When the Triumph Scrambler 1200 was launched there were a few raised eyebrows from the dirt biking fraternity and many wondered whether this bike was all shirt and no trousers…but it has been proven time and time again to be a worthy adversary on the dirt.
Many, including myself would look at the Scrambler as with other heavy ADVs as being, well…too heavy for the seriously challenging dirt and whilst capable, there would be lighter alternatives that would do the job a lot better.
However, Triumph wanted to prove a point and to show the world that this bike was not only capable but could also be competitive. So they decided to take it Baja California for the Mexican 1000 race and to imply the service of rider par excellence Ernie Vigil who is both racer and stunt rider in his day job.
Whilst the course of over a 1000 miles is run over a series of days in very challenging conditions, this is not a route that would be described as hard enduro but more akin desert racing with lots of soft surfaces, dunes, gravel & small rocks but with searing temperatures to cope with too.
Every other entrant would ride a dirt bike of some description, so Triumph’s entry would sit alone and proud on the start line…and drew quite a stir from onlookers, organisers and other competitors…surely this beast would be too heavy and cumbersome and would make an embarrassing appearance soon to be forgotten?
But nothing could be further from the truth! Whilst the rider is undoubtedly super uber talented on two wheel and on the sand, it was the bike that made itself a name and competed with all the rest with a darn good show.
The bike did have some modest modifications made to it as follows but nothing that is out of the reach of the average rider or potential customer. It had a larger sump guard, soft handlebar grips, ABS & Traction Control functionality removed…which is a must really, 21in front tyre: Metzeler MC 360 and a 17in rear tyre Metzeler Karoo 3, although the front tyre mousse insert did not fair so well after a couple of gruelling days in the sun and sand.
Suspension settings were all standard configurations and overall Triumph did not report any other problems with the bike during the 5 day rally event which ended up covering 1347 miles.
In the end, Ernie Vigil and the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE finished in top 5 in the modern open class and a very creditable 17th overall…not too shabby for a bike that did indeed find some trousers to go with that shirt.