Weeks, even months before the scheduled introduction in Sturgis of the new 2015 Indian models speculation was rampant and rumors buzzed like mosquitos that Indian would be showing an all new model along with its updated Chief line. So it was surprising that as part of a series of weekly “teaser” news releases by Indian just prior to Sturgis, that they announced an all new, high end touring model called “Roadmaster” which like the Chief name was culled from Indian’s rich, iconic past. The Roadmaster takes a step up and above Indian’s Chieftain and was positioned to do battle with Harley’s luxury touring line. Priced at $26,999 and loaded with storage, electronics and other touring features it is powered by the huge and very powerful Thunderstroke 111 that also powers all three Chief models. More on The Roadmaster later.
Following the Roadmaster announcement, the rumor mill really went into high gear with many thinking that very logically Indian needed to bring out a lower priced, smaller motorcycle. It was obvious with the early release of the Roadmaster that Indian wanted the total focus of their Sturgis reveal to be on something very important! A “mini-Chief ” was everyone’s guess as to what that would be. As usual the rumor mill wasn’t even close. Instead of a scaled down, powered down, priced down midget version of their very popular and well received Chief, Indian shocked everyone by introducing a 2015 version of its legendary SCOUT motorcycle! For those of you not steeped in Indian lore, the iconic Scout was by far Indian’s most popular, versatile and most respected bike in its long and popular history favored by riders, stunt riders, women riders, and entry level riders for decades! Wall of death devotees have seen restored and refurbished Indian Scouts doing death-defying stunts since the 30’s. Pictures of Hollywood stars of a by gone era zipping up and down Hollywood Blvd and Mulholland Drive abound in books written on Indian history. Not to be redundant but the Indian Scout is one of the most popular and legendary bikes of all time and was the basis for the World’s Fastest Indian built and ridden by Burt Munro in the 60’s. This name has pedigree and with pedigree comes expectation and responsibility. How do you take a legend and make it viable and contemporary without making compromises that ultimately will be its undoing?
The answer as designed and produced by Indian’s engineering staff is a contemporary styled bike with styling nods to the original Scout powered by an all new 69 cubic inch, water cooled (yes, water cooled) 1133 cc motor that puts out 78 ft. lbs. of torque, along with 100 HP and does it all as part of a 558 lb. (wet weight) package that is produced to sell for UNDER $11,000! Impressive? I think so and so does everyone that got a chance to ride it in Sturgis. Every review I have read raves about the bike. How well it handles, how well its stops, how comfortable it is and how good it looks. The new Scout comes with a FIVE year warranty and if you are a vet or active duty military you get $1000.00 off the $10,999 price!
The new Scout however is not without its critics among riders who have seen it starting with it being water cooled. Blasphemy is among the words most often used to describe a water cooled Indian much as the word was used to describe a water cooled Harley or its new “wet heads” Gone are the fins needed for air cooling and then there ‘s that big old radiator thingy nestled between the down tubes. O.K. – I get it. Its not “traditional” That will bother some, maybe even more then some but water cooling is the only way you are going to get that much performance out of a small block motor and do it economically and still pass Federal Emissions standards.
With the lightest weight and the most HP in its class, the Scout is capable of becoming many things for Indian: an entry level motorcycle for new riders, a great bike for women riders, a mini tourer with the right accessories, a Sportster competitor and a way to entice younger, in fact much younger riders into the Indian fold. Expect deliveries to begin in late 2014 at which time we will ride and road test a full production model and bring that to print in early 2015.
Meanwhile Indian had lots more news which should not get lost in all the hoopla over the Scout. The aforementioned Roadmaster will begin deliveries this fall. Indian also announced the long awaited availability of new Two Tone paint schemes and other new color choices. They have also tripled the apparel line and are literally adding accessories for all their models on an almost weekly basis. The often mentioned need for a heel-toe shifter is now optional. In addition they will be doubling the number of domestic dealerships in this country from 150 to 300 over the next 12 months. They are also hiring an additional 300 workers for their Spirit Lake production facility. As VP Steve Menneto said “Everyone wants more. More bikes, more clothing, more accessories and they want it now!” Given that Indian just passed its 3rd Anniversary with Polaris that’s a great sign for a healthy and vibrant future.