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When Indian unveiled the Scout at Sturgis last month, it sent ripples through the motorcycle world. How would it compare with other cruisers in its class? What exactly were the other cruisers in its class? Obviously, Indian is hoping to improve its bona fides by taking on that other American brand’s most ubiquitous V-Twin in its displacement class, but what others? So, the lists began.

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Indian Scout Spec Shootout

That’s pretty much how the conversation went during our weekly production meeting in the conference room high atop the gleaming MO Tower overlooking the smog-covered sprawl of Southern California. By the time we finished our conversation, we’d listed a total of seven motorcycles we thought the Scout should face off against to test its mettle in the great tradition of settling disputes in the Old West, the shootout.

The selection process was anything but simple.

A gathering of gunfighters.

A gathering of gunfighters.

First, we went with the obvious V-Twins in a similar displacement range, which got us the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200C, the Honda Stateline and the Star V Star 1300 in addition to the Scout. Then we looked at the liquid-cooled 60° V-Twin which brought the Harley-Davidson Night Rod to the party – after a particularly heated debate over the $5,550 price difference. Next came the Victory Gunner which, despite displacing 1,731cc, we felt belonged in the test since Victory has positioned the Gunner as an entry-level, premium Big Twin. The link here is the premium features that we’ll get to later in the shootout. Finally, the Moto Guzzi California 1400 is included because we felt that it would provide a good handling comparison to the Scout despite the 133cc displacement advantage and $4,491 price difference.

Which V-Twin Will Win?

The engine format coveted by cruiser riders has long been settled in favor of the V-Twin, but this gathering points out a change afoot in the form of liquid-cooling. Only three of our seven contestants (the Sportster, Guzzi, and Victory) are air- or air/oil-cooled. However, perhaps the biggest sign of changes to come is the Scout’s lack of even a nod towards air-cooled styling, as exhibited on the Stateline and V Star in the form of decorative cooling fins and a hidden radiator. The Indian is unabashedly liquid-cooled, so get over it, all you traditionalists.

The Night Rod towers over the rest and, like the Scout, builds power without trailing off precipitously near redline. The Gunner crams a lot of grunt into a low rpm range.

The Night Rod towers over the rest and, like the Scout, builds power without trailing off precipitously near redline. The Gunner crams a lot of grunt into a low rpm range.

When it comes down to the other factor in the cylinder layout, you’ll probably be surprised by the results. While the degree of the Vee covers the spectrum from 45° to 50° to 52° to 60° to 90° (in a transverse arrangement, no less), the victor here is the 60° Vee. While the 45° Vee has the historical connection to Harley engines (plus its associated domination in unit sales) and the 90° Vee has primary balance in its favor, the 60° V seems to be the best compromise when it comes keeping the engine height (and its CG) down while still having the fore-to-aft space to locate its bulk without making the chassis overly long – unless a long wheelbase is desired. The Guzzi simply marches to its own beat, hanging the cylinders off the sides of the bike for everyone to see.

Now, it’s the Gunner – and its 1,731 cc – that’s doing the towering. The Night Rod makes up for what it lacks in big torque numbers by spreading it out over almost 9,000 rpm. The Stateline starts off strong but drops quickly.

Now, it’s the Gunner – and its 1,731 cc – that’s doing the towering. The Night Rod makes up for what it lacks in big torque numbers by spreading it out over almost 9,000 rpm. The Stateline starts off strong but drops quickly.

So, how did the seven engines sort themselves out? When it comes to raw power, the Night Rod was the clear winner with a peak horsepower of 107.6, while the Scout came in a strong second with 83.0 hp. In the torque department, the Gunner and the California ran up the biggest numbers, with 93.2 lb-ft and 73.6 lb-ft, respectively. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since torque output is directly related to displacement.

Still, the makeup of a strong engine is more than just the peak numbers. The riders’ subjective experiences are what determine the most usable engine in any given group of bikes.

Honda Stateline

Motorcycle.com photo shoot

+ Highs

  • Great looks in profile
  • Honda reliability
  • Longest bike in test
– Sighs

  • Weakest engine
  • Too much plastic chrome
  • Longest bike in test

Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

The Honda Stateline trailed the others in the horsepower department (55.6 hp) but moved up to mid-pack in torque (72.2 lb-ft). Deep Loam Guest Rider, Scott Rousseau, succinctly described the Stateline’s character: “Honda’s Shadow 1300 engine is just about the most venerable powertrain here other than the Sportster. It makes a ton of torque down low but runs out of breath quickly, forcing the rider to short-shift it. Honda’s reliability is without question, but the Stateline’s engine delivers ho-hum performance compared to the other bikes in this group.” The good news is that the transmission is typically Honda in its smoothness and snickability, making the frequent trips to the shifter more of a pleasure than a chore. Other good news centered around the fuel metering, which was spot on throughout our rides.

