The past 12-18 months have been great for Indian Motorcycles globally. First, they emerged as the most successful bikemaker on their home turf, the USA. They also captured a maiden American Flat Track Grand National Championship title, following a successful comeback season. It’s easy for brands like Indian to play the heritage card and over-emphasise on those ‘Since 1901’ inscriptions, but the Springfield-based company is changing the game with some interesting new products, while proving their performance.
The company seems to have adopted the same approach even for its AsiaPacific markets. Their latest product in India (where they are targeting ‘almost 100 per cent growth’ this year) came in the form of the Scout Bobber, which was launched at the India Bike Week in Goa, a few months ago. Cutting down on the company’s traditional leather and tassels look, the Bobber is the first product to be aimed directly at younger men, and millenials who can afford a fancy pair of wheels. It’s a subtle departure from the original Bobbers of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, known for minimal design and styling. Despite the stripping away of extra frills and chrome, the added muscle and bold lines make for a definite head-turner.
The swept-back handlebar from the original Indian Scout has been replaced by a tracker-style one, while the shifting of the pegs closer to the rider further adds to the bike’s ergonomics. The wheels come wrapped in new treaded tires now, and the ground clearance has also been decreased from 135mm to 123mm, for a low-lying riding stance. The instrument cluster and exhaust have received a blacked-out treatment, to add to the chopped front and rear fenders, and leaner engine covers. And in case you missed it, the iconic badge now has a new font that has a very retro appeal.
What we like
Modern, youthful design
What we don’t
Soft suspension, low ground
Under the flesh, the bike remains a derivative of the Indian Scout. Thus, along with the chassis, it also shares the tried and tested 1,133cc, 60-degree V-twin engine that makes 100 bhp and 97 Nm of torque. With the sun out in all its glory above Mumbai, our time with the Bobber on the tarmac was limited to a couple of hundred kilometers. However, it was enough to at least feel confident about riding it. Not that we put the thing through burnouts and wheelies, but the Bobber felt like one of those bikes from this segment that you might just think of going the whole hog with (pardon the Harley reference). The shortening of the rear shock absorber has been a popular topic of conversation, and you do feel it in the lower back on both potholes and highway speed bumps. That said, it doesn’t affect the overall riding experience, which stays true to the bike’s peppy positioning on the whole.
Indian Scout Bobber
100bhp @ 8,000 rpm
97Nm @ 5,600 rpm
INR 11.99 lakh
This spring in Indian Motorcycles’ step going forward is a direct reflection of parent company Polaris Industries’ vision, post the shutdown of Victory Motorcycles. Polaris had decided against laying off and dedicated the freed up staff and resources toward making Indian a more expansive cruiser brand, and not simply a retro cruiser brand.
After announcing heavy price cuts across its entire model range, the manufacturer has set the price for the Indian Scout Bobber at Rs 11.99 lakh. It’s fairly distant from the Rs 13.81-lakh Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, and closer to something like the Triumph Bonneville Bobber, which costs Rs 9.32 lakh (all prices ex-showroom). It might not be the most affordable big bike in the market, but it certainly carves a niche for itself, away from the loud Harley-Davidsons and the old-school Triumphs of the world. It’s almost certain that you won’t see too many Bobbers on Indian roads (given the road conditions and our buying habits), but it embodies a much larger effort by the manufacturer on its latest journey. See you at the next pit stop.
Photos by Ritik Singh