Since its rebirth in 2013, Indian has consistently delivered rock-solid motorcycles that can proudly stand toe-to-toe with anything produced by that other American motorcycle company. And with the debut of the 2018 Scout Bobber, the iconic brand continues to quiet its critics with a quality bike that more than lives up to its historic marque.
In 2015 Indian Motorcycle introduced the Scout, proving it could turn out more than just massive show-off baggers and mile-eating touring bikes. The mid-sized cruiser’s performance was off the charts, boasting excellent handling, a killer suspension, and a liquid-cooled 1131cc v-twin that cranked out torque at a point on the tachometer where other v-twins would have long wheezed out. Now four years into its reincarnation, Indian has begun to broaden its product line even further.
The new Bobber tweaks the Scout platform with a darker, stealthier profile — black exhaust covers, larger tires, clipped fenders, a dark headlight cowl, and drop-down bar-end mirrors give the bike a menacing stature. Lower and meaner-looking than its predecessor, the Bobber is designed to be nothing less than a bar-hopping badass. And for the most part, it works.
Powered by the same 69-cubic-inch engine as the Scout, the Bobber offers just as much grunt down low (73 ft-lbs of torque) and top-end speed (100 horsepower), and no matter if I was cruising the boulevard or passing SUVs on the highway, the Bobber always seemed to have something left in the throttle. Dialing it up toward the triple-digit mark was effortless, as was putt-putting around town. The six-speed transmission changes gears with clunk-free shifting, just like the original. The rear shocks are shorter than those on the stock Scout too, clipped down to two inches of travel to help the bike stay low to the ground; surprisingly, the ride is still smooth — on a full day of riding only one out-of-nowhere road mogul hit me in the gut like a kidney punch. A new two-tone leather saddle and block letter logo on the tank complement the bike’s stocky stature. Simple twin LED taillights with integrated brake and turn signals keep unnecessary componentry to a minimum, and the headlight nacelle and side-mount license plate add custom-bike flair.
So the differences in the Bobber from its predecessor are purely cosmetic, and for better or worse those styling changes are both the bike’s blessing and its curse. While they certainly define the bike’s demeanor, they also limit the rider’s comfort. My butt had no problems with the new seat after a full day in the saddle, but even with foot controls about an inch and a half closer to the rider than those on the original Scout (mercifully), they’re still too far forward for comfort — and still scrape the pavement readily during slow-speed turns. Plus, the bike’s menacing stature and gutsy powerplant beg for a more aggressive foot placement; at 5’11” I’m not a particularly tall guy, but the Bobber still had my feet too far forward for comfort. If I bought a Bobber, I’d switch the pegs out for mid-controls before I rode it off the lot.
The lower, straighter handlebar also lends to a fist-forward riding stature, but the hanging bar-end mirrors are worthless; when I wasn’t lifting my elbows like a bird taking flight just to get a clear line of vision behind me, I was splaying my knees out sideways to avoid bumping the mirrors on turns. However, flipping them up to the top side is as easy as loosening a bolt.
But these are nitpicks. Like all the offerings from Indian since its rebirth, the Scout Bobber is a beautiful, well-made motorcycle that demands to be ridden and wants to be shown off. It comes in a variety of two-tone shades beyond gloss and flat black, including bronze, red, and silver. You'll find it at dealerships in the US and Canada beginning in September starting at $11,499.