The best selling motorcycle magazine in Africa.

Road Test: Indian Scout – the old in the new - Click on your required items

Road Test: Indian Scout – the old in the new

A 60° liquid cooled, fuel-injected, twin cam, four valves per cylinder 1133cc V-twin Scout cruiser. Modern delights with the classic joy.

Story and Pics by Howie da Startled

It’s not often that you find a bike that will run off the speedometer in top gear. Frankly, I didn’t expect that kind of performance from the Indian Scout that I collected from Cardinal’s Motor Corporation in Boksburg on a Saturday morning. I suppose I expected the performance of Indian’s entry level 69 cubic inch, 1133cc cruiser to surpass the HD Sportster 883 and at best to be on par with a Sportster 1200. I should have known better. Both the HD Sportsters are powered by air cooled motors with crank driven camshafts that actuate pushrods that in turn actuate overhead valves and date back to the HD Evolution engines introduced in 1986. In other words the HDs are powered by engines that are 30 years old with anachronistic valve trains. In stark contrast the Indian Scout’s engine is a brand new, kickass, high compression, state of the art 60° V twin, liquid cooled and fuel injected, with chain driven double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. So let’s see what this low slung little baby can do.

Indian Scout Motor

Beautiful 1133cc 60° V twin, liquid cooled and fuel injected, with chain driven double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder

As I blitzed towards Germiston on the N12 I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the mill revved easily to 7000rpm and that the accompanying sonorous growl from the intake system was a deep rising timbre that increased in decibels and intensity as the revs climbed, a visceral sound to stir the soul of any petrolhead. I think that the Scout is still subject to the local homologation processes and therefore the bike did not have a licence disc let alone a number plate. Traffic was sparse and it seemed like a good opportunity to carpe diem. 180km/h in 5th was too easy and when I booted to 6th I watched in delight as the speedo needle swept straight past the final figure on the speedometer. 200km/h on a cruiser, feet forward and chest square to the wind is a lekker macho place to be. And the mill wasn’t even at peak revs. 200km/h was achieved at a mere 6500rpm. As I backed off to something approximating the speed limit I started singing into my helmet the Bon Jovi anthem that would be in my head for the entire weekend:

I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride

I’m wanted dead or alive

Wanted dead or alive.

Indian Scout Speedo

The Scout runs past 200km/h and right off the clock.

First stop for the afternoon was at the One For The Road clubhouse in an industrial suburb of Germiston where the prego rolls are hot and the beverages are cold and the Mustang Sally truck blasts out brilliant rock ‘n roll. When last did you hear Eloise by Barry Ryan at max volume?

I find it hard to realize that love was in her eyes,

It’s dying now, she knows I’m crying now,

And every night I’m there, I break my heart to please

Eloise, Eloise.

I fully expected the Scout to be the centre of attention and it was. What most guys commented on with some wistfulness was that the little Indian has no place for a pillion. This is the bike for an ace pilot [although there is a bolt-on pillion seat in the parts catalogue should the boss start demanding it – ed]. The beautifully sculpted and upholstered tan leather seat, with a height of just 635mm, reinforces the notion that this is the bike for a lone wolf, a desperado badass loose on the land, and completely unfettered by convention or wimmen. It’s a fairly compelling and alluring notion.


Indian Scout Mustang Sally

One For The Road party. The Scout attracted a lot of favourable attention. The Mustang Sally truck boomed in the background.

The styling of the Scout has to be appreciated up close and in detail. Minimalism and fluid lines seem to have been the mantra guiding the design team at Indian. Bodywork comprises Thunder Black swooping front and rear fenders, headlight, fuel tank and errrr that’s it. Laid down rear shocks are part of a gentle arc that leads the eye from the rear axle to the steering head. Chrome shotgun exhausts grace the starboard side and the black lacquered 16” wheels are unusual fifteen spoke designs that are home to big fat takkies 130/90 front and 150/80 rear that are absolutely in keeping with the bike’s retro hotrod looks. But the focal point of the Scout is the bronze coloured engine. Not only does it deliver sparkling performance, Indian claims 74kW of power and 97Nm of torque, the motor looks like a piece of art deco engineering.

