Some days, I can certainly say that my job definitely does not suck. Every morning for the last week or so, I have been picking up my helmet, only to walk out and see a pre-production Indian Scout. For those of you that might be just tuning in, I have couple of stories that I have written about my incredibly gilded life as of late for more reference. I have decided to take a bit of a different approach to this story. I opened this story up to you all to direct my riff on a review of the 2015 Indian Scout.
The Scout has captured the attention of motorcyclists and the journalists that cover the wild world of motorcycling for the last several months. It is not everyday that someone walks into a bar and calls out the biggest, baddest, mother in the joint. That is exactly what Indian did. Indian Motorcycle, now owned by Polaris (for those that didn't already know), walked into the bar with their Scout and knocked Harley's, aherm, iced tea on the ground and said, "I would like to see you outside."
Indian has their sights squarely set on Harley's comparable bike, the Sportster 1200. With rolled up sleeves, and a low-slung saunter, the Scout is picking a fight with the long-running champ of the mid-level cruisers. The Sporty comes in many iterations. These iterations start just below that of the the Scout's price tag, however, when you start adding chrome and accessories, the out the door number can climb rather quickly.
Many are running comparos between the Scout and bikes that don't really even vibrate in the same stratos as the Scout. I have seen it go head to head with Harley's Night Rod Special for some reason... I don't get it. The Night Rod, dynos at 107 horse power, and has that low and swept look, but it isn't anywhere close to the same market as the Scout. The Scout dynos at around 83 to the rear wheel. The Scout is powered by a brand new engine that was developed concurrently with it's big brother, the ThunderStroke 111. The Night Rod, Porsche. I am not downplaying Polaris at all here, it takes a LOT of development to put out a whole new motor! Porsche has been producing motors for decades. Another huge thing that separates the two is, of course, price. The Scout is a steal at $10,999, while the Night Rod starts at $16,549. That is a $5550 disparity. For that money, you essentially get a Porsche engine, a slightly wider rear tire, and 24 horse power. I don't know if any of you have ridden a Night Rod, but it is a tough bike to ride. The Scout, one of the easiest bikes to ride that I have swung a leg over. Why is the Scout being compared to this bike in so many places? (I have seen rumors that Scout motor is from Fuji Heavy. This is not true. The motor is a Polaris motor through and through. They have been developing their own motors for a long time. To date, they have over a million ProStar motors in service.)
But I digress...
The Scout is a new motorcycle that, within a year of the rebirth of Indian Motorcycles, fleshed out the brand with an "entry/mid-level" motorcycle. Three models of Indian Motorcycles (the Vintage, Classic, and Chieftain) became available in October of last year after their announcement at Sturgis. The 74th Sturgis rally saw news out of the Indian camp yet again. This time, it was news of a motorcycle at either end of the spectrum. A luxurious, and comfortable Indian built to tackle the long haul, the Roadmaster; and at the other end, a stunning cruiser that is long on heritage, short in stature, and thick with approachability and power; the Scout.
From the moment that we got a glimpse of the Scout after a leaked photo, I was smitten. The clean lines; the wheels (those wheels); and the stripped down, no nonsense look of the Scout had my attention. I can easily say that I am not a cruiser customer. I have never had the urge to get out and buy a bike from that other big company that virtually owns the cruiser market. However, i've been lucky enough to ride many of them, and thought their power, presence, and mystique was cool enough, sure, but I just didn't buy into it. I wanted to swing my leg over something that is just a little "different." The longer that I looked at this bike, the more my "wants" started leading my hands. Before long, all of the information was officially available. I had clicked and scrolled through every page, and read every word on the freshly-launched Indian Scout site. My reservation was sent. Now I wait, the gun was loaded, but I had yet to pull the trigger with a deposit.
Like many of you reading, I am not one who is up to putting money, especially non-refundable money, down on something that I have not put my hands on and ridden for a mile or two. This one was a little different. It had pedigree that few others can tout is what this brand had in it's corner. Even the uninitiated know a few, ubiquitous names in motorcycling: Harley, Ducati, and Indian. Once the dealer called, I was on the list with money down.
Enough of the backstory and fluff that many of our dedicated members already know.
First and formost is the fit and finish. The Scout oozes refinement, not to be confused with creature comforts. Refinement in the fitment and quality of equipment. Indian is establishing themselves as a luxury brand, from the dealership spaces, to the quality and feel of the parts in your hands. If you look closely, all of the plastics and levers are stamped with the "I" or "Indian" name. This is indicative of the fact that, while it would have been cheaper, these are not just off-the-shelf parts. They were made by Indian for an Indian.
