Indian Motorcycles made a big splash in Sturgis this year with the introduction of its new Scout. The revival of a historic model is newsworthy on its own, but the larger take-away from the emergence of the Scout is that it doesn’t directly compare to any other cruiser.

2015 Indian Scout First Ride Review

Indian’s engineers surely benchmarked the products from the Harley-Davidson juggernaut, specifically the Sportster series. But the contemporary engine architecture (double-overhead cams, four valves per cylinder) of the 1133cc Scout V-Twin churns out a much bigger horsepower number (crank-rated at 100 hp and 72.2 ft-lb of torque) than that of Harley’s air-cooled, two-valve-per-cylinder motors. In addition, the Indian scales in with about 20 pounds less weight than a Sportster 1200, yielding an enviable power-to-weight ratio.

The 1200 Sportster comes in a variety of models: Custom, SuperLow, Forty-Eight, Seventy-Two. For now, there’s only one Scout.

The 1200 Sportster comes in a variety of models: Custom, SuperLow, Forty-Eight, Seventy-Two. For now, there’s only one Scout.

Although we haven’t had the chance to dyno the Scout on our own, we can assume there’ll be, roughly, a 12% reduction in power numbers from the factory’s crankshaft ratings when tested at the rear wheel. This would translate to about 88 horsepower and 65 ft-lb of torque. Given the Scout’s 558-lb curb weight, the bike carries approximately 6.3 lbs per horsepower, a figure that wallops the 8.6 lbs/hp of a 1200 Sportster. The Harley compares more favorably in terms of torque: 8.0 lbs/ft-lb to the Scout’s 8.6 lbs per peak torque.

Yeah, but the M90 has inverted forks and dual front disc brakes. These and more differences we’ll suss out in the upcoming shootout.

Yeah, but the M90 has inverted forks and dual front disc brakes. These and more differences we’ll suss out in the upcoming shootout.

So, let’s step up a class and compare the Scout to some of its bigger, more expensive rivals. For only $200 more, Suzuki’s 1462cc M90 boasts 329 more cubic centimeters, but producing 69 horsepower and weighing 723 pounds – 165 pounds more than the Scout – the M90’s pushing 10.4 pounds per horsepower, or, 4.1 pounds more per hp than the Scout. In the pounds per torque department the M90 is only fractionally better than the scout, 8.4 pounds per ft-lb vs the Scout’s 8.6 lb/ft-lb. A Star V-Star 1300 retails at a $291 premium over the $10,999 Scout, but its 1304cc motor cranks out a relatively paltry 67 hp to its wheel. The Star has a torque advantage (76 ft-lb) but scales in at more than 100 lbs heavier, so there’s no way it can run with the Scout.

At 1312cc, Honda’s Stateline measures only 8cc more displacement than the V-Star, is considerably smaller than the M90, but at $12,150 costs substantially more than both. In fact, the Stateline, at 57 hp, is the lowest horsepower bike here, giving it a lb/hp of 11.7 and lb/ft-lb of 9.2, both of which pale in comparison to the Indian’s figures.

Okay, so let’s go really big and compare the Scout’s second cousin, the Vegas 8-Ball, Victory’s lowest-priced model. With an extra 598cc of chugging motivation, its massive 1731cc motor twists out far more torque than the Scout: 89 ft-lb, but its horsepower output falls about a half-dozen ponies short of the little Indian’s. The Victory’s performance is also muted by carrying around 111 lbs more than the Scout, so its 8.2 lbs/hp pales next to the Scout’s 6.3 number. However, the Vic’s lbs/torque number (7.2) is much more flattering.

The Night Rod’s got it where it counts but is it worth paying $5250 more than the new Scout?

The Night Rod’s got it where it counts but is it worth paying $5250 more than the new Scout?

