Indian Motorcycle Enters The Grand Melee For A Slice Of The Millenial Market

Among the other party favors and door prizes at Indian’s “Hometown Throwdown” party at the 2017 X-Games was the unveiling of the new “Bobber” version of the popular Scout lineup. This re-imagined Scout uses much the same chassis and running gear as the rest of the retro-tastic family, but the overall panache takes it somewhere else, entirely. Why is it a big deal, you ask? Well, it signals that Indian has seen the writing on the wall, and is moving to capture the next generation of motorcycle riders and indoctrinate them with some brand loyalty early on with a sexy variant of one of the hottest bikes on the planet right now. Powered with a 1,130 cc engine that delivers 72 pound-feet of torque and 100 horsepower, is the Scout Bobber is just the bike to do it?

Continue reading for more on the Indian Motorcycle Scout Bobber.

  • 2018 Indian Motorcycles Scout Bobber - How Does It Stack Up To The Competition?
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The Contenders

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Roadster
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2016 - 2018 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber & V9 Roamer
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2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
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2017 - 2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber
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2018 Indian Motorcycles Scout Bobber - How Does It Stack Up To The Competition?
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Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers, and their tastes tend to run more toward the austere end of the spectrum than the now-middle-ageish Generation X — whether this is due to having grown up during a recession or simply every generation’s desire to do things a little differently than their parents did it is anybody’s guess — so the Bobber seems a natural fit. All the experts agree; the market is shifting, and it’s the manufacturers that cater to the buying power of the up-and-coming demographic that will survive since, apparently, my generation wasn’t all that into the bike thing. I guess I missed that generational memo — maybe I should have hit a class reunion or two — because I sure as Hell am. So, it is against this backdrop that I delve into the Bobber, always mindful that this is no whimsical market test, but is, in fact, the first real volley in the downwardly-expanding fight for survival.

In considering this particular market, I admit, quite a few competitors came to mind. I had to narrow the field, so I picked four likely candidates that may appeal to the same sort of buyer that would consider a Scout Bobber. Considering their long history and similar customer base, Harley-Davidson seemed in need of representation. In fact, I chose two different Harleys — the Street 750 and the Roadster — for this write-up, more on the reasons later. Also on the stage is Triumph’s adorable Bonneville Bobber, and the V9 Bobber from Moto Guzzi, so let’s get at it and see how the Scout Bobber stacks up against these other targeted designs.


2018 Indian Motorcycles Scout Bobber - How Does It Stack Up To The Competition?
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The name “bobber” shoehorns the looks into a very narrowly designed set of parameters; namely that anything not contributing to speed gets cut down, or removed entirely. Up until very recently, it also implied a certain amount of home-garage work. All of the bikes I’m going to touch on today try to make that connection, in part, through the use of edgy and cool blackout treatment throughout the design. Harley’s Street 750 buys into that theory (with an additional cafe’ racer spice for good measure), and the Roadster gets it as well with no shortage of dark touches scattered about. MG buys into the blackout as well, but it seems Triumph stayed within what one might call “factory” norms.

The Scout Bobber and the H-D Roadster adhere most strictly to bobber convention in their fender designs with pared-down fenders that are sure to be a little sloppy in inclement weather, but such is the price of looking badass. Of the three, I’d say the MG is the least badass-looking ride, but I realize that’s subjective. Trumpet’s Bonnie-Bobber is the coolest looking by far, but it’s also the only retro in the bunch unless you count Harley’s half-hearted cafe’ attempt. Before you cry foul, know that the Bonnie is incredibly popular with the Hipster subset of the Millennial Bloc, proving that some of these kids have some taste that isn’t in their mouths after all.


2018 Indian Motorcycles Scout Bobber - How Does It Stack Up To The Competition? Wallpaper quality
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Indian was going for an edgy, modern look, but it missed a great opportunity right up front by sticking to standard, right-way-up forks. The Roadster alone breaks with convention with a set of blackout usd forks that beef up the front end while alluding to a custom pedigree with a performance bent. Sure, the Scout Bobber looks OK up front, but it could look better. Just sayin’.

Seat height falls out at 25.6 inches off the ground for a nice, low silhouette, but that comes at the expense of the suspension with the rear-end reduced to a mere 2 inches of travel with 4.7-inches up front. Harley’s Street 750 falls within one-tenth of an inch, but the Bonnie jumps up to 27.16-inches tall with the Roadster at 29.5-inches and the ’Guzzi topping the charts at a lofty 30.7-inches high.

Just like all the others, Indian offers ABS protection, but you’d better want the Thunder Black Smoke sheet metal as well ’cause they’re a package deal. The V9 alone joins the Indian in the fat-tire club for a little something extra at the hoops, with all others showing a more traditional ratio. Too bad I’d rather have that traditional ratio for wet-weather work, myself.

Indian tweaked the rider triangle a bit to form an aggressive, feet-forward windsock position, and I have mixed feelings. While it looks good, the realities at your fifth point of contact are another story entirely. You wind up bearing your entire weight on your butt, and not only does the foot-foward position not inspire confidence at high speeds, it gives you no way to shift position for some Body English when you want to attack some curves. Just something to keep in mind.