“The Stateline is more like being a locomotive engineer, so long is the thing... Okay for hi-speed straightlining, not much fun to ride around town to me.” – John Burns

“The Stateline is more like being a locomotive engineer, so long is the thing… Okay for hi-speed straightlining, not much fun to ride around town to me.” – John Burns

Still, the testers’ opinions were pretty much unanimous in their disappointment, leaving the Stateline’s engine performance tied for last with the Sportster. Distilling the Stateline’s performance to soundbite size, That’s-Not-a-Motorcycle Editor Duke summed up our feelings the best, saying the Stateline, “despite a bad-ass profile, is a tame cruiser – born to be mild.”

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200C

Motorcycle.com photo shoot

+ Highs

  • The reason this class of motorcycles exists
  • Surprisingly competent handling
  • Best paint of the group
– Sighs

  • Insufficient rear shock travel
  • ABS is a $795 option
  • Is a nice paint job really the only way H-D can spruce up a Sportster these days?

If it weren’t for the Sportster, this class of motorcycle wouldn’t exist, which makes the Sporty the very definition of Old School – before you even consider the liquid-cooled bikes in this shootout. Still, the engine’s 1202cc displacement (that’s 73.4 cu. in. for those only familiar with ‘Murican units of measure) slots it in next to last for the amount of atmosphere consumed with each intake stroke. Harley’s engineers can take the credit for massaging the last bit of power out of the vintage pushrod design, though.

“The Sporty may not have won this shootout, but I don’t begrudge anyone who decided to lay down their money at a Harley dealership. It’s perhaps the best urban-use bike of the group.” – Kevin Duke

“The Sporty may not have won this shootout, but I don’t begrudge anyone who decided to lay down their money at a Harley dealership. It’s perhaps the best urban-use bike of the group.” – Kevin Duke

Rousseau credits the “responsive fuel-injection” for the Sporty’s “fighting above its weight” in this contest. If you’re upset about the 61.6 hp and 67.6 lb-ft numbers, you’re looking at the wrong reasons to ride the 1200C. “While pushrods and air-cooling don’t enthrall the performance side of me, there’s no doubting the Sportster’s visceral appeal,” pointed out Duke. Still, Curmudgeon Editor, John Burns, flatly stated a sentiment harbored by most of us when it came to the Sportster’s engine performance, ”I want more and smoother power if I can get it for the same money.”

Star V Star 1300

Motorcycle.com photo shoot

+ Highs

  • Best suspension of the bunch
  • Smooth engine with just the right amount of vibration
  • Perhaps the most versatile
– Sighs

  • Bland
  • Questionable graphics
  • Needs an update

Referred to more than once on our ride as the Rodney Dangerfield of the gathering, the V Star 1300 did everything well but somehow managed not to connect on a personal level. Closet Cruiser Editor, Troy Siahaan, brilliantly encapsulated the Star’s issue: “The engine, like the Honda’s, is refined, smooth, and powerful enough.” Enough – six letters that, in some ways, hurt more than criticisms of mechanical shortcomings directed at other bikes in this test.

The Star’s competence is there, but the personality is lacking: Says Duke, ”Strong, seamless power and an excellent transmission.” Rousseau agrees, “The V Star 1300’s liquid-cooled four-valve engine delivers solid V-Twin power, but it lacks the excitement of some of the other machines in our group;” Burns muses, ”It might be the most functional bike here, but somehow it’s one of the most emotionless ones;” and Non-Touring Bike Editor Tom Roderick pronounces, “I’m hard-pressed to find any glaring faults with the Star, but I also can’t find any reasons, or desire, to purchase this motorcycle.”

“Compliant, well-balanced suspension combined with decent stopping power, neutral handling and acceptable power output make the V-Star an attractive option to the discerning purchaser looking to spread his dollars the farthest.” – Tom Roderick

“Compliant, well-balanced suspension combined with decent stopping power, neutral handling and acceptable power output make the V-Star an attractive option to the discerning purchaser looking to spread his dollars the farthest.” – Tom Roderick

So, even though our riders ranked the Star’s clutch and transmission second overall, with compliments about how the “EFI is just about perfect, and it possesses a little more rumble and shake than the Guzzi or the Honda when rolling along in high gear,” as Rousseau points out, the engine’s ranking comes down to personality. In fact, the only concrete criticism of the Star’s engine was that it could use a sixth gear for more relaxed highway riding. Its 67.3 hp and 72.4 lb-ft dyno readings place the 1304cc engine solidly mid-pack.

