Indian Scout: the models, the rivals and the verdicts
The Indian Scout first appeared in 1920 and has seen something of a resurgence in recent years as Polaris took ownership of the famous American brand in 2011.
The Scout started out as a 600cc V-twin but soon increased to 750cc, with the 101 Scout in 1928. This machine, produced by the firm until 1931 is often referred to as the firm’s ‘best ever Scout’ and was used by racers and hill climb experts, due to its decent handling. After an economic downturn the 101 was replaced by the Standard Scout, which featured a heavier frame and was not as popular as its predecessor.
Various models followed, but the firm went bust in 1953. Burt Munro and his Indian Scout hit the headlines between 1962 and 1967 with various land speed records and his efforts were immortalised in the film Fastest Indian.
The Indian Scout reappeared in 2001 when the firm was relaunched in Gilroy, California,. These bikes, built between 2001 and 2003, were known as the Gilroy Scout and had a 1437cc V-twin S&S motor.
The firm again went into liquidation, in 2003. Polaris bought Indian in 2001 and started building bikes in 2014. In 2015 the Scout returned as a 1133cc, liquid-cooled V-twin cruiser. Its style and competitive £10k price tag meant it was immediately popular. Since then a Scout Bobber has also been launched (2018) and there is now news of further versions.
Indian Scout, 1921-1927
The first Scout had a sidevalve V-twin engine with its transmission bolted to the engine casing, allowing a geared primary drive. The Scout engine was initially 606 cc, but the engine size was increased to 745 cc (45 cu in) in 1927 and in early 1928, a front brake was added to the Scout.
Indian 101 Scout
In mid 1928 the Scout Series 101 replaced the original Scout. The 101 Scout had a new frame with more fork rake, a longer wheelbase, and a lower seat height.The standard Scout 101 had a 740 cc engine, but was also available with a 610 cc engine from the original Scout, although this was rarely advertised. In 1932 the 101 Scout was discontinued, as its unique chassis was as expensive to produce as the 1,210 cc Chief engine.
The negative reaction to the Standard Scout led to the creation of the Sport Scout of 1934, with a light frame, girder forks, improved carburation and alloy cylinder heads. The two-piece frame, with the front and rear halves bolted to each other to the top and to the engine at the bottom, was stronger and stiffer. The Sport Scout was heavier than the 101 Scout and a specially-tuned Sport Scout won the first Daytona 200 in 1937. In 1940 the Sport Scout gained full-skirt fenders, a lower seat height and increased fork rake, and in 1941 Indian added plunger-style rear suspension.
The Gilroy Scout
After Indian went out of business in 1953 a new company set up shop in Gilroy California and obtained the rights to build Indians. The Gilroy Scout was built from 200.1-2003.
Polaris took Indian over in 2011 and in 2015 a new Indian Scout was launched. The 1133cc liquid-cooled V-twin motor and £10,395 price tag proved a hit and the bike instantly won friends and had Harley quaking in its turn-ups. The fruity 100bhp and decent handling impresses many and the simply but confident styling worked well.
Indian Scout Sixty
This is an entry-level option into the Indian Scout brand. The super-low 642mm seat height makes the machine unintimidating and the smaller, 999cc engine is perfect for urban missions. Although this means that the Indian Scout Sixty delivers just 78bhp, there’s still enough grunt to have fun. And it’s just £8999.
Indian Scout Bobber
Short-travel suspension and a more crouched riding position make Indian Scout Bobber a little more sporty, but the engine and frame is unchanged from the previous model. The frame, exhaust, headlight surround, handlebars, mirrors and even the face of the clocks are all finished in a sultry satin black. The mudguards are chopped-down and there’s a huge range of accessories to choose from.
Harley-Davidson have the most to lose from a successful and sought-after Indian Scout. The Harley 48 and 1200 Iron offer similar riding experiences and are both under £10k. Both the Harleys are good bikes at a good price, but the Indian offers a more lively motor.
Triumph’s stylish Bobber is a similar price and handles really well but it’s down on the Indian’s 100bhp (76bhp). If you’re going a bit more retro mainstream, BMW’s R NineT range or Ducati 1100cc Scrambler models are worth a look.
The Beemer costs a bit more (£11,500) and the Ducati Scrambler could be considered a little bland-looking, while the Scout offers distinctive style and an iconic name on the tank.