Rough and Ready: 6 Scramblers Under 650 cc

Brand new scramblers under 650 cc
When you need one machine to do it all, it’s hard to beat the rugged charm of a scrambler. The formula is as simple as it gets, and is often little more than slapping a high-mounted exhaust, tall fenders and knobby rubber on your average street cruiser. Don’t mistake them for dirt bikes—but by improving the key areas of clearance and traction, street-derived scramblers are surprisingly capable, and above all, fun!

Honda CL500
We’re spoiled for options in the scrambler market these days, so before you sign the dotted line, it’s worth considering a few key factors. You should take into account the balance of on and off-road you’re shooting for, and whether your dream machine is more rugged in spirit or practice. Engine size is another important factor, as more displacement will get you there quicker, but might sacrifice weight and ground clearance. And then above all, there’s price and availability.

These six scramblers under 650 cc all represent big fun and manageable weight, and are cheaper than larger bikes in the class.

Brixton Crossfire 500 XC
Brixton Crossfire 500 XC
A bold mix of new and old, the Brixton Crossfire 500 XC echoes everything we love in a modern scrambler. The majority of its mechanicals come from the street-going Crossfire 500 model, including the chassis, adjustable KYB suspension at both ends and the 486 cc twin engine — rated at 47 hp. Accordingly, it tips the scales at around 430 pounds, but it’s in the details that the 500 XC’s rugged nature starts to shine.

Aggressive Pirelli Scorpion rubber gets things off on the right track, and the 19F/17R externally spoked wheels are particularly eye-catching. An array of armor has been added to the bike in key areas, including an engine skid plate, radiator guards, crash bars and headlight protection. The exhaust system is entirely stainless, but does seem a bit vulnerable on the bottom side.

Brixton Crossfire 500 XC
Ergonomics are classic scrambler, with a slim full-length seat and mid-height bars, and a large 3.6 gallon tank permits longer off-road excursions. Lighting is nicely executed, pairing a classic-looking round LED up front, with small indicators and a tucked tail light, and the number plates are a fun touch.

With a reported top speed of over 100 mph and Bosch ABS, the Brixton pairs its off-road performance with top road manners. MSRP for the Brixton comes in at about $8,400, which is on the higher end of the class. Brixton motorcycles are sold throughout Western Europe, East Asia and South America, but sadly there aren’t any North American dealers at this time. [Brixton]

Royal Enfield Scram 411
Royal Enfield Scram 411
Based on the popular Himalayan adventure bike, the Royal Enfield Scram 411 is an affordable air-cooled scrambler with big character. It’s nearly identical to the Himalayan throughout, but made more sporty for road and dirt use.

To start, a 19″ front wheel replaces the Himalayan’s 21″ hoop for better road manners. The ADV front rack was ditched in favor of a smaller gauge pack and nacelle, and the new one-piece seat has traditional scrambler appeal.

Royal Enfield Scram 411
The Scram’s mechanicals are fairly utilitarian. Its air-cooled 411 cc SOHC engine produces 24 hp at the crank, and the transmission is a basic five-speed. Considering its low seat height of 31 inches and manageable 408-pound curb weight, the Scram 411 is well suited for entry-level riders.

The Scram won’t wow you with bells and whistles, or big-name components, but it’s the perfect machine for getting out there on a tight budget. Its MSRP is just $5,099, which makes it more affordable than almost any other bike in the category, and capable of pulling in entry-level dual-sport and street-bike riders as well. [Royal Enfield]

Honda CL500
Honda CL500
Honda didn’t invent the scrambler, but it’s tough to think of a company that’s built more over the years. The latest chapter in Honda’s scrambler history is based on the familiar Rebel 500 platform, and wears the iconic CL name.

The modern Honda Rebel is immediately recognizable for its ultra-low seat height and tall tank, placing it firmly in bobber territory. It took a completely redesigned rear subframe to raise the seat and reposition the twin rear shocks, and the CL500 tops it off with slim, full-length seat. The pegs are moved rearward, and the tank shape has been altered as well.