Moto Guzzi California 1400

Motorcycle.com photo shoot

+ Highs

  • Rides like a sport-touring bike
  • Powerful, unique engine
  • Power modes and traction control
– Sighs

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Does it belong in this class of cruiser?

The California Shuffle

The Moto Guzzi’s engine ranked a surprising fourth. Prior to the ride, we’d questioned including the California in the shootout because of its higher displacement and price tag when compared to most of the others. Every rider included one fact in their notes: the Guzzi’s 90° transverse V-Twin did the stop light jump ’n jive even better than the Sportster, but once the bike was rolling, the engine was otherworldly calm. Duke noted, “After experiencing its slo-mo paint-shaker-like oscillations at idle, the Guzzi’s oddball V-Twin Is almost miraculously smooth once in motion.” However, the slow-revving Goose also packed in another surprise, which was, according to Roderick, ”The first thing you have to adjust to when riding the Guzzi is the engine’s ability to smash into the rev limiter quicker than the ordinary V-Twin.”

The California 1400 also included some high-tech features absent from all the other bikes. Ride-by-wire throttle made it possible for Guzzi to include cruise control and three power modes. “Veloce” was the sport mode but made the transitions from off- to on-throttle too abrupt for most of our testers. Since the “Turismo” (or touring) mode only changed the power delivery and not the peak output, this became the default setting for us. We left the inclement weather “Pioggia” mode for the hour or so we were trudging through waves of rain. Although having traction control is cool, the amount of variability might be overkill for a cruiser.

“The California Custom was the surprise of this shootout for me. It packs in some neat features that aren’t necessarily standard cruiser fare, such as three riding modes, cruise control and ABS. Overall, its smooth performance matches its persona.” – Scott Rousseau

“The California Custom was the surprise of this shootout for me. It packs in some neat features that aren’t necessarily standard cruiser fare, such as three riding modes, cruise control and ABS. Overall, its smooth performance matches its persona.” – Scott Rousseau

Just 0.2 hp from second in the horsepower standings and ending in a solid second place in torque, the Guzzi puts out 82.8 hp and 73.6 lb-ft of torque. “Being a 1400cc V-Twin, air-cooled, it shouldn’t have the kind of power it has, but holy cow it’s fast,” gushed Troy. While Rousseau found another reason to love the Goose’s engine: ”Smooth as it is, the Guzzi delivers an ear-pleasing, hot-rod exhaust note when you romp on the throttle. Molto bene!” He also reminded us that things haven’t always been that mechanically smooth in the not-so-distant past, pointing out the 1400’s “transmission is nowhere near the crashbox that the older California’s was.”

Victory Gunner

Motorcycle.com photo shoot

+ Highs

  • Romping engine
  • Lowest seat height
  • Reasonable price for a Big Twin
– Sighs

  • Harsh rear suspension
  • Extremely noisy shifts
  • Limited lean angle

Despite having, at 1731cc, the largest displacement here (by 351cc over the Guzzi) and squashing the others by 17.6 lb-ft of torque with a 93.2 lb-ft peak, the Gunner’s engine could only garner third place in the shootout. This is less a criticism of the Gunner’s powerplant and more a statement of how strong the competition is with this group of cruisers. Duke points out, “The Freedom 106 motor churns out torque like nothing else in this comparison, giving the effortless thrust we’ve come to know and love from big-inch V-Twins.” Rousseau agrees, ”You’d have to look far and wide to find a better-sounding exhaust note than the Gunner’s, and its bite is as strong as its bark, with a big gush of torque available the instant you roll on the gas. It’s not as athletic as the Scout or Night Rod engines, but the Gunner can pretty much polish off anything else in this group.”

However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns for the Gunner’s brawny engine. A big dose of reality is injected in the form of, as Roderick put it, an “unforgivingly clunky transmission.” Rousseau’s feelings about the tranny point to the heart of Gunner’s problem and reveal that, perhaps, he needs to enter anger management classes: ”As well-sorted as its internal ratios are, the Gunner’s shifting action flat pisses me off. It’s precise enough, but it’s notchy and loud when you go from gear to gear. The knock is so loud that I could hear whomever was in front of me on the Victory shifting even when I could no longer hear the sound of its engine. Crash! Bang! Gag.”

“Other than the Scout, the Gunner was the most pleasant surprise when testing this septet. The Freedom 106 motor churns out torque like nothing else in this comparison, giving the effortless thrust we’ve come to know and love from big-inch V-Twins.” – Kevin Duke

“Other than the Scout, the Gunner was the most pleasant surprise when testing this septet. The Freedom 106 motor churns out torque like nothing else in this comparison, giving the effortless thrust we’ve come to know and love from big-inch V-Twins.” – Kevin Duke

Burns, taking on the unusual role of diplomat, points out that the Freedom 106 is “a good motor, but we want more after 10 years. Victory needs to put a little work in to keep the relationship fresh, but I guess they [parent company Polaris] have the excuse they’ve been investing in Indian. They get a bye this time, but not next year.”

