Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. opened its doors in Springfield, Mass. in 1901, two years before Harley-Davidson launched in Milwaukee. For a half-century, the two American motorcycle titans battled, before Indian collapsed in 1953.
The $8,999, 1,000-cubic centimeter (or 60-cubic inches, hence the name) 2016 Indian Scout Sixty is the product of a revived Indian brand, reconstituted by the Polaris snowmobile people to reinforce their mostly overlooked home-grown Victory brand.
The Scout 60 is a smaller, less expensive version of the Scout we tested last year. It doesn’t directly align against a particular Harley model. Instead, it falls between the modern water-cooled Street 750 and the traditional air-cooled Sportster1200.
Philosophically, the slick-running, water-cooled Scout is closer to Harley’s Street line of bikes, which eschew the traditional Harley embrace of noise and vibration.
But the Scout has a bigger, stronger 78-horsepower engine than Harley’s entry-level machines, though the prices align closely. It has none of the sputtering, bucking histrionics of the Sportster, but Harley fans would say it also lacks that bike’s charisma as a result.
This is the result of Harley’s domination of the market. The company and its fans have decided what an American bike should be. The question is whether Indian, and Harley’s own Street models, have an say in the matter. It is surely no less American to enjoy the Scout’s smooth refinement and abundant power than it is to willingly suffer the Sportster’s lack of those qualities.