Indian Scout: New v old (very old)

Published: 27 August 2015

Last week I got the chance to meet up with the grandaddy of my 2015 Indian Scout long-term test bike, an original 101 model from 1928.

Owned by Tim Berry, a member of the Indian Rider Motorcycle Club, the 101 is about as far removed from the new model as it’s possible to get with its rigid frame, leaf spring forks, three speed gearbox, total loss lubrication and a band type rear brake. It may have been cutting edge when it rolled off the production line at the Springfield factory in 1928 but things have moved on just a little in 87 years...

1928 Indian Scout 101 2015 Indian Scout
Engine: 740 cc 42° V-twin, 73 × 89mm bore and stroke, three speed gearbox Engine: 1133cc 60° V-twin, 99 x 73.6mm bore and stroke, six speed gearbox
Power: 18 bhp (est) Power: 90bhp (est)
Suspension: Trailing arm, leaf spring front, rigid rear Suspension: 41mm non-adjustable telescopic (f), twin shock preload adjustable (r)
Brakes: Single leading shoe drum (f), External contracting band (r) Brakes: 298mm single disc front and rear (twin piston caliper front, single piston rear)
Tyres: 18” Tyres: 130/90x16 (f) x 150/80x16 (r)
Weight: 167kg Weight: 258kg
Wheelbase: 1450mm Wheelbase: 1562mm

Tim’s 101 is gloriously unrestored and he intends to keep it that way. Bought in an Ebay auction eight years ago, he stumbled across the listing while looking for a pair of Scout forks for a friend. The seller had misspelt the listing as an ‘Indain Scout’ and by chance Tim had searched using the same spelling (this is before Ebay had autocorrect). With very little interest in the auction Tim managed to get the bike for a song.

The most unusual feature of the 101 is the left-hand throttle. It’s said this is to allow the rider to shoot a handgun with his right hand while riding along, and specifically requested by the US police force at the time. Tim says this is a myth; “Indian introduced a shaft operated twistgrip system around 1902, the carburettor was on the left of the engine, so it was logical to have the control on same side. They stuck with this when they later developed their cable operated system. However a customer could order a right hand throttle and left side hand gear change."

I got the chance to try out the left hand throttle when Tim offered to let me have a ride. The results are in the September 16 edition of MCN but let’s just say it’s more difficult than you could ever imagine...