Contrary to what many fans of the original Scout might be thinking, the new Scout Bobber isn't just a quick fender chop that gives Indian a way to hop onto the "bobber bandwagon." Sure the minimal fenders are part of the package, but there's a little more to this new motorcycle than meets the eye, and its stripped down and slammed look isn't something that developed overnight.

Brian Hatano tests the 2018 Indian Scout Bobber
Will a new slammed stance, chopped fenders and blacked-out styling draw a younger demographic into Indian dealers?Barry Hathaway
2018 indian scout bobber first ride
Indian Motorcycle designated the recent Minneapolis X Games as the venue to launch the 2018 Scout Bobber, inviting freestyle MXer Carey Hart and pro stunter Aaron Colton to join in on the press ride.Barry Hathaway

Indian says: “More of what you need and nothing you don’t.” Motorcyclist says: “In this case, less is definitely more.”

“Anytime we create a new motorcycle, we start off with hundreds of sketches,” said IMC Vice President of Products Gary Gray during the recent Scout Bobber media presentation. The “Bobber” name hadn’t yet come into play back in March of 2016, but that’s when Gray and the Indian design team began sifting through a pile of renderings, trying to determine what the next Scout would look like. They pared their choices down to the best five and then called on a focus group made up of Scout fans and cruisers in general who selected a winner.

Indian VP Gary Gray
Indian VP of Products Gary Gray holding the original Bobber sketch from 2016, prior to the Minneapolis unveiling.Brian Hatano

At least that's how the story goes. Personally, I think it's quite possible that somebody on that design team spied my long-term Scout project bike, which, by coincidence, also came out in March of 2016. Take a look at my modifications HERE and tell me you don't see the similarities, right down to the two-toned seat! Sure the new factory version is much cleaner than my home-built bobber, but then again Indian's pockets are a lot deeper, especially with Victory resources now being redirected to the brand.

2018 Indian Scout headlight nacelle
The blacked-out nacelle is a nice touch. Greg Brew, Indian’s Director of Industrial Design explained how much work goes into a seemingly simple part like this. A lot!Barry Hathaway

So obviously I’m a fan of the Bobber style, and, having spent more than a year riding and modifying the original Scout (mine was a 2015 model), I can tell you what Indian has done to create theirs, and how it’s an improvement over my garage build.

Scout Bobber tracker handlebars
The tracker handlebar is a new design that puts you in a more aggressive position and works well with the Bobber pegs that are located roughly where the reduced-reach Scout pegs would be.Barry Hathaway
New Indian Scout tank logo
The familiar Indian tank logo that has been with the Scout since it debuted three years ago is replaced with new block lettering derived from a pre-1950s Indian apparel lettering font.Barry Hathaway

The low-slung look comes from a combination of all-new components that gives the Scout its Bobber status. Starting from the front, a new black nacelle cleans up the headlight area without adding unnecessary height to the profile. Behind that are new tracker bars that lean you forward by about four inches for a more aggressive posture. Bar-end mirrors hang down on either side, but can be flipped up (requiring a side-to-side swap) for improved rear view and knee clearance for you six-footers and taller riders.

A new two-tone saddle has thicker padding over the standard Scout’s to increase seat height slightly by .3 inch, and it matches up nicely with the shape of the rear fender. Both fenders are cut down, making the knobbied Kenda rubber look bigger than they actually are. Don’t try to bolt that rear fender to your stock Scout though unless you plan to purchase the new Bobber subframe to make the conversion.

Scout Bobber seat
The black-with-brown seat cover is standard for all Bobber colorways.Barry Hathaway
2018 Indian Scout Bobber review
The Bobber has an all-new rear subframe to work with that chopped rear fender. The knobby-style tires look larger and more aggressive but are the same size as the standard Scout's.Barry Hathaway

Engine covers (between the V) are smaller and blacked out, and a black exhaust with new vented shields are exclusive to the Bobber. The liquid-cooled V-twin is the same 1,133cc engine from the previous Scout rated at a claimed 100 horsepower and 72 lb.-ft. of torque (click here to see our actual in-house dyno numbers from the 2015 Scout).