Swinging a leg over the Scout is incredibly easy as it sits very low to the ground. Once your butt settles into the soft brown leather of the saddle, you notice how exceptionally comfortable it is. The foam liner is nice and thick. The best part of the seat is the upturned rear. When you are out throttling the Scout, it provides some nice support so that you don't feel like you are going to fall off the back of the bike. The stock seat on the HD 48 is notorious for making me feel like I have to hold on for dear life. Here is the BEST part about that seat though... The upturn on the seat catches the tail of your shirt so that you aren't showing everyone on the highway most of your back and love handles at 60 miles an hour. Who is reporting on that little feature?! Me, that's who!
Okay, now to the questions posed by all of you:
Are the mirror stalks long enough to see behind you?
With the existing mirrors, can you see behind you?
- The stalks are not very tall. They flare out to the sides, so you are certainly able to see to either side of your shoulders, so the answer is "Yes." Depending on how you have them set up, you will get a lot of shoulder in there. The folks at Indian have found that you should make the big adjustments with a wrench, then tighten them down, and then fine tune from there. I am not a big guy, so I don't get a lot of shoulder in there. If you are broader of shoulder, you will just need to adjust them out a little further.
How's the fueling at low revs/slow going...smooth or not?
- The Scout is great during the lower revs. I took a moment to roll around out parking lot and side road at idle yesterday. The motor was smooth, and the only "bounce" came from the driveline loading and unloading from the power of the motor as it propelled the bike. I hope that makes sense. As the drive line would provide drive, the bike would be pushed along at a speed juuust faster than the motor and then the bike would slow and "bounce." This was due to the fact that I was on a flat, flat, flat plane. If there would have been an incline, this would not have been an issue, and the engine would have propelled the bike smoothly.
At what speed do you begin to feel any noticeable vibrations? Is it through the bars, pegs or both?
Vibrations and that's a good one which I've been wondering about.
- The vibes come in near the top of the rev range. They start becoming more than standard, internal combustion engine vibes at around 6000 revs. Even at this level, they are nothing more than the vibes that you would expect while stretching the legs of a motor. At no time do I feel as though they are excessive. If it were smoother, you would not have the urge to shift. This bike revs quickly, so the moment from 6K to your shift point during hard acceleration is a blink of an eye.
As for where the vibes come from, I feel them in the foot pegs. The bars have some vibrations, but again, it is nothing that is worth mentioning per se. Let me clarify, this is not one of those super smooth lux cruisers that has zero character coming from the power plant. There is some vibration that comes from this motor, and it is that. Vibration. Not the out and out shake that comes from other 1200 V-Twins out there. There is enough there to let you know that explosions are happing. The more throttle, the more explosions. It is a great thing.
When riding for a decent amount of time (30 min or more), how hot does the header get and can/does it "burn" thru your pants?
- I was actually a little worried about this. The pipes do come VERY close to your ankle. I wear Vans when I ride (I know I know I know). I almost always wore my Maple Jeans with an upturned cuff while riding (read: 3 layers of selvedge denim) the Scout. I never got hot ankle. I ended up wearing some Levis as well (no upturn) and did not experience any excess heat with my foot on the peg.
- Full Disclosure: I DID burn my ankle on the pipe one time. Vans + Ankle Sock + A Pant Leg that was not covering my ankle. This burn was not a bad one at all, and was a thought for about a half a day and is about the size of a grain of cooked orzo (I had chicken and orzo soup today at lunch, as I know it is a weird reference).
Gas Mileage during your review period.
Fuel Efficiency check?
City - Low/High/Average mpg
Highway - Low/High/Average mpg
Accounting for traffic and riding style
- I rode the Scout on as many different kind of roads and situations as I could as I didn't know how long I was going to have it. I did not dedicate a tank to this and a tank to that... That being said, I saw 34.22 miles per gallon. This is not "easy riding" the thing at all. There was a lot of full throttle on an on-ramp; low revs + top gear + full throttle; playing with different throttle/gear combos; commuting; stop and go; highway.
Anything show up on your Scout that wasn't part of the initial specs, e.g. additional instrumentation indicators
- I have a feeling you are asking about a Gear Position Sensor Light or a fuel gauge. There is a fuel light that will indicate that you are close to empty. I saw the first flicker at 92.22 miles. The bike then took about 2.7 gallons of fuel.
Comfort on 1 hr plus rides.
