Before we start, let’s remember that I’m a fan of the Indian brand. So, of course I’m going to be lenient when it does something like this. Keep in mind, too, that leaked documents from quite some time ago suggest we’ll be getting something considerably more new later this year.
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Yes, Polaris is a huge company but Indian is just one part of it, and has to live within certain budget constraints. So, it tends to really only do one thing a year. Last year it was the Challenger, the year before it was the FTR 1200; this year it will likely be an adventure bike built around the FTR 1200 platform. Expect that at Intermot or EICMA (assuming the latter isn’t cancelled). However, by tradition started in Polaris’ Victory Motorcycles days Indian likes to roll out something in late-February/early-March to serve as an attraction at Daytona Bike Week.
So, last Thursday Indian pulled the cover off the “new” Scout Bobber Sixty – the most obvious thing the company could have done. So obvious that the only surprise here is that it didn’t happen a few years ago, when the Scout Bobber was released.
Powered by a 999cc version of the liquid-cooled V-twin that drives the Scout and Scout Bobber, the Scout Bobber Sixty is about as stripped down as it gets on a motorcycle these days – engine, wheels, handlebars, ABS, and that’s about it. According to Indian, it weighs a surprising 10 kg (22 lbs) less than a standard Scout. Apparently a full fender and sixth gear weigh a lot. But that weight savings is kind of academic when talking about a cruiser. The bike still has a claimed wet weight of 249 kg. Which is OK because the weight is very low; you’ll only notice if you get stuck trying to push it up a hill.
The actual selling point of the Bobber Sixty is its stripped-down nature and corresponding stripped-down price. In the United Kingdom, it starts at £9,995, meaning it costs exactly the same as a Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight. That’s appropriate because the Forty-Eight and Bobber Sixty are comparable in a lot of ways. Out of the box, they both have a somewhat awkward riding position for a 6-foot-1 rider (though the Forty-Eight’s is markedly less comfortable); both are relatively low-tech, offering only ABS in terms of technowhizzbangery (as mandated by the EU); and both deliver similar power/torque numbers. Well, almost similar: the Bobber Sixty claims 78 hp against the Forty-Eight’s claimed 66 hp.
“Bringing a stripped-down, old-school Bobber at a lower price is something we’re very excited about,” said Reid Wilson, vice president of Indian Motorcycle. “We’re proud to provide such a dynamic offering at a price point that makes owning an Indian Motorcycle extremely attainable to an even wider range of riders.”
I’m sure that what Indian is hoping for, though, is that riders and customizers will take to the Bobber Sixty the way they have the Forty-Eight. Not too long ago, I got a chance to spend a few days hanging out with some Harley bike builders and I learned that the Forty-Eight is frequently the canvas of choice because it’s so barebones. To that end, Indian is quick to point out that it offers “more than 140” accessories for the Bobber Sixty. And I’m willing to bet the brand has been clever enough to ensure that dimensions and such are exactly the same as with the Scout Bobber, so you’ll be able to fit existing aftermarket products. Differences between the Scout Bobber and Bobber Sixty, it seems, are minimal.
PERFORMANCE WILL BE SIMILAR TO THIS BIKE:
2016 Indian Scout Sixty – Ride Review
“The Scout Bobber Sixty maintains the stripped-down styling of the Scout Bobber, including chopped fenders and a confident riding position, while adding several cues that give the model a look of its own,” states an Indian media release. “The Scout Bobber Sixty features a blacked-out engine, a modern tank badge, perch mount mirrors, stripped-down headlight, an all-black seat, and all-new five-spoke all-black wheels.”
Ever since I got to spend time with the Harley guys and got a sense of just how easy (albeit pricey) it is to modify a bike, I’ve been somewhat enamored with the idea of customization – creating a bike that is unique from everything else on the road. This is why I’m so hot on the Bobber Sixty. I like the blank slate nature of it.
Meanwhile, it’s a blank slate that is a standalone good motorcycle. So good that it’s fair to question why you would bother to pay extra for the larger capacity version. Better tires, maybe; as best I can tell the Bobber Sixty is equipped with the same shitacular Kenda tires found on the Scout Sixty. So, you’ll need to factor a better pair of shoes into the purchase price. The Scout Bobber also has sixth gear, whereas the Bobber Sixty – like the Forty-Eight – has a five-speed transmission. But I know from personal experience, having ridden to and all over Ireland on a Scout Sixty (the same bike as the Bobber Sixty but with more fender and fancier paint), that the sixth gear is not really missed when covering big distance.
And I’m willing to bet that many riders also would not miss the Scout Bobber’s additional power. Take a look at this dyno chart I found from Motorcycle.com, comparing the Scout and Scout Sixty.
Notice that up to about 6000 rpm the two bikes deliver basically the same amount of power and torque – the Scout Sixty putting out more or less 65 hp against the Scout’s ~69 hp. Beyond that point the Scout Sixty’s power somewhat levels out, while the Scout carries on to 83 hp at 7600 rpm. But here’s the question to ask: how often do you rev a cruiser to 6000 rpm? Especially when peak torque comes in around half that? The Bobber Sixty is the most affordable bike Indian sells, yet for the typical rider it effectively delivers the experience of a bike that costs nearly £2,000 more.
Again, there’s nothing new here. The Scout Sixty’s been around for a number of years. The Scout Bobber’s been around for a number of years. But, I don’t know. I guess I’m excited by the idea because an Indian that costs less than £10,000 is actually attainable for me. Well, it isn’t right now, but it could be. Theoretically. It’s certainly more attainable than a Challenger.
If there are any dealerships out there willing to do a straight trade for a 2019 Triumph Bonneville T120 with only 9,000 loving miles on the clock and just a few minor scratches, please let me know. If I had one of these I’d consider adding that nifty quick-release fairing that Indian came up with back in September, but ultimately I’d probably choose instead to equip it with mini ape-hanger ‘bars (because, in the words of Tony Peries, I have “no fucking taste”), a two-into-one exhaust, fancy piggyback shocks and the tractor-like seat on this Scout Bobber Twenty*. I might also have “Dream Big. Fight Hard” inscribed on the tank in Latinx/Lowrider-stye cursive, just to be weird.
* Whereas the Scout Bobber Sixty’s name references the bike’s 60-cubic-inch engine, the Scout Bobber Twenty references the fact the first Scout was made in 1920. I feel Indian could have thought through its naming of things a little better.