Scrambler: A Brief History and How To

Author: Ellaspede   Date Posted:18 June 2014 

Scrambler: A Brief History and How To main image


So you've decided that you've torn up enough streets and its time to take your road bike for some all-terrain fun.  Looks like you're in need of a Scrambler.  We've compiled a short history of these off-road trouble makers, a guide on how to setup your own, and a series of links to help inspire your customisation.

The Scrambler’s roots lie across the ocean in England back in the late 1920’s, in the form of point to point races that favoured speed over rules.  Competitors were tasked with racing from point A to B in the shortest time possible to win, conquering whatever terrain laid in their way to shave off those precious seconds. In a world before mass-produced dirt bikes, riders would have to convert their every day road bikes into grass churning, hill climbing beasts that could handle themselves on any surface - the rougher the better. Before long these ‘scramble’ races developed into closed circuit trials riding, motocross, and the Californian desert scramble, and by the mid 1960’s bikes more closely resembling the dirtbikes we see today began to go into production.

It doesn't matter what you have, any road bike has the potential to be a Scrambler. What generally characterizes a Scrambler is the adaptation of a road bike into an all-terrain ride.  As these bikes historically would go from crossing a stream to climbing a muddy hill whilst trying to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, it was important that they be lightweight, powerful, and reliable.  With that in mind, some key characteristics of a Scrambler are:

  • A higher mounted exhaust for ground clearance
  • A shorter, padded seat
  • Torque over top end power
  • Visual simplicity
  • Lightweight components
  • Smaller tanks
  • Mini guages, and a tucked in light.
  • Chunky off-road tires with spoked wheels.

It’s important to remember that visually, the goal is to make the bike appear as though all unnecessary features have been removed, as the aesthetic of the Scrambler was born out of a necessity for lighter, faster bikes that could handle themselves in rough conditions.  And that’s what makes a Scrambler such an interesting bike.  It intermingles a stripped down, chunky, and powerful aesthetic into something beautiful and raw.  But remember that rules are meant to be bent and broken.  A Scrambler with a cafe seat like the striking BMW below may just be the right touch for you.

There are some absolutely gorgeous examples out there, and we’ve compiled a shortlist of our favourite links to get you inspired on your own build.  Remember that if you’re interested in using the bike purely off-road, your needs and eventual look are going to be far different from an occasional all-terrain adventurer.  Sometimes it’s just good enough to feel like you can keep going when the road ends, even if you never will. How-to’s and Style Guides:

Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up