We’ll make one additional step up the food chain with a comparison to Harley’s V-Rod Night Rod Special (even if Indian reps say it’s not a direct competitor), which retails at a relatively breathtaking $16,249 in its base version. Both share higher-tech, liquid-cooled V-Twins with DOHC and four valves per cylinder. Also common is a 60-degree spread of their cylinders. A key difference is the V-Rod’s more oversquare bore/stroke ratio and an additional 114cc of engine displacement, which add up to peaks of 114 hp and 79 ft-lb of torque. So, in terms of outright power, H-D’s Revolution motor wins hands down. However, the Night Rod has to carry around an extra 108 lbs over the Scout, so its power-to-weight numbers aren’t far off the Scout’s. Torquewise, the Harley’s 8.4 lbs/ft-lb is similar to the Indian’s, but it has a fairly significant hp-to-weight advantage: 5.8 lbs/hp to the Scout’s 6.3.


So, Indian’s impressive new Scout seems to defy direct comparisons. Take a look at the chart below for a broader perspective, then weigh in with your suggestions in the comments section to share your thoughts on which bikes best matchup for comparison.

Indian Scout H-D Sportster 1200 Custom Honda Stateline H-D Night Rod Special Suzuki M90 Star V-Star 1300 Victory Vegas 8-Ball
MSRP $10,999 $10,649 $12,150 $16,249 $11,199 $11,290 $12,499
Engine Capacity 1133cc 1202cc 1312cc 1247cc 1462cc 1304cc 1731cc
Engine Type 60-degree, liquid-cooled, DOHC, V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 45-degree, air-cooled, pushrod, V-Twin, 2-valve per cylinder 52-degree, liquid-cooled, SOHC, V-Twin, 3-valves per cylinder 60-degree, liquid-cooled, DOHC, V-Twin, 4-valves per cylinder 54-degree, liquid-cooled, SOHC, V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 60-degree, liquid-cooled, SOHC, V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 50-degree, air-cooled, SOHC, V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke 99mm x 73.6mm 88.9mm x 96.5mm 89.5mm x 104.3mm 105mm x 72.0mm 96.0mm x 101.0mm 100.0mm x 83.0mm 101mm x 108mm
Compression Ratio 9.5:1 10.0:1 9.2:1 11.5:1 9.5:1 9.5:1 9.4:1
Horsepower 100 (at crank); 88 (est. at rear wheel) 68 57 114 69 67 78
Torque 72.2 (at crank); 64.5 (est. at rear wheel) 73 73 79 87 76 89
lb/hp 6.3 8.6 11.7 5.8 10.4 10.0 8.2
lb/tq 8.6 8 9.2 8.4 8.4 8.8 7.2
Fuel System Electronic closed-loop fuel injection, 60mm throttle bodies Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection PGM-FI with automatic enrichment circuit, one 38mm throttle body, 2 spark plugs per cylinder Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection Electronic Fuel Injection. Dual 42mm throttle bodies Electronic Fuel Injection. Dual 40mm throttle bodies Electronic Fuel Injection. 45mm throttle bodies
Transmission 6-speed, wet clutch 5-speed 5-speed 5-speed 5-speed 5-speed 6-speed
Final Drive Belt Belt Shaft Belt Shaft Belt Belt
Frame Cast aluminum Steel Steel Steel Steel Steel Steel
Front Suspension Telescopic fork. 4.7 inches travel 39mm telescopic fork. 4.12 inches travel. 41mm telescopic fork. 4.0 inches travel. 49mm inverted telescopic fork. 4.1 inches travel. 43mm inverted telescopic KYB fork. 5.1 inches travel 41mm telescopic fork. 5.3 inches travel 43mm telescopic fork. 5.1 inches of travel
Rear Suspension Dual shocks. 3.0 inches travel Dual shocks. 2.12 inches travel. Single shock. 3.9 inches travel. Dual shocks.2.9 inches travel. Single KYB shock. 4.3 inches travel Single shock. 4.3 inches travel Single shock with rising rate linkage. 3.0 inches of travel. Preload adjustable
Front Brakes Single 298mm rotor. 2-piston caliper Single 300mm rotor. 2-piston caliper. ABS optional Single 336mm rotor. 2-piston caliper. ABS optional Dual 300mm rotors. Twin 4-piston calipers. ABS standard Dual 290mm rotors. Dual 2-piston calipers Dual 298mm rotors. 2-piston calipers Single 300mm rotor. 4-piston caliper
Rear Brakes Single 298mm rotor. 1-piston caliper Single 260mm rotor. 2-piston caliper. ABS optional Single 296mm rotor. 1-piston caliper. ABS optional Single 300mm rotor. 4-piston caliper. ABS standard Single 275mm rotor. Single 2-piston caliper Single 298mm rotor. 1-piston caliper Single 300mm rotor. 2-piston caliper
Front Tire 130/90-16 130/90-16 140/80-17 120/70-19 120/70-18 130/90-16 90/90-21
Rear Tire 150/80-16 150/80-16 170/80-15 240/40-18 200/50-17 170/70-16 180/55-18
Seat Height 25.3 in. 28.0 in. 26.7 in. 26.6 in. 28.2 in. 27.2 in. 25.2 in.
Wheelbase 61.5 in. 59.8 in. 70.1 in. 67.1 in. 66.5 in. 66.5 in. 67.1 in.
Rake/Trail 29 degree/4.7 in. 30 degrees/4.2 in. 33 degrees/4.6 in. 34 degrees/5.6 in. 32 degrees/5.08 in. 32.7 degrees/5.7 in. 33.0 degrees/5.0 in.
Curb Weight 558 lbs. 584 lbs. 672 lbs. 666 lbs. 723 lbs. 668 lbs. 667 lbs wet
Fuel Capacity 3.3 gal. 4.5 gal. 4.4 gal. 5.0 gal. 4.7 gal. 4.9 gal. 4.5 gal.