Harley-Davidson Night Rod

Motorcycle.com photo shoot

+ Highs

  • Engine by Porsche
  • Best power of the bunch
  • A Harley cruiser with a slipper clutch
– Sighs

  • Riding position by De Sade
  • Would be faster if not so heavy
  • Wonky handling due to wide rear tire

Hand-to-Hand Combat

Most everything the Night Rod has going for it resides in its engine compartment. A Porsche-designed, 60° liquid-cooled V-Twin from Harley-Davidson doesn’t sound so odd in 2014, but set the way-back machine 13 years ago for a quick reminder of what a bold move this motorcycle was for the Motor Company. Today, despite possessing the third lowest displacement number of 1247cc (76.1 cu. in.), the Night Rod stomped the competition with 107.6 peak hp – that’s 24.6 hp more than second place. Although the Night Rod’s 71.5 lb-ft of torque places it sixth, any time the throttle is rolled on, the bike leaps forward, getting stronger as the tach needle sweeps towards redline. “It doesn’t harness as much grunt down low as the Indian does,” notes Rousseau, ”but the Harley will stretch your arms once it gets up on the cams.”

When all of the bikes are compared in pounds per hp, the Rod, at 6.15 lb/hp, has to move less weight per horsepower than any other bike here – which translates into smile inducing fun. However, that fun comes at a cost. In the Night Rod’s case that is $5,550 more than the second-place finisher in the lb/hp, the Scout. Then there’s the heat radiating from the rear cylinder’s header, running parallel to the rider’s right thigh for about a foot. Siahaan resorted to a little hyperbole to illustrate what our legs felt like in traffic:

“The heat that radiates from the rear cylinder is brutal. If I were late to a dinner party, I’d try wrapping a chicken in foil, strapping it to the rear cylinder’s exhaust and ride to the party. I’m pretty sure the chicken would be cooked by the time I arrived.” Still, Rousseau stresses, ”This thing has been a badass since the day it was introduced, and, in my book, it remains as one of the most exhilarating, responsive, fluid-feeling high-performance V-Twin engines in cruiser-dom.”

“Nice bike with a nice motor, but the ergos make me feel like I'm stuck in a permanent state of flying backwards across the room after being kicked in the chest by Bruce Lee.” – John Burns

“Nice bike with a nice motor, but the ergos make me feel like I’m stuck in a permanent state of flying backwards across the room after being kicked in the chest by Bruce Lee.” – John Burns

Even with that glowing assessment of the Night Rod, the Scout’s mill muscled ahead by a significant amount on our scorecard. The accolades rolled in, beginning with Burns:

“Instead of rolling slowly to a coffee klatsch with a bunch of old guys, the Scout is a jack Russell terrier that makes you want to reclaim your youth and ride like you used to before you wised up. It encourages bad behavior, it’s a gender-bender that could make it into some sort of Hooligan Shootout just as well as this one, which we should really call the Indian Scout Massacre, so badly did it beat up the other bikes. Didn’t it? For me it did.”

The Scout simply makes the best use possible of its 1133cc engine – the smallest of this septet. While its 83.0 peak hp ranks it second, its 6.77 lb/hp ratio places it within 0.62 lb/hp of the dominant Night Rod. The Indian even claws its way up to third in lb/lb-ft behind the Gunner and Sportster. Beginning with what Duke called “a nice lumpy idle unexpected from a relatively small and high-tech V-Twin,” the power builds but doesn’t feel dominant until the meaty midrange is reached.

Indian Scout

Motorcycle.com photo shoot

+ Highs

  • Kick-ass engine
  • Impressive fit and finish
  • Low price
– Sighs

  • Too little rear suspension travel
  • Limited steering lock
  • Excessive heat from rear cylinder

The dyno chart shows how the Indian’s character pretty much parallels the power delivery of the other bikes until 5,000 rpm. Then, as most of the other bikes begin to sign off, the Scout continues to build power up to the rev-limit where it narrowly beats the California 1400. What was that we said before about another bike punching above its weight? Still, don’t think that you have to wring the Scout’s neck to get the most out of it. “It can be extremely user-friendly if you want to short-shift it,” says Rousseau, ”but once you get a taste of its sweet mid-range acceleration, you won’t want to do that!”

