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2015 Indian Scout First Ride

Monday, August 4, 2014
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2015 Indian Scout First Ride
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Come along for the ride as we take a spin on the 2015 Indian Scout around the Black Hills of South Dakota. Hear our first impressions of Indian's new middleweight cruiser in our 2015 Indian Scout First Ride video.
It shattered records on Bonneville’s Salt Flats, rumbled to victory on the white sands of Daytona Beach, and climbed up nigh impossible inclines with the abandon of a mountain goat. It has immortalized names like Kretz and Munro in the annals of motorcycle racing history. The weapon of choice of motorcycle racers, hillclimbers, and “Wall of Death” performers alike, the Indian Scout helped forge a company over a 29-year span.

So it is little surprise that Indian Motorcycle Company’s new owners, Polaris Industries, resurrected the middleweight motorcycle. The question wasn’t so much “if” but “when.” On the stage of the biggest motorcycle rally around, the 2015 Indian Scout was introduced to the motorcycling community Saturday night, August 2, the new version hoping to pay homage to its forebears while establishing its own identity.

To accomplish this, Indian Motorcycle Co. used a clean slate, constructing a frame from cast aluminum. Indian designed it so the rear subframe conveniently bolts off, no hacking or welding involved. The cast arms serving as downtubes are dual purpose, shrouding the radiator and supporting the frame. Engineers built a brand-new powerplant for the new Scout, a liquid-cooled, 1133cc, 60-degree V-Twin reportedly putting out 100 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque. They gave the engine its own identity with a high level of machining, its inner workings displayed externally. Indian trimmed weight so it tips the scales almost 30 pounds lighter than its chief adversary, Harley-Davidson's Sportster 1200, and priced it competitively right out of the gate. Then they paid tribute to its heritage when Charlie Ransom of The American Motor Drome Co. rode both a 101 Scout and the 2015 Scout inside the perilous planks of the “Wall of Death.”

Yesterday I rumbled through South Dakota’s Black Hills on the 2015 Scout, spending a little over 100 miles in its saddle. The roads surrounding Sturgis are great testing grounds with its abundance of switchbacks and sweepers. Long, straight stretches allowed me to crack the throttle wide and tap into those 100 ponies Indian kept telling us about. Here’s what I discovered.

The first thing that came to mind when picking it up off the kickstand is “Wow, this thing is light.” It feels much lighter than the Sportster 1200, even more so than the actual 26 pounds that separate the two. Much of that effect is due to a lower center of gravity and a laden 25.3-inch seat height. This theme of lightness carries over to its handling, both in the way it steers to how it transitions smoothly and quickly.

On the straights, I learned the Scout’s engine can be revved higher than most cruiser V-Twins. First gear didn’t tap out until 55 mph, about 10 mph higher than the standard cruiser, and we wound second out to approximately 88 mph before hitting red line. On most cruisers you’re lucky to hit freeway speed in second gear. Acceleration is snappy and it’s quick off the line. A healthy midrange kicks in around 5000 rpm and it continues to give generously up top as I squeezed the powerband for everything it’s got, and even at redline it still tries to rev out instead of sign off.

Tapping into its torque curve is facilitated by a refined gearbox, engagement smooth and fuss-free. No clunk, no thunk, just quiet, efficient engagement. Its clutch lever is taut and the squeeze required midrange. The clutch did slip out of first once, and a couple times it stayed in neutral despite several attempts to kick it in gear from a stop.

Grab a handful of front brake and the twin-pot caliper exerts a solid initial bite. There’s plenty of feel at the front brake lever and stopping power using solely the front is impressive. The rear, with its single caliper clamping down on the 298mm rotor, doesn’t have the same power, but the feel and bite are there. Though the 2015 Indian Scout doesn’t have ABS, it carries its weight low and has less mass than most cruisers, so its braking arrangement never left us wanting.
While the cant of the rear shocks is another of its prominent styling features, the Scout is a little softly sprung for me at 225 pounds. Square a pothole on the front and you’ll feel the bottom of its stroke, though the springs are quick to rebound. The fork tubes are a little spindly while travel on the rear is limited at three inches. At times when accelerating hard out of corners the rear hopped slightly. This most likely could have been remedied with a few twists of a spanner wrench on the adjustable rear but I sampled it in its stock settings during our first ride.

