FIRST RIDE: EIGHT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW INDIAN SCOUT BOBBER.

Published: 05 October 2017

1 – IT COSTS £11,299

Indian has drawn inspiration from the past to create its stripped down, blacked-out look, but their new Scout Bobber exudes 21st century performance and refinement. It's available in dealers this Saturday 14th October.

2 - IT’S BASED ON THE CURRENT SCOUT 

Based on the American firm’s hugely popular liquid-cooled, 1133cc, 94bhp V-twin Scout cruiser, the motor remains unchanged but there’s a tasty array of chassis and styling mods to make the Indian feel and look like the old-school, pared-to-the bone custom Bobbers of the 1940s and 50s. 

3 – IT’S CHOPPED, DROPPED AND READY TO ROCK 

Hunkered down to the tarmac, Indian have reduced rear suspension travel by 26mm and for a more aggressive riding position they’ve moved the footpegs 38mm closer to the rider and fitted street tracker-style bars to place your beard more over the front end. There’s a new Indian tank badge and the frame, exhaust, headlight surround, handlebars, mirrors and even the face of the analogue/digital mix clock are all finished in a sultry satin black. 

Mudguards (or ‘fenders’ as the American’s would have you call them) are chopped down and the rear is slimmer, showing off its chunky, balloon-shaped knobby 150/80 x 16 rear tyre (130/90 x 16 rubber lives up front). 

4 – IT’S EASY TO RIDE 

You only have to look at the pictures to see the Scout Bobber isn’t exactly tall, so it’s easy to get your feet down when you’re stopped, which will be music to the ears of newer riders and those short in the turn-up. It might weigh a touring bike-like 255kg, full of fuel, but it carries its weight well, even when you’re creeping along in slow traffic. There’s plenty of legroom for a six-foot rider like me and the new brown stitched leather seat is comfy enough for a Sunday morning coffee run. 

But while the new bar position makes sense when you’re riding hard, it forces you into a hunched, round-shouldered, back-aching stoop when you’re not, which takes its toll after a few hours. Spine relief comes at higher speed when windblast on your chest props you up and takes the pressure off your back. 

5 – INDIAN KNOW HOW TO BUILD A REFINED ENGINE 

Clutch, gearbox and throttle are light, accurate and a joy to use, but the Indian’s classy V-twin motor is its pièce de résistance. Blessed with bountiful torque and a syrupy-smooth spread of power it emits few vibes and has the kind of buttery pick-up from a closed throttle that most Euro 4 machines would die for. It’s a sign of the times that the exhausts wouldn’t wake a light sleeper (even the slash-cut accessory Remus version), let alone the dead, but the motor has enough of a rumble to give the Scout Bobber oodles of Yankee charm. 

It’s fast too and keeps pulling long after you think the engine is going to run out of puff. Set the LCD digital display to show revs and you’ll discover that on the way to hitting the engine’s peak power at 8000rpm, the airbox induction raw deepens and it briefly morphs into a ground-hugging missile. 

6 – IT GOES AROUND CORNERS 

Fortunately it has the minerals to deal with the corners when they come rushing up. The Scout Bobber stops, handles and grips with barely-believable poise and light-turning precision. Modest ground clearance is the only barrier to how hard you can push the Indian’s taught, well-balanced chassis. Hammering up and down the mountains near Cannes, here at the Indian’s European launch, I’m dreaming about how much fun it would be with rearsets, a higher exhaust and jacked-up suspension… 

A single-disc, twin-piston front brake set-up has a surprising amount of power for a bike like this and the knobbly fashion rubber doesn’t lack grip or blunt the steering, even with a front tyre wider than the rear of my old RD350LC. 

Ride quality is on the firm side of plush, so you feel the bumps on anything but pancake-flat roads and with just 50mm of rear suspension travel the Scout Bobber crashes over big bumps, giving your back another kicking. But for gentle cruising and pottering around town the Indian floats along. 

7 – PERFORMANCE AND QUALITY...AT A PRICE 

Indian’s main bobber rivals come in the shape of machines like Triumph’s superb new £10,660 Bonneville Bobber, the £9995 Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, the £9002 Moto Guzzi and the £8399 Yamaha XV950. It’s more expensive than the lot of them, but it wins the Top Trumps power race and there’s no sign of corner cutting when it comes to the Indian’s build quality and paint finish.

As you would imagine there’s a huge array of Scout accessories to choose from, plus Bobber-specific items like a 16” Ape Handlebar Kit, wire wheels, a 1920s-style solo seat, tank pouch, pillion seat, saddle bags, rack and rack bag. Dangling bar-end mirrors, fitted to our test bike, are also available. They look the part but are next to useless. Stick to the standard mirrors if you want to see where you’ve just been. 

8 – IT’S MADE BY THE POLARIS GROUP 

Indian Motorcycles are owned by the Polaris Group. They turned over five billion dollars in 2016 and brands include the Slingshot (a three-wheeler sports car), Polaris snowmobiles and four-wheel off-roaders, GEM electric cars and clothing brands including Klim. 

SO SHOULD I BUY ONE? 

If this the bobber style floats your boat, yes. Indian has cleverly mixed old-school design and modern-day performance, with refinement and a healthy splash of the American dream. Short-travel suspension is crashy over bumps, ground clearance limited and the riding position might not be great for everyone’s back, but the new Scout Bobber has a jewel-like motor, feel-good handling and impeccable build quality.

Pictures by Felix Romero 

FACTS

Engine 1133cc 8v V-twin

Frame Cast aluminium spine

Seat height 649mm

Suspension 41mm telescopic forks and twin shocks, non-adjustable.

Front brake 298mm front disc with twin-piston caliper. 298mm rear disc with single-piston caliper

Colours Black. Red, bronze, silver (£350 extra)

Available Now 

Power 94bhp@8000rpm

Torque 72ftlb@5600rpm

Kerb weight 255kg

Tank capacity 12.5-litres