Additionally, most testers had nice things to say about the transmission, which Duke called “a great gearbox, and not just for a cruiser.” Shifting is a slick, noise-free affair made all the more impressive by the fact that the same corporate engineering structure that previously designed the clunky Freedom 106 transmission.

“Wow, an amazing bike at an incredible price. Forget the fact it's a first-year effort from Polaris/Indian.” – Troy Siahaan

“Wow, an amazing bike at an incredible price. Forget the fact it’s a first-year effort from Polaris/Indian.” – Troy Siahaan

Still, the Scout’s status as a first effort with this engine means we do have some criticisms. Several of the tester’s notes concurred with Duke’s assessment that the “light throttle spring makes steady-state speeds challenging while riding on bumpy roads” – even saying the problem was noticeable on smooth pavement, too. Siahaan felt the heat from the Scout’s rear cylinder was almost as bad as the Night Rod’s thigh roaster. He also wasn’t fond of how the ride-by-wire throttle limited the engine braking he prefers from V-Twins, though this perspective wasn’t shared by all. Additionally, the Scout appears to have a short range once the fuel light comes on, but the feeling of running out of gas quickly thereafter is mostly likely related to the location of the fuel pickup in the preproduction units that also caused stalling after a long deceleration.

Our experience with the Scout and its first generation made us all wonder what Indian has in store for future models utilizing this engine. Troy captured our hopes in just three words: “Sport Scout, anyone?”

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  • SRMark

    Great reviews. Guzzi engine looks odd. I’d love a Scout designed like the old VX800 Zook. Better yet, a V-Rod in VX format with the Scout price.

  • VeganLondonMan

    I’ve test ridden the Scout and it is seriously impressive. It’s a bit compact for me (being 6’2″ with long legs and 210lbs) but still comfortable as an urban bike. I agree the throttle spring is a bit light and the front turn signals are a bit cheap but otherwise nothing compares in this class in my opinion.

  • VeganLondonMan

    I think it will take a while for people to understand the Scout. I’ve had people tell me it will be far less powerful than the Japanese brands (WRONG) or that the plastic cover by the seat looks cheap (that’s the ALUMINUM FRAME, there are no plastic covers). Perhaps it will help when the modding community has their way with the bike so it can be seen in different lights. But I like it stock.

    • DickRuble

      The Yamaha is more powerful (power arrives earlier, more torque also), has a better EFI (and engine) and better suspension. Pretty much the better bike. Reality bites.

      • VeganLondonMan

        Have another look at the dyno charts, Dick. I’ll grant that the Yamaha has 15% more peak torque to go wih its 15% more displacement, but it is not more powerful. The assertion was that an American motor couldn’t compete with a Japanese one. The Scout does more than compete. I like the Yamaha save for those ugly tank graphics, but I think only hardcore Yamaha guys would feel it’s a better design than the Scout. Pretty much not the better bike.

        • DickRuble

          Up to 5800 rpm’s the Yamaha comes ahead (by about 10hp). The Yamaha’s rev limiter hits at 6100. Even the biased bunch that reviewed the bikes admit that it rides better and runs better. The only thing they have against it is graphics and that … it’s faultless.. This bunch would rather date cross-eyed, moustachoed, short-ass, bow legged women rather than top models. Perfection is not something they are comfortable with.

          • VeganLondonMan

            That big Yamaha might as well have another 30 horsepower to go with its 101 pounds of extra weight compared to the Scout. It’s not just MO editors who find the Yamaha bland…it is a nice, good, decent, acceptable, bland bike. Calling it “perfection” or “faultless” is a bit of a stretch. They will update its design or discontinue it soon I wager.

          • Evans Brasfield

            I’m quite familiar and comfortable with perfection while those around me have had to adapt to that reality, but I digress…

            The Star (ain’t no Yamahas in this test) carries a whopping 9.85 lbs for every one of those horsepower. The Indian? 6.77 lb/hp. The dyno chart doesn’t show that. However, the experience from the saddle does.

            As always, thank you for your comments, Dick.

          • Kevin

            Which one had the best mirrors, Evans? Sorry bud, I just couldn’t resist!

  • Craig Hoffman

    “Instead of rolling slowly to a coffee klatsch with a bunch of old guys, the Scout is a jack Russell terrier that makes you want to reclaim your youth and ride like you used to before you wised up. It encourages bad behavior, it’s a gender-bender that could make it into some sort of Hooligan Shootout just as well as this one, which we should really call the Indian Scout Massacre, so badly did it beat up the other bikes. Didn’t it? For me it did.”

    John Burns is a genius. Makes me laugh and yet informs me every time. Sounds like my kind of engine! I do hope Indian uses it in other formats.

