On a hot and sweaty July night in downtown Minneapolis, America’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer pulled the wraps off a low slung, blacked out affair.
They told us it was mean, badass and stripped down. They told us it was refined from hundreds of drawings. And that it would expand the appeal of the Indian brand a step or two away from traditional buyers, and lure a younger demographic. They also told us the bike would be called the Scout Bobber.
I feel for the group of minds that signed off the Bobber name. No matter how clear the design, or how capable the bike, they must have known that tagging it a ‘Bobber’ was going to generate a backlash. After all, a bobber is by definition a custom bike.
Or maybe not. Sales of Triumph’s solo-seated iteration certainly aren’t suffering—and Hinckley flat out scripted ‘bobber’ on it. And as for ‘scrambler’…well, that’s a best-selling lifestyle brand now.
This newest Scout has a decidedly muscular stance to it. The lack of chrome is a welcome change in my eyes and, thanks to a shorter pair of shocks in the rear, the Bobber seriously hugs the ground.
The Scout chassis is seriously well sorted, so the Bobber is underpinned by a solid riding platform.
Up front, a nacelle surrounds the round headlight, and there are bar-end mirrors mounted to the flat-track style handlebars. It wears the requisite chopped fenders (which undoubtedly convinced the committee of its new moniker) and is delivered with a two-tone leather solo seat.
Aside from the suspension changes, the differences between the Bobber and the regular Scout are purely cosmetic.
This isn’t a bad thing: the Scout chassis is seriously well sorted, so the Bobber is underpinned by a solid riding platform. It doesn’t jiggle like Jell-O when pushed and provides more rider feedback than most cruisers on market. And the engine packs the sort of punch that will have you pushing, all the damn time.
Once in the saddle, the bend in my knee tells me that the controls aren’t as far forward as those on the Scout I took south of the border. In fact, they sit 1.5-inches closer to mid-placement, which is a good thing—because the stretch to the wider, flatter bars is increased a touch.
On silky smooth pavement, you can grip it and rip it and the Bobber rewards.
It creates an aggressive rider triangle that is best suited to bar-hopping and short blasts around town. Which is exactly where you’ll be riding it most of the time.
Any plans for touring on the Bobber will be quickly stymied by those ergos, and the shape of the stock seat. It locks you into position and doesn’t yield any real room for adjustment. There were points in the ride where you could see almost everyone in the group plant their ankles onto the pegs to relieve some cramping, but even that didn’t save my arse and spine.
On silky smooth pavement, you can grip it and rip it and the Bobber rewards. The lowered stance and firmer ride is communicative and steady. The engine pulls like a freight train through what I can only guess was the entire rev range. A tach can be toggled for on the speedo’s digital display but I wasn’t bothered to look down. Once outside Minneapolis’ grid pattern my eyes were locked on linking lines though the land o’ lakes rural outskirts.
Pushing it through some sweepers, the 29 degrees of lean angle continuously announced itself, via scraping metal and a show of sparks. If you’re wondering, that translates to 60 mph for on-ramps, 30 mph runs through roundabouts, and a grin about 4-inches wide.
It was the grin that remained when I turned back to look at the beast. My knees were sore, my back was aching and my ass kept me standing for the rest of the night.
But it didn’t really matter.
For all the full report, more details, hi-res photos and technical information, read the original article on Bike-Exif; Excerpts republished here by permission.
Rider shots by Barry Hathaway.