Bobbers appear to be all the rage these days. So, here are a couple – the Indian Scout Bobber and the Triumph Bonneville Bobber. Quite a divergent duo by all accounts, mind you.
What we have here are the new Indian Scout Bobber and Triumph Bonneville Bobber. However, the original Bobber that came to India was neither of these. It was, in fact, Harley-Davidson that introduced the Bobber style in India with their timeless Street Bob. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the new 2018 Street Bob for this showdown, but I’ll still keep it in mind as I go through the comparison.
The Beast – Indian Scout Bobber
The newest Bobber in India is based on Indian’s hugely popular liquid-cooled, 1,133cc V-twin Scout cruiser. The engine remains entirely unchanged and still offers a nice output of 94bhp. The biggest changes include the tasty array of chassis and styling upgrades that make the Scout feel and look like a proper old-school custom Bobber of the 40s and 50s. The rear suspension travel has been reduced by 26mm, and, for a more aggressive riding position, the foot pegs have been positioned 38mm closer to the rider. Also, the new handlebars make you lean forwards a bit – which only adds to the overall aggressive riding stance. The suspension has become a whole lot stiffer. The Scout Bobber also gets the new Indian tank badge. Almost everything on its body, including the frame, exhaust, headlight surround, handlebars, mirrors and even the instrument dials have a satin black finish. The fenders are chopped down and the rear is narrower. It does have a retro touch, but with the humongous tyres and the alloy wheels it looks the most modern out of all the Bobbers.
Basically, the overall styling is as elegant as it is aggressive – something that we’ve come to expect from Indian. However, the new chassis and suspension offer you a nightmarish ride on Indian urban roads. The only time I felt comfortable on this bike was when I was on a smooth highway. This is perhaps my biggest concern with all Bobbers. For Indian road conditions they are, unfortunately, very uncomfortable. But, that aside, the Scout Bobber handles well, and the engine offers you an exciting and thrilling sensation of speed. The engine is definitely the highlight of the bike, with its brute power of 94bhp and enough torque to set the tarmac on fire. The throttle response is perfect and the overall refinement is very satisfying. It’s also the most exciting to ride in terms of acceleration. And even when you pick up speed, and think that the engine might have given you its best, it proves you wrong and continues to pull forward with great pace.
The Beauty – Triumph Bonneville Bobber
This Bobber is a proper modern classic in every sense of the term, which looks like a beautiful masterpiece. Every inch of the bike is the very definition of perfection. It does retain much of the Bonneville DNA, but it’s also imaginatively unique in many ways. The Bonneville Bobber has an entirely new frame, a new fuel tank, bigger tyres, a flat handlebar and new exhausts. And the most visually striking aspect of this beauty is that the rear tyre is the sole constituent of the rear section. Even the rear suspension is now a monoshock, which is placed right under the floating aluminium single seat. There’s no visible wiring, and the attention to detail to give it a proper vintage look is astonishing. It’s premium and extremely gorgeous from every angle!
The engineers and designers at Triumph really had a challenging task in combining modern riding capabilities with an authentic classic look. And it won’t be an exaggeration to say that their execution of this combination is perfect – a bike that looks as beautiful as it feels. The highly refined 1,200cc, parallel-twin engine adds that extra smoothness to your ride. The bike is really quick and handles like a dream. The only downside, just like the Indian, is that the ground clearance is very low – meaning that the foot-pegs scrape the tarmac if you lean into corners too much. And, again, the suspension setup is stiff for Indian road conditions – making this not the most practical machine available. That said, it’s certainly less agonising to ride than the Indian.
Which one then?
The Indian offers brute force and excitement in terms of speed and blowback acceleration, and it’s also a beautiful machine in its own right. The Bonneville Bobber is the better looking of the two and is more comfortable to ride. It also handles a bit better. So, it really depends on what you’re looking for. But, hold on a minute. We still have one more bike to consider – the 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob. We rode the bike recently, and I have to say that the suspension setup and the handling capabilities on the new Street Bob are a lot more enjoyable than either the Triumph or the Indian. It also has the new Milwaukee-Eight engine, which is much more usable and offers the most torque of the three. But, if you really want a Bobber, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, and you’re looking to buy your first premium motorcycle, my suggestion would be to go for the Triumph. The reason for that is quite simple, really. It’s the price. The Bonneville Bobber is priced at ₹ 9.09 lakh, which makes it almost three lakh cheaper than both, the Harley and the Indian. I think this reasoning doesn’t need further explanation!
Engine: 1,133cc / V-Twin / Liquid Cooled
Power: 94bhp @ 7,300rpm
Torque: 97Nm @ 5,600rpm
Price: ₹11.99 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-factor: Power that will never run out and keep you smiling.
• Blacked-out retro look
• Instant power delivery
• Too stiff for the city
• Cramped seating position
Engine: 1,200cc / Parallel-Twin / Liquid Cooled
Power: 76bhp @ 6,100rpm
Torque: 106Nm @ 4,000rpm
Price: ₹ 9.09 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-factor: Best retro-looking Bobber that’s also the most affordable.
• Very refined engine
• Beautiful to behold
• Too stiff for the city
• Low ground clearance