2018 Indian Scout Bobber First Ride Review

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

Alt-Harley badassness

After seeing the new 2018 Indian Scout Bobber on Friday, I called Editor Duke to brief him on the new model. After explaining that it was, mechanically, very similar to the original Scout with mostly cosmetic changes, he asked me a simple but important question: “Well, would you rather buy this one or the old one?” The answer was easy: I would definitely rather have this new Scout Bobber.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber

Editor Score: 81.0%
Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 10.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 7.0/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 6.5/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 8.0/10
Overall Score81/100

2018 Indian Scout Bobber Unveiled

Things can sometimes change after an actual road test, so I put my initial thoughts into the back of my mind and looked forward to the debut ride the following day.

Indian made a conscious decision to launch the bike concurrently with X Games due to the extreme-sport audience being a target demographic for this model. Also invited to the media launch was freestyle motocrosser Carey Hart, who spent the weekend riding with us, adding to the vibe. Stunt rider Aaron Colton unveiled the bike to the world in grand fashion by sliding the Bobber out onto the stage and shredding some rubber at the Indian Hometown Throwdown party Friday evening. Colton also joined us for the press ride on Saturday.

Indian’s badassery starts at $11,499. ABS is available only on the Thunder Black Smoke version, retailing at $12,499.

Indian’s target customer for the Scout Bobber is the younger, hipper, wanna-be-edgy type that sometimes prefers style over practicality. And before you light up the comment thread below, that’s okay sometimes. Every bike doesn’t have to be practical; something more visceral can be desired.

Someone once told me, if you don’t turn around at least once to look at your bike after you park it, just to look at it, maybe it’s not the right bike. I agree with this sentiment 110%. A motorcycle should make you want to just admire it for the particular qualities that make it special to you. The great thing about this is that it is subjective. There are no wrong answers, there are no wrong bikes.

The Scout Bobber receives a blacked-out headlight nacelle similar to its big brother the Chief Dark Horse.

The new Scout pulls its existence from these very ideas. It’s not a ridiculously raked-out chopper or a hard-tail bobber that will compact your spine just by running over a manhole cover. But it is, in some regard, form over function.

Shootout At The MO Corral: A Bout With The Scout + Video

I was reminded of this as soon as I sat on the bike and we began to make our way out of Minneapolis. The bar and footpeg locations force a rider to lean forward into a somewhat aggressive riding position. For me, it was just forward enough to start feeling some strain in my lower back, yet not so far forward as to require my core to hold myself up.

2015 Indian Scout First Ride Review

I enjoyed the new position of the footpegs, which is 1.5 inches back from the original Scout. The position is conducive to riding aound town, but after a bit of highway riding, I wasn’t the only one resting my heels on top of the footpegs to stretch my legs. Another caveat to the new peg location is it comes at the cost of two degrees of cornering clearance, which was evident during the peg scrapes while flipping back and forth through roundabouts.

Taller riders may want to swap the mirrors into the optional position above the bars for additional clearance for knees. I had to be aware of them during tight parking-lot maneuvers and I’m 5-foot-8

Chopped fenders front and rear are key to the minimalist bobber styling. This may lead you to think that the massive front tire is bigger and fatter on the Scout Bobber when reality, it is the exact 130/90-16 from the original. The shorter fenders cost practical points; another rider I was following crossed through some water in a gutter, sending the street aqua straight up into the air reminiscent of a Jet Ski. To be fair, I think Indian chopped the rear fender at a reasonable cut so you won’t end up with your back covered in dirt and water should you get stuck in a downpour riding to your next stop.

Some of the guys on the ride whined about the seat at our next stop after about 50 miles, but I didn’t have any issues. I wanted to stretch my back and enjoy my coffee, but I was still looking forward to jumping back on the bike for more time in its two-toned saddle. An extra inch or two of leg length from my 30-inch inseam would’ve better locked me into the seat. I did have times where I felt myself sliding back after having choked up in the seat for one reason or another. The seat height, at 25.6 inches, will put most riders flat-footed, which will help newbie feel more comfortable with the 554-pound curb weight. The Bobber’s thicker saddle raises ride height ever so slightly. Weight is down by five pounds from small changes, most obviously from the shorter fenders.

Now let’s talk about the suspension. If people have an issue with the idea of the Scout Bobber after reading its spec chart, it has been mainly the loss of an inch of rear suspension travel. To best put it to the test, I aimed for each and every bump in the road and train track I could find to give you my rear end’s feedback.

