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Indian revival: We ride retro Scout in SA

2015-06-22 09:17


RETURN OF A LEGEND: The classic styling of the 2015 Indian Scout is reminiscent of the late 1930’s. Image: Dries van der Walt

  • Indian brand in SA
  • Scout quality 'impresses"
  • Great entry-level cruiser

The name Indian  brings up visions of American police motorcycles in the 1920’s, of the infamous Wall of Death at carnivals in the 1930’s and, more recently, of Sir Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro in ‘The World's Fastest Indian’.

The last of the original Indians was assembled in 1953, although there have been unsuccessful attempts to re-establish the brand as it passed from hand to hand – but now it has been acquired by Polaris, known for a successful line of ATV's.


The company has created a new range of Indian bikes and they are now available in South Africa through importer Cardinals Motor Corporation.

Wheels24 was given one for a road review.

My first observation: the Scout is a stunningly beautiful bike, almost "diesel-punkish" in the way it captures an up-to-date version of the late-30’s look. From the old-fashioned round headlight housing, across the gracefully curved tank, to the period-style solo seat and high rear mudguard, the Scout is an example of attractive retro styling.

IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 Indian Scout in SA

The design straddles that fine line between flash and restraint, with lots of chrome offset by sensuous curves.


In cruiser terms, it’s a small bike in size and engine capacity. The seat is at the height of my knees and the wheelbase seems not much longer than that of an adventure bike. The ergonomics are cruiser-typical:  feet-forward and fists punching the wind.

I’m not a cruiser person and at first found the seating position awkward but by the end of the review period my body had begun to adapt to it. The solo seat, as good as it looks, was also less than comfortable because I couldn't really shift around on it.

The 1100cc engine feels much more torquey than the specs suggest and it was possible to ride in top gear at as little as 50km/h. This, combined with the belt drive not letting me use engine braking as much as I normally would, meant that during highway commuting I would rarely need to shift down.

And although the C-shaped body position is hardly optimal for high-speed riding, I did manage to see an indicated 190km/h before wind resistance threatened to overcome the strength of my grip on the 'bars.

The bike's centre of gravity is, obviously, quite low, which makes it surprisingly easy (for a cruiser) to handle in congested traffic. However, from the low seat you can't easily see over cars as on a normal, taller, motorcycle. On the other hand, the Indian has anti-lock brakes (ABS)...


The ABS is not overly sensitive – on other so-equipped bikes I've ridden the system would kick in over the slightest bump in the road. A pillion seat is available as an option and I'm told the estimated price for the conversion, including foot pegs, will be about R7 300.

The gearbox feels as solid as you would expect from American heavy iron. It’s not as smooth as most European bikes; positive albeit with a somewhat heavy action.  On occasion it was difficult to shift into neutral when stationary and shifting from first to second would sometimes result in an unintended neutral.

These were, however, infrequent occurrences; minor niggles rather than serious issues.

Bystanders, from friends through mall-goers to pump jockeys, were virtually unanimous in praising the Scout's looks; the general feeling of build quality impressed me quite a bit and the Scout is priced well as an entry-level American cruiser.

I suspect a number of people will join me in hoping that the latest attempt at recreating the iconic Indian brand meets with huge success.


Manufacturer: Indian
Model: Scout

Type: Liquid-cooled V-Twin
Displacement: 1131cc
Maximum power: 74.7 kW
Maximumtorque: 97.7 Nm @ 5900rpm
Fuel supply system: Closed-loop electronic fuel-injection
Fuel: 95 Octane RON
Fuel consumption: n/a

Type: Six-speed sequential
Final drive: Belt

Length x width x height (mm): 2311 x 1207 x 880
Kerb weight: 253kg

Passengers: 1
Fuel tank: 12.5 litres

Front: Single  298mm disc with two-piston caliper
Rear: Single 298mm disc with single-piston caliper

Front: Telescopic fork, 120mm travel
Rear: Dual shock-absorbers, 76mm travel

Wheel, front: 16" x 3.5"
Wheel, rear: 16" x 5" Rear
Tyre, front: 130/90-16 72H
Tyre, rear: 150/80-16 71H

PRICE: R159 900


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