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  • Old MOron

    Well, I guess I don’t know how to measure a cruiser. But one important spec for a motorcycle (ahem) is lean angle. You may want to add this to your spec sheet comparo.

    Sportster Custom: about 27 degrees

    Indian Scout: 31 degrees

    Hmm, the Scout kicks butt in this spec, too. But with a mere 31 degrees of freedom (and with feet stupidly forward), the Scout doesn’t interest me. At all.*


    *Yeah, I know. Indian couldn’t care less about my MOronic opinion. They’ll sell a ton of Scouts.

    • roma258

      Here’s hoping they come out with a Scout Sport that has more of a standard bike seating position.

      • Kevin

        Here’s hoping Victory takes this motor and does something with a more contemporary aesthetic and comfortable riding position

      • Aussiebikerdave

        You have to remember that Harley already tried this idea with the V-rod but it only lasted for one model year, maybe two so obviously a cruiser style donk with a streetbike ride style was not on the money. I say let cruisers be cruisers because no matter how you fiddle the details, you’ll never make a V-rod (or Scout) into a decent naked bike …unless your name is Triumph! (case in point, Speedmaster v Thruxton)

        • roma258

          The closest Harley had to what I have in mind is the XR1200. Maybe if that had the V-rod motor, we would’ve been on to something. Thankfully Indian isn’t Harley. It has a racing history it can draw upon and fresh slate of possibilities without a built-in core customer base terrified of change. Basically, Indian can do whatever the hell it wants to do, kind of how Triumph did in the early 1990s. I for one hope still they give it a go.

          • Aussiebikerdave

            Actually. the XR1200 is not a bad bike. I have a mate who has one and we have swapped bikes occasionally when riding through the hills and have been quite impressed with it even though Harley’s in general don’t rock my boat!

    • Old MOron

      If you want to see how paltry 31 degrees of freedom is, have a look at this.
      Every scooter in town is going to be kicking your ass in the turns.

      Notice the video doesn’t even mention cruisers. Ha ha ha, I guess they don’t even consider them to be motorbikes.

    • John A. Stockman

      Agree. For me, not only is it the cornering “freedom” you mentioned, but a safety issue. 2″ of rear suspension travel paired with 25-27 degrees of lean angle is just not enough. I’m not a racer-type and don’t try to emulate Tom Sykes on the street. But when I’m at a sedate pace around a corner, and all my lean angle is used up, what if I encounter an obstacle I need to swerve around, or some idiot over the center line coming at me. I might need to tighten up my line, but I can’t because I’ll lever the tire off the tarmac. That’s a real-world situation I have experienced, levering the tire off the pavement because of someone over the center line on different Sportster models, Road Kings, one V-Rod and a few metric cruisers. Seat height is not the end-all-be-all of motorcycle design, yet it has become the mantra in this category. Besides, I have ridden those bikes where all my weight is on my tail bone and my feet are out in front of me. With 2-3″ of rear suspension travel, you know what that means after a hundred miles or so. My spine had taken a beating. Sure, if you might want to ride 40-50 miles at a time, fine. Not me. Harley has nothing to worry about…there’s always folks that are concerned about style and how they look. Yeah “I want to be different and cool”…different LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. That’s not being different.

