photo shoot

Supporting Cast

While the primary differentiation of these cruisers from a functional standpoint comes in the form of their diverse engines, the frames are all remarkably similar tubular, double-cradle steel construction – with one exception. Part of the way the Scout is able to sneak onto the scales at 562 lb. is through the use of its cast aluminum frame. Additionally, Indian didn’t choose to keep the frame hidden away under non-essential covers, either.

The Moto Guzzi’s powerful dual, radial-mount Brembos aren’t something you see very often on cruisers. Too bad.

The Moto Guzzi’s powerful dual, radial-mount Brembos aren’t something you see very often on cruisers. Too bad.

The cast components are hanging out in full view and are actually made part of the bike’s styling. The frame’s steering head and the cast plates under the seat perform functions that are vital to the integrity of the frame but are usually hidden away because they were welded together by a robot working through a hangover. Instead, the steering head’s shape grows to include the radiator shroud, while the rear plates have support ribs that are integrated into the plates. The Scout isn’t alone in the high-tech frame construction department, though. The Night Rod’s steel frame is hydroformed into shape.

So, does the Indian’s fancy frame set it apart from the other more conventional cruisers? The Indian handles nimbly, but that is largely dependent on its short wheelbase. Only the Sportster’s is shorter, and not surprisingly, it feels pretty sprightly, too. No doubt the Scout’s 29° rake also plays a role in its quick steering nature. Only the Sportster, with its 30° rake is in the same neighborhood. The rest range from 32°–34°. Unlike the Sportster, the Scout didn’t show even the slightest sign of chassis flex

Still, the Scout’s top ranking comes with a caveat directed by riders on the far side of 250 lb. Our resident Large-Sized American, Sean Alexander, noted that for someone of his build, aftermarket shocks were a requirement – not an option – particularly if riding aggressively. Alexander pointed out that simply sitting on the Scout ate up most of the suspension’s limited travel. So, the fix would be buying longer travel shocks or high-quality stock-length aftermarket units to keep your rear end from being introduced to the hard stop of bottoming shocks.

Modern engine, shapely frame and engine castings, supple leather seat, and inadequate rear suspension.

Modern engine, shapely frame and engine castings, supple leather seat, and inadequate rear suspension.

Settling the Score

When the scorecard numbers are consulted, the Scout easily wins the handling category with the Gunner trailing five percentage points back. Although a couple editors said they thought the Gunner was almost as ungainly as the raked out Stateline at parking lot speeds, the bike’s character changes once on the road. Said Duke, “Although not a small machine, the Gunner feels remarkably adroit at all speeds.” However, the Gunner’s more limited cornering clearance ended the party prematurely. Rousseau concurred, adding, ”It isn’t the lightest-steering unit here, and it doesn’t have the most ground clearance, but it will still carve corners effectively at the speeds traveled by most cruiser pilots, and it’s as stable as an aircraft carrier to boot.” However, the short-travel, stiff rear suspension moved the Gunner to mid-pack when the road was anything less than billiard-table smooth.

Close behind the Gunner, the V Star’s handling again proved the bike’s overall competence by placing third. Rousseau’s comment that the Star “delivers a planted feel with slow yet relatively precise steering” was echoed by other testers. When the suspenders were considered, the Star inched its way into a close second. Siahaan believes the V Star ”has the most compliant suspension in the bunch. Bumps on the freeway that would normally upset any of the other bikes, the Star just soaks up.” Duke went even further, saying the Star is “one of the few bikes here suitable for long-distance travel.” Get off the superslab, and the Star works well until it runs out of clearance. In higher-speed sweepers, the chassis displays some “cruiser flex” (though not as much as the Stateline and the Sportster) while still tracking true.

We think the Gunner’s cast aluminum wheels look terrific.

We think the Gunner’s cast aluminum wheels look terrific.

