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.
The Bobber Scout has the minerals to deal with the corners when they come rushing up. It 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.
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.
Based on the American firm’s hugely popular liquid-cooled, 1133cc, 94bhp V-twin Scout cruiser, the motor remains unchanged in the Bobber. 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, let alone the dead, but the motor has enough of a rumble to give the Scout Bobber oodles of Yankee charm.
Clutch, gearbox and throttle are light, accurate and a joy to use and the motor keeps pulling long after you think it’s 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.
With the might of a five-billion-a-year company behind it, the Polaris-made Indian is solidly built and well finished, as you’d expect.
Indian’s main bobber rivals come in the shape of machines like Triumph’s superb Bonneville Bobber, Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, Moto Guzzi and Yamaha XV950. It’s more expensive than all of them, but it wins the ‘Top Trumps’ power race and there’s no sign of corner-cutting when it comes to the quality of cycle parts and paint finish.
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 track-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).
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 look the part but are next to useless. Stick to the standard items if you want to see where you’ve just been.
The 2019 version will have new paint options and a USB port added to the dash.