Ride On: The Origin of Scrambler Motorcycles

We all know the old adage that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” That said, there is potentially an even stronger catalyst for ingenuity… humankind’s insatiable need for speed. Therein lies the conception of arguably the greatest genre of motorcycles on planet Earth: The Scrambler.

The origin of the Scrambler goes back the turn of the 20th century in jolly old England where a bunch crazed Englishmen began to dabble in a new form of motorcycle racing, one that took place far from the beaten path. Instead of racing upon a specific route, they were tasked with simply making it from point A to point B alive, in the shortest possible time, by any means necessary. Rumor has it the phrase “Scrambler” came from a British race announcer describing the act playing out before his eyes as “quite a scramble.” Those brave (or insane) enough to accept the scramble challenge quickly found their everyday, stock, road-going motorcycles far from up to the task. Sliding, bounding and tearing up-and-over the British countryside demanded something with a much greater adventurous disposition.

What these blokes did next was nothing short of necessity: they chopped, welded, grinded, jiggered, jerry-rigged and modifying their street bikes into dirt, rock, and hill-devouring barbarians. The punch list went pretty much as follows: taller suspension, fenders and exhaust pipes for clearance, and some spoked and knobby tires to help put the power down. When the dust settled, the Scrambler Motorcycle was born.

These Darwinistic beasts would evolve over the coming centuries and eventually take on legendary popularity in the 1960’s. Manufacturers like Honda began to offer models right off the showroom floor that were ready, willing and able to have some rough and tumble fun. Steve McQeen’s exploits on his early 60’s Triumphs helped forge the Scrambler in the annuls of epicness. Here’s to the Scrambler, the patron saint of madness and invention.

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