Honda CL500
To boost ground clearance, Honda ditched the Rebel’s 16″wheels for a 19″ front and 17″ rear. No Scrambler is complete without a high-mounted pipe, and the CL500’s 2-into-1 exhaust adds huge visual impact—even if it does eat up some ground clearance.

Since the Honda CL500 is only equipped with a radiator guard, it’s less off-roady than other offerings, but gains points in Honda’s venerable build quality. The 471 cc DOHC twin is as reliable as it gets, and makes 46 hp through a six-speed transmission. MSRP comes in at $7,450, and the bike is available in Europe, the U.K. and Asia. [Honda]

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is a rugged bruiser from Husqvarna that pushes the KTM Duke platform to new heights. With chunky bodywork and a 373 cc single, the Svartpilen is an urban warrior that’ll take you beyond the city limits.

Derived from the road-going Husqvarna Vitpilen (and the KTM Duke), the Svartpilen 401 adds Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber and taller bars to this proven street platform. A unique color scheme and a rack on the fuel tank further separate it from the Vitpilen. Based on a steel trellis frame, the bike weighs just 335 pounds.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
The Svartpilen suffers a bit in the areas of ground clearance and protection for off-road use, but does feature proven WP Apex suspension front and rear, and the punchy 373 cc single, good for 43 hp. The standard six-speed is also fit with slip-assist clutch and an easy-shift sensor, permitting clutchless gear changes.

The Husqvarna name does come at a premium though, and the Svartpilen 401 starts right around $7,200. [Husqvarna]

Moto Morini Seiemmezzo SCR
Moto Morini Seiemmezzo SCR
Translated six and a half from Italian, the Seiemmezzo is a 649 cc bike platform from the recently revived Moto Morini brand. In addition to the street-oriented STR model, the company has also unveiled the Seiemmezzo SCR scrambler, boasting 61 hp and nearly 40 lb-ft of torque.

The Moto Morini Seiemmezzo SCR is based on a steel trellis frame, with adjustable front and rear suspension and an inverted fork. The DOHC, liquid-cooled 650 comes from CFMoto, and makes big power for its class. In scrambler fashion, the Seiemmezzo SCR differentiates itself with a tall tuck-and-roll seat, wire wheels, taller bars and high-mounted fenders.

Moto Morini Seiemmezzo SCR
Since the SCR is relatively new to the scene, you’ll likely be the only one around riding one, and the bike has great neo-retro appeal. With considerably more displacement, the SCR is a heavier bike at 440 pounds, though, and the MSRP comes in at a competitive $7,799.

With a recent entry into the U.S., Moto Morini bikes are available in the states and countries neighboring their Italian headquarters. An Asian dealer network is also said to be in the works. [Moto Morini]

Fantic Caballero 500 Rally
Fantic Caballero 500 Rally
Remember when we said you shouldn’t mistake scramblers for dirt bikes? Well, the Fantic Caballero 500 Rally might have to be an exception, and we’re here for it. The Caballero combines timeless scrambler looks with legit dirt bike running gear, stretching the scrambler market to new heights; if the dirt is your preferred playground, this one’s for you.

Unlike most other scramblers, the Fantic Caballero starts with a dedicated off-road platform, consisting of a chromoly steel tube chassis, inverted 43 mm forks and an aluminum rear swingarm. Suspension is adjustable on both ends, and provides 8 inches of travel, which is competitive even in the performance dual-sport scene. Peak power is rated at 40 hp, courtesy of a liquid-cooled 449 cc four-valve engine sourced from Zongshen, and the transmission is a standard six-speed.

Fantic Caballero 500 Rally
To tweak the dirt platform for scrambler use, Fantic fits the Caballero with a vintage 3.2-gallon tank and a slim scrambler saddle, and you still get passenger pegs as well! High fenders are mounted front and rear, and the Caballero is fit with an engine skid plate, a radiator guard and headlight protection. The twin-tip exhaust is manufactured by Arrow in Italy, and while it may be a tad exposed up front, the wow factor definitely makes up for it.

Fantic’s Caballero 500 Rally is a retro-cool option that’s in a league of its own. But the price is on the higher end of the market at around $9,100, and the bike looks to be only available in parts of Europe. [Fantic]

Fantic Caballero 500 Rally

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