When I first rode the Indian Scout almost four years ago, I was blown away with its performance and handling. The Scout felt like a small cruiser compared to the rest of the behemoths from the Indian Motorcycle line-up. And when the Indian Scout Bobber was launched, it took the Scout platform to a whole new level, with more than just a slightly different flavour. The Bobber shares the same basic platform of the Scout but it gets more appeal, more road presence and is a guaranteed head-turner. But does the new Indian Scout Bobber have what it takes to be the near-perfect cruiser? We spent some time riding it, and came back surprised.
It's got the look
One thing's for sure, if it's a beauty contest among the current crop of cruiser motorcycles, the Scout Bobber is certainly right up there with the very best. In fact, it was judged the best-looking two-wheeler at the 2018 NDTV CarandBike awards, and it's an honour it rightfully deserves. It's just a very beautiful motorcycle, and looks very, very attractive. The Scout Bobber looks more aggressive, more butch and more appealing than the Scout, thanks to the blacked out look. Gone is the shiny chrome, and in true Bobber style, it gets chopped fenders and fat new tyres, with deep treads to add additional muscle. Details like the new instrument panel, taillight and engine covers certainly make it look fresh and new.
The headlight nacelle design is new, and the bar-end mirrors on our test bike look cool, but offer little practical visibility. The font on the fuel tank is now new, and employs bold block letters. The Scout Bobber also has revised ergonomics - the footpegs are now closer to the rider, as is the tracker-style handlebar. And although the rear suspension (with dual shocks) has been dropped by about 25 mm (more on that later), the seat height has increased. The number plate is moved to the left, and gives the tail the authentic 'bobbed' look. And once you swing a leg over the single pan seat, the difference in ergonomics is evident.
It packs some serious punch!
And that is evident the moment you slot it into first and open the throttle. It pulls with urgency, the gearshifts are smooth and precise, and by the time you accelerate through the gears and reach sixth, the world around you slows down, as the V-twin lets out a muted rumble from the stock pipes. The Scout Bobber retains the same 1,133 cc, liquid-cooled, v-twin engine of the Indian Scout, and it puts out 94 bhp of power and 97 Nm of peak torque; not much you'd say, but the way the torque and power is let loose will have you grinning from ear to ear, every time you whack open the throttle. Not many cruisers have this kind of entertaining personality and that certainly is a big, big plus point.
Hundred kilometres per hour will arrive before you even realise it, and the engine begs to be given the beans, and you could go further and further into very dangerous (and illegal) territory, if you give in to the Bobber's temptation. The front suspension is all-new too, and now employs a cartridge-type telescopic fork with 120 mm of travel. It feels communicative and you could go hard and fast around a curve, chuckling under your lid. That is, until the footpegs begin an intimate affair with tarmac, which will instantly jolt you out of your 'back to teenage' reverie.
So, it rides well then?
Well, yes - as long as you're riding on nice, smooth tarmac. But the moment you hit a rut on the road, or a small bump, the Scout Bobber will break your heart, as fast and unexpected as the way that first teenage crush dumped you. On rough roads, the relationship with the Bobber soon hits a rocky patch, quite literally. And for all the gorgeous looks and 'you drive me crazy' performance, you'll soon enough begin to worry about the state of your back and derriere, than to consider putting in some long, passionate hours in the saddle.
What's the last word then?
The Indian Scout Bobber is a very, very good looking motorcycle - period! It's a head turner for sure and has enough performance to make your weekend rides very enjoyable indeed. It's more of an "around town" bike, and perfect for the Sunday morning breakfast ride, or the occasional coffee run to meet up with your biker buddies, rather than cover interstate distances. Yes, you could do the occasional long weekend ride if you're the adventurous kind, but the aggressive riding position and the stiff suspension may tire you out over a full day of riding. I'm not sure if I would like to indulge in such a long-term relationship with the Bobber, but it does feel special.
In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that if I were to consider a stylish cruiser in my garage, I would probably keep the Indian Scout Bobber on my mind. But after almost a day's ride in and around town, the Scout Bobber busted my teenage dream and reminded me of the forty plus years I've walked this earth (maybe it's just meant for the hipster cool crowd and not just meant for me). At ₹ 11.99 lakh (ex-showroom), it still makes sense as the second or third bike, if you're the kind who prefers different flavours for different occasions, and have the bank balance and commitment for several simultaneous dalliances with two wheels. But for a daily ride, or even your primary ride, I'd probably look elsewhere and just consider putting a poster of the Scout Bobber on my bedroom wall and admire it from afar.