- The Scout is actually very comfortable. I have a boney butt, and the seat is really quite nice. The bars pull back quite a lot to give me a fairly upright riding position. I naturally hunch a bit to keep my head out of the wind, and it is habit from riding a bike with drag bars as my daily driver. If I wanted to be completely upright, I could be. The suspension is softer than you would expect. I have only been bucked upward one time with accelerating over train tracks, and it was not anything unexpected. I think your worst enemy will be the wind and not the machine. Guys and gals, you have to remember that this bike is NOT A HIGHWAY CRUISER. It is not meant, nor designed for long treks across the country. An hour or two is all you are going to want to be on this bike before a break. Many of you have been complaining about the fuel capacity, and I think it is right on the money. This is a 100 mile bike. On the highway, you will want to get off and not have the wind in your face just about every 100 miles.
Two up riding and if so what does your passenger think (off chance you have a pillion setup)
Does Scout have fork lock?
- It did not... But I think that the production Scout will have a fork lock, see below.
Post an image of what's under seat.
=Slow Speed Maneuvering=
It's been reported that the bike handles well at low speeds (parking lot)
The Scout is low and the tires fat, how does it handle (fast turns, slow tight turns).
- The Scout is indeed low, and the tires are awesomely fat. The fact is that the Scout is an an inch and some change longer than the HD 48 (Real World Weight and Measurements of a Scout vs Harley Sportster), the center of gravity is almost impossibly low. This leaves the Scout feeling a fraction of it's weight. How does this translate to maneuverability? The bike makes you feel like a rock star when you are pulling up to a stop sign in traffic. Modulate the brakes, slow to a crawl, and this thing does not try to topple to the ground. It is incredibly balanced and the slow speed stuff is where that low COG really helps. This bike is possibly the most approachable motorcycle that I have ridden. I think that, with a little practice, you would easily be able to take the Scout to your Motorcycle Training Course and use it for the final test. I was able to make U-Turns in two lane roads with ease. Creeping around parking lots is a doddle. You have the confidence that, IF you have to put your feet down, you won't have to support a million pounds.
=High Speed Maneuvering=
Thinking twisties and sweepers
- In the faster (highway speed) sweepers, tipping into the corners is almost intoxicatingly good. The bike is incredibly balanced and you have virtually zero nervousness about leaning the bike into the corner. I hang my heels, with the balls of my feet on the peg so that I have a "road feeler" of sorts. Doing this, I have an idea of lean angle and I got a kick out of having my shoes rub the ground.
Impression of the ride quality...i.e. suspension reaction to smooth vs. rough roads.
- I have kind of already addressed this earlier. The Scout is a real pleasure to ride. Nothing about it is intimidating. The road manners are quite good. Rough roads are soaked up relatively well. Again, this is bike that has about 3 inches of travel in the rear, so don't think that you won't feel this stuff. The bike gives you very positive feedback to what the wheels are experiencing. As I said before, the suspension is softer than I was expecting, in a good way. I was expecting the 48's near-hard tail ride. This was a lot more refined than the Harley. Sure, you felt the bumps and dips, but it was never harsh to my bottom. If you are aware of the road, and can avoid the inconsistencies, you will be just fine. I actually had to try to find bumps that would upset the ride, and it was only when I sought these parts of the road out that I felt like it could be better. Given the opportunity, a motorcycle rider would almost always avoid these things in the road, so it is kind of a moot point.
60-0 time and distance?
Front and rear brake characteristics
Include some sense of the quality of the braking in various modes...i.e. "normal" stops vs. "panic" stops
- This is by no means a scientific test. On a rather new road, with a rather generous amount of aggregate, I was able to pull down from 45 to 0 in about 50-55 feet (based on my foot length count). This was under heavy braking. I did not allow the rear to lock up, and nor did I feel like it was on the bleeding edge of locking. This leaves me to think that there was room for a bit of improvement in total braking distance. Later, I did, purposefully, lock up the rear tire to see what it felt like, and the bike tracked straight with the rear locked. The front tire was a test in cajones, and done at a VERY low speed. I was able to lock the front with a very generous squeeze. The bike tracked straight and did not attempt to jerk the bars from my hands.
Would a center stand fit one, when and if one is eventually produced.
- I don't think that this bike will support a center stand based on the minimal clearance underneath. I am not 100% familiar with the center stand market though, so take my statement with a grain of salt.
What do you suspect might be some of the "few things" that might change?
Add to this, my thinking that they will add a fork lock.
Shifting Characteristics: Clunky? Smooth?
Ease of finding gear or neutral positions?