  • Kevin Polito

    We included the 18-year-old guy on the Little League team because sometimes kids get held back and have to repeat grades.

  • sgray44444

    I just wanted to say again so anyone from Indian that might read this will see it again: Scout Sport. More ground clearance, good brakes, mid-mount pegs. Please please please. Not all ‘mericans fit the cruiser mold, and we’d love to have a US made sporty standard with classic styling and the Indian name on the tank.

    • Tim Sawatzky

      Agreed, this motor needs to be in a “cafe racer” type bike.

      • sgray44444

        Heck yeah. Keep the same or similar tank and seat, but change the frame to something like the geometry of a Speed Triple and add some good light wheels and dual disks, rearsets, flat track or superbike bars, small cafe shield, etc. I’ll trade my Speed Triple in on one right now.

    • roma258

      A thousand times this! Sounds like they have an excellent platform to make this happen. All that’s left is the deed itself.

    • Robotribe

      If everything you just said could be wrapped in a similarly-approached Indian take on retro standard with said mid-controls, Indian would have a serious Bonneville killer on their hands (and I’m a Bonneville owner).

      I love my Triumphs, but I hope Indian is listening.

      • ELGuapo

        That would be sweet. Plus the Indians are made in USA not Thailand
        like the Bonnies.

    • Buzz

      H-D did a VRod sport when “everyone” was clamoring for it and it tanked.

      When Indian has enough money to waste a whole bunch of it, I’m sure they’ll come out with a “sport” model.

      • DickRuble

        This is the kind of crowd that would cheer for something then go “cool, rocks…. too bad my wife won’t let me buy anything/too bad I can only afford a bandana”.

      • Max Wellian

        Because it was ugly and uncomfortable. Had it looked like the one in this test and had a comfortable seat, I think it would have sold better.

      • sgray44444

        You have a good point, but as usual (when attempting something outside their core market) HD missed the mark. It has to be shorter and lighter. Sport-like appearance and mid-mount pegs won’t do it: it has to handle. How much did that V-rod sport weigh? What was the wheelbase? Super long? Super fat? Not going to cut it. As mentioned below, take a look at the Bonneville or Thruxton. They are well-regarded, but are lacking some power that this Indian has.
        This platform already has much going for it: horsepower and rev ability, and it is fairly light. Also, the slate is still somewhat clean and the company is showing that they have the ability to think in a forward direction, rather than answer to an aging and closed-minded customer base that is highly opposed to change. In this case, the HD on the tank might be a disadvantage that Indian doesn’t have to bear. At this point in the game, Indian has the freedom to try something new.

        • Buzz

          I thought the same thing regarding the freedom. Certain manufacturers are bound by tradition and not just H-D.

          A Ducati sport bike must have a 90 degree L-twin. Bmw has to keep forms of the boxer design.

          Since Indian has been out of business since 1953, they can take it anywhere they want.

          I had a Ducati GT1000 so I know how much fun that style of bike can be.

          • sgray44444

            Indian would be foolish not to take advantage of the brand’s performance heritage as well as the appearance cues. If they continue to only make cookie-cutter cruisers, they will probably end up like the previous iterations; irrelevant. This Scout shows promise in that they are not limiting the designers to “the formula”. I would like to see them take the approach of ‘what would have happened if they had continually stayed in business’.

          • Goose

            Cruisers are, by far, the dominant motorcycle type in the US market. What about that is “irrelevant”? The Indian revivals failed because they were the opposite of what Polaris has done, cobbled together parts built by under fund companies run by people who didn’t know how to run the business side. Hard as it maybe for some people to accept, good “bean counters” are vital to a companies’ success.

            That dose of reality said, I’m in the group that would like Indian to to make a second version of the Scout into a “sporty standard”. Add a second disk, an option for ABS, a little more cornering clearance, a gallon and a half or so more fuel, longer, better quality shocks, tuck the forks in a few degrees, an option to carry a passenger and try to keep the price only a grand or fifteen hundred higher that this version. And make the new bike as pretty as this one.

          • sgray44444

            The elephant in the room is Harley. Everyone I know that rides a cruiser either has one or wants to have one, for the most part. Everyone else is a small piece of the pie. That is why they will become irrelevant if they don’t pursue some of the other parts of the market. How long has Victory been in business, and how much of a share do they own? Same company with the same bankroll, but they are not exactly beating down Harley’s door. That’s what I mean by irrelevant.
            Of course you are right about the previous failures. The S&S clone drive train is not a solution for a new company, in my opinion. But Indian has a long way to go, and why not take some business from Triumph and others along the way?

            I ride a Triumph and a Suzuki because there are no American brands that make a streetfighter and an adventure bike. My grandpa used to ride an Indian. Don’t you think there are many more like me that would like to ride one, but just don’t have an interest in cruisers? Give us an excuse to buy one, please!

