Before we discuss this lovely gorgeous beast of a bike, let’s start with what is an Indian Motorcycle. Is it a new company? Why do most Filipinos even the motorcycle enthusiasts seems to know a little of this motorcycle company? Is it made in India? Let’s do a little history lesson in here.
Indian Motorcycle Company, established 1901, is actually the oldest motorcycle brand in the USA, yes older than Harley Davidson who only started on 1903. Hendee Manufacturing Company initially produced the motorcycle on 1901 until it changed its name to Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company in 1928. George M. Hendee a bicycle racer started its bicycle manufacturing company in Springfield, Massachusetts on 1897 until he met another former bicycle racer and manufacture Oscar Hedstrom on 1900 and they eventually decided to manufacture a motorcycle having a 1.75 bhp single-cylinder engine.
The company continued growing and getting competitive successes starting with Hedstrom setting the world motorcycle speed on 1907 at 56 mph. In 1911, 3 Indian riders finished first, second and third place at the Isle of Man TT. Another star rider Jake DeRosier, the first factory-sponsored rider and the fastest rider during his time set several speed records in the USA and in Britain with estimated 900 wins on dirt and board tracks.
In 1920 Indian introduced the Scout, with a 610 cc engine and later upgraded to 740cc in 1927. The Scout was very popular as it rivaled its big brother, the Chief, in sales in the US until it was discontinued to be sold to the public on 1942 as Indian sold its production to the US army for the war.
Indian Motorcycle continued manufacturing bikes which both served World War I and II until corporate mismanagement led the company stopping manufacturing on 1953 until rights were acquired by Brockhouse Engineering that imported Royal Enfield motorcycles from 1955 to 1960 and customizing them in the US rebadging them as Indians. A rich history of acquisitions and mergers led the Indian to different ownership until Polaris Industries took over on 2011 and introduced its Thunder Stroke engine on 2013.
Polaris introduced the 2015 Indian Scout model at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally powered by a 1,133 cc liquid-cooled double OH camshaft V-twin engine with a frame formed by aluminum alloy. The Indian was named 2015 Motorcycle of the year by Motorcycle.com.
Indian Motorcycle now in the Philippines
T.A. Marketing/Access Plus, led by Mr. Toti Alberto, the same people behind Ducati Philippines, opened the opportunity for the Filipinos to own an Indian Motorcycle, being Indian’s exclusive distributor in the country. On January 2016, 3 Indian models were introduced to the public namely the Chief Vintage, Dark Horse and the Scout. With their showroom located in P. Tuazon, Quezon City the T.A. Marketing is optimistic that the Filipino cruiser fans and motorcycle enthusiasts will have a great gusto in this magnificent line of Indian Motorcycles.
I had my first glimpse of the Indian scout in the summer of last year when my small group of riders called Breakaway Bros. had a chance to ride with one of the first owners of an Indian Motorcycle in the country. Alex brought his Thunder Black Smoke Scout, it was still dark at 5:30 AM along C5 gas station but the sight of the bike was a beauty to behold.
During that ride to Tagaytay, I was just at the rear staggered position, cruising the expressway admiring the beauty of the bike on the side or behind. A number of rides in Bataan and Subic during that summer that my wife and I behold the beauty of the bike. But as an unspoken rule of thumb to bikers, we never chance upon test riding his bike even try mounting it, well, actually there was that one time (LOL) but it only gave a hunger to hopefully ride the bike sometime.
The Opportunity Came
February 2, was a day when an opportunity knocks on my door. I got a message from head of Café Racer Philippines Michael Eijansantos that the people behind T.A Marketing have been generous enough to have us take a closer look and feel of the new Indian Scout. Yes, it meant test riding the bike. Who would let a chance like this pass? I would not.
Clearing my entire schedule that night, I head to Ortigas to meet Mike at the Thursday bike night at Ropali Classics. And the dream to ride an Indian became reality.
Looks- Just like I always said, the bike was a beauty to behold. It has the gorgeous contour from the front fender, especially the tank, to the back. It screams sophisticated badass. I don’t know what word to use but it looks badass, that brusco macho thing that you want in a cruiser, but it also has that sophisticated class that is different to other motorcycles. I will not go technical on this part as I would like to convey what a rider “feels” on a perspective of a rider.
