2016 Indian Scout Sixty review, test ride
25th Oct 2016 1:30 pm
We get astride the latest Indian to hit Indian shores, the Scout Sixty, and find out whether lower engine capacity means lesser bike.
In the motorcycle world, the Indian Scout is a legend. Burt Munro’s ‘World’s fastest Indian’ was a Scout after all. Having disappeared from the company’s line-up for decades, it made a reappearance recently after the company’s revival. But for 2016, the motorcycle seems to be headed in a rather interesting direction. Called the Scout Sixty, it’s inherently the same bike that we rode and loved a couple of years back, but with a twist; it now packs 134cc less! So is this downsizing something to worry about and how much does it really change the Scout experience, if at all?
Let me just say right off the bat that the saddlebags, tail carrier, back rest and crash guard on this bike are accessories, and they really make a case against how good this bike looks. Seriously, without all the added bits, the clean, yet highly detail-oriented lines of the Scout look gorgeous but understated. Compared to its more powerful sibling, the Scout Sixty gets blacked-out treatment running across the cylinder heads and crank case cover. Even the chrome surround from the headlamp has been changed to black and the tan seat option is gone. This ‘blackening’ of the bike extends to the multi-spoke alloy wheels as well, which, on the original, had chrome accents around the rim and spokes. It’s not like the Scout Sixty isn’t a good-looking bike, but it seems to have lost some of the Scout’s visual pizzazz. Oh, and the ‘Scout’ badge is notably absent from the side of the fuel tank.
As good as the Scout Sixty looks, it misses out on some of the more exciting paint schemes from its larger-capacity twin sibling.
The switchgear and single-pod instrument cluster remains unchanged from the original Scout. The ergonomics too are untouched and the Sixty has a comfortable seat along with a relaxed riding position that should ensure comfort during long stints in the saddle. Even though the seat height has gone up by 8mm thanks to thicker foam, it’s still an incredibly low 643mm – that’s lower than any other bike in the market right now, and its easy to move the bike around with your feet.
At the heart of it all
The biggest difference between the Scout and the Scout Sixty has to be the engine. Sure, it might be the same 60-degree V-Twin, but on the inside, it’s a whole different ball game. The Sixty’s motor maintains the 73.4mm stroke of the Scout’s engine, but it’s bore has been dropped from 98.8mm to 92.7mm. This means that overall cubic capacity has gone down from 1,133cc to 999cc – or 61 cubic-inches, and hence the name. This has taken peak power down to 78hp (from the Scout’s 101hp). The reduction in peak torque isn’t so massive though, with the Sixty now making 88.8Nm as compared to the larger engine’s 97.7Nm.
Same stroke, but smaller bore brings the capacity down to 999cc on the Scout Sixty.
But Indian hasn’t stopped there. Even though the gearbox and final drive ratio have been carried over from the Scout to the Scout Sixty, to convert the latter bike from six-speed to five-speed, Indian has simply removed the fifth gear cog from the gearbox, making the old sixth the new fifth. So, that means the top gear ratio for both bikes is identical. Barring these two major changes, the Sixty’s engine is unchanged, and features the same fuel injection as well as liquid-cooling system.
What does this mean?
When you first ride the Scout Sixty, it may not seem any different. But open the gas hard and you’ll notice that while the Sixty makes enough torque for some brisk acceleration, it simply does not have the neck-snapping power delivery the bigger engine gives you. That being said, the bike gets off the line quite smoothly and there’s enough poke from the motor for quick overtakes. However, the lesser power does mean that the Sixty misses out on some top-end performance. But again, that’s only really noticeable with small throttle openings at higher speeds. However, this being a cruiser, high-speed blasts are supposed to be a rarity, and the bike is quite content at 110kph with barely any vibes to speak of.
Even when it comes to gearing – with the ratios as they are – it might appear that now the ratio gap between fourth and fifth gear might be too large. But honestly, out on the road, you’d be hard- pressed to notice the difference. The ratios of this slick sifting gearbox feel perfectly spaced apart and it almost makes you wonder if the top three ratios on the standard Scout are too tightly packed.
Twists and turns
When we first rode the Scout a couple of years ago, it really blew us away with its amazing handling prowess, for a cruiser that is. And barring the engine, gearbox and some styling tweaks, there are no other changes from the Scout to the Scout Sixty. The cast aluminium frame and the twin shock setup might visually mimic the triangular frame setup of the original Scout from the 1920s, but this new bike is thoroughly modern in the way it moves. We wouldn’t go so far to describe it as a sharp handler, but it turns in very predictably and there’s surprising level of mid-corner grip from the chunky 130/90-16 front and 150/80-16 rear tyres. Sure, the low-slung posture and forward-set footpegs might limit the lean angles to 31 degrees (even lesser with a heavy rider), but even dragging the footpegs hard on the tarmac isn’t enough to upset the bike. And though it is heavy, it pulls of that typical Indian trait of feeling much lighter than it actually is. While you might enjoy the Scout Sixty around a twisty mountain road, its long turning radius isn’t so enjoyable in the city. The 298mm disc brakes at both ends work quite well, with the front brake level providing plenty of bite and feedback. Coming to a stop quickly was done in a predictable and safe manner thanks to the inclusion of ABS.
It’s just shocking how well the Scout Sixty can handle corners.
The suspension setup might work well for handling, but when it comes to ride quality, you’re left wanting more. The 76mm of rear suspension travel simply isn’t enough to deal with the bumps and potholes rampant on our streets and riding the bike out on the roads of Navi Mumbai was challenging to say the least. Also, the long 1,562mm wheelbase coupled with the low ground clearance of 135mm means you really need to be careful over speed breakers or you could end up beaching the bike.
Our two cents
Just looking at the specs, it is easy to dismiss the Scout Sixty as a detuned version of the Scout. However, get to know it, and you’ll realise that the downsized engine hasn’t really affected the Scout experience any worse. If anything, it has made the bike more accessible to a wider variety of riders. By losing some of its near-manic acceleration, it now actually fits the ‘cruiser’ role far better by offering a more relaxing ride. And even though its price of Rs 11.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) might be almost identical to the Scout’s introductory price at launch, remember that in the last couple of years that has changed, and the Scout now costs almost a lakh and a half more. But hand on heart, what hasn’t changed is the fact that the Scout Sixty is every bit as lovable as its more powerful sibling, and is one of the best mid-size cruisers you can buy today.