A quick flashback to 1920. The Scout is at the forefront of Indian’s line up, with only the Chief being more popular. The formula is simple: a V-twin mounted on a triangle frame, a slightly relaxed handlebar and just one seat. Cubic capacity? Well, you’ve got two options – 30 cubic inches or 50. With successive generations came new engines, but you’d always have two capacities. Post World War II, demand sank and 1949 saw the last Scout being produced.
Cut to 2011. ATV giant, Polaris has bought out Indian Motorcycles and is infusing it with a new lease of life. Three years after an all-new Chief and a gazillion variants, a new Scout is launched with the same formula – triangle frame, relaxed seating position and a modern 68 cubic inch (1131cc) V-twin.
This is the same bike but with a smaller engine. The Scout Sixty, sits alongside the larger Scout 68 and it is cheaper by a lakh.
Errm… yes and no. Great things always come in small packages and the Sixty is great on that front. Maybe not Tom Cruise great but good enough to be Tom Hardy. The problem is, if you are slightly bigger built like me, the bike looks even smaller. My frame hid the bike so much that people thought I was on an Avenger. Then there’s the exhaust note. Turn on the awkwardly positioned ignition switch and it purrs to life with a low, throaty growl. It does not roar like a Harley but whispers in your ears, asking you to go ahead and play. Sorry, you’ll have to renew your Tinder subscription.
Indian has retained several elements of the old Scouts. The blacked-out simple headlamp, the flattened rear fender and the triple-clamp at the front are elements that would feel at home even in the 1920s. The voluptuous lines of the Chieftain and Springfield are replaced by bare minimum panels. And to top it up, the seat is placed fairly low at just 643mm. The Sixty is a perfect tribute to the Scout 101, the most popular Scout in Indian’s history.
The Sixty’s USP is the engine. It is a proper 61 cu in (999cc) modern V-twin with a 4-valve head and twin cams. Unlike a few Harley engines that still use antiquated pushrods. You’ll also notice that there’s no part of the frame visible and the beautifully finished matte black engine is tightly packed. It revs to the moon too (all of 8000rpm, for a cruiser!). Power comes in quite late at over 4000rpm and when it does, you’d better be holding on tight. Pull in the solidly finished clutch lever, hook your left foot under the shifter and tug. The silky smooth 5-speed box slots in with a nice and positive clunk. The larger 1131cc Scout gets a sixth cog, but the transmission ratios on the Sixty are so evenly spread out that you never stay out of the torque band.
How fast can I go?
It’s time for a confession. I’m not into cruisers much. In fact, not at all. So, I wasn’t expecting much from the bike and zeroed in on long stretches of lazy roads for the shoot. But then something happened. First, I noticed at traffic lights, the racer boys were reduced to tiny ants in my rear view mirrors. Second, I enjoyed the highway ride so much that after the shoot I grabbed my lunch and went for a ride to our usual (twisty-infested) Lap of Mutha. And I ended up feeling like Batman without the cape, riding the Batpod!
How do they do that?
Harking back to traditional American cruiser ways, Indian has equipped the Sixty with a massive front (130-section) tyre. It is bordering on being over-tyred but by steepening the rake (29 degrees) there is good feel at the front. So you can go crazy around corners. Don’t go by the styling, the Sixty is an athletic bike. It is almost a naked in cruiser’s clothing. It is more fun than a small basketful of puppies.
The front, being the chatterbox it is, introduces you to the road like a matchmaker. On the move you wonder at how the evenly distributed weight and that sublime chassis is letting you hug the corners! It holds its line well even when the road surface gets bad and refuses to swivel away, without giving you that mushy feel. Even the brakes have excellent feel, both in the lever and the peg. Having ridden it for over 300km in a matter of a few hours, I was left with no aches or pains but just a wide smile, and a hell of a lot of dopamine!
A rider’s bike?
The Sixty is obviously targeted at a younger crowd and not at those burly, hairy; ‘wild hogs’. It’s a perfect entry-level cruiser that does not compromise on the cee-cees or power. It is properly modern but retains an old-world charm. It is for those who want to relive the heritage of the motorcycle. It is a rider’s bike, simple yet fun. I would proclaim it a perfect successor to the original Scout, but then again I haven’t ridden one, so I wouldn’t know.
Not exactly, the Sixty has its flaws. One is the suspension setup. The front is hard while the rear is soft, a confused mix. Every time you hit a bump, you are thrown out of the seat and when you try to get back in, if the calves hit the exhaust down tubes (they get extremely hot after a long ride) then only a plastic surgeon can help you. Then there are those ball-joint mirrors that get blurry beyond 80kmph. The Indian branded Kenda tyres give away too soon. Also, at `11.99 lakh, it is quite expensive. You could get the Harley 1200 Custom for `2 lakh less. But then, it wouldn’t make you feel like Burt Munro, the World’s Fastest Indian, would it? L