Triumph Bonneville Bobber - Road Test Review
- Jun 9, 2017
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Indian Scout, in my personal opinion, is one of the best overall packages in the ever expanding Indian premium motorcycle market. Let’s run through the boxes it effortlessly ticks: it looks great with that hunkered down and elongated stance; and, unlike the Chief, it has a liquid-cooled engine with excellent levels of refinement. Plus there’s great attention to detail, a comfortable perch and a ride comfortable enough to spend an entire day in the saddle. To top things off, it’s a superb handler as well.
So when the Bobber rolled around, I was genuinely kicked about the idea of a stripped down Scout carving corners and turning heads. I was, however, not prepared for the literal kick the bike would be planting on my backside.
Turning heads, check
It definitely is a head turner. The all-black, minimalistic theme grabs attention instantly. Headlamp gets a new black cowl up front along with a smaller front mudguard and inverted bar-end mirrors. A shorter handlebar than the one on the Scout is a bit farther away as well. And a singular analogue-digital pod sits on the handlebar rather than the headlamp cowl. Fuel tank is teardrop shaped as on the standard bike, measuring 12.5 litres, and at the end of it sits a single leather seat finished in dark tan hue which stands out against the all black theme.
A chopped rear fender completes the minimalistic look as you see much more of the 150-section rear tyre than you’re used to. And the tyres are a set of semi-knobbies, which make the Bobber look even more sinister. You can’t however have a pillion seat, simply because there isn’t enough space for one.
Hardware identical to the Scout?
Yes, pretty much. Engine is exactly the same 1133cc liquid-cooled V-twin as the Scout and makes an identical 94PS of max power and 97Nm of peak torque, which makes it quite a quick motorcycle. It is mated to the same 6-speed transmission with belt drive.
Front forks too are identical to the standard Scout, with 120mm of travel. The rear twin-shock suspension setup, however, is much lower compared to the Scout, to give the Bobber a more hunkered down and menacing stance. Plus, it gets a 298mm single disc brake at either end with a twin-piston caliper up front and a single-piston at the rear.
Quite a recipe for fun then
It depends on how you look at it. Okay, I’ll be honest - the Bobber looks like a great package on paper but when you start riding, it starts to fall apart. The seat for one is quite hard and not so supportive. The seating position itself is quite odd too. With the handlebars pushed away from you, you have to stretch to reach them. Couple that with forward-set pegs and the length of the tank and you are practically riding with your chest inches from the fuel tank. Plus the seat is quite narrow so after just 15 minutes of riding I could feel my pelvic bones protesting and crying in agony. The pressure on the lower part is even more pronounced if you are generously proportioned, like me.
On the move, however, it feels stable and planted at all times. The huge dollop of mid-range torque makes for easy overtakes, and filtering through traffic is also a breeze. Despite its size, it is surprisingly nimble. The chassis is well balanced and, as with all Indian motorcycles, the weight virtually disappears the moment you roll off the line. The 6-speed gearbox operates like a well oiled jackhammer, shifting through the gears with precision and loud thuds. The 97Nm of torque practically sitting in the midrange also means that you can cruise at 60kmph in sixth without a hitch and go hurtling towards the horizon with a simple twist of the wrist.
Okay, how’s the ride then?
The Bobber has a slightly stiffer setup than the Scout, which makes it quite eager to devour corners, and the turn-ins are almost telepathic. But that is where the good things come to an end. The long footpegs with equally long feeler bolts limit the Bobber from leaning into corners and its lower stance ensures you scrape the pegs no matter how careful you are. And that kind of takes away the fun.
Then there is the stiff suspension. The rear suspension only has 50mm of travel while the wheel travel is virtually non-existent. So the ride is pliant only if the tarmac is smooth... racetrack smooth. Anything even remotely resembling a pothole, a speed hump or a rumble strip is enough for the bike to plant a firm kick up your spine. And we firmly suggest you stay away from the red line cause past 6000rpm, the Bobber starts to feel like a Nokia 3310 on vibration mode. Plus, the heavy clutch and jumpy throttle make it quite a handful in traffic.
Should I buy one?
If you are looking for a modern classic touring motorcycle with presence and a comfortable ride, we suggest you look elsewhere. The standard Scout and the Triumph Bonneville T120 are great options.
But if you do most of your riding in the city, are looking for a head turner that is also good for short weekend rides and Facebook cover photos, but is not a Forty-Eight, the Scout Bobber has a lot going for it. At 11.99 lakh, ex-showroom pan-India, the Scout is more expensive than the Triumph and the Harley. But it also features a much more refined engine with more power and shutterbug-worthy looks, which makes it worth considering.
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