According to Wikipedia “Art Deco was an influential visual arts design style that first appeared in France after World War I and began flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned after World War II. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation…. Deco emphasizes geometric forms: spheres, polygons, rectangles, trapezoids, zigzags, chevrons, and sunburst motifs. Elements are often arranged in symmetrical patterns. Modern materials such as aluminium, stainless steel, chrome, and plastics are frequently used.” Study the engine and you’ll see what I’m getting at. It’s a rich blend of geometric shapes that coalesce into an extremely pleasing whole, a classic and timeless design. I have to believe that it was design and not happenstance that resulted in such a sophisticated look. Hats off to Indian for redefining what a latter day V twin should look like.

Indian Scout Dam

Handsome swooping retro lines. Just beautiful.

I had a lot on my agenda for Sunday morning – freeway, raceway, slipway, museum. On the R59 south the Scout soon settled into a comfortable all day 160km/h cruise speed with the mill singing contentedly at 5200rpm. First stop Midvaal Raceway. Over the years the Bike SA crew has built a good relationship with Nino, the owner of Midvaal and Trevor, who manages the proceedings on track. We often pitch up for a few laps for photo purposes and if needed we can always rely on Wayne the resident photographer for some high definition shots. On the track it was ridiculously easy to grind the Scout’s footpegs and, frankly, this is a design flaw. Even on sharp suburban corners I often grounded the pegs. Raising the footpegs a few centimetres will not detract from the ride or the looks. Down the long back straight I easily hit 200km/h and left braking very late, just before the 100m marker, because the single 298mm brake rotors front and rear delivered excellent progressive stopping power. The suspension was set very firmly, and in any event there’s only 75m of travel on the rear shocks, which meant that handling on the track was better than expected but a little harsh on the gluteus maximus when dealing with irregularities on the open road.

Indian Scout Track

At speed at Midvaal. Not even trying and about to deck the pegs.

On the way to Deneysville I rode down to the water’s edge and parked the Indian on a concrete slipway with the infinity of the Vaal Dam as a picturesque backdrop for photos. There are many blokes who spend their weekends on the banks of the dam drinking brandy and killing fish and it wasn’t long before the Scout drew a sizable crowd of mildly inebriated men who insisted on giving me their unsolicited opinions about the bike before I managed to make my escape.

At the Historic Motorcycle Museum in Deneysville I wheeled the 1928 750cc Indian Scout into the sunshine to take photos next to the 2015 model. Despite a chronological chasm of 87 years the Indian lineage was evident not least in the fat tyres and the single tan leather seat. I wasn’t the only one taking photos. On this perfect day for riding the museum was busy and many bikers stopped for photos of a rare nostalgic scene. Bike SA articles are often rounded off by the presence of a dawg and Clive’s Boston Terrier named Barclay, resplendent in his rally jacket, perched contentedly on the seat for photos.

Indian Scout New And Old

1928 Indian Scout 750. The lineage is obvious despite a gap of 87 years.

My ride home up the R59 highway was not without incident. Approaching the Klip River off ramp the fuel warning light came on with 175km on the trip meter. Fair enough. That 175km included high speed freeway and back road riding as well as half a dozen laps at Midvaal. I figured I’d just chortle along at the speed limit and I’d make it home. Wrong! As the trip meter hit 185km the Scout was out of fuel and I was stranded. Of course that was all my stupid fault as  there had been multiple opportunities to refuel on the way home and the Scout’s tank holds only 12.5 litres so it’s unreasonable to expect any significant range on reserve. I called my missus and she brought me two litres. All’s well that ends well.

Final analysis? The Indian Scout punches way above its weight. It’s a long, low, lean machine with undoubted street cred, a brilliant motor and looks that will pull chicks. The chicks just won’t be able to go along for the ride – no pillion seat and no pillion pegs – sorry babe. It’s a prowling predator of a machine and unlike most entry level bikes it will be a keeper because of its looks and its mental top speed. Highly desirable and competitively priced at R159,900 (approx $12,300). Go for a test ride. You’ll be as impressed as I was.

Indian Scout Dog

Barclay the Deneysville Museum dawg

Related Posts