2015 Indian Scout Review – All About Confidence
The design ethos behind the 2015 Indian Scout is a compact, high-performing, light weight machine that stays true to the concept behind the early models from Indian’s rich heritage from the first quarter of the last century.
Designer Greg Brew emphasized how his approach was “an honest mantra with a structural rhythm through the bike.” For me it looks graceful, yet also purposeful, and the slightly leaned forward rider stance looks like the bike is ready to go even when at a standstill.
My first impression as I swung a leg over the Scout was its compact dimensions. And at just over 25 inches, the seat height is super friendly. I’m a six-footer with long legs, and I was a little concerned that I’d be over-sized for the bike. Fortunately that was not the case, and although the bike obviously feels relatively small compared to the Chief models, that also translates to an immediate feeling of security and confidence.
The ergonomics will feel different for everyone, but for me, the slightly canted forward stance worked extremely well. Although the handlebar position is most certainly upright, I was happy that my weight wasn’t carried entirely on my tailbone – normally a super-quick recipe for lower backache after a day-long ride.
Indian claim the stock ergonomics will fit from 5’4″ to 6′ tall riders, and we’re told that the range of easily installed accessories will bring the bike to an even broader range of riders with different seats and extended footpegs.
The controls fall easily to hand, and having reached down to the ignition key on the left side between the cylinders, I watched the clocks cycle up and ignition lights come on. The instrument cluster is a large round analog speedometer with a fat chrome bezel and a very attractive retro-look to it.
A smallish LCD window in the lower quadrant shows either mileage, trip-meter, or rev-counter, and the rider can toggle through these indicators using a pull switch on the left handlebar. There is no gear-position indicator or fuel gauge, though there is a low-fuel indicator light.
Unfortunately, the single instrument cluster and bright green neutral light that appears at about the 10 o’clock position is too close to the equally bright green MPH indicator light. The latter is simply to inform you that the speedo is reading miles per hour instead of kilometers, but I find it unnecessary and a little irritating.
Because the neutral light is so close – as well as the nearby turn signal repeater light (also in yes, you guessed it, bright green) – it can get confusing when looking for neutral at stop lights, especially if the turn signals are on. I’d like to see Indian nix the MPH signal altogether and perhaps have the turn signal indicator in yellow. It’s a small point, but as this motorcycle is aimed at novice riders, they’re going to need their instruments easy to interpret especially in stressful situations such as in traffic.
The Scout designers thought long and hard about the engine, and although air-cooled engines have the great looks, the Scout heritage demanded high-performance. With 100 horses as the goal, that meant water-cooling. Although purists will no-doubt scoff, I believe that ultimately Indian made the right choice. The bike delivers on its promise of performance rather than just being an expensive pose. But that’s just me.
Thumbing the starter button fires the motor immediately, and the 1133 cc (69 cubic inch) 60 degree V-twin quickly settles into a familiar-sounding burble; the water-jacket helps keep mechanical noise to a minimum so although the engine sounds healthy, it’s not intimidating or irritating at all.
The clutch pull is super-light thanks to an enormous clutch basket with such a large surface area for the plates to bite that soft springs can be used; clicking into first gear is a smooth operation that lacks the enormous “thunk” that big Vee motors typically produce.
Once underway, the Scout feels smooth and immediately confidence inspiring. At 558 lbs. (claimed) curb weight it is very light for a cruiser and as with all V-twins the center of gravity is nice and low so the bike is super-maneuverable.
Clicking up through the smooth six-speed gearbox is, again, an easy affair, and the well-spaced ratios allowed me to get into sixth (top) gear very quickly. At 55 mph the motor is only turning at 3550 rpm, and the pleasant exhaust note and gentle vibes of the motor are strong enough to imbue the Scout with some soul, yet not so overly intrusive that they are annoying.
The fuel mapping is particularly impressive. Although the Scout produces 100 horsepower – an incredibly impressive figure in this class of machine – the delivery of that power is carefully modulated, so that upon initial turning of the throttle the power delivery is gentle and smooth.
As the revs climb, the motor develops progressively more urgency, and at around 5000 rpm, it really starts to take off. I was incredibly impressed by how user friendly the Scout was – beginner and intermediate riders will find the Scout a brilliant machine to develop their skills on, while more expert level riders will find the high-performance aspect of the engine easily accessible without having to wring its neck.
The roads around Sturgis and the legendary Black Hills are some of the best in the country, and there are places where I was able to really explore the performance aspect of the Scout. Interestingly, although the engine will willingly rev to the soft limiter at 8500 rpm, frankly there’s no need to go anywhere near that to enjoy a spirited ride. I found that even when accelerating hard or simply riding fast, I rarely needed to go beyond 6000 rpm at all, and never more than 7000 rpm.
The chassis has a twin-shock setup at the rear, and a 41mm conventional fork up front. Neither are adjustable for damping, although the rear shocks do have adjustable spring preload via the shock collars if desired. The rear suspension was perhaps a little harsh over big bumps, but overall the ride is pretty cushy while remaining firm enough to be able to explore the chassis’ excellent handling.
The 16-inch wheels include a 130mm fat front tire, making sure plenty of rubber stays in contact with the road. The Indian branded tires sourced from Kenda (Taiwan) performed more than adequately in the dry conditions I experienced on my ride, and I was able to drag the footpegs on occasion in fast corners.
The chassis itself is very stable, and the handling of the Scout is neutral and well balanced. Turn-in into corners is easy and the bike neither drops into corners, nor does it feel reluctant to turn-in; there is no understeer on corner exit, even when I gassed it hard for a good drive from the bend.
Likewise, the single 298mm disc brakes – front and rear – are excellent. Braided lines show quality of construction, and both the front and rear brake have plenty of feel. It takes a huge shove with your boot to lock up the rear, and the front brake has low initial bite so there are no ugly surprises if you suddenly need to slow down.
Oddly, there is no ABS available even as an extra-cost option, and I find that surprising in a bike that is clearly aimed at less experienced riders. I suspect Indian will remedy that situation next year, and possibly even sooner if enough people speak up.
Overall the Indian Scout is a pleasantly surprising motorcycle. It’s an impressive performer that manages to perfectly balance a very sporting nature without making the bike difficult or intimidating to ride. The common threads running through every function of the machine are “easy to ride,” and “confidence-inspiring.”
Although it’s certainly a little unusual to think of a 100 horsepower motorcycle as a beginner bike, nevertheless, the simplicity and user-friendly nature of this motorcycle – not to mention the wallet-friendly price of $10,999 – mean that it will probably be considered by a good proportion of those riders just starting out, or just returning after a hiatus. They will not be disappointed! The good news is that they simply won’t outgrow this bike.
No matter what your skill level, the Indian Scout is an extremely capable performer regardless of what speed or type of road you find yourself on. It is fast as heck, great handling, and ultimately it is the very definition of fun on a motorcycle.
Photography by Riles & Nelson and Barry Hathaway
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Note: The original version of this review incorrectly stated there is no low-fuel light.