          • VeganLondonMan

            Im guessing Polaris would be more likely to build a streetfighter under the Victory brand rather than Indian now that Victory has more license to experiment and target a younger demographic.

          • Goose

            I’ll take a wild stab and say you don’t have a business background. Polaris is doing what any well run company would do, putting their efforts into getting a slice of the biggest pie. Yes, Harley dominates cruiser sales and will for years. But that still leaves lots of “pie” (profits) to be split among the other players. I read recently (just hearsay, I can’t prove it) the Polaris is already selling as many Indians as Victories and they are number two in cruiser sales. They have the second biggest piece of the biggest pie in US sales. I’d be wiling make a bet the Scout will make Indian’s numbers even better. When you look at facts Polaris is doing exactly the right thing.

            Again, I’m not talking about what I want. I really hope Indian/ Victory can expand into other niches once they get a large, stable piece of the sales pie. But first things first, they need to make profits to show Polaris they can pay back the huge R&D bills they have run up. Somebody had to fund developing two motorcycles from scratch, the exact opposite of the S&S clones you mentioned. I have no idea what the actual numbers are but I wouldn’t be surprised if Indian has spent 200 to 250 million of Polaris’ dollars. How will that be paid back? Who is paying the cost of that money? The bottom line is always profits, Indian is doing the right thing to maximize their profits.

            Sorry this is so long but I get really frustrated seeing that so many people don’t understand basic business practices. This is that capitalism stuff that so many people say they support but so few seem to understand.

          • sgray44444

            I freely admit that I don’t have a sales and marketing background. I’m an enthusiast with an engineering background, so I appreciate the explanation, and it does make sense.

          • Goose

            We have more in common than you’d think. I was a networking geek for years and converted to the “dark side” back in the nineties. There comes a day when the thought of learning one more protocol causes you to get nauseous. All you have to do is give up your morals and pride. :-)
            Cheers

          • sgray44444

            Guess you gotta go where the money is. I couldn’t hack I T. Industrial controls is bad enough. I don’t have the personality for sales or else I might consider selling my soul, lol.

      • QuestionMark

        I bought one, too long and no fun to ride. Quickly got ride of it and bought a 675 Daytona

    • Peter Mills

      Same platform sportier suspenders. Rear-set, clip-ons, shorter fenders, lower profile tires and maybe fairing option. Cafe racer for sure. Call it the Tomahawk.
      Or how about displacement bump to near 1400cc, A bigger fuel tank, detachable bags, small wind shield, two-up seat and one exhaust pipe per side. The Brave?

    • Rokster

      Yes, please.

    • Kevin Duke
      • sgray44444

        Whatever the name, it looks promising.

  • Kevin Polito

    It’s interesting that if a buyer chose the Indian Scout for no other reason than being an extreme tightwad, he would still get the best bike in the bunch.

  • Kevin Polito

    It bears noting that although the Night Rod and Sportster have the worst displacement-per-dollar ratio, and the Night Rod costs a whopping 50 percent more than the lowest-priced bike in the test, they are nonetheless included in the test, as if the name Harley-Davidson and the magic glow that surrounds it automatically grants them a place at the table.

    • Auphliam

      I think that is more a case of publications trying to find something, anything, to compare the Scout to. A genius move, really, by Indian…They’ve built a bike for which there is no real 1 to 1 comparison.

      Yes, the Night Rod is close, but it’s $6K more. You can build alot of motor for $6K. The Sportster is close, but its an old, pushrod design. I even read a comment on another site where somebody suggested the Diavel, questioning why the Scout isn’t closer to that bike’s 162hp output (a foolish comparison, IMO, as all that the Diavel has to offer is well represented in it’s $20K+ price tag).

      The Scout has shown that it can pretty much slap around any Japanese cruiser of similar genes…so they’ve basically made the mark on the wall, as a challenge to the other ‘Muricans(Victory included) and said — Beat That!

      • Kevin

        Wouldn’t be nice if somebody, anybody, American, German, Italian, Japanese or British would take them up on the invitation!

  • Gomer Pyle

    I put my deposit down over a month ago,,,,,,those that did, got a 5 year warranty,, bag of goodies and a promised delivery before Xmas…
    I saw pictures of the scout, I liked what I read, called the closest dealer and gave him my credit card #.
    You snooze ,,you loose.
    The introductory offer ended 11 days early,,,,[ sept 19 vs the 30th ] because of the overwhelming # of deposits submitted .
    Indian has a winner in the Scout,,, and I have no problem being one of the first to park one in the garage.

