SWM gets in on Scrambler game
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Silver Vase the espresso to cafe counterpart's latte
When SWM arrived in New Zealand at the beginning of the year I was lucky enough to be one of the first to sample the RS650R, the marque's road-legal trailie, for a test in Driven. As an off-road novice I was impressed with the grunty Husqvarna-derived machine, so when I heard there were a pair of 440 LAMS bikes on the way I was excited.
The two new bikes come in at $8995 for the Silver Vase scrambler and $9995 for the Gran Milano cafe racer. Both share the same frame, 445cc single cylinder engine, and clocks, but that is where their similarities end.
Swinging a leg over the Silver Vase Scrambler after a quick ride on the Gran Milano, my first thought was "this is much more comfortable".
Unlike the solo seat and rear cowling of the Gran Milano, the Silver Vase has a much larger seat and even pillion accommodation. When combined with the upright 'bars and slightly higher seat, the Silver Vase feels like a much larger bike than its latte-sipping sibling.
The Scrambler is powered by the same 445cc single and five speed gearbox combination as the cafe racer. Like its contemporaries, the Scrambler exhales through a high set pair of pipes which are well-heat shielded, which adds to the comfort.
Like all good scramblers, the pegs are set slightly forward and come with removable rubber inserts, which when removed, expose the bear-claw foot pegs.
During our shoot I had the chance to ride both SWMs on the gravel, that -- with all the roadworks we have on our roads -- you're likely to run into at some point.
It may be a little bike from a relatively unknown brand here in New Zealand, but the SWM Scrambler would appear to have the chops to handle our rougher roads.
SWM had its beginnings in the 1970s, and the Silver Vase seems to evoke that decade well, despite the sneaky addition of fuel injection to the engine.
Though chrome isn't my thing, I have to admit the old-school look of the Scrambler is cool and makes up for the lack of bling forks and brakes, although if I was scrambling it often I would worry about how long the chrome would last without the care it needs.
One area where the Scrambler seems to be lacking is in the braking department.
Out and about on gravel roads the stoppers do just the trick, but on the highway it is a different story.
Pulling up to a stop sign in a 100km/h area, you have to apply both brakes to scrub off enough speed to stop safely.
They're definitely not huge brakes, and are an upgrade on the disc and drum offered in other markets, but out on the highways you have to remember the lack of stopping oomph and allow yourself enough space.
This probably won't be an issue for owners, but after swapping from the Gran Milano with its big Brembo calliper and wavy disc setup up front, I couldn't help but notice the difference between the brakes on the two similarly priced bikes.
When it comes to picking between the two bikes, it's like how you take your coffee -- the latte or the espresso? I'll have the espresso thanks.
SWM Silver Vase 440
Pro's: Easy to ride
Scramblers are currently the height of bike fashion
Con's: SWM is still building a following
Braking is average