- Shifting on the Scout is much smoother than the HD 48's transmission and shifter setup. There is a satisfying lock into 1st gear from neutral, and then the following gears are accessed with a fluid and positive "check" up and down the shift pattern. The one thing that I will say is that you will need to make purposeful shifts. The trasmission does not respond well to a light-hearted easing from one gear to the next. First to Second (past Neutral) is just a hair longer than I would like, but that might go unnoticed for those wearing boots. The canvas upper of my Vans does not take up much space. There might be some adjustments in the linkage that could be made to shorten this throw.(Keep in mind, I am nit-picking here. I have to be able to complain about something right?!)
- Neutral is very easy to find while on the road. It actually feels a little different than 1st and 2nd, so I never had an issue. The green Neutral light on the dash is a little slow to illuminate when starting the bike, so you just have to work in an extra quarter of a second into your routine. A quick clutch, double tap down on the shifter, and a lift up always found Neutral with zero drama.
I don't know where else to put this, but since I am talking about starting the bike, I will add it here. Something that I didn't realize until a few days into the test is that the starter will continue to "kick" until the engine turns over. One touch of the starter button will set the circuit in motion and the starter will "kick" until the engine turns over. Kind of a cool deal, that.
0-60 time (thinking highway onramp/merge acceleration )
60-90 time (thinking fast-passing)
Quarter mile estimate? Maybe a real lap down a dragstrip?
- I do not have timing numbers, only seat of my pants feelings. The Scout has torque throughout the entire rev range. This plucky little bike has torque even in high gears and low revs. As a test, I slammed the selector all the way into 6th gear as I turned onto an on-ramp, and I twisted the throttle to full tilt from 45 miles an hour in 6th. The bike did not lug, it didn't starve for oxygen as I ladled on the throttle, it simply gathered itself, and proceeded to hurdle me up the on-ramp and got me to the cruising speed before I entered the highway. No drama, no feeling like cars behind were having to hesitate, just a surge of power that pushed me up the ramp like a lot of other bikes in the proper gear.
- At the top end of the spectrum, the passing power does not leave you wanting in the least. A simple pop down from 6th to 5th will get you up into the rev range where you will be able to pass with confidence. Even cruising in 6th, you have more than enough power to get around most any cars. Again with no scientific claim here: In 6th, I was able to get from ~65 to ~85 in less than 5 One-thousands (counting in my head).
What might be the minimum turning radius?
- I did not measure out a circle and see how tight I could get, but I certainly had more than enough room for a u-turn on a two lane road with no shoulders.
=High Speed Maneuvering=
Thinking twisties and sweepers
- Again, this was discussed earlier. I felt completely confident in dipping the Scout into corners and letting my heels drag a bit. The bike tips nicely into a smooth arch that was easily controlled mid-corner.
=Riding Comfort - Saddle=
How does the saddle feel after x miles on the highway or x amount of time in the city?
How long before the tingles begin?
How long before saddle sore - Tailbone pain?
- I never felt uncomfortable in the saddle. The only thing that I saw was that there is a certain "home" that my butt had in the saddle, outside of this "home it was "uncomfortable" on the superficial level. Think: a small fold in the side of your sock. A quick adjustment in the saddle back and you are all set again. My Triumph does not have this "home" place, I am free to let my butt roam a little as the road conditions change. The Scout has a solo seat, so I don't think this is probably not even worth mentioning.
=Riding Comfort - Hand Grips=
The grips are a bit on the smallish side, almost bicycle thick (of course, they can be changed out to taste)
How long before the tingles begin?
- I never got the tingles. I actually felt like I could relax my hands on the grips most of the time. Their positioning never left my hands numb or with pins and needles.
=Riding Comfort - Footpegs=
How do the foot pegs feel after x miles on the highway? Cramped? Vibration through the boots?
How long before the tingles begin?
- Again, I discussed this a little earlier. The pegs are well spaced for my legs. I was kind of wanting a slightly more aggressive stance out of the bike, but that is just my youthful exuberance and personal riding preference. The bike's pegs placed the tops of my thighs and knees right below the line of the top of the tank. This gives you a nice place to squeeze the tank with your knees as you rail the turns. I will be interested to see how the extended and reduced reach pegs reposition the controls, and how that moves the leg and knee position.
How loud are the pipes? I added the slip on's, hoping this will make them louder?
- I think that the pipes have great sound for stock pipes. You can still carry a conversation with a buddy (albeit with elevated voices) while the bike is started. The Stage 1 kit will almost assuredly add to the sound. I feel like the sound falls out a little during the ride as you add the wind noise and other atmospheric sounds some into play. You definitely hear a lot of the engine and less of the exhaust at speed. This comes down to rider preference for sure. I like a loud bike, but that is not for everyone. Indian hit the nail on the head with the exhaust in the big picture though. There is enough sound to let you know that the bike is churning away, but the folks at the state capitol won't be waving their fingers at you for sound statute violations. The Harley Crowd has to have the loudest machines on the road, and this exhaust is not that. Like Teddy Roosevelt, the Scout speaks softly and carries a big stick.
