I am feeding the engine fuel with a heavy right foot, and swapping cogs with a right hand, as if the electricity of my excitement was driving my muscles exclusively. Up the on-ramp onto the 183. Now barreling down the highway toward the heart of ATX, more specifically the East side, my mind is a flurry with the questions that I have, the anticipation of the ride, the disbelief that a random, shot-in-the-dark email only hours earlier had actually reaped response. Seconds clicking past as minutes, and this might be the longest drive downtown that I have had yet. 183, 35, the exits begin to whiz by as if invisible. 38 1/2, Airport, 15th, 11th, and finally my exit, now I am ever so much closer.
Perhaps I should back up a bit. A month ago, we all heard about the 2015 Indian Scout, a bike that we have been waiting for, specifically here in the office. Once the Indian Roadmaster was announced, we almost immediately started seeing teasers stating that Indian was #NotDoneYet. Something was coming at Sturgis. Something that we were almost certain was the Scout. What shape? What motor? What price? We had to wait.
News from Sturgis came rushing down the canyon like a torrent from the great rain that was the Wall of Death. As soon as we had all of the information, I had my reservation in. Then, I had my money down (hopefully more on that to come at a later date). I had money down on a bike that I had only seen via 1's and 0's, and through the flicker of my monitor. This was crazy!
Present tense, the Sunday before Labor Day. Swapping gears in a hurried manner on the way downtown. Hours earlier, I had, on a whim, sent a gentleman that I had met a year prior on a random jaunt for breakfast an email to see if he was in town and had time to grab a coffee at some point. As a pure stroke of luck, he was, and he had responded to my email in short order, stating that he was actually on the Scout and going to head to East Austin this afternoon.
Rolling up to the Lost Well in East Austin lets you know exactly what kind of joint it is before you even step foot toward it. Bikes. Bikes of every shape, size, color, era stand as sentinels out front, baking in the Texas sun. Some glean in the sunlight with their new paint on smooth, new metal; some lean lazily after years of service has left their paint and metal dull, worn due to denim, zippers, and leather chaffing it thousands--hundreds of thousands--of times over its lifetime of service. New and fresh, old and tired, all standing proud, as their riders cool off inside the lounge.
Grease and oil stained, leathery flesh wraps the hands and faces of the those loitering outside the Lost Well. Sweat glistening on foreheads. Specs, stories of breaks, field fixes, and the latest adventure pour over lips. Amid the scoots, there sits a moto that goes unnoticed as something that is, for all intents and purposes, an apparition yet to be released to the public. The Scout sits there, drawing no more or less attention than any of the other vintage and custom bikes. It belongs among the throngs of loved metal, paint and rubber. Two men pawing at it from the crouched position are the only indication that this is something that begs for discussion. One in the workman's shirt of a mechanic, and then other in a simple t-shirt, a flatcap from Roland Sands, and the thick framed glasses that I immediately recognized. This was Robert, whom I was here to meet. They were discussing the intricacies of the motor and how Indian was able to eliminate parts here and there to make the power plant more simple, smaller, and more aesthetically pleasing.
Once the conversation wanes and the man in the mechanic's shirt is distracted by another passerby, I reintroduce myself. He remembers immediately. With a firm grip, shake, and a smile, he says, "Yeah, well there it is. Do you want to ride it?!" Before I can get a, "Yeah, sure, but don't you want to talk about it first?" out, he instructs me to grab my lid and take 'er out for a ride, and "... THEN we will have something to talk about." This is incredible, and I can hardly believe how my day is going.
I grabbed my lid and came back to the Scout. Robert comes back out and gives me a few instructions about the Scout. "It has really good brakes, so don't think that they are lazy brakes off a big cruiser. Also, it has two power bands, one off idle and then another that will kick in at about 4500 RPM. You are on public roads, so be careful. I'll be in there." And then he walked back inside.
The swing height of this bike is something truly of note. This bike is short. The seat height is listed at 25.3 inches. I have shoes that are longer than this thing is tall! That being said, I settle in to this machine and tip it off the kick stand with the ambiguity that comes with a new motorcycle. How much muscle will this take? With a quick flex of the muscles, the bike almost jumps off of the stand. This thing is really really light on the tilt.
The motor exhales with a nice and even lope through the stock straight mufflers (not the curved pipes that we have been seeing in photos). The exhaust note is not loud, but it does demonstrate intent. It is able to quietly allude to the fact that this thing has 100 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. Heeding the advice of Robert, I ease into the power as I pull into the street. Power delivery is smooth and purposeful. A change up from 1st to 2nd is positive and silky smooth, not the *ka-chunck* that comes with the HD 48's transmission.
Rolling right along, I administer a bit of fueling to get the revs over the 4500 mark to see what we are working with on this "other power band." 4400 revolutions wink past on the simple digital gauge on their way up to that 4500 mark. The revs pass, and the surge of power is spread evenly over the pavement as warm butter is spread over toast. Completely even power out of this 69ci (1133 cc) motor with almost an imperceptible transition from one power band to the other. It was intoxicating.
The suspension had worried me a little. Three inches of travel out of the laid down rear shock had me nervous for my spine and tail bone. The screw type adjustable coilover rear shocks were able to suck up the bumps, rolls, and cracks in this long-since-maintenanced road in East Austin. The seat is actually very comfortable, as well.
After about a 15-20 minute ride, it was time to head back to the Lost Well. I easily maneuver the Scout back to it's original spot among the myriad of vintage, custom, and new bikes. Back pedaling the Scout's 558 pounds was a doddle that even the weaker of legs could manage.
I pull my lid off and head into this dive, which, as it turns out to be on this particular Sunday, is a temple of speed, as MotoGP flickers from the pulpit. The lights turned down low and every screen in the place is dedicated to the racers dancing by on the track at Silverstone. Reverence is shown, as hushed voices chat about the races leading up to this showdown. Silence and held breath greets each deep braking point as the fight for 1st place unfolds. It's not until Marquez makes his final move to take the lead, that the men and women in the room erupt with cheers. Close your eyes, and you would hear cheers and jeers, just as you would have heard "Alleluia!" shouted from the congregation at some thick-aired, Southern-Baptist church.
My time on the Scout was quite short, but I could have ridden this thing all day long and never got tired of it. My apprehension toward putting a deposit on a bike that I had never ridden melted into pure excitement as soon as I tilted this bike off of it's side stand. The easy way that it carried it's weight, the easy maneuverability, and easy steering made this bike one of the most approachable bikes that I have ever swung a leg over. In the long run, the generous slathering of power coupled with that torque will keep riders of any level interested in the bike. It will grow with new riders as their skill and confidence increases, and more seasoned riders will appreciate the way that this bike puts the power to the pavement, tips into corners effortlessly, and does so with such an iconic badge on the tank. The Indian Scout is something that the folks in Milwaukee should be concerned about. This Scout is hog hunting with a full quiver.