Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950

Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 scrambler motorcycle.
The ground clearance (5.5”) and seat height (32.7”) made the SCR950 just tall enough to handle an unforgiving road and just short enough to scrape a foot peg through a tight curve at speed. (For context, I’m six-foot-flat with boots on.)

That said, the SCR950 was comfortable enough to keep me happy through hours of highway, and nimble enough to thrill me through miles of dirt and gravel.

Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 scrambler motorcycle.
During a midday pit stop, I got some context about the bike’s design that explained the look, feel, and purpose of the SCR950. Yamaha didn’t aim for the purist market with this one.

“We’re not here to try to fool anybody and tell you this bike is something it’s not,” said Derek Brooks, who manages product planning in the R&D division for Yamaha USA. “It’s not an adventure touring bike. It’s not a dual-purpose bike.” But Yamaha did intend it to be capable on dirt “at reasonable paces.”

Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 scrambler motorcycle.
Then there’s the matter of why the SCR950 looks so much like the scrambler-ized versions of the Yamaha Bolt. “When we started the development and the concept design of the Bolt, quite a few years ago now,” said Brooks, “we had in mind to use this as the base for future variations, which is what you’re seeing here.”

Yamaha always intended to sculpt out a scrambler version. The team felt ‘vindicated,’ in fact, when custom builders headed that way on their own. Given the relative similarity between some of those builds and Yamaha’s take, it seems this is just what happens when the Bolt goes scrambling. The design, to some degree, is simply inevitable.

Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 scrambler motorcycle.
The SR950 is meant for what Yamaha calls the ‘urban adventurer’—someone who spends most of the time on paved roads, but who occasionally wants to split off for a little fun, or wants to at least know the bike can handle a camping trip that requires some time on a road less traveled to reach basecamp.

It’s also meant to pay tribute to the old guard of classic lightweights, while updating them in ways that appeal to a new generation of riders. Yamaha refers to these bikes under the tagline ‘Faster Sons,’ and that’s just how the SCR950 feels. It’s nimble, it nods to history through its authentic materials (steel fenders, for example), and it focuses on riding rather than showing off.

Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 scrambler motorcycle.
Ultimately, the something-for-everyone approach can make the SCR950 feel a bit like it’s designed for people who want to look more adventurous than they are in real life. But in this case, the bike actually supports the needs of both.

By day’s end, this bike had earned my affection big-time. There’s always some nervousness on a new bike, but after the day’s ride, I found myself desperately wanting to get back on the thing for another round.

Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 scrambler motorcycle.
I wanted to take one home. I wanted to take one everywhere. (You can, by the way; Yamaha’s line of accessories makes it equally workable for highway hauls, grocery runs, and fire-road adventures. It also gets 51 mpg and offers a 3.2-gallon tank, so it’ll get you from station to station, for sure.)

Ultimately, I keep returning to two words: Effortless and Fun.

If you want tech specs, they’re out there. If you want to ride, the SCR950 will make you feel like an addict.

Yamaha Motor USA | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Brian J. Nelson | Robert Hoekman Jr is the author of The Build. He also writes the captions for the Bike EXIF wall calendars.

Review: The 2017 Yamaha SCR950 scrambler motorcycle.