      • VeganLondonMan

        It’s amazing how conformist the ‘nonconformist’ culture can be!

        • caribu

          Just like everyone getting tattoos to be different.

  • Aussiebikerdave
  • Aussiebikerdave

    Based on the stats you would have to compare the Scout to the V-Rod. The main similarities being a 60 degree DOHC 4 valve metric motor with belt final drive. I am guessing that general on road performance will be similar but the Harley will probably outpace the Scout by two or three poof-teenths if a stopwatch is involved.
    So out of these two fine motorcycles, the probable buyers are going to be persuaded by firstly the dollar factor and whether the Harley badge is an advantage for admission to the “club” …or disadvantage if one cannot abide the thought of membership.
    It is my guess that there are a ton free spirits out there that don’t want to wear the ‘straight jacket’ of club membership and are more than happy to save four grand.

  • ‘Mike Smith

    How about a drag race? Race to 100? Something?

  • Buzz

    The original VRod was about the exact same displacement I think and made about 107-110 hp at the rear wheel.

    The original Vrod tank was only 3.5 gallons until it was upped to 4 in a revision.

    I think this Indian has more in common with the Vrod (other than price) which is why Indian is picking on the ancient Sportster.

    i’m sure the Sportster will win in profit margin hands-down.

    • Jason

      Price is important. The Scout is Indian’s entry level model with a very similar cost to the Sportster. I’m sure it is also the bike that Indian benchmarked the Scout against since the new 500 / 750 Street models didn’t exist when Indian started developing the Scout.

  • Auphliam

    Buy a Scout and put the $5K V-Rod tax that you saved into go fast bits…then let’s see where things stand. I’m betting a V-Rod would be lucky to even smell the exhaust of a $16K Scout.

    • Section08

      LMFAO! I dyno 132HP at the wheel and run a 10.3 1/4 on my 2008 VRSCDX. Anytime you are ready on your Scout let me know

      • Auphliam


        • Section08

          Is that even a response? Good job sounding intelligent. I’m willing to bet you have zero knowledge of anything Harley, especially the Revolution and you are a typical hater. It’s cool with me. I’ll take your money and your girl at the drag.

          • Auphliam

            Must be the kool aid talking.

          • Section08

            Ok guy that doesn’t own either of these bikes…. You must be the subject matter expert on both.

  • Kevin

    Not discussed here is power delivery, the Scout makes impressive numbers, but not until the Sportster has signed off The flexibility of the Scout motor would be to my liking but not to everyones

  • The Moto Guzzi California got a lot of love when it was recently revamped and it sort of pairs up: claims 96 HP, claims 87 ft-lb of torque. Comes in at a whopping 701 lbs. though.

    • Buzz

      I love the Guzzi but they are some serious coin as well.

      I talk to the local dealers and they aren’t selling worth squat.

      • BlueStrada

        Not sure where you are talking about… they are selling here in Charlotte, NC

  • Scott650

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Scout’s ergos change with the reduced reach foot controls – 2″ back from the stock position doesn’t equal rearsets but just
    from eyeballing the profile pix that’s going to be awful close to “standard” foot position. $150 seems a bit pricey for a couple brackets but hard putting a price on comfort.

  • Craig Hoffman

    The Scout may just have “balance” which is something that a spec sheet can’t measure. It has relatively light weight and yet potent power. The measure of this fun to ride quality is the bike’s propensity to put a smile it puts on a rider’s face while riding it.

    I suspect this new Indian has the goods. Real testing will tell!