Brian Hatano cornering shot on Scout Bobber
Yep, we scraped a little peg here, rounding a corner at about 30 mph in front of the North Western Casket Company.Barry Hathaway

When the original Scout came out in 2014, we noted its soft-sprung suspension and tendency for the rear to bottom out over ruts and potholes. It took a $2,000 K-Tech Suspension upgrade to cure that and bring the Scout handling up to par for my 2015 project bike (click here to see those suspensions mods). Thankfully, Indian recognized this major shortcoming and added cartridge-type fork internals (non-adjustable) and rear shocks with stiffer progressively wound springs and increased damping to compensate for the one-inch loss of rear travel. You can still bottom out, especially if you're over 200 pounds, but overall the Scout Bobber suspension is a noticeable improvement over the standard Scout, offering a firmer ride and a more planted feel in the curves.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber cruiser
Some test riders griped about bottoming the one-inch-lower rear suspension. I targeted ruts and railroad tracks at a fairly good clip and didn’t bottom out. I was probably close, though.Barry Hathaway
Scout Bobber integrated  taillights
The Scout tail lamp is gone in favor of new rear LED lights with integrated stop, turn, and tail signals.Barry Hathaway

“We’re trying to move the [Indian] brand away from being just a heritage brand,” said Polaris president Steve Menneto just minutes before unveiling the new Bobber to the press for the very first time. And when the cover was off, I have to admit I cracked a big smile, partly because I liked what I saw and partly because it was obvious that Indian truly was showing a lot more attitude in their new models. The Scout Bobber is the perfect addition to the platform, offering the appealing Scout performance to a broader group of riders who might otherwise shy away from the standard Scout’s heritage styling. The Bobber pricing is on point with an MSRP of $11,499 for the base Thunder Black, and Indian will be offering a short list of Bobber-specific accessories that’ll give you some custom storage options, two-up capability, and some higher bar and extended-reach foot control options. The new Scout Bobber will be in US and Canadian dealers by September of 2017 with a choice of five colors: Thunder Black, Star Silver Smoke, Bronze Smoke, Indian Motorcycle Red, and Thunder Black Smoke with ABS.

2018 Indian lineup
The 2018 Indian Scout Bobber color lineup including an accessorized bike with apehangers and retro seat.Barry Hathaway
2018 Scout Bobber exhaust
If you like the over-and-under shotgun style exhaust, Indian offers a Stage One Slip-On kit with a slightly louder but still EPA-legal sound. Or you can go aftermarket.Barry Hathaway

TECH SPEC

EVOLUTION
Indian continues to move away from its heritage styling with the third new Scout since the platform debuted in 2014.
TECH
PRICE $11,499 (Thunder Black); $11,999 (Star Silver Smoke, Bronze Smoke, Indian Red); $12,499 (Thunder Black Smoke w/ABS)
ENGINE 1,133cc (69ci) liquid-cooled V-twin
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/belt
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 100 hp @ 8100 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 72 lb.-ft. @ 6000 rpm
FRAME Cast aluminum semi-double-cradle with tubular-steel backbones
FRONT SUSPENSION 41mm fork; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION dual shocks adjustable for spring preload; 2-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Two-piston caliper, 298mm disc
REAR BRAKE Single-piston caliper, 298mm disc
RAKE/TRAIL 29°/4.7 in.
WHEELBASE 61.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 25.6 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.3 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 533 lb. dry
AVAILABLE September 2017
CONTACT indianmotorcycle.com
VERDICT
The badder, blacker Scout that those of you who are into the garage-built custom scene have been waiting for.
Brian Hatano's gear
Brian's gear:
Helmet: Biltwell Gringo Flat Chocolate
Goggles: The Equilibrialist Knox Maska for Biltwell Gringo
Jacket: Alpinestars Oscar Charlie Leather
Pants: Alpinestars Oscar Charlie Denim
Gloves: Alpinestars Oscar Robinson
Boots: Alpinestars Oscar Monty Riding Shoe
Barry Hathaway