Up until recently, if I had to choose between a cruiser and a standard motorcycle, I’d typically pick the latter. That’s why I bought one, a Triumph Street Triple R. However, after spending some time with a 2021 Indian Scout Bobber, I’m not so sure which kind I’d pick. Because while it isn’t perfect, it made me understand what makes cruisers so appealing.
What does the Indian Scout Bobber offer for 2021?
The Indian Scout Bobber first launched for the 2018 model year, Cycle World reports. And earlier in 2020, the company launched the Scout Sixty Bobber. Both models, as with the rest of the Indian Scout lineup, enter the 2021 model year relatively unchanged, Cycle World reports. The only new features are different paint options. However, while the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber doesn’t have many new features, the ones that carry over aren’t exactly poor choices.
Like the standard bike, the Scout Bobber has an 1133cc liquid-cooled V-twin rated at 100 hp and 72 lb-ft. At 555 pounds, it’s not exactly a light motorcycle, but it’s slightly lighter than the standard Scout. Also, the Indian Scout Bobber has the same 6-speed transmission and belt-drive as the standard bike.
The two bikes also have the same singular gauge, though the Bobber’s gauge has a slightly different font. The gauge has a physical speedometer, several warning lights, and a configurable electronic display complete with odometers, voltmeter, and tachometer. There’s also a USB outlet on the side.
However, compared to the standard Indian Scout, the Bobber’s footpegs are more rear-set, though still in the ‘forward-control’ position, RideApart reports. Its handlebars are also more rear-swept than the base model’s bars, Cycle World reports, and it has bar-end mirrors and a model-specific solo seat. Plus, the motorcycle has less chrome and more blacked-out trim, chopped (‘bobbed’) fenders, and different Pirelli tires.
But arguably the biggest difference between the Indian Scout and Scout Bobber is the latter has 1” less rear suspension travel, RevZilla reports. This gives the latter model less ground clearance and a lower overall height, though the seat height is unchanged.
Riding the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber sold me on the idea of cruisers
The 2021 Indian Scout Bobber wasn’t the first cruiser I’ve ever experienced. Last year I spent a few days with a Harley-Davidson Low Rider, which is heavier and has a larger engine. At the time, while I started to understand a cruiser’s strengths, the idea of owning one didn’t appeal to me. But after riding the Indian Scout Bobber for a few weeks, I didn’t want to give the key back.
Within a few days, the feet-forward riding position felt natural to me. The handlebars fell within easy reach, and along with the seating position, meant I could brace myself against the oncoming wind. Though if you intend to ride more than a short distance on the freeway, you should install a wind deflector. And while the lowered suspension is a bit stiff, it’s fairly compliant, provided you stay away from large-radius bumps. The accessory Fox shocks rectify this somewhat, RidingWithLeah reports.
But shortening the suspension and lowering the height also lowers the Indian Scout Bobber’s center of gravity, Cycle World explains. As a result, although the Bobber weighs more than my Triumph Street Triple R, it actually feels lighter. At least when the bike’s not leaned-over, such as when you accidentally drop it in your driveway (sorry Indian!).
How the bike handles and rides
Lowering the center of gravity also makes bikes like the Indian Bobber more stable, both in a straight line and in corners. True, no one will mistake a cruiser like the Scout Bobber for a sportbike. But on long, sweeping roads, it’s a fun bike to chuck around, partially due to the sportier rear shocks. It requires deliberate counter-steering and more pressure on the outer peg than on my Triumph. However, the added work makes for extra satisfaction.
What doesn’t feel like work is getting the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber to accelerate. The V-twin has plenty of low-end torque, which, combined with the fairly-forgiving clutch, makes starting off a breeze. And while the Scout Bobber’s engine is more than happy to rev to 8100 RPM and beyond, you don’t really need to. Twisting the throttle summons a smooth rush of torque and speed. Whether you’re in 1st gear or 6th gear, the bike simply pulls. And I saw 41.9 mpg in mostly city riding.
When it comes time to slow down, the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber’s disc brakes are up to the task. My test bike had ABS, though I never felt it kick in. Admittedly, the brake pedal and lever could benefit from a bit more feedback. You can modulate them, but some extra sensation would improve that capability. In terms of effort, though, the brakes and clutch are spot-on.
Honestly, I could and did ride the Indian Scout Bobber for hours at a time. But that’s where the Bobber’s style takes a toll. The solo seat is well-made, but its lack of support becomes apparent after about an hour on the road. Luckily, Indian offers an accessory seat for the Scout Bobber with extra support and padding.
Should you buy it?
The 2021 Indian Scout Bobber starts at $10,999. However, if you want one in maroon with ABS, that raises the price to $12,399. In black, the ABS-equipped model starts at $11,899.
There are a number of cheaper cruiser motorcycles available, including Indian’s own Scout Sixty Bobber. And some of those bikes, like the Honda Rebel 500 and Kawasaki Vulcan S, are lighter than the Scout Bobber. Which, if you’re a beginning rider, is an important factor to consider. Considering the effort required in picking the Scout Bobber up when it fell over, it’s about as much cruiser as I’d feel comfortable owning.
Ultimately, buying the Indian Scout Bobber over the standard model is a matter of personal appeal and comfort. It’s worth pointing out that the Bobber isn’t compatible with the standard Scout’s reduced-reach seats. Though at 5’9”, I didn’t find any of the controls to be too far away.
As for style, this bike got more attention than my Triumph or any of the other press vehicles I’ve had so far. One older gentleman even said that, while he doesn’t normally like maroon, he’d buy a Scout Bobber in that color. Though, again, it’s a matter of personal preference.
But, if you like the Indian Scout Bobber’s sense of style, take one for a test ride. Like me, you just may end up a believer.
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