2015 Indian Scout | FIRST LOOK

The Future of Indian Motorcycles Starts Now

This is the Indian motorcycle no one expected. When we first saw the spy shots of a water-cooled V-twin cruiser from Polaris we automatically assumed it was a Victory product, based on prior discussions with company management suggesting that Victory would develop more “adventurous” motorcycles now that Indian was around to represent the “traditional” end of the American cruiser spectrum. We never expected this product—one of the most technologically advanced motorcycles in the cruiser segment—would wear an Indian badge. But here it is.

The Scout is a complete departure from Indian’s existing lineup of Chief-based heavyweight cruisers, but in its own way it’s still completely true to Indian’s brand heritage, says Indian Motorcycle Product Director Gary Gray. “Scout was intentionally not a direct copy of anything,” Gray says, “but it’s got tons of the old Scout DNA. When the first Scout came out [in the 1930s], it was so badass right from the factory that Harley-Davidson had to make a purpose-built race bike just to keep up with it. The first Scout was innovative and cutting edge. This is everything Scout, but brought up to date for today.”

Consider these specs: “dripping wet,” Gray says, the Scout weighs just 558 pounds, the lightest in its class by a considerable amount. The 69 cubic-inch (1,133cc), liquid cooled, DOHC, four-valve V-twin produces a claimed 100 horsepower and 72 pound-feet of torque, numbers that shame most other cruisers and favorably compare to some sportbikes. Look closely at that engine, which is gorgeously finished and completely smooth-sided—“fake cooling fins are not authentic!” Gray reminds us. And here’s the best part—the MSRP is just $10,999, or a whopping $8,000 cheaper than the cheapest Indian Chief Classic. Consider that barrier to entry officially breached.

You don’t have to squint too hard to see the Indian inside this bike. The tank and fenders both carry some familiar cues in their lines and shape, though the cast aluminum frame is totally contemporary—and beautiful upon close inspection. Handling no doubt benefits the small physical size of the Scout, which, with a 61.5-inch wheelbase and a street-scraping, 25.3-inch seat height, is the smallest, lowest, and lightest bike in the cruiser kingdom. This, again, is true to the Scout’s history. “Go back to the 1930s,” Gray says, “when the Sport Scout came out, it was in response to consumer demand for a smaller bike, because bikes were getting too big and too heavy. Guess what? Nowadays, cruisers are too big and too heavy!”

It all adds up, Gray says, to a bike that works uncommonly well for both novice and experienced riders alike. “It’s so compact and easy to handle at low speeds, and with all that torque you can literally start from a stop without touching the gas, so new riders will like it,” Gray says. “But it’s so light and super-powerful for its size that guys like us who have been riding for a long time have a hoot on it too. It is seriously fun to ride. ”

The Scout is a brave move for the newly reborn Indian, a remarkable—and totally unexpected—follow-up to the Chief platform, and a clear statement that Polaris is committed to pushing the Indian brand fender-first into the future. Indian has already shown with its Chief that it will credibly honor and respect its past; now they are showing us that they will honor Indian’s history of innovation and technological advancement too, by building bikes that are completely modern and up-to-date. Polaris is banking that this, more than anything, will insure this Indian revival is the one that lasts, by keeping the product line relevant to the future.

“The Scout is pushing the brand forward,” Gray says. “We can’t just make bikes that look like they did 70 years ago and still expect to be here 30 years from now. Now we’ve got to build new bikes that appeal to a broader base. The Scout is just our first step in that direction.”