After the Chief, the Scout
When leading off-road vehicle maker Polaris acquired the legendary "Indian" motorcycle brand a few years back, the world took note.
The first product was a mammoth 111 cubic-inch (1,817 cc) Chief, clothed in three avatars — appropriate firepower and glitz to take on industry leader Harley Davidson. The bikes set high standards both on performance and looks, but at the end of the day, it was ONE bike.
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This year, at a time when Harley was experimenting with an electric bike, Indian unveiled the Scout. Compared to the Chief, the Scout is tiny — a 'mere' 1,200 cc V-twin, and a seat so low a 12-year-old could ride it. Pricing at ₹ 12 lakh (exshowroom Delhi), Polaris made the world sit up even straighter.
We got our hands on the Scout for a short spin. Here is what we found.
The first thing that hits you is the low seat height. The unit we rode was grey. Other colours available are black, red and matt black, of which the last and costs a full ₹ 6 lakh more, and comes fully loaded.
The next thing you note is the single seat. Tan leather, it starkly offsets the grey body and the chrome of the twin guns of the exhaust. If you want a pillion, you'll need to buy the seat.
For the rest, this bike is not as full of bling as the Indian, but it does have a radiator. The liquid cooled engine, a massive 1,133 cc, is the mainstay of the structure.
RIDE AND PERFORMANCE
Get on the saddle, and again the low seating hits you. A tall rider will be hard put. Do we hear "ladies' bike"? Well, read on.
Put aside the looks and the feel, throw it in gear and raise the throttle, and you'll be thrown off if you are not prepared for the acceleration. This is one purposeful vehicle, with a full tonne of power and also close to a century of Neuton metres torque.
In the twinkling of the eye, before hitting third gear, we are nudging 100 kph. Our ride is on a rarely-used side road, and the tarmac is not exactly encouraging, but we hit 140 kph before easing off due to the windblast on the chest. With a short fairing, it would be a pleasure to take this machine on long, winding roads.
The bike is nicely balanced, and encourages fancy moves. With its quick acceleration, it would be well-suited for city driving as well as the great open spaces.
We did find the rear brake a trifle spongy. But that may be due to the fact that the machine had not yet been broken in. Just point and shoot, and the Scout takes you exactly where you want to go.
All in all, this is an impressive little bike. The Indian DNA is in evidence, and so is the modern Polaris technology. A marriage that works.
At ₹ 12 lakh, it is little surprise that buyers are queueing up. The dealership has already got well over a dozen bookings, with deliveries starting January. Apart from the matt black, all the models are priced in the ₹ 12 lakh range. Unofficial buzz is that this is only an 'introductory price', which may rise.
But don't let price be the point. Check out the bike for what it is, and the ride it offers. Few are likely to be disappointed.