What’s in a brand? Generations have been making decisions based on the popularity of a name brand. This led to an obsession with labels that made consumers look identical. Being ‘in’ was the order of the day. Thank goodness this madness came to pass and but a few are left to fixate. When knock offs came into the picture the original companies had no choice but to fold. We have China to thank for making the world turn to alternatives or surrendering to the nearest thrift stores.
But some remain in our heads and have no intention of disappearing. This one time company started a century ago what is still an iconic design to this day. A competitor followed suit and unfortunately, the original company wasn’t as deft as the newcomer. Motorcycling after all is an industry which means it all boils down to business savvy. The design was there but what the consumer wanted was more. The product had to leap out from the page and get into the hearts of men who wanted to be manlier. Marketing was the name of the game.
When I was a teenager there was only one cruiser that had total recall. Harley was everywhere in the magazines and movies. It was ever present on print ads in fashion magazines so us kids were left drooling over the motorcycles. We looked at the sexy models after. But as we look over the American Iron we had glimpses of another brand that was as mysterious as the Loch Lake. Taking a closer look revealed a design that actually had a different kind of appeal. This lingered for years and years and when you ask a cruiser rider about that lost brand, they respond in awe and respect. It seems that Indian was to remain a ghost forever.
There was an attempt to resurrect the mystical brand but it disappointed plenty. The design had another brand emblazoned on the engine. This somehow made riders back off. Critics said it was great but it didn’t capture the spirit of the revered name. Kawasaki comes up with the Vulcan that was a spitting image of the Chief but the market was not ready for a revived design.
In comes Polaris, an American company well known for manufacturing industrial equipment. They produce snowmobiles and ATVs that have made backyard driving exciting. Years after they decide to up the ante and produce the now famous Victory motorcycles. Proving to the world that they mean business they bring back an American icon that has been hidden for almost a century — and proving it they did. They have successfully brought a ghost back to life and this time, it intends to stay.
Expecting to ride a classically designed Chief, I was surprised with the Indian Scout. It was a mixture of old and new but there was definitely a lot of new. The first I looked at was the engine. It was like no other engine. The design was precise like it left nothing to chance. I was expecting an innocent approach like most of the alternative cruisers that have been flooding the market but this unit had a specific market in mind. And I’m all for it.
I immediately feel at home on it (with my 5’8” build). The bars were set low so I had it raised a bit for my arms to be up like Superman’s. The forward controls went snugly and shift quietly to gear one. There was a surge I didn’t expect from this medium sized cruiser (if you call 1130cc medium) and instantly my mind was doing a dance number. The power was as precise as its look and it didn’t disappoint as I blast through the highway. The best part is, this unit was designed to move comfortably in the twisties. I was actually riding with sportbikes and it rode effortlessly alongside. This alone was a big eye-opener for me. I could go faster but the windblast might erase my face. So a full-face helmet is a must for touring or a wind shield should be at the ready.
Riding through traffic wasn’t hellish. The 25.3 inches of seat height make the bike manoeuvrable and the bars don’t tap the side mirrors of compacts. The bike is so low you are side by side with drivers. The leather seat gives your bottom a good cup. Engine heat is manageable in traffic thanks to the liquid-cooled V-twin. The suspension setting is more on the sporty side so maybe that is why they only put one seat. This had my wife stay at home and wait for postcards. I was told there were aftermarket two-seaters but the rear shocks require softening not unless you want your pillion airborne. The fat tires add posh and the angular tank/ fenders complete the new look. You would want to put a new space in your living room to park this beaut.
The Indian Scout is an excellent choice if you are entering the cruiser world. If you came from a crotch rocket this bike will serve you well. If you think a cruiser is a country for old men, you’re in for a big surprise.