Indian Scout £10,399 | 100bhp@8000rpm | 72-lb-ft@5900rpm | 1133cc liquid-cooled V-twin
Tested by Roland Brown. Motorcycle Journalist and former international racer, Roland Brown is one of the world’s most respected bike testers. Subscribe to his fantastic YouTube channel – iMotorcycle Video – here.
Indian has made a big impact since being reborn with a range of three Chief models a year ago. The big, nostalgically styled V-twins have been competitive in US comparison tests and have quickly become so successful that Indian is set to outsell its sister company Victory after barely 12 months in business. And now the marque is broadening its range with an all new model: the Scout.
The Scout was traditionally Indian’s sportier V-twin: lighter and smaller in capacity than the Chief even when the original model was released in the 1920s. It’s the same story almost a century later. The new Scout has a capacity of 1133cc to the Chief’s 1811cc, weighs considerably less and is notably sportier and more modern in its design and performance.
It’s a far cry from the Chief’s old-school air-cooled, pushrod-operated V-twin, which set its cylinders at a 49-degree angle because that was the closest that Indian’s engineers could get to the traditional 42 degrees. The liquid-cooled Scout has a wider, 60-degree cylinder angle, eight valves and DOHC operation, allowing better breathing for an injection system that is controlled by ride-by-wire throttle. There’s no attempt to add unnecessary cooling fins; instead the Scout’s engine cases are sculpted to show the shape of the components within.
Indian even breaks with tradition by quoting a maximum power output: 100bhp at 8000rpm. That’s more than the Chief motor produces, but the Scout can’t match the bigger lump’s stomp-pulling low-rev torque. There are no alternative power modes but Indian says the Scout is aimed at inexperienced riders, so delivery is deliberately gentle. Transmission is by six-speed box and belt final drive.
What’s the chassis like?
It’s based on a cast aluminium frame member, clearly visible beneath the single saddle, which combines with the diagonally mounted twin rear shocks and the shape of the fuel tank to give the impression of an old style rigid-framed Scout. Front suspension is as simple as the rear, with a pair of non-adjustable 40mm forks kicked out at a laid-back 29 degrees.
Wheels are a cast multi-spoke 16” design, and there’s just a single disc at each end, which will come with ABS when deliveries begin early next year. In typical cruiser fashion there’s not a lot of suspension travel; just 120mm up front and 76mm at the rear. That in turn allows a very low seat of just 673mm. Indian is aiming the bike at young, inexperienced and female riders, so regarded a low seat and easy manoeuvrability as vital.
Should I buy one?
If you fancy a cruiser that’s a bit different, both to look at and in its unusually lively straight-line performance, then why not? That’s supposing that you’re willing to pay the price of £10,399, which includes the beautifully made leather single saddle but not a pillion seat, for which you’ll have to cough up extra. (Which might seem illogical except that Indian expects a majority of US owners to prefer no pillion perch.)
The Scout’s basic layout might be simple but there’s a definite feeling of quality about the bike. Finish seems excellent, in a choice of four colour schemes: matt or gloss black, silver or Indian’s trademark dark red. You don’t get the outrageous styling flourishes of the Chief, with its gigantic front fender and sculpted Indian headdress logo. Instead there’s a generally neat and restrained style about the Scout, though you do get a headdress-shaped ignition key that fits into the left side of the engine.
So what’s it like to ride?
In many ways the Indian Scout is much like a typical mid-sized V-twin cruiser, being a similar size and weight to something like Yamaha’s XV950, but with twice the power of the air-cooled Yam. Instead of the acceleration petering out at around 5000rpm, the Scout breathes deeper through those eight valves and keeps on charging towards the 8000rpm that its sees the maximum output.
That makes it great fun and respectably quick if you’re in the mood, as its stretches your arms all the way to an indicated 120mph with more to come. The one-piece handlebar is wide and not particularly raised, but that seems fast enough given the fairly forward-set footrests and low seat, which makes for a distinctly cruiser-like riding position.
In reality few owners are likely to use most of the performance very often, partly because the motor gets a little buzzy above about 5000rpm, and mainly because it’s just so sweet from 2500rpm to 4000rpm that it’s generally more enjoyable to take things easy. Fuelling is very good, the six-speed gearbox shifts cleanly, and the Scout is a really enjoyable machine with a relaxed feel – and that extra burst of acceleration when you want it. The US spec test bikes had a nicely burbling exhaust note too, though Euro spec bikes will be quieter.
The chassis complements the engine well, staying stable in a straight line and also coping okay with fairly hard cornering, though its short-travel and reasonably softly damped suspension can feel slightly vague in bumpier turns. At normal speeds it’s fine though, and feels remarkably light for a bike that weighs 255kg wet, helped by its low centre of gravity.
Steering is very neutral, again helping to make the Scout rider-friendly for the inexperienced riders that Indian is aiming to attract. The footrests scrape fairly easily in bends, but that’s okay because the solid bits are well tucked away. The Indian branded, Taiwanese made tyres gave no problems on the dry launch, and I was pleasantly surprised by the brakes, which worked better than I’d expected given the simple specification of single, twin-piston front caliper and single-pot rear.
You don’t expect too much emphasis on practicality with a cruiser, even a relatively sporty one like this, but the Scout should be reasonably easy to live with. Its tank holds a moderate 12.5 litres; enough for a range of over 120 miles. There’s no fuel gauge in the fairly basic instrumentation, just a neat, white-faced analogue speedo with a small digital tacho and a few other displays set into its face.
My only slight problem with the Scout was almost toppling over at a standstill on a couple of occasions when my left boot snagged the raised end of the footrest. That would be easily cured, and no other riders reported the same issue, which was doubtless partly caused by my lanky legs. If buying the bike I’d opt for the accessory saddle that gives tall riders some extra legroom.
Predictably there are plenty of other accessories with which an eager buyer can add to the purchase price. These include numerous chromed pieces as well as the quickly detachable screen, pillion seat, backrest and panniers that would turn the Scout into a respectably capable light tourer – one that could be returned to its lean and mean standard spec relatively easily when required.
It’s certainly easy to see a fair number of European riders being attracted to a bike whose relative simplicity and lower price give a useful advantage over the Chief. And this Scout is sure to be just the first of a fast growing family of 1133cc V-twins, if its maker’s remarkably productive track record over the last three years is anything to go by. Indian is very much back in business, and on this evidence there are going to be plenty of interesting bikes from Minnesota in the coming years.
Engine: 1133cc, liquid-cooled, dohc 8-valve V-twin
Power: 100bhp (75kW) @ 8000rpm
Torque: 72.2lb-ft (98N.m) @ 5900rpm
Dry Weight: 255kg wet
Seat height: 673mm
Tank size: 12.5 litres