On a wonderfully windy strip of asphalt that dead ends at Silver City, the road twists and turns through 15 mph blind curves and 180-degree bends. The pegs on the Indian Scout allow for a healthy amount of lean with its 5.3 inches of ground clearance. The front end feels light and getting the bike to turn-in takes little coercion at the bars. The Scout flows through turns fluid and stable. Corner exit allows me to tap into that wonderfully potent powerpant. At times, the combination of a lot of power at the back wheel, a 16-inch wheel that’s slim at 150mm, new rubber and dusty roads made the back end squirm on corner exit when we were hot and heavy on the throttle. Its tires are made by Kenda with an assist from Indian on the groove design.

At six-feet-tall, its forward controls left enough room to stretch my legs while its pullback bars are easily at-hand. The seat is low-slung, an enticing selling point for smaller statured riders. I rode comfortable in the saddle all day, a few pressure points at the top of our backside revealing themselves only near the end of our ride. The fact that I didn’t give the seat a second thought until the end of the day means it passes the comfort test.

Its bars are no-nonsense, an analog speedo taking up solo residence between grips. The round instrument gauge features a handful of diagnostic lights in the face and a small digital window where riders can cycle through a tach, oil temp readout, odometer and a single trip meter to go along with a clock. There is a low fuel indicator but no fuel gauge. On the first Scout I sampled, the analog speedo wasn’t working while the digital window with the tachometer and odometer functioned fine. That particular Scout also had a hiccup with fueling. While holding the throttle in one position, the bike would surge slightly before backing off, then surge slightly again before rolling off again. But this was the anomaly instead of the norm because fueling was crisp and spot-on on the second Scout I sampled and no other editors said they experienced the same issue. Indian techs said the first Scout I was on most likely had an issue with its fuel pump.

The 2015 Indian Scout does justice to its namesake. Its got a wealth of power and gearing that maximizes it. Its chassis allows riders to attack corners aggressively, and though its brakes are fairly basic, they’re effective. We wouldn’t mind a little more stiffness to the suspension, but part of that is personal preference because for the majority of the ride it’s well-sorted. Even though its curb weight is listed at 558 pounds, it feels and performs much lighter than that. We’re excited to know they’ll be rolling down a new assembly line in Spirit Lake while its engines will be cranking out of Osceola. It’s a fun bike to ride, and its customizing potential is tremendous. Take notice. Indian Motorcycle Co has fired another salvo at its competition, and the 2015 Indian Scout is an immediate contender for the middleweight cruiser title.

