounds like a right load of old ste.

  • Janluke 05 Apr 2017

    I saw one in the local Yamaha dealer last week. Looks great but too heavy, not enough power and not enough ground clearance IMO

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