THE trio of 2017 Scorpa trials models follow the now classic capacity route with 125, 250 and 300SC models, the orange marque opting not to go with an in-between 270/280 option which obviously keeps things nice and simple.
In fact, nice and simple succinctly sums-up the Scorpas, all three of which are identical apart from the engine capacity, even the carburettor is the same 28mm Keihin fitted to all models – including the 125.
Yep, no efi, no mapping, no alternative positioning of any major components, just a straightforward, no-nonsense easy to ride trials bike.
At the heart of the Scorpas is the in-house Barcelona-built five speed, liquid cooled two-stroke motor – to all intents and purposes identical to its sister company Sherco – which for 2017 has been treated to quite a radical upgrade.
Well, radical for Scorpa as it now boasts a state of the art diaphragm clutch.
This isn’t just a straight drop-in replacement job, it is a bit more technical than that, as the much smaller clutch unit has meant a re-think of the gear primary drive ratio, which has had a knock-on effect down the drive train, resulting in a stock nine-tooth gearbox sprocket, down a tooth from the previous norm.
On the opposite end of the crank things are a lot simpler with the latest twin-spark Hidria ignition that offers a two-position switch for riders to play with.
The 250/300 versions are, as you would expect, identical externally – only the cylinder bore is different (see specs panel) and then the only outward difference to the 125 being the much smaller cylinder barrel as it sports the classic 54 x 54 bore and stroke, virtually universal for 125cc two-strokes whether trials, motocross or road racing, regardless of manufacturer.
Actually there is another major very visible difference and you would actually have to be clinically blind not to spot that monster rear sprocket on the 125, brought about by that change to internal primary gearing.
There’s nothing to scare the horses on the suspension-front with tried and tested 40mm Marzocchis up front and an R16V shock at the rear operating through a conventional four-bar linkage. This is all proven technology and all good.
The chassis is of perimeter style construction from good old chom-moly steel tube with an ally sump plate and complemented by a very neat aluminium swinging arm.
Fuel tank is plastic and sits proud of the frame rails allowing acres of room around the engine for easy spark plug and carb removal.
At the front of the frame the radiator features a very snazzy little hinge that allows the rad to be swung outwards at the top for quick coolant checks and top-ups.
This is a really neat touch.
Exhaust features thin gauge steel front pipe feeding into an aluminium silencer with the conventional airbox doing its thing alongside the muffler.
Wheels, brakes and hydraulics are the tried and tested stock – Morad and Braktec, as used by absolutely everyone else – which either spin or stop exactly as expected, just like everything else.
So there’s no worries on that particular score.
Being absolutely honest, as every regular rider knows, there is in reality very little to choose between the two-stroke trials models of all the manufacturers. Individual choice is down to exactly that, do you want efi or a carburettor, do you want an ally or tubular steel chassis do you want a blue, white, red, green or maybe an orange bike?
And if you do fancy a piece of orange, please read on...
We engaged the Lancastrian enigma that is ANDY CRIPPS to have a whizz on the Scorpas.
Crippsy is quite awesome on a trials bike – any trials bike – and has tried them all over the years.
He has that rare ability to jump on a bike and within five minutes suss out how it performs and how to get the best out of it.
Andy started out on the 125 and to his surprise was soon jumping up some pretty impressive steps.
At first he was trying to ride it like a bigger bike using torque which, amazingly, the little eighth-litre bike actually has an abundance of.
You can hear it trying to behave like a bigger engine as it works the reed valve but naturally it thrives on revs.
Scorpa importer Nigel Birkett said: “The 125 engines are set-up really tight on tolerances at the factory and take some running-in, which is good.
“You can set the tickover when you first start one from brand new and after an hour’s running have to back it off because it has freed off so much.
“And you’ll be doing exactly the same an hour later.
“This model has done a couple of tough dealer test days and is still loosening-up.”
The day of our test saw conditions at the Lancashire test venue at their worst and unbelievably slippery.
