Indian Scout 1200 – Long distance ride review

Words: Séan Hendley Pics: Deon van der Linde

We get the same question every time we do this, “How the heck can you feature a cruiser in Ridefast magazine?”. And the answer is always the same, “They are faster and more agile than what you might think”. And that is very true of the current Indian 1200 Scout, but it is also incredibly gorgeous…. and quite exclusive.

Indian Scout

It’s sort of like the Ferrari – Lambo thing. 

Ferraris are more popular and therefore seen more regularly than Lambo’s. Lambo’s are more niche and thus are more special when you spot them out and about, and the same is true of Indian Motorcycles. They are quite a rarity in this country. In SA, the brand is imported and supported by Bidvest who also look after Yamaha and Kymco as well as a host of car brands, so you can be assured Indian Motorcycles is a sure bet going forward.

The Scout 1200 is the outgoing model and is going to be replaced by an all-new model towards the end of this year. We decided to have one last gander at it, and with that being said, Indian Motorcycles South Africa is offering some particularly sweet deals on the current models. We can’t quite put our finger on it, but for some reason the Scout just tugs at our heart strings, and riding it again for the first time in a year or three just reaffirmed that. We snagged a brand-new unit with literally zero kilometres on the clock, and even though we had to nurse it through its run-in mileage it still impressed us with power delivery in the top end of the rev range as well as the stonking torque off the line. We picked it up the day before we made an impromptu day trip along some of the mountain passes of Mpumalanga. Yeah, we get to do stuff like that at our office…. and it is still considered ‘actual work’.

Indian Scout
It's Pretty from all angles for sure!

It sports a 1133cc, liquid cooled, electronically fuel injected V-Twin developing 97nM’s of torque at 5,600 rpm and 74.5Kw’s at 8,100 rpm. Riding is all about feeling, and those figures do bely what the Scout feels like to ride, which is true of a lot of motorcycles on the market. Back when we still had ‘Bike of the Year’, one of the manufacturers refused to let any of the journo judges see the spec sheet before riding and marking their entrant for that year. Once all the votes were tallied, that bike actually won and only then were the specs revealed, leaving everyone flabbergasted believing the bike actually produced more power and torque than what was reality on paper. Even though the Scouts performance figures are nothing to be sneezed at, riding it actually feels like it produces so very much more than what the spec sheets say.


Whack on the gas, dump the clutch and…. HANG ON! The Scout gets up and going with surprising alacrity, so much so that our sports bike brain kicked in and we tried to change without using the clutch, FLIP!!… a quick-shifter would not go amiss on this engine. Barely engaging the clutch and flipping through the gearbox is comfortably smooth and really gets this machine shifting along at quite a pace, surprising some of the faired bikes along on the ride with us. Top-end is better than expected for a 1200 V-Twin Cruiser, but realistically it is no match for a sportbike, yet still quick enough for a proper giggle.

Riding it all the way from Kempton Park to Schoemanskloof was a doddle. Having to stop riding at around 222 km’s into the ride to replenish the 12,5lt fuel tank was an irksome interruption because the ride was just so lekker. It’s not nearly as thirsty as we thought it would be, we saw around 20 clicks on a litre. 


At this point, the run-in mileage was sufficiently high enough to start using a bit more of the top end of the rev range and this is where the fun really started in earnest. And this was also where the road started to get a bit more curvy….and we like curvy. The only drawback we could find with Scout presented itself in said curves, the footpegs are a little too close to the deck and we scratched out the perfect lines through the bends for others to follow. 

Indian Scout
12.5 litres and surprisingly efficient. Look closely at the hero blob on the footpeg...

And so the day went. The tighter the bends the more the hero bobbins got reshaped. The Scout is one exceptionally good motorcycle to boom around mountain passes on. We were three mates playing silly buggers on three very different motorcycles on the day, the rider on the BMW R1250RS is a talented and experienced ex-racer. He got passed by the Indian Scout through a fairly quick righthander. He claims that the fuel light came on and he decided to take it easy…. Uh-huh? That Fox suspension on the Scout not only smooths out the ride, but it keeps the 450kg big girl nice and tidy when ridden with much enthusiasm.

Indian Scout
Twin Fox shocks out back...
Classic lines. big brakes...

How well does she stop? Uhmm… we missed a braking point at the bottom of a pass checking the rear-view mirrors for a charging 1250 RS and noticed a T-Junction approaching alarmingly quickly. All the hooks were applied in vigour while the glutes chewed at the chrome plate holding the seat to the frame and this was the first time that we actually realised there is some modicum of ABS or something, and just over half a ton plus VAT of rider and bike came to a dignified halt at the correct spot on said T-Junction. YES, the brakes are more than up to the task of any insanity you may want to throw at them, the pinch marks in the seat are testimony to that.

Indian Scout
The infamous plate on the seat...
Indian Scout
Check how the clocks are marked...

There are one or two peculiarities on the Scout that had us raising an eyebrow here and there. For instance, the well-padded and comfortable saddle is bolted to the frame via quite a sexy chrome plate placed directly at the base of your spine. Every time you bounce over any significant bump in our roads (We have MANY!), of which there are plenty, your coccyx is pounded a little bit. Maybe the roads in America are faultless, OR Indian is aiming at selling some custom seats.

The speedo is also quite interesting in its layout, all the speed digit seems rolled to the right, so 80 KPH is where you usually find 120 kmh, 140 km h is where we would normally look for 160kmh and the rest of the digits stack tightly under that. You do get a bit of a fright when you see a coppa sitting behind an 80 km h speed limit board with his radar pointed directly at you and you glance down at your speedo to check your speed, especially if you battle seeing anything that close up without spectacles.

Then, for the life of us we couldn’t work out where to adjust the digital display, nowhere intuitive anyway. But in the process, we did discover a handy USB charger on the side of the clock. After a few days we did eventually work it out, hidden in plain sight as what we thought might have been the high beam switch. We try to ride mostly in daylight, so never even considered looking there.

Indian Scout
This one was fitted with an optional passenger backrest...
Indian Scout
The magnetic tank bag is a handy optional extra.

It was a full day in the saddle and we’ll be honest when we say that everyone who rode the Indian had a massive grin plastered on their face. A further week visiting clients and commuting around the streets of GP has us completely sold…. AGAIN!

You actually don’t need an excuse to ride this bike. There is something special about this bike. It’s really good fun, small and nimble with great handling, heaps of personality and a naughty engine. 

You need to ride one to understand… and you can do just that.

These are the last of the old models, the new ones are on the way soon. Given price fluctuations and all that… it’s a good time to buy one.

The Indian SA group has demo models at all of their dealers and are offering some great deals. Go and ride one.

Indian Scout
133cc. 97 NM. 256KG's. 649mm Seat Height. 6 speed Gearbox. All day smiles. From R280.000

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