I love seeing old folks squirm when you call these things bobbers, but I was actually there with them a couple of years ago when Indian and Triumph released these models. I got into the world of motorcycling through the custom side of things, so it gets right to my chopperin ‘core when we have to call a stock bike a bobber.
The term that once referred to a “balanced” bike, or stripped of stock, specifically with the front fender removed and used as a rear, now means a minimal, more aggressive-styled cruiser.
The Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black and Indian Scout Bobber are little single-bar hoppers, niche bikes that, for all logical reasons, should be harder to sell than their more versatile brethren, but which have flown out of showrooms. We wanted to find out why and pit them against each other to find out which one is worth his hard-earned money.
These Bobbers are a unique race of motorcycles built for a unique race of motorcycles. Both bikes were designed to be expressions of their owner, stylish and ready to be customized to further show the rider’s personality.
Both are smaller than traditional full-size cruisers, or Big Twins, but with larger engines that carry more than enough power to get you in and out of trouble.
They both have a traditional cruiser silhouette, while at the same time being a departure from the cruising norm and built for a slightly different type of riding: more bar hoppers than road blockers. So which one is better? It depends on what you are looking for, but each has its own distinct set of benefits.
From an aesthetic and original styling point of view, the Triumph takes the cake. Its tubular chassis with a simulated stiff line, a slim gas tank with that iconic Triumph shape, simulated Amal carbs, and a floating bucket seat are reminiscent of the early days of bobberdom.
In fact they nailed the bobber and Triumphs was one of the chosen rigs of the day so it’s very fitting. While the Scout’s charge motor and cast frame panels perform very well in terms of weight and stiffness, those large pieces are not very easy on the eyes and are very difficult to hide. When it comes to customization though, the Scout would be the most obvious choice due to the much broader range of aftermarket parts and accessories.
Triumph manufactures over 130 accessories for your Bobber, but it’s tough to compete with the American V-twin aftermarket.
When it comes to handling, none of these bikes were built to smash turns, but that doesn’t mean they can’t turn in a bit of a hurry. The low ground clearance associated with the Bobber name meant we were scraping pegs at most corners, but the Bonneville Bobber’s chassis gave it a couple of distinct advantages.
With a 59-inch wheelbase, it’s 2.5 inches shorter than the Scout, and the rake is substantially steeper (25.4 degrees on the Triumph, 29 degrees on the Indian), which translates to a more responsive handling downhill. speed and less resistance when falling in turns. But the biggest difference in handling comes from the tires. Indian uses these Kenda K761 high profile, thick tread tires that look great but sacrifice performance to get there.
Despite their differences in configuration, the engines of these two bikes have somewhat similar characteristics. For one thing, they both like to do burnout, a lot. On paper the Scout would outperform the Bonnie, but we found different results once we tested the bikes on our internal dynamometer. While the Scout had 100 hp and 72 pound-feet of torque, we found that it actually delivered 81.95 hp and 62.82 pound-feet at the wheel.
The Triumph claims 76 hp and 78 pound-feet of torque, and came in at 73.32 hp and 75.02 pound-feet much closer. While riding the bikes, it feels exactly as you’d expect from those numbers – the Triumph has more to offer just by releasing the clutch, but the Indian finishes better and has a bit more to give in at higher revs.
The front discs …