2018 In­dian Scout Bobber ex­clu­sive


As you know we at Street Chop­per are not re­ally into the box- stock bike test and re­view game, but when In­dian ap­proached me for an ex­clu­sive first ride test for the mag­a­zine I thought to my­self, “What could it hurt?” Even though the bike was wa­ter- cooled and didn’t re­ally have any sort of clas­sic lines of the Scouts of old, I didn’t hate the pre­vi­ous model first re­leased in 2015. But I did have my fair share of is­sues with it.

See, I am not your typ­i­cal mag­a­zine ed­i­tor when it comes to deal­ing with test­ing and re­view­ing fac­tory-fresh mo­tor­cy­cles. When I first look at any stock bike I re­ally can’t help to pick it apart with my eyes and fight the urge to start pulling, hack­ing, and cut­ting most of the OEM parts off it un­til I get some­thing that can be cus­tom­ized to its full po­ten­tial. Once I throw a leg over the same box- stock ma­chine I im­me­di­ately start cri­tiquing the er­gonomics and curs­ing the en­gi­neers and de­sign­ers for do­ing what­ever they did to irk me. And that is usu­ally a lot of things. Then I kick the bike into first gear and re­ally let the games be­gin. And so begins my test of the 2018 In­dian Scout Bobber…

The Scout Bobber is pow­ered by a 69ci (1,133cc) liq­uid- cooled fuel-in­jected V-twin and de­liv­ers 100 hp and 72 pound-feet at 6,000 rpm. The Scout Bobber breathes in with a healthy 60mm throt­tle body and ex­its those spent gazes eas­ily thanks to a blacked- out and lou­vered dual ex­haust, which also has a built-in cross­over to even ev­ery­thing out. I can say that this mo­tor is very lively in its stock form, and af­ter three years of look­ing at it in the other Scout, its looks have re­ally grown on me.

The bike rolls on a set of blacked- out alu­minum “mag” 16 x 3.5 wheels wrapped in vin­tage-style knobby 130/90-16 73H front and 150/80-16 71H rear tires. For those of you want­ing a more clas­sic look, there is a spoked-wheel up­grade avail­able through In­dian’s parts and ac­ces­sories line avail­able through its ever- grow­ing deal­er­ship net­work.

Brak­ing is done by a sin­gle 298mm ro­tor with a two-pis­ton caliper up front and a sin­gle-pis­ton caliper with the same size ro­tor in the rear. There is also an ABS op­tion for $1,000 more.

Sus­pen­sion is han­dled by a 4.7-inch (120mm) travel car­tridge-type tele­scopic front fork and a set of dual 2-inch travel pro­gres­sively wound coil- over shocks out back. The low- slung shocks faired pretty well over the fa­mously rough Los An­ge­les free­ways. Even on the in­fa­mous pot­hole- rid­den 710 Long Beach free­way and ex­pan­sions of the Vincent Thomas Bridge the com­bi­na­tion of puffy tires and fac­tory-tuned sus­pen­sion did far bet­ter than I imag­ined.

Er­gonom­i­cally the bike sits com­fort­ably low for my 5-foot-10 height with a 25.6-inch seat height, and with its 29- de­gree rake and 4.7 inches of trail the bike han­dles ex­tremely well both in slow stop-and- go traf­fic as well as fast speeds on the open road. With its 29- de­gree lean an­gle it carves canyons very well, and with its 61.5-inch wheel­base the Scout Bobber whips in and out of traf­fic and han­dles dicey lane- split­ting like a wheeled rocket.

The Scout Bobber has a multi-piece mod­u­lar frame us­ing both alu­minum and steel. The bike weighs in at 550 pounds with its 3.3- gal­lon gas tank topped off. This is a very agree­able weight for a bike in this cat­e­gory, and I am sure the low weight also helped greatly in how spryly this ma­chine han­dled the var­i­ous tar­mac tests I put it though.

Some of the other sim­ple stand­outs of the bike were a set of han­dle­bars that didn’t at all feel like most of the hor­ri­ble bends and rises we see on fac­tory bikes and a small yet am­ple seat.

What didn’t I like about the bike, you ask? Although I do like the 7/ 8-inch con­trols, I am not a big fan of how they are styled. I think the levers are too long and the switches look too “met­ric.”

Those of us in many states out West have ex­pe­ri­enced get­ting pulled over for the li­cense plate be­ing on the left side of the bike. This plate place­ment is to­tally le­gal in all 50 states, but get­ting stopped still hap­pens due to many po­lice and high­way pa­trol of­fi­cers not know­ing the cor­rect DOT laws re­gard­ing do­ing so.

And then there’s the Scout’s foot- con­trol place­ment. When I rode the first Scout back in 2015, the for­ward con­trols just didn’t fit the bike or my style of rid­ing. I do un­der­stand that more folks re­late V-twin bikes of any size with stretched- out seat­ing and leg place­ment, but to have such a great-han­dling bike with for­wards just de­tracts from the full po­ten­tial of this bike. It’s a good thing the Scout Bobber has de­creased-length for­ward con­trols that work well and that there are a few af­ter­mar­ket mid- con­trol op­tions avail­able for folks want­ing them.

When I was told this bike was go­ing to be called the Bobber I im­me­di­ately felt my brow wrin­kle and could feel my blood pres­sure rise. These ac­tions hap­pened due to the fact that I feel that this very term “bobber” is prob­a­bly the most mis­un­der­stood and mis­used moniker in the his­tory of Amer­i­can- made mo­tor­cy­cles. It used to be a des­ig­na­tion for a type of bike that de­fined post-war cus­tom mo­tor­cy­cles and the folks who rode them. Now it is just a des­ig­na­tion to sell a bike to a cer­tain cross sec­tion of con­sumers. And for some rea­son I still take of­fense to that af­ter all these years.

With that said, is this vari­a­tion of the In­dian Scout a “bobber” in any sense? No. Is it a great bike that looks pretty damn cus­tom from the fac­tory and rides far bet­ter than any other V-twin at its price? I would have to say yes. And, re­ally, what’s in a name, any­way? SC

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