Polaris recently announced it will immediately cease production of all Victory motorcycles. Instead, it plans to focus on building the Indian brand. Based on an earlier ride of the Indian Scout, we think we understand why.
With temperatures rarely above freezing these days and more than a foot of snow, it feels safe to say that warm days are over here in Boston. Yes, we are fully in the winter of our discontent. Some riders may still choose to brave the elements, but for most motorcyclists, this is the time our bikes sit, waiting for spring.
Yet inevitably, once the snow begins to melt, we will pull our bikes out of storage, and the thought will cross our minds that maybe it’s time to get something else. Sure, the old bike is great, but there’s always going to be one that’s nicer and faster. And who cares how much it costs if it makes more power?
I’ve fallen victim to that new-bike wanderlust myself, more times than I care to admit. I got my start on a $600 Kawasaki KZ305, and with that, I was hooked. I don’t regret my decision, but I ended up trading standards for cruisers out of a need to ride between school and work. Yet even as a broke college student, there was always that voice in the back of my mind whispering “this bike isn’t as exciting as it used to be. You know you could buy something faster this year, right?”
Last year, the bike calling my name was a Triumph Sprint ST. It offered all the power I could want, enough comfort that I wouldn’t completely hate myself every time I rode it to the store, and didn’t cost nearly as much as it probably should have. I’d reached a point where I knew I couldn’t be happy on a cruiser any longer, and I was ready to take the plunge.
And then I rode the Indian Scout.
In my head, I knew the Scout was going to be a good bike. I’d read our earlier first ride where we said the engine was so good we wanted to hug it. I’d chatted on the phone with the head designer while he told me how important it was to make an true Indian and not simply a motorcycle with an Indian badge. I’d even heard others talk about it like they were reading off a press release.
It all sounded great, but what I wasn’t prepared for was just how fantastic a motorcycle Indian had actually built. Because it’s not just an outstanding cruiser. It’s an outstanding motorcycle. Period.
I also wasn’t prepared for the amount of attention the Scout would draw. My wife cares even less about motorcycles than she does about cars, and yet when she saw the bike in the driveway, she immediately pointed out how cool it looked. And as I continued to ride it over the next several weeks, I kept getting compliments.
In my life, compliments from women are rare enough as it is, and compliments on my bikes are essentially nonexistent. My motorcycles have gotten stares from children before, and dads always love to reminisce about their glory days with a guy on a bike, but in general, people don’t notice motorcycles other than to complain about them.
The Scout was different, though. The Scout actually drew its own attention. Positive attention.
But unless you truly enjoy random conversations with strangers in the Aldi parking lot, the attention the Scout draws is far less important than the fact that it’s hands down the best cruiser I’ve ever ridden. Because in case you didn’t get the memo, the Scout is phenomenal.
There are definitely great cruisers out there. The Honda Shadow, for example, is comfortable and reliable enough to keep most riders happy for a while. But every cruiser I’ve ever ridden has felt like it was built to be a better Harley. You get more comfort, better performance, and a lower price tag on those bikes, but they all still live in Harley’s shadow. The Scout, on the other hand, rode like Indian was trying to build a great motorcycle that just so happened to be a cruiser.
I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s a sportbike in cruiser clothes, but I’ll be damned if the Indian Scout doesn’t offer far more performance that I would have ever expected out of a cruiser its size. The 1100cc engine makes 100 horsepower and 72 lb.-ft. of torque, which means you’re never short on power. The Scout is also light and balanced enough to corner far more aggressively than you would expect out of a midsize cruiser. Muscle bikes may be able to take it in the straights, but the Scout is far happier in the twisties than a cruiser has any right to be.
But what really made the Scout stand out isn’t the straight-line power or how well it corners. It’s the fact that it’s so approachable. If you’re conservative with the clutch, it rides like a lazy 750. The Scout lulls you into thinking anyone who has completed an MSF course could easily make it their first bike. And, honestly, maybe they could. They probably shouldn’t, but I bet they could.
It’s only when you get more aggressive with it that you realize just how fast the Scout truly is. And it really is fast. Like the kind of fast that would make a jaded rider reconsider just how accessible this bike actually is. My butt-accelerometer is completely discombobulated at this point, but I can still tell you the Indian Scout is more than quick enough, even for experienced riders.
The engine is also amazingly smooth. You can rev the hell out of it, and it just keeps making more power like you aren’t asking anything from it at all. I’ve never actually wanted to hug a burning-hot piece of metal before. But if you’re one to hug engines, this one should be at the top of your list. It’s just that refined.
Ultimately, the Indian Scout is so multitalented, it becomes whatever kind of bike you want it to be. I know it sounds like I’m parroting some PR puffery, but if you give the Scout a ride, I suspect you’ll come to a similar conclusion.
It’s plenty quick in a straight line, but it’s also perfectly happy to play along with less aggressive riders. It’s comfortable for long rides, but when the road gets curvy, it’ll leave other cruisers behind. And it looks far more stylish than you’d expect based on its $12,000 base price.
I wanted to find something to complain about—a flaw to point out that would make me sound more objective—but after some real time with it, I couldn’t. The Indian Scout is an outstanding bike that might actually convince you to stick with cruisers. Even if you’ve already mentally defected. And if you’re a sport bike rider, the Scout might also convince you to at least respect cruisers.
I doubt anyone is going to give up their Ducati Panigale for this bike, but that’s not what it was built to do. The Indian Scout was built to restore your faith in cruisers, and in that regard, it absolutely succeeds.