2015 Indian Scout Review

The Motor Drome. The Wall of Death. A round, wooden structure made up of hand-picked boards; it’s like peering down into a 30-foot diameter washing machine.

Fourteen-foot high walls and a 150-person spectator gallery around the top of the wall are all held together with some screws, a few nuts, bolts and cables. But the real nuts are the riders.

Guys and gals who rely on three-plus Gs to glue them and their machines hard against the wall, fly ’round, ’round, and ’round again, at dizzying speeds up to 60 miles per hour, literally inches from the top rim and my awestruck face.

Sturgis 2014. Down inside the Wall of Death, and parked next to an Indian Scout Series 101 c. 1920s, is a custom version of the gleaming new-generation Scout—a water-cooled, 1133cc, 60-degree V-twin that outputs 100 horsepower through a light and tight chassis. It is a great homage to the original Scout, and you can clearly see the lineage in the stance of both bikes.

This custom 2015 Indian Scout has even more in common with the vintage bike: spoked wheels, hardtail, deleted front fender, and straight pipes. The stars- and-stripes custom paint gleams and the Wall of Death gold lettering on the bobbed rear fender shouts out the purpose this machine has been built for.

Just unveiled by Indian, I see the factory Scout for the first time, and I came away impressed. Greg Brew, Director of Industrial Design at Polaris Industries and the man behind the Scout, decided early on that it had to be “honest in its design, and true to its heritage.”

Though purists might scoff at water-cooling a Scout, Brew and his team felt that the Scout ethos was better served by being compact, light and, above all, powerful.

The Scout has always been the performance bike of the Indian models, and a the first truly new iteration of the model in more than 70 years, it marks the return of the bike that carried the legendary Wrecking Crew race team to multiple victories, and conquered the infamous Wall of Death. In 1967, Burt Munro famously took his 1920 Indian Scout to fame as The World’s Fastest Indian.

The 2015 Scout is powered by a handsome and purposeful-looking 69 cubic inch DOHC design producing a claimed 72 ft/lbs of torque at 5900 rpm. An oversize clutch with tons of friction plate surface area allows for mild tension springs, and the resulting light-action clutch lever is a joy to use. Harnessing that spectacular motor is a rigid, yet lightweight, cast aluminum frame, and the well-balanced wet weight is a claimed 558 pounds.

Sitting on the leather solo seat that is a mere 25.3 inches off the ground, the Scout feels compact and unintimidating. Both feet planted firmly with a comfortable bend at the knee is a great way to get started with a motorcycle, especially for the less experienced.

Closed loop fuel injection and a ride-by-wire throttle are mated to a positive- shifting six-speed transmission. Pulling away, I was very impressed by the gentle initial power delivery that makes the Scout unchallenging to ride at low speed.

The motor’s wide spread of torque and modest power delivery down low means that quite a lot of throttle twisting is required before things speed up. This makes for a supremely easy riding machine, and less sensitive throttle hands will find that accidental jerky inputs don’t reach the motor.

As the revs build, the power increases impressively, and once past 3500 rpm, the Scout has a progressive powerband that provides hard acceleration if asked. Once the motor hits 5000, the scenery starts to move much more rapidly, and over 7500 rpm the Indian can even start to get a bit buzzy.

I did feel the need to explore the upper limit of the motor’s rev range in order to report back, but as an owner I cannot ever imagine anyone actually needing to go there. The engine on the Scout is powerful enough at modest rpm that you’ll show a clean pair of heels to almost any street-rival without much effort — so why bother?

Still, performance riders looking to exploit the Scout’s considerable capabilities will be rewarded with snappy acceleration and a three-figure top speed if desired.

The counter-balanced motor is pleasantly smooth at normal speeds, and yet the vibes coming from the mill are amiable enough that the rider still feels connected. At anything up to 4000 rpm (about 60 mph), the Scout feels so under-stressed that a grand road trip is most certainly in the cards.

Interestingly, many people at Sturgis that I came across assumed the Scout to be a Harley-Davidson V-Rod competitor, and I presume it’s the liquid-cooling aspect that did it. Although those two machines certainly have their commonalities, the Scout’s price falls into Sportster 1200 territory at $10,999 — and it has 100 horsepower.

Indian has gone to a retro-classic style that hearkens back to Scout’s roots, though Indian Motorcycle Product Director Gary Gray told us “the Scout is the first step forward in progressing the brand, and making it the Indian Motorcycle of today, not the Indian Motorcycle of 1953.”

Certain styling cues such as the shell headlight and single seat assist in that quest and, although the cast wheels look good, I am certain that aftermarket wire-spoked wheels will be a sure thing. Indian has already announced a full line of accessory items of its own, of course.

Suspension is provided by laid-down twin shocks (preload adjustable) and conventional forks. My 185 pounds were carried very happily on the stock setting. The suspension is firm enough to ensure good handling, yet compliant enough that the ride was pleasant and comfortable; the slightly leaned-in, feet-forward ergonomics of the Scout were more than roomy enough for my six-foot frame.

With a 31-degree lean angle capability and a low center of gravity, the Scout encourages fast riding. It is stable in corners and holds a line extremely well.

I am embarrassed to admit that it brought out the hooligan in me, sufficient that I needed to take advantage of the folding footrests through many corners. The fat front tire certainly helps rider confidence, and whether hauling through a long fast sweeper, or just meandering through the countryside, the Scout’s handling is a perfect match to the engine.

Single 298mm discs front and rear work well for braking, and I didn’t find any surprises in their usage; I was, however, slightly bemused that no ABS option is available from Indian. For a machine that so obviously has new-biker potential, ABS would be great insurance; maybe next year.

There is a common theme running through the Scout—user-friendliness. Kudos to the Indian engineers because, like its forebear on the Wall of Death, it is also remarkably capable.

The 100-horsepower engine, excellent handling, and comfortable ergonomics will win it a lot of expert-level, performance oriented fans. Yet, counter-intuitively, for a hundred horsepower motorcycle, novices will also be drawn to it.

The real beauty of the 2015 Indian Scout is that it will likely draw a lot of new people to motorcycling — and keep them here — and that has to be a good thing.

Riding Style:

  • Helmet: Arai Signet-Q Flash
  • FacesHield: Arai Pro Shade
  • Communications: UClear HBC200 Force
  • Jacket: Joe Rocket Phoenix 3.0
  • Gloves: Tour Master Select Summer
  • Jeans: Icon Strongarm 2
  • Boots: Tour Master Vintage 2.0

Photography by Barry Hathaway, Brian J. Nelson and Tom Riles

Story from Ultimate MotorCycling magazine; for subscription services, click here.