INDIAN SCOUT BOBBER (2017 - on) Review
- Smooth, torquey V-twin engine
- Excellent build quality
- Good handling
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£240|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Indian Scout Bobber has cleverly mixed old-school styling 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.
In March 2018 Indian announced a Jack Daniel's edition Bobber Scout, which didn't run on whiskey but instead featured the same black and gold colour scheme as the fire engines on the site of the firm's distillery (below).
Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
2020 marks a full century since Indian built their first Scout. Now owned by Polaris, the current firm might have little to do with the original factory other than the name but they’re still throwing a 100th birthday party. Hence the new Indian Scout Bobber Twenty.
It’s not a replica of that first Scout from 1920. That wasn’t a ‘bobber’ and didn’t have an armpit-cooling handlebar position, which is why Indian have also introduced a new Scout 100th Anniversary Edition that apes the colours and look of the original. Instead, the Twenty is the regular Scout Bobber with details influenced by the 1920 bike.
This means the deep, low-slung seat is replaced with a ‘bobber’ leather pan, replicating the sprung perch on the first Scout and seemingly floating off the frame. Cast wheels are replaced with period spokes, and the riding position is altered with a ‘mini-ape’ handlebar.
The Twenty also gets a bespoke ‘headdress’ tank graphic, over a choice of three colours: Thunder Black, Burnished Metallic (bronzey-red) and Smoke Sagebrush (which sounds like a Southern Rock trio). The changes add £800 to the price of a common or garden Scout Bobber, taking it to £12,699.
Other than the spoke wheels and a small wet weight increase of four kilos (insignificant on a bike weighing over a quarter of a ton), the Twenty is pretty much the same as the regular Scout Bobber. And that’s no bad thing, as Indian’s motorcycles are exemplary.
Scouts are a spot-on mix of traditional US cruiser and modernity. You get a large-capacity V-twin, time-honoured styling and a stance that could only have come from America.
However, that 1133cc engine is liquid-cooled, oversquare, and as happy delivering free-revving performance as rumbling around in a tall gear. The chassis uses a cast aluminium frame and cartridge forks, and the finish is top-drawer.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
Yes, there are the usual reservations about cruiser ground clearance, but the Indian is far more accurate and easier to manage than you’d expect of a 265kg device with 29˚ of rake, 120mm of trail and wheels in different postcodes. Steering accuracy and chassis composure are spot-on for this style of bike. No worries about the blocky Pirelli MT60RS tyres either: footpegs rub the road before you’ll ever run out of grip.
The only blemish is the ride quality. This isn’t a cheap bike, so why must I tolerate basic-feeling suspension? It’s a complaint you can make of all cruisers and bobbers and the like, not just Indians, though the Scout’s short-travel rear shocks underline the issue. I get that owners want direct sensations and a connection to the road from this type of bike, and I understand that Indian’s level of finish doesn’t come cheap. But surely a 13-grand bike should have plush suspension and a sumptuous ride? It’s a cruiser, not a rattler…
EngineNext up: Reliability
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 Euro4 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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Our sole Indian Scout Bobber owners' review shows a positive report, with the only issue being the rider reporting the seat is too small.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
I’m a big fan of Indian Scouts. Well-made, with impressive handling and performance, they’re proof that you can have cruiser/bobber/whatever style with a machine that still functions as a modern motorcycle.
The only real problem is the Bobber Twenty has the Harley Street Bob and Triumph Bonneville Bobber as rivals. The Harley feels more authentic and will never lose money, though is a tad less refined and comes with the whole H-D ‘thing’ but the Triumph is almost as classy, has a greater feeling of grunt and costs two grand less.
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.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, V-twin|
|Frame type||Cast ali spine|
|Fuel capacity||12.5 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm forks non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Twins rear shocks non-adjustable|
|Front brake||298mm single disc with twin-piston caliper. ABS|
|Rear brake||298mm single disc with single-piston caliper.|
|Front tyre size||130/90 x 16|
|Rear tyre size||150/80 x 16|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£240|
|Used price||£10,500 - £11,000|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||94 bhp|
|Max torque||74 ft-lb|
|Top speed||120 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
2017: Indian Scout Bobber launched. Based on Scout cruiser with lowered suspension, blacked-out features and styling tweaks.
Launched in 2014 the 94bhp, 1133cc Scout is Indian’s most popular model in the UK.
Entry-level Scout has less chrome, a five-speed gearbox and comes in four colours.
Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
Factory custom version launched to celebrate 100 years of Indian Motorcycle.
Owners' reviews for the INDIAN SCOUT BOBBER (2017 - on)
2 owners have reviewed their INDIAN SCOUT BOBBER (2017 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£240|
Annual servicing cost: £280
Really cool looking bike and turns lots of heads. Only real down side for me is the ride is very hard.
Ride is hard, I've changed the seat on mine as it was not very supportive. Brakes are addequate for the bike, I came over from a sports bike so it would be really unfair to compare them.
Engine has plenty of torque, never stuck for power.
Well put together and feels like a quality product.
I get about 50 mpg out of mine, but I'm never in any rush to get anywhere. I bought it new, first service which was really just an oil and filter change at the Indian dealer was £280.
Beind a bobber equipment level is low, it does come with a USB charging point though. There are loads of accessories from Indian to personalise the bike but they are quite expensive.
Buying experience: I bought mine new from an Indian dealer, it was advertised for just under £12k. I got it for £11.6k with after market exhausts so very happy.
Version: Thunder Black
Annual servicing cost: £199
Great bike really pulls well, looks great, goes round corners what more could you want
The seat needs to be changed its to small
All Good so far
That's for the first service
I have put a rack and Highway Bars on mine and going to put the 1920 seat on mine
Buying experience: Well had a few problems ordered mine is April it arrived late August but the dealer has been fine