First off, let’s be clear about the Bobber’s intention; this isn’t a touring or adventure bike, so it doesn’t need cushy, electronic, dynamically damped suspension. On the roads around Minneapolis with my geared-up weight of about 165 pounds. I was pleasantly surprised by the suspension’s performance. It was only over sharp bumps, like train tracks at speed, when objectionable harshness was felt. For the majority of riding, in the city or out on the highway, the 2 inches of travel in the rear was sufficient. The new cartridge-style fork up front also did a great job of keeping things compliant in the twistier stuff, and front-end dive while braking was nearly non-existent.

Toward the end of the day most of the guys were ready to call it and head for beers at Minneapolis’ Indeed brewery, which was where our ride would finish. A few of us decided we wanted to go out and grab a few more photos before handing back our keys.

At this point we were back in town and I was feeling comfortable on the bike. As we blasted through some gravel in a construction zone, the overwhelming urge to break traction consumed me. After a quick glance behind me to make sure I wasn’t about to pelt another new Indian motorcycle with rocks, I spun up the engine, dropped the clutch and kicked the bike sideways in my best Brad Baker impression. ABS (which is only available on the Thunder Black Smoke colorway) is easily disabled for extra fun. The bike had done its job. I felt like a badass.

As our time grew to an end on the Scout Bobber, the last few of us seemed to want to test out its hooligan abilities. This ended up seeing another journalist jump the bike over a loading ramp. I’ll be honest, I think he may have been wishing for a few more inches of suspension travel due to the impact bringing his voice up an octave or two.

While the Indian Scout Bobber might not be the FTR750-inspired street tracker many had hoped for, it is a blast to ride, begging you to ride it hard and put it away wet. The Bobber does exactly what Indian planned for it to do. It looks badass, it makes you feel badass and it makes you want to do badass shit.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber

+ Highs

  • Makes you feel like a badass
  • 20 horses more motor than a Sportster
  • Cruise American without me-too status

– Sighs

  • Short-hop riding position
  • Bar-and-Shield envy
  • ABS unavailable on four colorways
The Scout Bobber gets its own set of accessories available from Indian. Shown here we have the 1920s springer-style seat, mini ape-hangers, slip-on exhaust, and spoked wheels.
A passenger seat that matches the original’s two-toned color is available if you plan to share the ride.
A small tail bag and single side saddlebag are some of the luggage options available from Indian. Only big enough for the smallest of Macs or a bomber of your favorite craft beer.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber Specifications

Engine TypeLiquid-Cooled V-Twin
Displacement69 cu in
Fuel SystemClosed loop fuel injection / 60 mm bore
Primary DriveGear Drive Wet Clutch
Final Drive2.357 : 1
Horsepower100 hp (claimed)
Peak Torque73 lb-ft. (claimed) at 6000 rpm
Front SuspensionTelescopic Fork/4.7″ travel – Cartridge Type
Rear SuspensionDual Shocks/2.0″ travel
Front BrakesSingle / 298 mm Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Rear BrakesSingle / 298 mm Rotor / 1 Piston Caliper
Front WheelsCast 16 in x 3.5 in
Rear WheelsCast 16 in x 3.5 in
Front Tire130/90-16 73H
Rear Tire150/80-16 71H
ExhaustSplit Dual Exhaust w/ Crossover
Wheelbase61.5 in (1562 mm)
Seat Height25.6 in (649 mm)
Ground Clearance4.8 in (123 mm)
Overall Height45.4 in (1154 mm)
Overall Length87.8 in (2229 mm)
Overall Width36.5 in (926 mm)
Lean Angle29°
Trail4.7 in (119.9 mm)
Fuel Capacity3.3 gal (12.5 l)
GVWR988 lbs (449 kg)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel)533 lbs / 554 lbs (claimed)
Color / GraphicsThunder Black
LightsHeadlight, tail/brake light, turn signals, license plate light, and speedometer and indicator lights
GaugesDigital tachometer, odometer, trip meter, engine temp, and low fuel lamp
Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

More by Ryan Adams

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2 of 75 comments
  • Kevin Polito Kevin Polito on Jul 27, 2017

    The Indian Bobber is a bar-hopper. It's geared toward someone who likes the biker image but doesn't actually like to ride that much. It's comfortable enough to ride from home to the nearest bar. It's a good bike on which to make an entrance, and it will allow burnouts when departing.

  • SmileWithMe SmileWithMe on Aug 30, 2018

    Indian? You mean re-badged Victory.. How does this even sit on the same showroom floor as all the retro stuff? Who's going to buy a modern indian standard for $2k more than the comparable Japanese standard?