    • VeganLondonMan

      That’s awesome. I have the feeling this bike will develop a rabid following.

  • Buzz

    Excellent job boys.

    The Indian is a winner for sure. I’ve seen a lot of posts from Harley haters hoping Indian is going to take H-D down, but more likely, Indian is going to kill the Japanese cruisers.

    Back in the day, if you hated H-D, your choice was a bland Honda Shadow. Yamaha stepped it up a little with the Star line but now, you can go Indian. Sayonara.

    Burns, the Bruce Lee line was the funniest ever.

    Sean, I’m guessing you’d soak up most of the suspension travel on a long-travel sand rail these days.

    Back away from the chicken wings boys!

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Not in this shootout. I soaked-up all of the travel on precisely one bike. The Indian Scout. (though the Sportster was close as well, it just coped better) I had no such issue with any of these other bikes, nor even the CB500F I just rode, HARD, up on GMR.

      • Buzz

        Does that mean the Indian may be unsuitable for a rider and passenger?

        • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

          No, the Indian should be just dandy for a rider and passenger. (provided of course you put a passenger seat, passenger pegs and two new rear shocks on it, and then have said passenger wear an asbestos sock on their right foot.)

  • EdDyer

    I really liked this article until I got to the dyno plots. How can you discuss low-end grunt, which is mandatory when talking cruisers, and start the dyno plots at 3000 rpm? Would it really have taken prohibitively longer to start the sweep tests at idle speed?

    On the Scout itself, I have worries about the rear shocks, specifically in getting an aftermarket replacement that would provide more travel. Most cruiser shocks operate at a mechanical advantage of about 0.7 (give or take about 0.05), meaning one pound of force at the shocks gets you 0.7 pounds at the rear wheel (and 2″ of shock travel get you 2.85 inches of wheel travel). Or, if you like looking in the other direction, one pound of force at the rear wheel gets you 1.42 pounds at the shocks. The Scout however, with that steep angle, is running at a 0.5 ratio. So you need 40% (0.7 / 0.5) more force at the Scout shock than at most other cruiser shocks. Getting a spring that’s 40% stiffer isn’t the problem, it’s getting the 40 percent more damping that will probably make this something in the distant future, when there’s sufficient sales volume potential. Or, meanwhile, get by with underdamped shocks, but that may negate the advantages of an additional 1-to-1.5 inches of travel (or however much you dare push a belt drive).

  • Old MOron
  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    That Yamaha looks so outdated. Not in a retro or nostalgic way, just really, really dated. Ick.

  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    Really appreciate this review by the way. Because the prices are similar I’ve been considering both the Scout and the Gunner. Still not entirely sure but leaning toward the Scout if not simply because the continued presence of the old Freedom 106 makes me question Polaris’ commitment to the Victory brand.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I think you might see some changes at Victory soon. The resources at Polaris are finite, and they wouldn’t want to keep this pace up solely at Indian while neglecting Victory. They’re fully committed to Victory, too.

      • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

        Cool. I sure hope you’re right. I’m a big fan of both brands and have been a little frustrated (read: “impatient”) with Victory over the past two years because I feel they’re falling behind. Though, I’m looking forward to seeing their European model line up revealed at INTERMOT next week. I’d guess they’ll almost certainly introduce ABS across the line, which I’m sure would then filter to it being an option in the US. That alone helps put them back in the game, but I still hope you’re right that even more is forthcoming.

  • Kevin Polito

    When Indian reps introduced the new Scout, they mentioned that 11 different Scout prototypes had been developed. Let your imagination run wild with the possibilities. It was also stated that Victory will share versions of the Scout to expand the Victory line into the lower-price market.

  • Kevin

    TRs’ observation of the lack of glaring faults and fueling of desire pretty much sums up all 7 of them for me:

  • overloadinco

    I rode two Sportsters at a rally last month. I hated the forty-nine- draged the pegs, uncomfortable riding position, small tank, no suspension travel. However, I was impressed with the 1200T. I thought it had plenty of power, was comfortable, wind protection, medium sized bags. I could see being happy on one.

    I wish there was an Indian dealer close to me so I could see and test the Scout.

  • Old MOron

    Ha ha ha, after seeing the MO gang riding cruisers in formation, and after that round table discussion behind Cook’s, I can’t get the Black Widows out of my head. I’m not going to call him “Commander Duke” or “His Dukeness” any more. I’m going to call him “Cholla”.

    http://youtu.be/JfAoRNSoliA

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/MOTOJEDEYE/videos MotoJedeye

    Instead of the Gunner, the Victory Judge would make more sense. You should have also considered the Star Bolt. Lastly, adding the sportster to this crowd is an insult to all the other bikes. Still, good review!