The two surviving motorcycle brands from the 1900s are Harley-Davidson and Indian. Although the Milwaukee outfit managed to stay in business for all this time, the timeline at Indian was not so rosy. Production of Indian motorcycles was interrupted a few times, and in 2011 American company Polaris picked up the battered baton and resurrected the most iconic Indian of them all: the Scout.
To make the brand more accessible, Indian shrunk the 69 cubic inch engine to 61 cubic inch, lobbed one gear out of the gearbox, and the Scout Sixty was born. Minor details set the two apart, but with an extensive accessory catalogue to choose from, you will be hard pressed to tell the two apart. My steed for the week was the Sixty. It still sports a V-twin motor to remind you of its heritage. This one, however, is water-cooled. The flowing lines of the Sixty and the all-metal fenders remind you of the design language of the late 30s, and the execution is sublime.
The Indian looks longer and lower than it really is. With the seat not even 65cm off the ground you sit low, feet forward, and the handlebars swoop backward to meet your hands right there where they naturally come to rest. The seating position is relaxed like a cruiser should be.
The single instrument binnacle has classic paint colours and even the font used harks back to days of old. It shows the speed, and it also has an LCD screen for some additional information. The all-important gear indicator is present, but the vital fuel gauge is not. Instead you just have a warning light.
The ignition switch sits where it used to be on the older bikes. Under the tank, on your left. Firing the 1000cc bike into life, you can hear that this is a thoroughly modern bike. The gearbox feels solid and pulling away I immediately knew that I was going to enjoy the Sixty.
As a beginner’s bike, the Indian will do well, because the bike is so low and accessible. It lifts easily off the side stand, and it has features like ABS and self-cancelling indicators. It is such a confidence inspiring bike that finding fault with the Indian is difficult.
I want to say it is a fault, but it actually isn’t: the whole design of the Sixty says Cruiser, but that is not how you end up riding it. It is so much fun to ride that you want to race everything at the lights, and even though ground clearance is not much due to the design, throwing this bike around in the twisties causes the corners of your mouth to instinctively curl upward.
This bike wants you to ride it, all day, all week, and you will enjoy every second of it. Your journey can start from as little as R149 000. – words and pictures Brian Cheyne