Retro is as retro does, and the Ducati Scrambler series is as unashamedly retro as you can get in this day of emissions controls and Euro 4. Designed from the get-go as an easily modified and customisable motorcycle, the Scrambler lends itself to various guises, all in the hipster, pseudo-vintage style.

Bearing this in mind, the morphing of the Scrambler in a proper cafe racer was a fore-gone conclusion. Thousands of motorcycle modders all over the world would have looked at the bare-bones Scrambler and thought, “hey! I could turn that into a proper cafe racer with clip-ons!”

Well, the thing of it is, the boys from Bologna beat almost everyone to the punch by coming out with a pukka factory-built cafe racer, which is named, imaginatively enough, Cafe Racer and is priced at RM68,999. In this case, the Scrambler Cafe Racer takes the under-pinnings of the Scrambler and turns it into something, which we were to find out, was a mix of style and substance.

That the Cafe Racer is very retro cannot be denied, with its 803 cc, air-cooled V-twin, and only two-valves per cylinder. Styling comes right out of the “vintage” racer look favoured by the hipster crowd, with single-seat – the rear cowl is removable for passenger duties – and the faux racing number plate.

So, is the Scrambler Cafe Racer merely a warmed over Ducati Scrambler with a fancy paint-job and accessories? Or, is there more that just a lot of show and no go?

Being something of an anachronism in this day and age, nonetheless, the Scrambler Cafe Racer is designed to appeal to a specific type of rider, especially for those who want the cachet of the Ducati brand name, but wanting something from a previous age of motorcycling. In this, the Cafe Racer does fit the bill.

From the styling perspective, the Cafe Racer ticks all the right boxes, with that Desmodromic V-twin at the heart of it all. Ducati says that air-cooled mill is Euro 4 compliant and while we have no reason to doubt them, the price of emissions control is a certain lack of power.

From its 803 cc heart, the Cafe Racer delivers 73 hp at 8,250 rpm and 67 Nm of torque at 5,750 rpm. It should be noted the Yamaha MT-07, priced at RM36,795, produces 74 hp at 9,000 rpm and 68 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm from its 689 cc, two-cylinder power plant.

But, that would be comparing chalk and cheese. The Cafe Racer is a Ducati, for one thing, and does carry a racing heritage with it.

It also looks good, with the author’s young shavers quite liking the Cafe Racer, purely in the visual stakes. While looks alone might help sell a motorcycle, what is it like to ride?

Swinging a leg over, the Cafe Racer’s 810 mm tall seat will suit most riders above 168 cm, but it is taller than the 790 mm seat on the Scrambler Icon we reviewed a couple of years ago. Settling into the saddle, with its hand-stitched brown cover, was comfortable, and set the rider in a head-forward position.

Hands fall easily onto the clip-on handlebars, but we did note the reach from saddle to bar was a little short for us. If you are long in the torso, you’ll want to bend the elbows a little and hunch over a bit more.

Which is the correct riding position for this bike – it is called the Cafe Racer for a reason. Once the appropriate position is assumed, the Cafe Racer becomes what it is, a retro sports bike with racing sensibilities, albeit for the “gentleman racer.”

Setting off, the gearbox finds first with a sharp “clunk” and the clutch pull is a medium effort affair. As we accelerated through the six-speed box, gear lever effort at the foot needed to be firm and decisive.

Hesitating on the upshift, or making a half-hearted effort, will result in a missed shift. Downshifting, on the other hand, was a very entertaining affair, the twin standard-fitment Termignoni mufflers rasping and grumbling as the Cafe Racer was slowed and then thrown into a corner.

Weighing as it does at 188 kg, riders of any stripe will find the Cafe Racer easy to handle, and it delivers all 73 ponies in a non-threatening way. Riding this retro racer quickly became a matter of leaving it in fourth gear and just winding the throttle on and off, allowing the rider to make the most of the V-twin’s torquey power delivery.

Handling on the Cafe Racer was somewhat harsh, with the non-adjustable front fork needing to be dialled back a little in the compression department. At the back, the pre-load adjustable monoshock was about spot-on for the author’s weight of 82 kg, but heavier riders will want to wind on the spring a little.

Overall, we found the the Cafe Racer’s handling to be more on the casual sports riding side of things, the bike not liking it much when pushed (very) hard into corners, despite the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rubber. If you want to keep up with the current crop of sports bikes, major work will need to be done to the suspension.

But that is not the reason why you buy a Cafe Racer. If you wanted an all-out sports machine, Ducati’s Panigale series will have you well served. No, the Cafe Racer is for you to ride around like a gentleman, savouring the ride.

However, the Cafe Racer will still show a good turn of speed, when the mood takes the rider. Cruising down the highway, tucked in on the “Black Coffee” paint on the 13-litre fuel tank, the Cafe Racer would swallow the highway miles.

When the little orange fuel warning light comes on at about 180 km, it is time for a rest and to stretch the legs. Sitting less upright as you are on Cafe Racer, compared to the other Scramblers in the range, this is about right.

Braking for the Cafe Racer is done by Brembo, with a M4-32 radial-mount caliper in front activated by a radial lever. Riding around at highway speeds, we found braking to be adequate, but tackling the downhill curves of Ulu Yam at somewhat insane canyon strafing speeds made us wish for another disc.

Inside the cockpit, there is a single round LCD digital gauge mounted asymmetrically, conveying all the necessary information. ABS is, of course, standard, while there is no traction control or ride modes, with a USB socket under the seat completing the rider conveniences.

So, who needs a 2017 Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer at RM68,999? If you’re in the market for a retro racer, there isn’t much else in this class, save the Triumph Bonneville T100 Black ABS at RM61,900, while the racier 1,200 cc Thruxton R with Ohlins suspension and top-end Brembos retails for RM83,900.

An alternative is the Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer, at RM66,900, which gives about the same level of performance as the Scrambler Cafe Racer, albeit with shaft drive. Another choice would be the BMW R nineT Racer at RM88,900, but both the R nineT and Thruxton are properly placed in a class above the Scrambler Cafe Racer.

If you want a retro-bike to tool around on, but want sporty looks with handling to match, the Scrambler Cafe Racer would be worth looking at. If not, Ducati does have several other options in its Scrambler range to choose, especially the quite capable Scrambler Desert Sled.