The rise of the retro motorcycle segment doesn’t just mean more scramblers and café racers. It also touches on cruisers in the form of factory bobbers. For example, the latest version of the Indian Scout Bobber. I recently spent a few weeks with the 2021 model riding in and around Chicagoland. And during that time, I discovered a few things potential buyers should keep in mind.
The 2021 Indian Scout Bobber tweaks the Scout formula slightly
Mechanically, the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber is virtually identical to the rest of the lineup, Ultimate Motorcycling reports. It has the same 100-hp 1133cc V-twin and 6-speed transmission. The Scout Bobber also has the same disc brakes with optional ABS and the same front suspension.
But there are a few differences between the Indian Scout Bobber and the other models. It has the same rear shocks, only on the Bobber, rear travel decreases from 3” to 2”.
The Scout Bobber’s handlebars are also more swept back, Cycle World reports, and its footpegs are moved rearward compared to the standard bike. It also has a model-specific solo seat, CW reports, as well as bar-end mirrors, blacked-out trim, a side-mounted license plate, and chopped (‘bobbed’) fenders. Plus, it rides on different Pirelli tires than the standard Indian Scout.
These changes are what contribute to the 2021 Indian Scout Bobbers long, low, and spare design. And based on how many people struck up a conversation about the bike, it’s definitely striking. However, the stylistic choices have their downsides.
The looks come with some sacrifices
The mirrors, for example, are installed pointing down from the factory. As a result, it limits the benefits of their bar-end position. True, you can always flip them up, RideApart reports. And you’ll have to because otherwise, your arms block the view. But that’s the price of aesthetics.
As for the suspension, the travel wasn’t really an issue. However, on the highway, I noticed that large-radius bumps occasionally lifted me off my seat. RevZilla noted a similar issue. The suspension itself is a bit on the stiff side, but it’s fairly compliant on the street. Still, heavier riders may want to take the reduced travel into account, Motorcyclist reports.
Finally, there’s the Indian Scout Bobber’s seat. It’s made of good-quality leather and is neither too firm nor too soft. However, after about an hour of riding, you may find yourself wishing for more back support.
Which brings us onto a separate but related topic: accessories.
The issue with the Scout Bobber’s accessories
To be fair, the problem isn’t with the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber’s accessory quality. The bike I rode didn’t have any additional accessories. But based on the bike’s overall material and build quality, accessory buyers shouldn’t worry. No, the issue is more about the selection.
Indian offers multiple accessory parts made for both the standard Scout and the Scout Bobber. You can outfit the bikes with heated grips, an LED headlight, chrome wheels, and a performance air intake. There’s also Fox performance shocks, multiple luggage options, different exhausts, and a quick-release wind fairing.
The 2021 Indian Scout Bobber also offers an accessory comfort seat. However, the Bobber isn’t compatible with the standard bike’s reduced- or extended-reach seats. And while you can fit a Bobber with a wind deflector, it’s not as tall as the Scout’s accessory windscreen.
Though admittedly, the Indian Scout Bobber isn’t really meant for extended highway rides, CW reports. And for brief freeway blasts, a wind deflector is likely all you’ll need. But reviewers on Indian’s website note that taller riders may be faced with helmet buffeting.
The 2021 Indian Scout Bobber’s controls could benefit from some finesse
As striking as the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber looks, it’s also a blast to sit on and ride. As I mentioned earlier, nothing about this bike feels cheap. Even the headlight shroud/fairing is made of metal, rather than plastic.
As a result, the Scout Bobber is a bit on the heavy side, with a curb weight of 555 pounds. However, the low seat means it’s easy to put a steadying foot down. The lowered suspension also lowers the bike’s weight, which makes it seem lighter than it is. The Scout Bobber was actually slightly easier to roll in and out of my garage than my lighter Street Triple, at least until turning was involved.
That heavy-duty sense continues into the handling and controls. Shifting gears, braking, turning the handlebars, and pulling the clutch lever are all deliberate acts. That’s not to say that the clutch lever, brake pedal and lever, or shifter are overly-heavy. The weighting on all those controls was actually close to perfect.
The problem is there’s just a bit too little feeling through the clutch and brake controls. The clutch is very forgiving, and the V-twin has enough low-end torque to smooth nervous starts. But the bite point could be slightly more defined.
It’s a similar story with the brakes. They’re very effective, and I never once felt the ABS on my 2021 Indian Scout Bobber kick in. However, while you can modulate them, they could use a bit more feedback.
Are these drawbacks deal-breakers?
Should these drawbacks keep you from the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber? As with any motorcycle purchase, it depends on how comfortable you are on the bike. Though it’s worth noting that the Scout Bobber does offer extended-reach foot controls and handlebars.
However, some of these drawbacks are tied to the motorcycle’s style. And that’s a personal preference. If you don’t like it, there’s always the standard Indian Scout.
As for the control-related issue, it didn’t stop me from enjoying my time with the bike. So, are they deal-breakers? Not really.
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