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Indian Scout: Retro Cycling for Short Cruising

By Arv Voss, January 20th, 2018

Harley-Davidson was not the first American motorcycle company -- though it's got the highest brand name recognition. Indian is actually the first motorcycle manufacturer, having debuted in 1901 -- two years earlier than Harley-Davidson.

Indian currently offers a stable of 16 motorcycle models. With so many to choose from, how does one go about making the best selection? Go for what visually strikes at your heart strings first and then determine whether that choice meets your riding purposes and style, and falls within your budget. Indian prices range from $8,999 to $36,999.

I saddled up in the Indian Scout Series, which displays a retro flavor with a more modern flair. The 2018 Indian Scouts are all liquid-cooled rather than air-cooled, which makes for a highly visible non-conventional departure from their predecessors, while the suspension is basically conventional.

The entry-level Indian Scout and the Indian Scout Bobber share the same powertrain, while the Scout Sixty is detuned and has one fewer gear. A two-up Indian Scout is available with such optional accessories as a chrome driver backrest, chrome highway bars, passenger pegs, a passenger pillion, a quick release mid-height windshield, tan saddlebags, and a tan tank pouch.

From a personal point of view, the base-model Indian Scout best portrays the currently popular retro small cruiser trend, while the Indian Scout Bobber depicts the popular, minimalist "Bobber" movement, with very little "bling," bobbed front and rear fenders, inverted rear view mirrors, and sinister blacked-out persona. It's also lower and is strictly a solo bike.

Power for the Scout Bobber comes from an 1123cc (or 69-cubic-inch) liquid-cooled Indian V-Twin with closed loop electronic fuel injection, a 60mm bore and split dual right side exhaust with a crossover. Claimed horsepower is rated at 100, while the torque generated is 72.2 lb.-ft. at 5,900 rpm.

A six-speed sequential manual transmission gears the engine's output to the rear wheel through a gear-drive wet clutch primary drive to the final left-side belt drive.

The suspension setup consists of 41mm telescopic forks up front with 4.7 inches of travel and rear dual adjustable coil-over shock absorbers with 2.0 inches of travel, set at an exaggerated rake, paying homage to the 1920 Scout's hardtail look. The new Scout Bobber rolls on Kenda K761 (made for Indian) 130/90-16 73 H M/C front and 150/80-16 71H M/C rear tires, mounted on Black painted 5-tri-spoke alloy wheels.

My 2018 Indian Scout Bobber wore a flat matte black finish on its bodywork, which featured hard edge lines on the fuel tank and front and rear fenders. The solo "old school" low seat was done in durable, weather-resistant Desert Tan leather. The base price was set at $11,499 with the final sticker coming to $11,849.

The initial reaction to viewing the Indian Scout offerings is that they're relatively small. They sit low and display a rather austere retro image. There are no faux cooling fins on the engine, but rather ribbing that is structural and matches other aluminum-toned accents.

Acceleration comes rapidly and torque is available on demand -- a lot of it for a bike this size. The new Scout Bobber comes as a solo bike, adding to its early heritage. Foot controls are set forward and the handlebars are well positioned and reach back to the rider, all making for a basically comfortable riding position. The seat, though small, is surprisingly comfortable with its 25.6-inch height.

The Indian Scout Bobber is exceptionally well balanced with its low center of gravity, which allows for easy, fluid handling at all speeds; the lean angle is enough to bolster confidence in high-speed cornering; and the price is affordable and is certainly as appealing as the appearance. The 2018 Indian Scout Bobber is a cool bike for the money. Adding some convenience touches is recommended for extended rides, but the basic Bobber is ideally suited for shorter cruises.

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