For any benchmark model, be it a car or motorcycle, there are two criteria of utmost importance that must be fulfilled in order for it to come closer to acceptance, success and celebration. The first being its ability to carry the design, visual and functional identity of the brand it represents, and the second is its own functionality in terms of the ride quality, the handling, the engine and performance figures and the overall experience.
The latest offspring from the stables of one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, with a rich heritage of class, custom, and motorcycles that are icons in the world of riding – Indian Chief Motorcycles – comes a new breed of steed, The Indian Chief Scout.
The first question that comes to mind when taking the scout out for a ride, is if it really is an Indian. It does have the form and basic design cues of one, but overall, is miles apart or should one say, ahead. It is in every sense, a modern avatar of the American company that the world has known to build some of the biggest, meanest and most beautiful cruiser motorcycles ever.
Original 1928 Scout
With a combination of Classic Indian styling, minimalist details and simple flowing surfaces, the scout is every bit an Indian to look at, and with a very retro feel at that. The wide handlebar, the plain yet well finished body panels, the chromed out “Indian” signature on either side of the tank, and that massive V-twin tells us loud and clear that this is every bit an Indian. Visually, one can place it amongst the best balanced shapes of cruiser motorcycles, as it comfortably carries the proportions and the strong smooth lines of the original 1928 Scout. The headlamp dates to the pre-war era in its styling, and the forward slanting fuel tank keeps the forward, fast look of the original. What’s really fun to see is if it runs like one too.
Powered by an 1133 cc, liquid cooled V-twin with a 60 degree incline, a DOHC engine that has four valves per cylinder, and fed by an electronic fuel injection EFI unit with a 60 mm throttle body, the Indian Scout pumps out 100 horsepower at 8100 rpm. The six speed gear box is helped by a left side belt drive to transmit power to the rear. The Scout has a high gearing and finds it a breeze, to roll along at 70-80 miles per hour in the sixth gear, between 3500-4000 rpm.
It sports a conventional suspension with 41 mm forks up front, and dual shock absorbers in the rear, which is topped out with zero sag in unsprung mass condition. The huge rake angle of the front forks is to mimic the hard tail lines of the 1920 Scouts.
The seating position is quite right even for tall riders, with an easy reach on the handlebars and forward foot controls. The seating is very comfortable and even after a long day of riding, gives none of the butt bruising or burning sensation experienced on most other bikes. Hand levers are non-adjustable and the pull back handlebar feels and looks just right. The mirrors aren’t just aesthetic details – providing for a good rear view.
Braking power comes from a 298 mm rotor at both front and rear, with a two-piston caliper for the front and a single one for the rear. The seat height is super low and the saddle is finished in leather. The Scout comes with a few basic colour options like red, black, smoked black and smoked silver – the last two in matte finishes.
Despite its tall gearing, the Scout doesn’t seem to chug, lug or complain even at the lowest rpm. The fuel injection is quite crisp at all throttle positions, and provides for a smooth transition without the slightest of hesitation or glitch. The low rpms see minimal vibrations and it is after 6000 rpm that the engine goes on to produce quite a buzz.
Transmission is flawless
Because of the way it’s been built, the Scout can pull on for miles as a comfortable cruiser, and peel tar off any highway as a low-slung performance motorcycle, and quite well behaved in both cases, as one might add. The third gear is the demolition charge with 6500-7500 being the peppiest rev range for instant power, and engine braking.
The transmission is simply amazing. It misses no shifts, allows no false neutral, and engages the right one every single time. The certainty of feel and feedback carries on throughout the bike and complaints are mostly trivial.
A comfortable cruiser, an Indian in every inch and corner, in skin, flesh and bone, and with a new age feel to that, the Scout with its wide rev range, neutral steering and solid chassis, brings back the thrill and fun of a Sportster and that is the least to say. Debuting this year end, the Indian Chief Scout is expected to have a price tag of $10,999 and is very easily, the bike of the day.