An Indian Scout and his story

Indian Scout

It is sometimes said that Indian made better motorcycles with better technicians, but that Harley-Davidson scored mentality and better marketing with his street fighters.

The Indian (Military) Scout

In the case of the mismanagement of 1.0 left and right, Indian went out under fries and a lively trade started in the brand name 'Indian', which brought the most wonderful pastries with that proud name to the market. The 'commercial value' of the name has changed over the years between the $ 10.000 and the $ 1. So it wasn't big business.

In the late 1960s the American publisher Floyd Clymer (known from the "Clymer" technical manuals) started importing light Italian Italjet motorcycles, which he sold under the name "Indian Papoose", probably after having purchased the rights to this name from AMC. In the meantime, the brand has been reborn under the broad wings of Polaris. And it makes Harley nervous again. Just like before.

A true Indian

But the Indian Scout that we found stems from the real Indian era. A very young prospective owner at that time was already breathing in it a long time ago. At the internship address where he found himself every day on his old motorcycle - now also a classic. - a colleague reported that his father-in-law also had a motorcycle, but that the thing was in the attic in parts.

The entire internship period was placed in the frame to see the attic project. The whole history threatened to get stuck on "It's an Indian" and "It's not for sale." But since the persistent wins ... The current owner had meanwhile read in extensively - and remember that there was no Internet at the time - and was allowed to visit. In the end…

The father-in-law and the student were in the attic until late in the evening

And of the box project it turned out that only the counter was missing. But someone else's father-in-law was deeply impressed by the factual knowledge of his visitor. At the farewell the father-in-law said. “It is not for sale. But if you want it, you can buy it ”.

That was proof that male logic is not always that tight, but it was a welcome message. Because students were not too generous at the time, the price was almost the stumbling block. But with some good conversations within the family everything went well.

A run-up of 10 year

The proud owner of a lot of separate parts took the ten years after the purchase to put the engine back together again. At a time when the Indian had at most lackluster classic status, and it was 'only' about 500, the reconstruction was done with love, patience and craftsmanship. Because the financial resources were limited, the approach was therefore to 'technically sound' instead of to 'Fully Factory Original'. We will not hurt the purists, but freedom in the choice of threads and the structure of crankshaft bearings with the approach of 'We will just make that then' resulted in a great running block.

The black chrome of the exhaust bends was an option that was only chosen after the existence of that phenomenon at Latour in Nijmegen. And when there was a choice between shiny black or satin black, then satin was chosen. Once the Indian was ready, he was brave and hassle-free until the crowds ensured that he gave his last blows some twenty years ago.

So the Indian Scout ...

This Indian model, the Scout, was made between 1920-1949 and served in uniform as "Military Scout." Designed in 1939 and deployed from 1942 for use in the American and Allied armies.
In terms of configuration, the model looks like the 750 cc Military scout. The 500, however, is built lighter, both of engine and frame and differs in detail from the 750cc in many points. Production ran until 1944 and hardly any changes were made in those nearly six years. In total, around 33.000 copies were made. In comparison to Harley's WLC and WLA models, the Indian Scout is really a size smaller. And 'old-fashioned' when we look at his front fork and kick starter.

15 pk from 500 cc

The 500 Vtwin delivers on paper from when 15 pk at 4800 tours. The ignition is battery coil, the weight 204 kg, the specified top speed 105 km / h. The Indian has a foot clutch and a manual 3 gearbox from the 741. The 741 was lighter than the 640, but also had only one 500 cc Scout Pony engine and with its 15 hp at 4.800 rpm was much less strong than the - 23 hp strong - Harley. The 741 went out of production in 1944. And the fact that there is '1946' on the license plate of this copy as the first admission, that doesn't really matter.

Easy to shunt

The Indian does shunting like more V twin side valves: the center of gravity is low, so the engine rolls lightly. Pulling on the hind leg requires attention. The muffler protrudes behind the machine like an apple drill and can provide your right leg with a nice round punching hole. But rearing goes light. Okay: gas tap on. Lower the choke lever three clicks, pedal twice without contact and be amazed at the minimum power required.

Ignition? GO!

The contact switches on for the third time. The ignition is on 'late', the gas opens a line. With this kind of elders, the starting procedure may differ per copy, you just have to learn the right approach. After the third flight of steps, the Indian runs 'high' in the revs. The mechanical noise drowns out the exhaust noise. Some messing around with the gas, the ignition and the choke let the 500 cc side valve run smoothly.

With the stand folded up again, the seat on the Indian Scout is compact

That may also have to do with the fact that motorcyclists were sawed off somewhat shorter by 70 years ago. Riding an Indian Scout is a bit historic. The clutch is released with the left foot. The design of the pedigree is very 1.0, by the way. Converted sheet steel. Design is for wimps. The owner is in the habit of operating the right-hand lever with his left hand. That poker lets the rider keep his right leg out.

Little trouble with the wind

But with a run of 60-70 km / h the windage of such a knee is not too bad. Synchronize a little and let the clutch come up ... We have a take off. Chess requires attention with that foot coupling, but at the pace that we are on the move that is no problem. Experience has shown that problems with deviating types of operation only arise when suddenly old programming is used. This can result in asphalt eczema and damage to the engine and ego. Au!


Engine: bore x stroke: 63,5 x 77,7mm
power 15pk
carburetor Linkert: Links
wheels: 3.50-4.00 ″ x 18 ″
wheelbase: 1470 mm
Weight: 220kg
top speed: 105 km / h

The value: This kind of Indians is rare. But his 'small' cylinder capacity makes him less desirable than a Chief or something. Such an Indian Scout is in terms of price level at that of Harley's WL models or something below. Think of 10-12 mille for a neat, smooth-running machine. In the current market, however, asking prices can rise above € 15.000.

Employability: Technically speaking, not bad. But after reading all the lubrication points and oil changes, plus the other daily maintenance, you no longer grab your Indian Scout to go shopping.
The components: Prices and availability. Not easy, not cheap. Via Tony Leenes and the Internet. Companies such as Yesterdays, MB engines from Delft and Dutch Lion Motorcycles also want to offer parts.
The specialists: Tony 'Indian' Leenes.

The club
The Indian

The current Indian does not have much to do with this veteran. But the new Indians are without a doubt miracles of technology and marketing.

INDIAN MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM TONY “INDIAN” LEENES Kadijk 23, 8531 XH Lemmer, Telephone: 0514 563 244


Leave a Reply
  1. Unfortunately I have different experience with the “specialist” Tony. Cost me a lot of money except for a bad test drive, 5 years later not being able to drive a meter. But yes it was only an Enfield Indian. But if you can't deliver on it, don't promise it, start it and make it pay well.
    Sorry it had to be done.

  2. A WLA / C has a top of more than 110, but it cannot last long without getting too hot and eating pistons like stroopwafels ...
    An 741 may have a top of thick 95, but then the cookie jar will also quickly empty for this bike ..
    80-90 is tired of both bikes and they will last a very long time.

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