Ironically, the Sportster tied with the Star in handling scores but dropped once the suspension was considered. The much-maligned rear suspension travel truly limits the environments in which the 1200C can be enjoyed. Our testers concurred with Siahaan when he said the Sportster’s “short-ish wheelbase, normal-sized tires, and bars with an agreeable width actually make it a very competent handling bike.” Popular consensus also stated that the Sporty flexed the most noticeably when any rear cornering force was fed into the chassis.

Odd Ducks and Other Strange Birds

The Moto Guzzi is an odd duck when it comes to handling and suspension. Our riders rated it third from last in handling but first in suspension. Huh? The culprit here is the California’s massive 708 lbs. of two-cylindered love. The Goose was a workout just pushing it around in the garage or navigating low-speed maneuvers. Duke refers to it as “rangy and a little awkward at slow speeds in tight places.” However, Troy says, ”She’s a big girl, but once rolling, she’s mighty comfy.”

Imagine feeling every engine pulse through your kneecaps. Long-legged riders get to experience the sensation first-hand.

Imagine feeling every engine pulse through your kneecaps. Long-legged riders get to experience the sensation first-hand.

“Out on the road the Guzzi hides its weight fairly well,” noted Rousseau. “Its handling is deliberate, and transitioning from one side of the tire to other is slower than most of the bikes in this test, but added, “The California is one plush machine front and rear. It gobbled up every bump I could throw at it.” The only bike in the septet with a (primitive) cruise control, all the Guzzi needs is a windshield and some soft bags to make a competent tourer.

Tied for last place in handling, the Stateline and the Night Rod suffer from being a bit too different from the other bikes. The Harley and the Honda represent the second longest and longest bikes, respectively. The Night Rod’s wheelbase combines with the 240 rear tire to make it feel wonky in corners. In its defense, the Night Rod doesn’t do anything evil, but the sensations transmitted to the rider’s butt is just so different that it takes some getting used to. The Honda suffers from having wheels that feel like they are living in different time zones. There is a noticeable pause between when the rider initiates the turn and the front wheel begins to react.

Some riders felt the Stateline’s beach bars spread them out too much in the wind. Others thought they were kinda cool.

Some riders felt the Stateline’s beach bars spread them out too much in the wind. Others thought they were kinda cool.

Back in the Saddle

While cruisers are supposed to be about a relaxed and comfortable ride, our shootout covered the whole enchilada when it comes to riding positions. The V Star and the Scout were headliners in the comfort regard, with the Star aided by roomy floorboards that allow multiple leg positions and the Scout’s peg placement accommodating a wide variety of leg length. Where the ergonomics scorecard winner, the Star, put the rider in a comfortably laid-out position for watching the world go by, the Night Rod’s feet-way-forward position combined with a reach-for-it drag bar made the bike unsuitable for all but short rides.

One might expect the Guzzi, with its cushy suspension, to rank as high as the almost as nicely suspended Star, but that would be wrong. Riders on the tall side ran into an issue with the 1400’s heads either limiting their legroom or actually hitting their knees – a problem that got old very quickly. Riders of average height or shorter, like Rousseau, found themselves “with a fairly roomy cockpit layout and nice floorboards.” Larger riders on the comparatively diminutive Scout may have looked a bit outsized, but they remained comfortable.

The Gunner’s mid-pack score here is largely due to the long reach to the pegs for shorter riders combined with a firm seat that wasn’t comfortable if it didn’t exactly conform to the shape of the rider’s buttocks. Sportster riders who were short of inseam found the bike’s pegs to be nicely located. The softly padded seat also offered a respite from the harsh rear suspension. According to Rousseau, “Those rear shock absorbers need all the help they can get.” Opinions were divided on the mini-ape handlebar. Some felt they helped to maintain a relaxed upper body while others found them awkward.

Yeah, that back tire is massive, but so is the power that the Night Rod delivers.

Yeah, that back tire is massive, but so is the power that the Night Rod delivers.

Ooh! Shiny!

