Mark Kelley of Magna Form builds himself the perfect Scrambler…
In 2015, Ducati introduced the Scrambler 800, a modern reincarnation of the single-cylinder Ducati Scrambler series of the 1960s-70s. The new model sported a 75-hp air-cooled L-twin derived from the proven Monster 796 unit, roadster ergonomics, and retro/enduro styling. Though the bike was not designed for heavy off-roading in stock trim, the Scrambler became an immediate hit among the riding public:
“It’s easy to ride, small and light, has a lovely useable air-cooled V-twin with lots of low to mid-range power. There’s some lovely attention to detail on all the models.” —MCN
Our new friend Mark Kelley (@supersymmetry1), an industrial designer with a background in fabrication, has owned several Ducatis, but this 2016 Ducati Scrambler Icon is his first modern, electric start Duc. After picking it up a few years ago, he decided to make it his own, going for a 70s beach scrambler style:
“I built this solely for fun and for myself. I wanted to improve my TIG welding skills and overall sheet metal forming skills, so this became the vehicle for that learning.”
Mark, who does design work through Magna Form, shares a workshop in West Oakland with several other makers, builders, and fabricators, where they have sheet metal, machining, and woodworking tools/space at their disposal — heaven!
Mark built a completely new one-off tank out of cold rolled steel, which has 25% more fuel capacity than the original. In the process, he 3D-scanned the entire bike to get precise dimensions and ensure a perfect fit! The front cowling and side panels are hand-formed aluminum, and the side and top racks were CNC-cut at the workshop. Other parts were modeled in Solidworks and 3D-printed. Everything was designed to line up with the stock mounts, so Mark can return the bike to factory trim if desired.
“For me the joy has also been in the process, to take an idea from a rough sketch and see it finalized in a functional form is always pleasurable. It may not be everyone’s taste but it makes me happy that I built it.”
Though Mark doesn’t get to ride as often as he’d like these days, he says the finished bike is a blast both on the street and in the dirt — especially the secret dirt bike track under the freeway.
“When I do hop on it, it induces quick and sustaining smiles.”
Below, we get the full details on the build from Mark himself, as well as more shots from photographer Jonathan Bloom.
Ducati Scrambler: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Hello, I’m Mark and I’m an industrial designer by trade with a background in fabrication work. I spent most of my 20s doing fabrication work and traveling. This Ducati is the fourth bike I’ve owned, but first that is a modern no kickstart bike. I share a workshop with a bunch of guys in West Oakland, California. We have a shared sheet metal, machining, wood working, and more space.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
This bike is a 2016 Ducati Scrambler Icon that I picked up a few years back.
• Why was this bike built?
I built this solely for fun and for myself. I wanted to improve my TIG welding skills and overall sheet metal forming skills, so this became the vehicle for that learning. I sketched many different iterations and lots of cardboard mockups to get the overall design intent dialed in, then I moved over to Solidworks to get the specifics — this tool also provided me the flat patterns of all sheet metal parts, which I had laser cut. I built a wooden bike that I could form the sheet metal parts around to match my design.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
It was my hope to build something that didn’t look too out of place for a 1970s-style beach scrambler — the focus is on fun. I’m on the shorter side, so I made some adjustments to fit me better and increased the tank capacity by about 25% more. The design grew somewhat organically over a period of two years. Between the Covid pandemic and having a baby, the build took quite a bit longer than hoped for.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
I really enjoy this bike as is, but I made a few engine modifications such as the exhaust and corresponding adjustments for it to breathe right with an AFM unit.
The front fender is off an old Ducati Monster that I slimmed down and machined new struts for. The front cowling is a TIG-welded, hand-formed aluminum piece, mainly to clean up the front end.
The tank is made from cold rolled steel that I first mocked up in Solidworks and built a few cardboard mockups with. I 3D-scanned the bike to get accurate dimensions and overall fit.
The seat is the stock seat pan that I modified to hug the tank a bit closer so I could get my arms in a comfortable riding position. The side panels are hand-formed aluminum to clean up the side areas. The taillight was modeled in Solidworks, 3D-printed, then molded in plastic to fit.
All modified parts line up with the stock mounting positions and nothing on the actual frame was modified or adjusted in case I want to change this up later — simple plug and play design. I also added the side and top tank racks from aluminum, which I had CNC cut at my shop. These offer added points to attach bags or other parts.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
It’s an absolute blast to ride, fun to take off-road with the Continental TK80 tires and fun on road. There is a secret dirt bike track under the freeway that is great to rip around in. Sadly I don’t get to ride as much as I’d like due to being a father, but when I do hop on it, it induces quick and sustaining smiles. Since it’s adjusted specifically to my height and needs, it’s comfortable to ride for extended periods.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
For me the joy has also been in the process, to take an idea from a rough sketch and see it finalized in a functional form is always pleasurable. It may not be everyone’s taste but it makes me happy that I built it.
Paint: Andrew Putman