Scout Sixty is still as exciting to ride as its higher powered twin

Roaring engine The Scout’s motor churns out a peak power of 78 hp and 88.8 Nm of torque S Muralidhar

Scout Sixty

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Leave all that talk about H-1B behind and get this American icon for fewer bucks

My first real introduction to Indian motorcycles was through the film ‘The World’s fastest Indian’, a biographical sports drama in which Anthony Hopkins (despite his Welsh accent) convincingly portrays the life and victories of Burt Munro and his 1920’s Indian Scout bike. The real Munro went on to set multiple land speed records in his heavily modified Indian Scout. One of the first such records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, US was captured in the movie with the reel Munro astride the bike.

The Indian Scout is a historic American motorcycle which went out of production for nearly six decades and was revived by Polaris after it acquired the brand rights and relaunched the company in 2011. The new Scout reintroduced in 2015 was the entry-level Indian that buyers could buy to experience the brand’s unique cruiser culture. But last year, the Indian Motorcycle Company decided to introduce the Scout Sixty, a smaller-engined, less powerful version of the Scout to make the brand more accessible to buyers.

Smaller pots

There seems to be a bit of a divergent trend amongst supercar makers and big super premium bike makers. Supercars are becoming even more powerful and even more niche, while big bike makers are increasingly tending to make smaller-engined bikes that are a less powerful and a bit more approachable for buyers in emerging market. Of course, we are talking about the class of performance bike makers who have traditionally stayed in the 1,000cc or above category.

And so it is with Indian, which stepped below the one-litre class with the Scout Sixty. The numeric addition to the name comes from the size of the engine – 61 cubic inches – which translates to about 999cc. Engineers at Indian just shaved off about 134cc from the Scout’s 1,133cc motor; or rather they didn’t scoop out that much from the V-twin engine. Basically, the Scout and the Scout Sixty share the same engine, the difference in capacity comes from the smaller bore (stroke remains the same) in the Sixty. This also means that both the bikes share the same mechanicals – the same bolted multi-member chassis, the same 12.5-litre fuel tank and the same basic layout and suspension.

The 60-degree V-Twin engine is liquid-cooled, is a stressed member and sits tightly packed into the confines of the cradle. But that is part of the beauty of the Scout – its compact, yet perfect proportions and clean, tight fitting parts. The Scout Sixty like its burlier twin is an extremely low slung bike, even by performance cruiser standards. The saddle is barely two feet above the tarmac and the riding position would be relaxed cruiser style even for riders who are just over five feet. Of course, on Indian roads every cruiser bike looks big, and the Scout Sixty was no exception when I took it out last month. I rode it for a week mostly in the city just to gauge how usable it was for the daily commute versus the highway, where both the rider and the bike can stretch their legs.

Hot legs, drooling ‘public’

With its fat, high profile ‘Indian’ tyres shod on 16-inch alloys, and its dual exhaust pipes, the Scout Sixty attracts a lot of attention on the road. Making it even more novel to look at were the two leather saddle bags and the stitched leather back rest that my test mule came fitted with. Let me clarify that these are optional additions and the stock bike does not come fitted with these at the showroom.

On the road, I was constantly being accosted by other riders asking me if this was a ‘mod’ I created at a local workshop. Is this bike manufactured in India? No! Then why is it called Indian? Other riders would also leave a gap, not because of a healthy respect, but to get a better look at the bike and the odd selfie. Of course, anytime the questions became too annoying or repetitive, all I had to do was wring my right hand and leave the quizzers behind.

The Scout Sixty’s V-twin motor delivers 78hp of peak power and 88.8Nm of torque. Those are lower performance numbers compared to the Scout (101hp), but it hardly seems to make much of a difference on the road. That must have been reason enough for the Scout Sixty’s genesis. Power delivery is quick if not urgent and top-loaded. Red line is set at 9,000 rpm. Quick wrings of the throttle result in an immediate response, though not of the big sports bike kind. The Scout Sixty’s motor is mated to a 5-speed gearbox, but Indian engineers shrewdly replaced the fifth gear with the (top) sixth cog. High speed cruising – the ideal for which Indian bikes exist – will be smoother and relatively more frugal.

The clutch is firm and the clutch lever is best used sparingly. So, frequent shifts in slow moving traffic can be a bit of a pain. During my outings in the city, the engine also tended to heat up and with my needing to rest my legs on the street every time the bike came to a halt in a jam, meant that the heat was felt even more. But, the best experiences are long stretches on the bike when you are sitting cruiser style and your feet and thighs are away from the motor. This is a heavy bike at about 250kgs, but with a low centre of gravity and relatively thin contact patch on the tyres it is not too difficult to handle; even when you are sitting astride, idling and shuffling backwards or forwards.

Bottomline

This is a good thing, because the Scout Sixty is not that great for manoeuvring through city traffic and tight u-turns. You will need to make exaggeratedly wide u-turns and sometimes even shuffle back and forth before making it through some of the narrower lanes. The other user problem could be the relatively small fuel tank. So if you are planning a road trip to a neighbouring city, multiple top-ups may be needed. Fuel efficiency could range between 12 to 14 kmpl.

The Scout Sixty’s suspension set up is firm and the tyres also feature a fairly hard compound, though they are high profile. So, the ride quality on some really bad patches can be harsh. But, some relief comes from the leather saddle, which is shaped ergonomically and is mounted on springs. Braking is even and consistent with an unobtrusive ABS. But, though the brakes don’t lack in bite, using the rear brake equally will be needed and if you’ve been riding a sports bike before, this has to be remembered even more. Front and rear brakes feature a single 298mm disc in the Scout Sixty.

The Scout Sixty’s naked cruiser layout, that iconic single pod instrument cluster and its chunky, low-slung proportions are all easy to fall in love with. It comes at a price though at about ₹12 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). This is a cruiser meant for fans of minimalist, discreet (not loud exhaust) luxury.

Published on January 12, 2017

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