Since the aesthetics of a cruiser motorcycle are most certainly in the eye of the beholder, we’ll cover these seven machines in broad strokes since readers will either think we’re geniuses because we agree with them, or they’ll call us idiots because we don’t. Under the auspices of “Cool Factor,” a category that includes appearance, desirability, poser factor (i.e. attention-attracting), etc., we combine all those intangibles and try to bring order to chaos. This shootout, with its seven disparate entries, proved to be a challenge – again, with one exception. The Indian Scout trounced the competition collecting 90.71% of the available points. The California and the Gunner tied for second in appearance, trailing the Scout by 14.28%.

Could this mark the end of liquid-cooled cruiser engines trying to look air-cooled?

Could this mark the end of liquid-cooled cruiser engines trying to look air-cooled?

The Scout’s price tag played an important role, here. For $10,999, the Scout features a technologically advanced engine in an attractive – and completely functional – wrapper. The cast aluminum frame is stylish, light and hella strong. The Indian sports premium features like a leather saddle (while more expensive contestants had vinyl). All the little details appear to favor the Scout: lines that harken to the original Scout, yet remain completely modern; eye catching instrumentation; and tons of Indian badging. The California has the benefit of Euro-styling and nice details, like having Moto Guzzi in red on the black cast aluminum wheels. The Gunner’s lines combine with the blacked out chassis and engine to give a menacing style that is softened by the silky semi-matte green paint. And the wheels are the coolest.

Although the massive rear tire may have hurt the Night Rod’s handling, it clearly helps in its attitude. The Sportster proves, yet again, that no other OEM knows paint the way that Harley-Davidson does. Siahaan sums up the 1200C’s styling perfectly: “It’s dated, but it has aged well.” The Stateline’s raked out lean look still catches the eye, even though cruiser fashion has moved on from choppers to a more bobbed appearance. (Oh, and trading some of the plastic components for metal would help, too.) The V Star, as polished as it is, suffers from dated tank graphics and too many years between refreshes.

It’s not a biker gang. Just the MO staff out on another seven bike shootout.

It’s not a biker gang. Just the MO staff out on another seven bike shootout.

Circling the Wagons

In our recent shootouts, we haven’t been sure of which bike was going take home the title until we got back to our respective offices and crunched the numbers. This time, however, we all had a pretty strong idea which way the results were going. The scorecard only solidified our hunches. On its way to victory, the Scout won six of the 11 subjective categories and two of the four objective categories – though the other motorcycles were never far behind. MSRP clearly played an important role in the Scout’s showing, impressing us with how much performance, style and premium feel Indian was able to lavish on the least expensive bike in the shootout. With the established order shifting, we expect to see the other manufacturers step up their game in the 1300cc cruiser class. Having a new for 2015 motorcycle model – from a manufacturer that only opened its doors in the 2014 model year – win this shootout shows how serious Polaris is with pushing the Indian brand. After this performance, we can’t see what the folks in Minnesota have up their sleeves next.

Now that the Scout is on the road, what does Indian have up its sleeve, next?

Now that the Scout is on the road, what does Indian have up its sleeve, next?