Also, what part(s) of your body start feeling road weary first the end of a longer ride? How long before these effects occur? How's the suspension over expansion joints?
- I did not hit that wall. I was able to ride the Scout for miles and miles without feeling tired from the machine. The fatigue comes from the wind and sun. Again guys, this is not a long distance touring bike. This thing will run you downtown and put a smile on your face while you do it.
- Expansion joints were no problem. The only time my butt even thought about lifting from the seat was on some train tracks, and it was nothing that I wasn't expecting to happen due to physics.
What's the rpm at 60, 65, 70 and 75mph?
Top Gear (6th) Revs
- 60 mph = 3200 RPM
- 70 mph = 3700 rpm
- 80 mph = 4300 rpm
Is comfortable enough to go long, say 300-500 mile day?
- Broken up into several stints (The Scout was not manufactured or designed to be a long-distance bike), I think you could go all day on this thing without any sweat. If you are going to be on the highway for hours and hours, get a wind screen. The machine is not the part that fatigued me. In fact, the Scout made me want to ride another stint every time I got off of it.
1. handling at low speeds and tight curves
2. shock absorption on bumps, etc.
3. a small or female rider's impression (Don't know if you have a wife or female friend that could take it for a spin as well??)
- Already discussed.
- Already discussed.
- I had any girl that was willing to, swing a leg over this bike and tip it off the side stand. None wanted to take it out because it wasn't their bike. The smallest girl that I could find, 5'4"-ish and about 110 lbs soaking wet, was able to take it off of the side stand, flat foot it, and balance the bike for the whole time I was asking her questions about what she thought. She commented heavily on the fact that, initially, she didn't think she would be able to control the weight of the bike. Once she actually sat on it, the lightness of the Scout really surprised her. She felt like she would have no problem moving it around.
1) What diameter are the bars?
2) All the demo Scouts pictured have the bars in the same position. Can they be tilted up and still maintain comfortable control or is the steering head too far forward?
3) It looks like the wiring does not run through the bars. Does it appear that the bars would be easy to change (like any standard bike)?
- Funny story that... It is both 1" and 7/8". There is a joint that reduces the 1" bars down to 7/8" for the controls.
- I think they could be tilted up quite a ways before they would get uncomfortable. I don't know how that will effect the leverage that you have on the front wheel, but from an ergo standpoint, you will have some freedom. As far as standing them up into an ape situation, the complex bends might end up turning the grips into a weird direction. Buy hey, give it a shot!
- The wiring does indeed run along the bars, not in the bars. The bars look as though they will be very easy to change, like any standard bike.
Are there any plugin spots anywhere, or leads coming off the battery?
- None that I saw specifically. There is a photo of the under seat area above.
Now for my "wishlist."
I wish that the foot pegs were spring loaded so that they returned back to their original location after being bumped. This was only an issue for the first few days of riding as the learning curve for exactly the position of the pegs without looking was a steep one. I kept bumping them from the bottom when I went to put my foot up. Then I would be left to go to place my foot on nothing but air. After a few days, this was no longer an issue. Being that this bike is so incredibly approachable for new riders, I think this feature would help them feel more confident about landing their feet on the pegs every time.
Before I sat down to write this story up, I decided that I needed to spend a few days on the Triumph to "clear my head." From the moment that I touched the drag bars on my bike, I felt like I was grabbing hold of a 2X4. The steering, even when taking it off the side stand, felt wooden. I have a more forward leaning, aggressive stance, with the feet under my butt. After years of daily riding the Triumph, I felt almost like my skin didn't fit me as I rolled out of the parking lot. This bike was kind of a lot of work. The Scout made the riding of a motorcycle almost effortless. The wide bars gave you plenty of leverage on the fat front tire. Getting back on the Triumph almost felt like the power steering pump had given out. I had gotten to trade bikes with a buddy the weekend prior, so he got my bike and I got his ADV bike (Yamaha Super Tenere) for a few miles. When he handed me the keys back and said, "Man, that thing is a handful." I had never thought it was a tough bike to ride, but after so many miles on the Scout, I really knew what he was talking about. The Scout is, in a word, "Approachable."
I hope that many of you have found this approach refreshing and an interesting take on a review. If you all like it, I will start doing more of these so that I can take you all along for the ride with me!