Indian Sport Scout
Few bikes have made such a vivid impact on the street and in varied forms of competition than the Sport Scout, which was introduced by Indian tn 1934. The model's specification was not particularly exotic. The basics of its 750cc. unit-construction. side-valve V-twin engine and its bolted-together tubular steel frame (called 'keystone'by the factory) had been used by previous Indian machines.
(Early Scouts were succsseful in a wide variety of official competition, and unofficial competition, and many are still ridden hard today. This Indian rider Burch Baer in action at Daytona, where Scouts are still sucsessful in vintage events.)
But the Sport Scout combined fine handling with lively acceleration to a top speed of about 80mph (129km/h), and equally importantly it responded well to tuning. Before long, Sports were taking on allcomers on the road, and being stripped for competition in TT races, hillclimbs, endurance events and the increasingly popular production- based Class C dirt-track events.
A string of high-profile successes established the Sport Scout's reputation. In 1931, Californian hard man Ed Kretz won the inaugural Daytona 200- mile (322km) race on one; and Rollie Free, another legendary Indian star, was timed at 11 I mph (179km/h) on the Daytona beach. The following year, Kretz used his same Sport Scout to win the first TT at Laconia, New Hampshire.
These were troubled times for Indian. with sales low following the Depression. Kretz, in particular,
gave the firm a huge boost with his racing exploits.
Although he did not win Dayrona again, the Californian was America's most successful racer.
That was as much due to his hard riding as to the superiority of his tuned and lightened Sport Scout, which by 1938 produced 35bhp, compared to the standard 22bhp.It was good for about l05mph (169km/h) and weighed just 3201b (145kg), some 1201b (54kg) less than the roadster.
(One variant of the Sport Scout was the model 741 military machine, whose V-twin engine was reduce in capacity from 750 to 500cc. The US preferred Harley Davidson 45`s, but the model 741 was sold to many Allied forces.)
The Sport Scout was the most famous of a long line of Scout models that began with Charles B
Franklin's 615cc model. introduced in 1919. From those earliest days, Indian's mid-sized V-twin earned a reputation for speed and reliability. In 1920 aScout covered I I l4 miles (1793km) to break the 24-hour world long-distance record by more than 250 miles (402km). In 1927 the engine gained power with a capacity increase to the familiar 750cc.
Built to last
Best of the early models was the 101 Scout, launched in 1928. which combined a long wheelbase and low seating position to give outstanding handling' Its 42-degree side-valve V twin engine featured unit construction. and was strong enough to justify the Indian advertising line:
'You can't wear out an Indian Scout''
Other innovations included a drum front brake, plus new carburettor and oil PumP designs.
Not all Scouts were as successful as the 101 and Sport. The Standard Scout, introduced in 1932,
was heavier than its i01 predecessor, and was dismissed by many enthusiasts as not sporty
enough. The Scout Pony of the same era was a 500cc tightweight, intended as an entry-level
machine, but was too slorw to be a hit' And its successor the Motoplane, essentially a Pony enlarged to 750cc, was another flop because its power was too much for the unchanged
transmission and chassis.
(This 1941 model Sport Scout is a handsome bike, if not particulary sporty one. Power output was up slightly, to about 25bhp, but Scout`s skirted fenders and a number of other changes increased weight to a hefty 485lb (220kg.) to the detriment of acceleration.)
The Sport Scout soon arrived to salvage Indian's reputation, though, and remained successful long after its production had ended in 1942, winning Class C races as late as 1956' The last production Sport Scouts looked very different to their predecessors because, like all Indian's range from 1940, they were equipped with the big 'skirted' fenders that helped increase weight to 4851b (220kg). The final Sport Scout hardly lived up to its name in standard form, but many owners boosted its performance by enlarging the engine and chopping the fenders.
|Specification||Indian Sport Scout (1934)|
|Engine||Air-cooled four-valve side-valve 42-degree V-twin|
|Transmission||Three-speed. chain final drive|
|Frame||Steel twin downtube|
|Suspension||Girder front; none rear|
|Brakes||Drum front and rear|
|Top Speed||80mph (129km/h)|
<<< Back to In The Beginning page.