Sons of Anarchy? That TV series has a lot to answer for, doesn’t it, but, strangely, not all of it bad…
By NIK (thanks to Pam for riding it for these pics)
A while back, we ran a roadtest on the new Indian Sport Chief, the latest incarnation of the renowned Indian Chief and its 1890cc Thunderstroke 116 engine, done by a real motorcycle journalist – you know, the world-weary, seen-it-all types who spend their lives flying from one exotic location to another to ride the latest motorcycling offerings, often in a manner that requires them to hold them up through corners using their knees. Mr Moss, Mr Christopher Moss Esquire, for it was he, is one such highly-respected gentleman who knows more about motorcycling ‘stuff’ than anyone here ever will, but he obviously isn’t aware of the effect said motorcycle TV series has had on us hairy-arsed types.
Enjoy everything More Bikes by reading the monthly newspaper, Read FREE Online.
Y’see, when SOA, as it’s colloquially known, first aired back in September 2008, it brought to the world’s attention the style of bike known as club bikes. Club-style bikes, as I’m sure you know, are named after the California back-patch club style of bikes that members over there’ve been riding for years – bikes designed for long-distance comfort and speed, typically a Harley Dyna, or similar, with T or MX ‘bars and a quarter fairing. Originally they were blacked out (‘painted completely black’ in UK parlance) for utilitarian purposes, but recently they’re starting to appear painted extremely intricately and, indeed, bike events around the world now run separate classes for club-style bikes; Punta Bagna (or Courchevel as it now is), the famous Alpine chopper show, recently ran the first (as far as I know) European Club-Style Contest.
As I’m sure you’re aware, manufacturers in general, and bike manufacturers especially, are always watching for new trends in biking, and they don’t miss a trick; it wasn’t that long after SOA’s airing that Joe Biker started dressing up his Dyna (or whatever) club-style, and it wasn’t that long (in the grand scheme of things… relatively) before arguably club-styled bikes started to become available in dealer showrooms – the Harley Sport Glide being probably the first. They now offer two visibly club-style bikes, the Sport Glide and the Low Rider ST, and Indian are now offering two, too: the Sport Chief and this bike – the Scout Rogue.
Based on their existing 1,133cc Scout, whose engine produces 71 (or 72 depending on which publication you take notice of) lb-ft of torque and 94bhp, the Rogue is the club-style version of the traditional Scout, and’s offered to the general public in a variety of blacked-out finishes, matt detailing, and moody branding. Its styling’s tough and edgy, with its de rigueur quarter fairing and mini apes, its low sport-style single seat and, differing from its three siblings, a 19-inch front wheel with a low-profile tyre.
From the moment I picked up the Rogue from Indian’s UK base on the outskirts of Brum, it felt different from the other Scouts. I’ve ridden the Scout, and the Scout Bobber, and they’re nice bikes – nice as in… well, nice, y’know? The Rogue, though, feels as though it’s going to live up to its name – it’s cool, rather than nice, growls a bit more deeply and throatily through its stacked ‘pipes, has a different, slightly more expectant persona. Its seat is low, and not wide as many cruisers’ seats are, and with the fairing and high ’bars you instantly sit down in it, rather than on it. The ‘bars feel right, and the underslung mirrors do, too (and, actually, once you’ve learnt to look under your arm into them, give a very good view of the road behind), and the chassis feels very stable from the moment you pull out on to the road. The suspension, it has to be said, is budget, yes, and does clang over the ‘oles in the road, but they offer a better, fully-adjustable package as an option, and you soon get used to it – I found myself treating it the way you do a custom/chop and steering around things whenever I could, and it was fine. Does it steer differently ‘cos o’ the taller, skinnier front wheel? Probably, but it’s been that long since I rode a Scout I can’t really remember – it was particularly sure-footed along the Welsh mountain roads I took it along, and through roundabouts, too, and I racked up just over 1,000 miles in a week on it so it must’ve ridden okay or I wouldn’t have.
Equipment-wise, the Rogue’s a little basic but, in my book, that’s a good thing. There’re no ‘modes’ or adjustable this, resettable that; just a USB plug, usefully, on the headstock for your phone/sat-nav, and an easy-to-read speedo. The headlight’s bright, as are the rear lights, and the indicators flash – what more do you want them to do?
The tank holds… umm, some amount of fuel, how much I don’t exactly know – it cost about £15 or so to fill it up, and it did the whole run from Brum back to the environs of Suffolk on one tank, at about 75mph most of the way. A couple of days later, it did home to the services on the M6 toll road on one tank, too, without the fuel light coming on, but that long run (a smidge over 2.5 hours non-stop) did throw up the bike’s only niggle – because the Rogue’s a single-seater as standard, there’re no rear ‘pegs, and so therefore you’re stuck in one riding position. Normally on a long run on a bike with forwards, I move me feet back on to the rear ‘pegs after a while to give me arse a chance, but here you’re in the one position and that’s it. Okay, so it only started to hurt on journeys over two hours non-stop, but it did. Really. My advice? Don’t ride it that far without putting yer feet down…
As I said, I did just over 1,000 miles in a week, including the Elan Valley, and the Devil’s Bridge road (both excellent and well worth doing), and a 7.5-hour cross-country, no motorways, run on the way back, and the Rogue performed faultlessly. It garnered looks wherever I parked it, and sounded nice, too (not loud, as it’s a new bike, but throaty). I was impressed – have a test ride and see if you are, too?
The Indian Scout Rogue costs from £13,995, and you can get more info’ from your local Indian dealer or www.indianmotorcycle.co.uk