Indian Scout returns to New Zealand after a 70-year absence
Mathieu Day follows in Burt Munro's tracks
It's a motorbike that will always have a link with New Zealand, thanks to the legendary Burt Munro, but until recently it was missing from our shores.
But now the all-new Indian Scout goes on sale here after a 70-year absence - and already the distributors have sold out two shipments and they can't get enough bikes to fulfil Kiwi requirements.
The Scout and record-setting Munro have strong connections and the all-new version of the bike has been much hyped since its official launch at the Sturgis motorcycle rally in the United States this year.
But does it live up to all that hype?
Sure, it more than matches its hype ... but not without a couple of small criticisms.
The Australasian launch of the Scout took place just south of Auckland around the west coast off Waiuku, including a loop around the Hunua ranges, one of my favourite stomping grounds.
The all-new Scout with Mathieu Day on board at the iconic motorbike's New Zealand relaunch.
The Scout at once proved that it definitely meets the design criteria of a low, light and easy to handle bike. Aided by a low seat height of just 635mm it really is a confidence-inspiring package that makes it not only easy to cruise on but plenty of fun on Kiwi back roads when the route tightens.
When it came to our day-long press ride I went into it with the idea that I would have to follow the "slow in, fast out" mantra but that went out the window as soon as we hit the first corner. You see, the Scout has the ability to lean up to 31 degrees before the forward controls touch down, a full 5 degrees more than the bike which Indian used as the class benchmark. This means that during our circumnavigation of the Hunua Ranges the Scout was more than capable of holding speed through the many, many corners in the ranges. The Scout will of course touch down but the length of the bike means it is very stable and I never felt like I was in trouble despite my lack of experience with touching down the pegs in normal conditions.
The 1133cc 60 degree engine in the Scout is an all-new unit. At a casual glance you'd be forgiven for thinking it was an oil or air-cooled unit thanks to the clever design of the all-aluminium frame. Thanks to the thick forward section the radiator is invisible. As a result the Scout's engine puts out a healthy 74.7Kw and 97.7Nm of torque which when matched with the Scout's low weight of 253kg fully fuelled really makes the Scout boogie.
That all-aluminium frame, while being a strong contributor in the act of bringing the Scout's weight down, is also a nod to the past. Indian Motorcycles prides itself on following the past glories of the company while looking to the future. In the Scout's case, the rigid triangle of the frame mimics that of the Scouts of old, while using modern materials and design to give the bike a modern feel. As a result the silhouette of the Scout is very similar to its ancestors of the early 20th century.
The 1133cc engine in the Scout is unique to the model
After a full day of riding the Scout around the Hunua Ranges and through South Auckland the only real criticism I had for the Scout was the huge, high-profile tyres.
Like most bikes that exit the factory, the tyres the Scout comes with let it down. On our ride when the roads started to get wet it was very easy to lose confidence in them as they started to wiggle and slip on the smoother sections of road. At one point when I changed gear from third to fourth the bike hit one of the many patches of seal which had been worn down to just the tar. The result was the bike swinging wildly from right to left before settling itself, amazingly with very little input on my part thanks to the stability generated by the Scout's long 1562mm wheelbase.
The Scout is also backed by a huge range of accessories that is far too expansive to go into here and is best viewed in its entirety online at indianmotorcycle.com/en-nz/, the Indian website. Major accessories include saddle bags, pillion seat, touring screens and extended reach handlebars as were fitted to one of the bikes in the launch fleet.
When asked if I wanted to ride the said bike I politely said "no thanks" as I much preferred the Thunder Smoke Black bike I was on (and secretly felt I was much too young to ride the decked out tourer).
The Indian Scout in Thunder Black
If I was in the position to buy the new Scout, which at a low $19,995 asking price is quite attainable, I would be swapping those tyres to something more suitable to the Kiwi climate and putting them aside as they're branded with the Indian logo which makes them worth holding on to. Other than the addition of the pillion kit I'd be more than happy with the Scout.
Engine: 1133cc DOHC 4-valve V-Twin
Power: 74.7 Kw/97.7Nm & 5900rpm
Fuel capacity: 12 litres
Seat height: 635mm
Price: $19,995 +orc