2018 Indian Motorcycles Scout Bobber - How Does It Stack Up To The Competition?
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The Scout Bobber is more of a trim package than a net-new model, and so it uses Indian’s 1,130 cc (69 cubic-inch), liquid-cooled Scout powerplant that churns out a total of 72 pound-feet of torque with an even 100 ponies on tap. Naturally, this out-punches Harley’s 749 cc Street 750 engine with its meager 44.5 pounds of grunt, by a significant margin. ’Guzzi is right in the same neighborhood with a claimed 55-ponies and 45 pounds o’ grunt from its air- and oil-cooled, 850 cc, transverse-mount V-twin, but Harley’s air-cooled, 1,200 cc Roadster pulls slightly ahead of the Scout with 76 pound-feet of torque. Trumpet does best of all with 77-horsepower and 78.2 pounds of torque from its liquid-cooled, 1,200 cc Parallel-twin.

Having said that, one big selling point with Millennials is frugal operation, and they have proven themselves to be more pragmatic and less given to the pursuit of vanity, so the smaller, more economical engines in the Street and the ’Guzzi will appeal to many. It truly is a race to the bottom in more ways than one, and while I’d never recommend a 1.2-liter sportbike as someone’s first ride, a 1,200 cc American sport-cruiser is certainly within reason.

Now, I know the kids are supposed to be all about downsizing their powerplants, but rest assured, although the Indian lump is at the top of the represented range here, a 1,200 cc displacement doesn’t qualify as “big” among American V-twins.


2018 Indian Motorcycles Scout Bobber - How Does It Stack Up To The Competition?
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Indian clearly doesn’t intend for the sticker to be one of the major draws for the Scout Bobber. In fact, the ABS version falls out right at the top at $12,499 with the non-ABS Bobber coming in third at $11,499. Triumph slips in between at second with its $11,900 sticker and in a close third is the H-D Roadster that starts at $11,299 but can reach the 12K marks depending on paint choice and optional equipment. Naturally, the smaller engines of the MG V9 and the Street 750 allow for smaller tickets, but the V9 stays close to the competition with a $10,490 MSRP and Harley scrapes the bottom of the budget with its $7,549 Street 750.

This may pose a stumbling block in the Millennial market. The target demographic is known for making Old Abe scream, and individually have the least of the available buying power even if they now collectively outnumber the Boomers, so paying more for an old-fashioned name/company is not something Indian, or anybody else for that matter, can count on.

He Said

“In the end, I have mixed feelings. I’m not a member of the target demographic here, and from my perspective, Indian is a brand worthy of respect and patronage. However, I’m all about that retro look, and the rest of Indian’s lineup leans heavily on the past, so I’m already a fan of the brand. (Plus, how can you go wrong with Mark Wahlberg as your face man?) Will the young people feel the same way? If not, will Indian continue pushing with targeted products in time to meet demand before potential customers start looking to Europe and Asia for a home for their brand loyalty? We’ll see.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycles writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I have been noticing the race to crank out lower and lower cc bikes, and it all comes together when you consider that manufacturers are trying to attract the newest generation of young adults. The new Scout Bobber is sexy, and stellar performances in this year’s X Games and Flat Track racing have put the Indian Scout in the limelight."


Engine Type: Liquid-Cooled V-Twin
Displacement: 69 cu in
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 60 mm bore
Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Final Drive: 2.357 : 1
Horsepower: 100 hp (74.7 kW)
Peak Torque: 73 ft-lbs (97.7 Nm)@6000 rpm
Gear Ratio (Overall):
1st: 10.926 : 1
2nd: 7.427 : 1
3rd: 5.918 : 1
4th: 5.022: 1
5th: 4.439 : 1
6th: 4.087 : 1
Suspension: Front - Type/Travel: Telescopic Fork/4.7" (120 mm) - Cartridge Type
Suspension: Rear - Type/Travel: Dual Shocks/2.0" (50 mm)
Brakes/Front: Single / 298 mm Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Brakes/Rear: Single / 298 mm Rotor / 1 Piston Caliper
Wheels/Front: Cast 16 in x 3.5 in
Wheels/Rear: Cast 16 in x 3.5 in
Tires/Front: 130/90-16 73H
Tires/Rear: 150/80-16 71H
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Crossover
Wheelbase: 61.5 in (1562 mm)
Seat Height: 25.6 in (649 mm)
Ground Clearance: 4.8 in (123 mm)
Overall Height: 45.4 in (1154 mm)
Overall Length: 87.8 in (2229 mm)
Overall Width: 36.5 in (926 mm)
Rake: 29°
Lean Angle: 29°
Trail: 4.7 in (119.9 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gal (12.5 l)
GVWR: 988 lbs (449 kg)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 533 lbs / 554 lbs (242 kg / 251 kg)
Lights: Headlight, tail/brake light, turn signals, license plate light, and speedometer and indicator lights
Gauges: Digital tachometer, odometer, trip meter, engine temp, and low fuel lamp
Colors: Thunder Black, Bronze Smoke, Star Silver Smoke, Indian Motorcycle Red, Thunder Black Smoke
Price: $11,499, Colors: $11,999, ABS: $12,499

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