Minimalist Bike, Maximum Fun!
By Ray Seidel*
With the end of WWII, servicemen came home with an eye for some fun & thrills, and sought out pre-war cars and/or cheap war surplus motorcycles; two different approaches to the same goal. Strip ‘em down, remove the chrome, bob or outright remove the fenders, and have a hot little number to tool around in. Pre-war cars were affordable, and a state-of-the-art war surplus Indian could be had for $500.
Today you can buy a motorcycle ALREADY “bobbed” at the factory from Harley-Davidson, Triumph, and Indian, among others. The Bobber that was delivered to me came in matte black with the optional $800 Stage 1 free flow exhaust, which DEFINITELY adds to its personality. Noticeably louder and deeper in tone than the standard pipe, yet not so much as to have the Homeowners Association send you a nastygram.
Having been sold on buying an Indian Scout for myself after reviewing a pre-production model back in January 2015 (this Bobber is also a pre-production model), I was eager to experience how this one differs. Being 6’ 2” and 230 lbs of fighting flab, I was not so sure how I would take to the more laid-out riding position the Bobber gives you compared to the spot-on perfect ergonomics of the standard Scout. (This really sold me on buying one). To my pleasant surprise, it actually added to the experience – for day tripping. Same goes for the great looking saddle, and firmer suspension. The seat has a great look to it, and as with the standard Scout, you can get that style in a different size for taller or shorter people. I bought a longer seat for my personal Scout, but this one fit me just fine for a day ride. Same for shorter or longer foot pegs and handlebars for different sized riders. It is however a FIRM seat, so again, fine for a day ride.
About the only criticisms I’ve seen for the first year Scout was some felt the rear suspension was too soft. For me personally for the kind of riding I do (longer rides, less of the hair pins) the relaxed cushy ride is perfect, though can be adjusted by the user. The Bobber is a totally different creature; this feels almost like a hard-tail, so you will for sure be one with the road. Again, the Bobber has a completely different personality from the standard Scout, even though based on the same machine. This is a hot rod on two wheels; it feels fast even at modest speeds and you feel both the wind and the road. Great for going to your favorite biker hangout for the day, which I did, riding in California from Temecula to the popular Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon. The route has everything in it, fast, slow, straight line and tight curves, all good with this Bobber. The cruiser aspects have been dialed back for maximum fun for frequent stops for your day ride.
If spending a few days on a trip, a traditional cruiser Scout would be more to one’s liking, though saddlebags and a windshield are available if you want to fight off the wind and carry some gear. Also a rear seat and sissy bar, but now you’re defeating the whole idea behind a bobber. For serious long trips and a luxury ride, see last month’s review of the 2018 Indian Chieftain Limited.
New is some added information on the dash – it will tell you what gear you’re in while IN gear. Pull the clutch lever in (disengage the clutch) and it does not, showing a couple of bars. A bit curious, as I like to know what gear I’m in at a stop light if I forget where I was when I downshifted to a stop. Also you can toggle to see how much juice the electrics are giving. I’ve been told by factory reps at Sturgis last year that the turning radius has been tightened, and while I did not measure it, I got the feel it was indeed better than early Scouts. Dash at night is minimalist B&W, while the regular Scout lights up to bomber pilot red.
Also different are the knobby tires. I noticed when coasting with the clutch lever in, throttle off, the bike will slow down noticeably quicker than the standard Scout. I suspect this would be because the tires have more rolling resistance than the Pirelli’s on the regular Scout. Not an issue, just different.
Also different are the outboard mirrors. Mine was delivered with the stems going up; sometimes they’re delivered Euro-style going down. Reversible, just swap sides. IF you want them aimed downwards, tighten loosely before final adjustment so the mirrors don’t whack the gas tank, and then once you see they clear with a gap, tighten the rest of the way.
You’ll have noticed the trend in motorcycle sales has gone in two opposite directions: the large baggers with all the instruments of a space shuttle, and the fast and furious smaller bikes. This is about the most fun money can buy, and it’s a real attention grabber. In all the bikes I’ve road tested, none have gotten the attention this one has.
- $11,499 (Thunder Black); $11,999 (Star Silver Smoke, Bronze Smoke, Indian Red); $12,499 (Thunder Black Smoke w/ABS)
- 1,133cc (69ci) liquid-cooled V-twin
- TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE
- CLAIMED HORSEPOWER
- 100 hp @ 8100 rpm
- CLAIMED TORQUE
- 72 lb.-ft. @ 6000 rpm
- Cast aluminum semi-double-cradle with tubular-steel backbones
- FRONT SUSPENSION
- 41mm fork; 4.7-in. travel
- REAR SUSPENSION
- Dual shocks, adjustable for spring preload; 2-in. travel
- FRONT BRAKE
- Two-piston caliper,
- 298mm disc
- REAR BRAKE
- Single-piston caliper, 298mm disc
- 29°/4.7 in.
- 61.5 in.
- SEAT HEIGHT
- 25.6 in.
- FUEL CAPACITY
- 3.3 gal.
- CLAIMED WEIGHT
- 533 lb. dry