Shootout at the MO Corral Scorecard
Category Harley-Davidson
Sportster 1200
Night Rod Special
Honda Stateline Indian Scout Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom Star V Star 1300 Victory Gunner
Price 84.6% 66.5% 90.5% 100.0% 71.0% 97.4% 84.6%
Weight 98.7% 84.9% 83.6% 100.0% 79.4% 84.7% 84.7%
lb/hp 66.6% 100.0% 0.0% 90.8% 71.9% 62.4% 76.0%
lb/lb-ft 84.6% 77.0% 0.0% 79.2% 74.0% 77.7% 100.0%
Engine 68.9% 86.6% 68.9% 90.4% 83.9% 78.6% 86.4%
Transmission/Clutch 67.1% 77.1% 79.6% 82.9% 76.4% 80.4% 63.2%
Handling 76.4% 63.6% 63.6% 82.1% 71.8% 76.4% 77.1%
Brakes 70.7% 81.1% 72.5% 80.4% 86.4% 80.0% 75.0%
Suspension 62.1% 70.7% 74.6% 59.3% 79.3% 78.2% 73.6%
Technologies 34.3% 52.9% 35.7% 50.7% 80.6% 37.1% 34.3%
Instruments 59.3% 63.6% 63.6% 63.6% 74.3% 60.7% 62.5%
Ergonomics/Comfort 71.1% 60.0% 63.6% 76.1% 73.9% 79.3% 72.5%
Quality 80.4% 84.6% 83.9% 86.8% 82.9% 80.0% 81.1%
Cool Factor 64.3% 75.4% 53.6% 90.7% 76.4% 46.7% 76.4%
Grin Factor 60.0% 72.9% 48.6% 87.1% 74.6% 53.6% 70.4%
Overall Score 80.9% 87.0% 74.5% 95.3% 91.6% 84.1% 86.9%
Price and weight are scored based on objective metrics. Other scores are listed as a percentage of editors’ ratings in each category. The Engine category is double-weighted, so the Overall Score is not a total of the displayed percentages but, rather, a percentage of the weighted aggregate raw score.
Night Rod Special
Moto Guzzi
California 1400 Custom
V Star 1300
MSRP $12,999.00 $16,549.00 $12,150.00 $10,999.00 $15,490.00 $11,290.00 $12,999.00
Engine Type Air-cooled, Evolution, 45 degree V-twin Liquid-cooled, Revolution, 60° V-Twin Liquid-cooled 52° V-twin Liquid-cooled, 60 degree V-twin Air/oil-cooled with an independent cooling pump, 90° transverse mounted V-twin Liquid-cooled, 60° V-twin Air/oil-cooled, Freedom 106 / 6, 50° V-twin
Displacement 1202 cc (73.4 cu. in.) 1247 cc (76.1 cu. in.) 1312cc (80.1 cu. in.) 1133cc (69 cu. in.) 1380 cc (84.2 cu. in.) 1304cc (80 cu. in.) 1731cc (106 cu. in.)
Bore x Stroke 88.9 mm x 96.8 mm 105 mm x 72 mm 89.5 mm x 104.3 mm 99 mm x 73.6 mm 104 mm x 81.2 mm 100.0 mm x 83.0 mm 101 mm X 108 mm
Fuel System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) PGM-FI with automatic enrichment circuit, one 38mm throttle body Electronic fuel injection, closed loop/60 mm bore Phased electronic Multipoint sequential injection; “ride by wire” 52 mm throttle body, double oxygen sensor Fuel injection Closed loop fuel injection, dual 45 mm throttle bodies
Ignition Digital with 3-D mapping, two spark plugs per cylinder Integrated management of 3 engine mappings, traction control TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Compression Ratio 10:01 11.5:1 9.2:1 10.7:1 10.5 : 1 9.5:1 9.4:1
Valve Train Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; 2 valves per cylinder DOHC, solid tappet with shim-under-bucket lash adjustment, 4 valves per cylinder SOHC, 3 valves per cylinder DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
Emissions Catalytic converter Catalytic converter Catalytic converter Two O2 sensors, one each bank, single three-way catalyst in each muffler Three-way catalytic converter with double lambda probe Catlytic converter Catalytic converter
Horsepower 61.6 hp 107.6 hp 55.6 hp 83.0 hp 82.8 hp 67.3 hp 82.0 hp
Torque 67.6 ft-lb 71.5 ft-lb 72.2 ft-lb 62.5 ft-lb 73.6 ft-lb 72.4 ft-lb 93.2 ft-lb
lb/hp 9.24 6.15 12.09 6.77 8.55 9.85 8.09
lb/torque 8.42 9.25 9.31 8.99 9.62 9.16 7.12