The rocks themselves were quite grippy but the mud in between and on the bankings was lethal and of course soon transferred to the rocks. Slippery enough for our tame photographer to go AoT down the hillside, ending up with a pronounced limp and an impressive fat lip, bleeding profusely!
Having had a good blast on the 125 Andrew then spent time doing back-to-back sessions with the 250 and 300 models getting to grips with their different states of tune.
The outcome was interesting as Scorpa appear to have flown in the face of current thinking, – or at least the thinking of their rivals.
There was a time when 250cc two-stroke models used to be set-up to be pretty quick and sharp on the throttle while 300cc versions were much more docile – until they got revving and then they often became monsters!
Then the thinking did an about turn and the way of the world at the moment is that 250s tend to be set-up nice and soft on the power, for the mythical ‘Clubman’ rider, with the 300s set free to explore the upper limits of performance.
Scorpa has thrown a spanner in the works as they appear to have made something of a return to the former system.
Crippsy said: “After riding both the 250 and 300 I found the 300 to be easiest to ride, in these conditions anyway, it is really slippery. I can just feel the 300 wanting to grip. Doesn’t really matter which gear, it is just very torquey and easy to ride.
“The 250 is much quicker off the bottom and in the slippery conditions just wants to spin. It would definitely be better in dry conditions and younger riders would be impressed as it is really quick and responsive so they can rev and hop and jump over big dry rocks.”
Nigel pointed out that there is the option of a heavier flywheel weight which naturally takes the edge off the power but on the day we weren’t able to try this.
Andy added: “The suspension is good, there’s nothing wrong with the Marzocchis up front and the chassis feels really good with the front wheel well planted and very stable.
“The bikes all feel good, with a natural stance and balance.”
Again Nigel pointed out that on the 2017 models the steering head angle has actually been thrown out a fraction with the aim of providing exactly that stability without impacting on the naturally quick steering or compromising maximum lock.
He also pointed out that the Marzocchis are also built to tight tolerances and the action softens up considerably after an hour or two of use.
Andy took time out for a look round the bike, “I’m impressed they have lifted the tank so that there is easy access to the spark plug.
If you drown your bike – easy to do in trials like the Scott or Scottish or when riding up any deep river – you really don’t have to dismantle half the bike to get at the plug so you can pump out or drain the water from the engine.
“Access to the carb looks good as well, there’s room to get your fingers in to get it clear of the clamps, again without stripping the bike out.”
Returning to the 125 after a spell on the bigger models he was again impressed as he tackled a long, winding, steep climbing stream gully.
“I’m doing this in second gear and it’s easy. Bottom’s too low for me here. I’m about twelve-and-a-half-stone so some of the kids will be about half my weight.”
Birks interjected: “And some of those kids are heavier than you Crippsy!”
He went on: “The overall gearing on the 125 is too low for a good rider although it’s fine for a beginner.
“You could run about four teeth less on the back sprocket, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
How about that new diaphragm clutch which is of course common to all models.
Andy said: “It feels really good, not the lightest on the fingers but offers great feel. There’s no slip or drag and it comes in nicely with no sudden snatching.
Is diaphragm clutch the answer?
“Definitely,” says Birks. “It has just taken them quite a while to work out the best material and thicknesses for the friction plates. And it is so much smaller – there’s room for your sandwiches inside the clutch casing now!”
CONCLUSION: At the end of the day the bottom line is that the three Scorpas line up alongside their rivals as equals.
It isn’t a case of one is better than the others, even just with the three Scorpas it is all down to personal choice.
The best advice we can give you is get a test ride. Try a 125, even if you aren’t an A and B Youth rider, the chances are you’ll be amazed. No class has had the benefit of such intense development as the eighth-litre class. 250 or 300? Only you know that, Andy Cripps says 300 all day long. He can make one talk.
On the other hand YOU might be far more comfortable on the 250...or 125.