    • John A. Stockman

      When the V-Rod first came out, Willie “Gee” talked about the engine being a platform for other models powered by it. Although I knew the faithful would shun it, I thought it was a good/new direction for HD. Right. Too bad, as the engine has a great character and power, but stuck in a chassis with horrible ergonomics and the usual styling cues that interfere with decent handling and cornering clearance. I think Willie spent too much time hiding the radiator and getting the front end raked out and not planning and pushing for some other models to house that engine. Polaris going to go bankrupt because of Indian’s failure? Ridiculous. Their financial strength is legendary, and they certainly wouldn’t invest all this money and effort without doing their due diligence and research as to the viability of the Indian name and modern products. The first company since they closed the doors in the 50s that has gone about it correctly…no Harley-clones, no up-scale over-priced offerings like the Stellican debacle. Stellican should have been smart enough to know different rocker covers does not make a “new” engine design. Poorly executed all around, from the guys I talked to that rode one. Polaris won’t stop with this Scout. More models are being developed right now…like the guy that mentioned a longitudinal in-line four. Could happen…

  • Gary Blankenship

    I’m really excited about the Scout, will be buying one, but to let you guys in on a secret, I’m still fantasizing about an inline four. I do believe. I do believe. I do believe. 🙂

  • SRMark

    Like the Scout, redo that front fender and trim the rear. Keep the tank design but expand to at least 4 gallons. Good to go…

    • Aussiebikerdave

      Hey Mark, you are not wrong re the front mudguard! I really like the look of the Scout EXCEPT for that ‘back-to-front’ front fender. Fortunately it is something that can easily be fixed, either nibbling it back to a better shape at the front or replacing it with say, a front guard from a Triumph Thruxton/Scrambler or similar.

    • Spirited Pete

      Yep. Would like to see the tank have more traditional, rounded sides & a two-tone option. The current shape reminds me of a DT Yamaha trail bike….
      Otherwise, this is a WINNER in it’s class.

  • NorthShoreRider

    The Scout is changing my mind about cruisers. I hope they sell a ton, and use the momentum to build some American nakeds

  • malcolm66

    UGH, what a hideous future trouble magnet! Yup in about 30 years there will be a lot of barns full of these things because this whole Indian wet dream is going to bankrupt Victory out of business and there won’t be any techs out there to fix em… so they’ll most likely have a few road years and spend the rest of the lives in a tomb, *ahem* barn I mean.

    • Kevin Polito

      Yeah, Polaris has a terrible track record in the powersports market. NOT.

  • IED

    The best thing that is happening with Indian right now is that they are shaking things up. Harley has the expertise to make great bikes with modern technology but they have become fat and lazy in my opinion. Some good old fashioned competition will be good for everyone, especially us riders.

  • Brett Lewis

    I think you have handicapped the Scout in the lb/tq and lb/hp categories by using at-the-wheel estimates for the Scout and Scout alone. Since you’re going by what the manufacturer’s publish, those numbers aren’t likely to be at-the-wheel.

    • Brett Lewis

      Well maybe I was wrong, it seems that some of your numbers are lower than the mfr’s suggesting those bikes have been on the dyno. I see though that the Sportster number is higher than what Harley publishes, interesting.

  • Am I the only one to notice that an apples to apples comparison of crankshaft HP vs. weight has the Scout at an advantage of 5.58 lb/hp vs. 5.84 for the HD. Am I missing something?

  • Doc Robinson

    I spent a full day riding the Scout in Sturgis. This bike rocks and was the most fun bike I have ridden (in its class) in the last 20 years as a motorcycle journalist. Go ride it! Doc Robinson

  • mudgun

    As a non-cruiser rider a few horses here or there don’t matter to me. How it rides is # 1. How it looks is # 2. I can adapt to everything else.

  • sgray44444

    I’d like to see a dyno chart. If this new motor is rev-happy, it might not end up being a good seller. Look at the Honda Magna. It was always appreciated to some extent, but never really in the mainstream of popularity. Cruiser riders want a big, fat, torque curve. Area under the curve is where it’s at. I really think they’re missing the boat by not putting it in a sportier chassis. Is EBR the only one that will ever deliver an American sport motorcycle? I seriously doubt Indian, had it existed in continuity for all these years, would still be making only retro motorcycles.

  • Lightninbolt

    I loved the Scouts that came out around 2000 but the unfortunate ones who laid the cash down begged to differ. If a bike spends more time in the shop than on the road I dont walk away I run away.