Engine and Gears- As I fire the 1,133 cc engine you feel that power underneath you. A little throttle into it and you feel that smooth growl of the engine, it was not the scandalous roar you feel from other V-twins but the Scout roars with confidence. Yes, it was a confident roar; it was like telling the rider “I got yah bruh”. The well-tailored leather seat matching a good cushion was such a comfort that you know you can ride hundreds on this bike. As I throttle my way out of Escriva drive, I suddenly felt the power of the engine and going to 2nd gear and up it responded quickly and smoothly. Finding neutral is an adjustment but anybody can get used to it in no time. And did I mention it is a fairly fast bike? With its 78 hp power, just like a Ducati Monster or Scramber, Yes it is.
Ride and Comfort- If my hand and feet position was not forwarded, I would think I was riding a sport bike. I am not comparing it to sporties like a panigale, R1 or a Z1000 but you know what I mean considering the Scout is designed as a traditional-style cruiser. I also did mention above that its frame aluminum alloy making the bike fairly light which was an amusement to most. Handling the bike on standstill or pulling it away from a parking spot is manageable by the rider itself. Maneuvering the bike on narrow streets and sharp turns is not a problem, its alloy frame helps a lot on that area and makes the bikes handling manageable.
Traffic- With the rare opportunity, I also took the liberty to ride the bike in a little EDSA and Ortigas traffic, checking if the bike can fairly maneuver to the bumper to bumper. The handle bar is not wide enough to be a hindrance to split lanes or take the “rightie”, that means yes, with a good amount of clearance it is possible to split lanes and go the right side. But this is a matter if skill and thinking you have a million-peso bike in between your legs, why risk? But somebody has to right.
The Scout has a low ground clearance, that means stopping in traffic and landing your feet flat , you have a good control with the bike. Making a U-turn along Meralco Avenue is not a burden. Running through some potholes and breaks on the road (just like I said, somebody has to do it) the shocks handles itself well, though the front forks gives a little tad, I am guessing it is just because the bike is new and sometime to get its groove on. You feel the engine’s heat when you stop, not annoyingly or uncomfortably hot (cruiser guys will understand) but it is tolerably hot. It really helps that the bike is low that your leg position is outward and away from the heat. I did not have the chance for a long ride it the bike is a crotch-burner but as soon as you leave the traffic light and speed your way the heat is unfelt on the leg area.
Speed- The bike gives a 5800 rpm and with its power, light frame and lowered position it not hard to speed away and leave any vehicle in dust. Polaris did really well in its Thunder Stroke engine that made the bike respond rapidly and run fast. The Scout as per publication, can reach speeds up to 240 Kph, though I only hit the 120 kph mark due to limited road access it was not hard to reach the speed and you do not feel much drag as the aerodynamic body helps a lot on that aspect. But a cruiser fan that I am, with a beautiful bike like the Scout, why ride fast? The best way to enjoy is at cruising speed with the bike giving a little too almost no vibration. Smooth.
If I have a million or almost a million to spare, would I buy the Indian Scout. It is a big Yes and no doubt about it. If given a choice between a Harley and the Indian Scout, I think the Scout fits the guy who still wants all-american cruiser, who wanted to be different, a guy who exudes confidence, professional and still wants to ride badass. A guy who knows his beer and yet knows to pair his cheese with a good wine.
What are the things I will change or customize?
- Horn – I have to change it to something louder, something that will match the size of the Scout.
- Exhaust – it is too quiet for me, too tamed. A custom one may bring out the sound of the Thunder Stroke engine and relatively safe at night rides.
- Headlights – need to make a switch to turn off the light
Aside from those two, probably a custom seat for pillion would do if you are riding with missus/ ol’ lady, aside from that, the bike can be appreciated with its own beauty. It’s a masterpiece.
Indian Motorcycle is officially distributed by T.A. Marketing/Access Plus in the Philippines. Visit Access Plus to see some Indian Motorcycles first hand. Access Plus is located at P-Tuazon Street, near Camp Panopio, QC.
Like Access Plus on Facebook, facebook.com/AccessPlusPhilippines/
Like Indian Motorcycle Philippines on Facebook, facebook.com/IndianMotorcyclePH/