The Indian Scout Motorcycle: A Cruiser for When You Don't Want a Harley
Brought back to life after more than half a century, the Scout has a lot to offer—even for those who think they don’t want a cruiser
Hello, my name is Hannah Elliott, and I’ve never ridden a cruiser.
Oh, I’ve operated motorcycles for years. Mostly sport bikes and café racers: Ducatis, Hondas, Moto Guzzis. I first learned to ride on a Ducati Monster 796. I’m a sucker for a dirt bike. I like them upright. I like them light. (I can’t do a single pull-up. But I’ll address that later.
It turns out that all this made me a prime candidate for conversion to the Scout, the $11,000 easy rider that Indian Motorcycles developed this year as a way to revitalize and extend its 114-year-old American marque.
I hadn’t planned on jumping on one in the first place. But I’m glad I did.
It happened in a roundabout way. My friends and I took some motorcycles out to Montauk a few weeks ago. One of them rode a Scout, while I spent the weekend on Ducati’s solid new Scrambler. As I watched Ryan lean back, cruising down Highway 27, Hunter Thompson-style, I envied his chill. He was easily the most relaxed of the bunch. Maybe he was born with it. Maybe it was the bike.
I had to find out.
The intrigue is nothing new. The original version of this model, known as the 101 Scout, carries a reputation as the best motorcycle Indian has ever made. Produced for 30 years, starting in 1920, it earned respect for its agility and power, especially (and unexpectedly) during hill climb competitions. But Indian foundered in 1953, and 70 years would pass before Polaris bought the trademark. It produced three new versions of the flagship Chief last year, kicking off a massive double-digit surge in annual sales and prompting development of the Scout model for 2015.
The new Scout resembles the original, though it includes such modern technological upgrades as a low-fuel light and a lightweight cast-aluminum chassis. It also defers to current aesthetic taste with thick rims and tires and a wide, soft seat that's directly connected to the rest of the bike instead of being suspended above it on coils. Purists may care about the change; anyone over 180 pounds will be thankful for it. Or so I hear.
The Scout also features the first liquid-cooled engine Indian has ever made: a 1133cc V-Twin that gets 100 horsepower and offered enough torque to thrust me comfortably up the hilly environs of rural New Jersey and through ragged, traffic-heavy backstreets in Brooklyn. (Yes, the liquid-cooled things are a change from the traditional “air-cooled” engines that have pushed motorcycles since their inception, but they are easier on the environment, more forgiving with upkeep, and sound slightly more discrete. These days, even Harley is using them.)
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