2015 Indian Scout First Ride Photos

The 2015 Indian Scout comes in Thunder Black  Indian Motorcycle Red  Silver Smoke  matte finish  and Thunder Black Smoke  matte finish  with an MSRP of  10 999. The 1133cc V-Twin of the 2015 Indian Scout revs higher than most cruisers  peaking out at almost 90 mph in second gear. It was a festive affair in Sturgis Saturday night  August 2 as Indian Motorcycles pulled wraps off its 2015 Chief.
The 2015 Indian Scout has a rigid  cast aluminum frame. Getting the shock to perform correctly at that angle and connecting point was one of the major challenges of the project. With a 25.3-inch seat height and pullback bars  the 2015 Indian Scout is a viable choice for riders under six-feet-tall. A small  round speedometer sits between the tapered bars of the 2015 Indian Scout.
2015 Indian Scout Photo Gallery
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Rjames   September 23, 2014 11:58 AM
I own and ride a recently restored 1937 Indian Chief, so you could say I'm "old school", although I own seven other bikes as well. I test rode a 2014 Indian Chieftain,I liked the bike, and I'm glad that Polaris bought the rights to the Indian name and has properly reintroduced Indian motorcycles to the public. Was pretty sure that they would come out with a Scout model sometime in the near future, wasn't surprised when this model showed up. For the most part, I like the bike and I think they did a good job. What ruins it is the radiator and the frame. Could it be more intrusive? Several Japanese cruisers use a slimmer radiator that fits between the frame rails and is all but hidden, then the engine is finned to provide sufficient water/air cooling. This is what Polaris/Indian should have done with this bike, and in my opinion, it's a big mistake. As it is, I'm never going to consider buying one. Fin the motor, and slim down the radiator, and I might change my mind.
firedog55   August 15, 2014 06:25 PM
I test rode a Scout today at the new Indian dealership in Olathe, Ks. I was fairly impressed, considering it is not my usual type of motorcycle. I own and ride a '10 Triumph Speed Triple, '08 BMW K12S, and a '99 Honda VTR1000F, so my comments are colored by my personal bikes performance. That being said, I was impressed with the Scouts overall performance. The level of power and acceleration were more than I expected from a 580 lb. cruiser, entirely usable on surface streets and the highway. It felt pretty snappy, with the same type of delivery as my Super Hawk, but held back by the extra weight. Cruising down the highway in 6th was very smooth, with good roll on performance, not requiring a downshift for most passing. The fuel injection was spot on, without any surge or stumble while cruising or quickly opening the throttle. The suspension was travel limited, but seemed well damped until I came across some sharp edged expansion joints. Then it bottomed easily and jarred the frame. Shifting was good with a fairly light clutch pull and smooth transmission. The only issue here was the shift from 1st to 2nd was a little notchy, requiring more effort to complete the shift during hard acceleration. And finally the front brake seemed a little weak to me, dual discs would be a better option for a bike with this much weight and power. But I might be overly critical here as I'm used to sport bike brakes. Fit and finish was very nice with deep lustrous paint and chrome. The cast aluminum frame appeared to be powder coated in a nice dark grey color and texture. Overall the Scout looks like it was styled by the same people that did the Sportster. So if you like that type of bike you'll like the Scout. If it was up to me I'd put that V-twin in a street fighter frame with better brakes and suspension, 140 less pounds weight and hire the stylist that did the Brutale. Then I'd put a Scout in my garage.
SIGFREED   August 13, 2014 03:09 AM
But the 2015 Indian Scout is simply a HD V-Rod by another name and frame...
ZenBiker   August 12, 2014 02:35 PM
Other than the fact that it's butt-ugly, this is a great entry-level Indian.
customaudiodesign   August 6, 2014 09:09 AM
It was inevitable, the model with the Scout moniker. I'm glad they paid attention to less weight, good cornering clearance and more than 2" of rear suspension travel. 3" seems like the limit of how much you should have, but the style dictates the specs in this class somewhat. Especially with overall suspension performance and adequate lean angles. Great work Polaris, looking forward to see what's coming next in the Indian line-up. The original press said dual front discs, so it looks like the single rotor will be the production version. As long as it's up to the task, which Bryan said does work well. Nice. Yeah, middleweight? I agree about that category. Middleweight to me means around 500cc. I started out on a KZ250 in 1983 and rode that bike all over the west and Canada, 38,000 miles in two years. Then I moved up to a "middleweight" KZ440 and had a succession of 3 of those in a row. Total of about 150,000 miles between the 3 of the 440s. It seems the trend has been weight goes up, seat heights get lower, suspension travel (and the resultant performance) goes down, and you get inadequate lean angle. From the reviews I've been reading and the guys I've talked to that have ridden one, it seems Indian is addressing some of these issues.
DaytonaSG   August 6, 2014 06:01 AM
It is funny to me that this is considered a middleweight. When I was growing up, a Harley-Davidson ElectraGlide was considered gigantic. It had more displacement than the new Honda Gold wing. How big was it? Seventy-four cubic inches, equal to 1200 cc.
ChicagoCyclist   August 5, 2014 07:03 PM
It does sound like an awesome machine and it should be good fun reading all the Scout VS Sportster articles. However, all bikes should have at least a low fuel warning light. Not too late to add something into that digital display.
spokes   August 5, 2014 09:39 AM
bet they'll sell out this year. amazing we now call an 1133cc bike a mid weight cruiser! on their website they show a pillion and saddlebags and the bike they rode in the "wall of death" had custom pipes. the aftermarket is probably working overtime already. if you're a cruiser rider already a single front brake and limited ground clearance are not a problem, it's the rest of us that would have slow down and enjoy the scenery for a change!
harleybro   August 4, 2014 06:47 PM
...would still love to know the MPG, especially since it lacks a fuel gauge. Really, in this day and age?
Rdolch   August 4, 2014 05:59 PM
Correction. Brain fart. The final drive is the ratio of the front and rear sprockets (here, belt cogs). The front pulley turns 2.357 times to one turn of the rear pulley. Sorry for the confusion.
Rdolch   August 4, 2014 05:23 PM
Mitch... Retread the specs. It gives all six gear ratios (six speed gearbox) then it lists the final ratio (engine RPMs to the rear wheel RPMs in top gear. Final Drive – 2.357 : 1. The engine turns 2.357 revolutions every time the rear wheel makes one in 6th gear. , Comprende?
Mitch   August 4, 2014 12:58 PM
Quite impressive for the $$$. According to their site it appears that the Scout has 7 gears. Is that true?
Delvmax11   August 4, 2014 09:53 AM
Nice writeup. Looking forward to a full test with dyno results and a possible comparison test.