Transmission 5-speed, Multi-plate, wet clutch 5-speed, 9-plate, wet, clutch with Assist & Slip 5-speed 6-Speed, wet, multi-plate clutch 6 speeds with final overdrive, single-disc clutch with integrated anti-vibration buffer 5-speed multiplate wet clutch 6-speed overdrive, wet multi-plate
Final Drive Belt Belt Shaft Belt Shaft: double cardan joint and fixed bevel gear seat Belt Belt
Front Suspension Telescopic fork, 39 mm diameter, 4.12 in. travel 43 mm inverted, 4.0 in. travel 41mm fork; 4.0 inches travel 41 mm fork, 4.7 in. travel 46 mm telescopic fork, 4.7 in. travel 41mm Telescopic fork; 5.3-in travel 43 mm telescopic fork, 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension Dual shocks, coil-over; preload-adjustable, 2.12 in. travel Dual shocks, preload-adjustable, 2.9 in. travel Single shock, preload adjustable, 3.9 inches travel Dual shocks, preload-adjustable, 3 in. travel Dual shock absorbers with adjustable preload and rebound damping, 4.3 in. travel Single, preload-adjustable shock; 4.3-in travel Single, mono-tube gas, cast aluminum with rising rate linkage, 3.0 in. travel, preload adjustable
Front Brake Single 300mm solid, uniform expansion rotor; dual-piston caliper Dual 300mm one-piece, floating rotor; 4-piston calipers Single 336mm disc with 2-piston caliper Single 298 mm rotor with 2-piston caliper Dual 320 mm stainless steel floating discs, Brembo radial callipers with 4 horizontally opposed pistons Dual 298mm disc, 4-piston calipers Single 300 mm disc, 4-piston caliper
Rear Brake Single, 260mm solid, uniform expansion rotor; dual-piston front caliper Single, 300mm uniform expansion rotor, 4-piston caliper 296mm disc with single-piston caliper Single 298 mm rotor with 1-piston caliper Single, 282 mm stainless steel fixed disc, Brembo floating calliper with 2 parallel pistons Single, 298mm disc, 2-piston Caliper Single, 300 mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Front Tire 130/90 B16 73H 120/70 ZR-19 60W 140/80-17 130/90-16 72H 130/70 R 18 130/90-16M/C 67H 130/90 B16 67H
Rear Tire 150/80B16 77H 240/40R-18 79V 170/80-15 150/80-16 71H 200/60 R 16 170/70B-16M/C 75H 140/90 B16 77H
Rake / Trail 30° / 4.2 in. 34° / 5.6 in. 33° / 4.6 in. 29° / 4.7 in. 32° / 6.1 in. 32° / NA 32° / 6.7 in.
Wheelbase 59.8 in. 67.0 in. 70.1 in. 61.5 in. 66.3 in. 66.5 in. 64.8 in.
Seat Height 28.0 in. 26.6 in. 26.7 in. 26.5 in. 29.1 in. 27.2 in. 25.0 in.
Measured Weight 569.4 lb. 661.7 lb. 672 lb (spec shootout) 562.0 lb. 708.1 lb. 663.2 lb. 663.2 lb.
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gal. 5 gal. 4.4 gal. 3.3 gal. 5.4 gal. 4.9 gal. 4.5 gal.
Tested Fuel Economy 36.4 mpg 26.1 mpg NA 35.1 mpg 37.4 mpg 39.6 mpg 38.3 mpg
Available Colors Brilliant Silver Pearl/Vivid Black, Mysterious Red Sunglo/Blackened Cayanne Sunglo, Vivid Black, Amber Whiskey, Superior Blue Deep Jade Pearl, Superior Blue, Black Denim, Vivid Black Blue Metallic Thunder Black, Indian Motorcycle Red, Silver Smoke, Thunder Black Smoke Basalt Black, Mercury Gray Candy Red Suede Titanium Metallic with Black, Suede Green Metallic with Black
Warranty Two years Two years One year Two years Two years One year One year

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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. 🙂

          • 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!

    • 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?

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

  • 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.

      • 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”.

  • 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!