Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Indian versus Harley-Davidson- the rivalry lives!

Harley-Davidson versus Indian... 
the rivalry is truly re-born!

Well folks, it would appear that we have ourselves a good old fashioned, competition between two American motorcycle manufacturers once again! It’s a great time to be a motorcycle enthusiast! Two iconic brands- Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles, once again competing to best each other and steal sales, racetrack wins, customers and, of course- bragging rights. 

Scout Rogue

Oddly enough… it seems a crisis has been born of this competition though- apparently there is a shortage of materials and these manufacturers are being forced to cut corners on things like… REAR FENDERS. What am I talking about you may ask? I’m talking about a brand new motorcycle that, while still not enough to make me walk away from my preferred brand, one that nevertheless has the potential to be a real competitor in sales- the new Indian Scout Rogue.  My biggest issue- the bike has no junk in its trunk. There is no badonkadonk. It’s missing its mudflap. Sir Mix A Lot wouldn’t want none because the bike has no buns, hun. 

(also- if you haven’t been clicking on the hyperlinks in my blog posts- you should be. I insert those links to bring you to whatever it is I may be referring to in the post- try it, it’s safe and even a little fun)

Now personally, the newest iteration of the Scout isn’t exactly my cup of tea- with specs similar to that of the new Sportster S or a comparable metric like the Yamaha Bolt or Honda Shadow Phantom, I’m not their target buyer. But with that said- if I were interested in changing things up and I had any interest in putting an Indian in my garage- I’d put a pin in that move until the designers over in Spirit Lake, IA found the rest of the rear fender for the damn thing.

For the last few years, it seems as though both of these companies have forgotten how to design and build a decent rear fender. Harley engineers have kept a few tried and true rear-ends such as what we see on the new Low Rider S and the bobbed tail of the Street Bob. And while they killed off the classic duck tail fender and put the same bobbed fender on the Softail Standard, essentially making it the exact same bike as the Street Bob (to the H-D design team- that was just lazy and you know it), at least the bike has a rear fender that actually does something. 
Call me an old timer if you want, but there is a place for chopped fenders and this bike ain’t it. The new Rogue should have had a better rear fender. I’m not talking about a full tail dragger, but something that actually covered the whole top of the rear tire would have been nice. It might be nice to have a little protection to keep the road grime from slinging up on that new Indian branded leather jacket the salesman is gonna "throw in" for $450 when you buy the bike.

Also, what the hell is up with the bar-end mirrors that hang down? The first thing I’d do with that bike after I put a real fender on the back of it, would be swap those mirrors from side to side and stand them up above the bars. With that said- the rest of the bike looks pretty sharp. The exhaust is a bit bulky and I’m sure that the bottom of it will no doubt be scraped by an aggressive rider, but it’s proportionate to the bike and the blacked out finish looks good. I like the overall design of the bike and the fairing, while essentially useless (as most quarter fairings are), looks good and has nice clean lines. The frame showcases the engine nicely and the tank, seat and bars all mesh nicely together making the bike appear well designed and thought out… except for that dammed rear fender.

Lowrider S & ST

The new Lowrider S and Lowrider ST on the other hand are tempting… very tempting. If I wasn’t so infatuated with my Road King Special- I might seriously consider running over to the local Harley shop and taking one for a spin. Overall, both of these machines are sexy. I liked the Lowrider S when it was first introduced in Dyna form. The black with bronze accents takes me back to the styling of the old XLCR from when I was a kid and I love the nostalgic feelings I get when I look at the S. The ST, with its fixed fairing that is exactly what a modern iteration should be- a massaged and cleaned up version of the previous design- is a treat to the eyes. It’s literally the best of both the cruiser world and the touring world. It’s fixed so it doesn’t move with the bars, essentially a smaller, more cool version of the Road Glide (to all my Road Glide owners reading this- don’t get pissy, I’m not throwing shade- I used to have a shark nose for a little while and it was a great bike). Styling on the S is smooth and clean ready to pound the streets of any town on a Saturday night, whereas the ST has a clean, king of the Highway feel to it that looks like you can also kick it around town, just in a few towns over.

Rogue v/s Lowrider S

You might be wondering why I chose to do this piece on the Rogue and the Lowrider S, when I clearly stated earlier that the Rogue had more in common with, by size, price and specs, the smaller bikes than it does with the mid-sized Softail Lowrider S. The answer is simple- while the Rogue may technically be in the same class as the Sportster S, the Phantom and the Bolt, it’s my very humble opinion that Spirit Lake intentionally built this bike to compete directly with Milwaukee’s Lowrider S. Just as they should have. You see, Indian doesn’t really have the same kind of lineup as Harley-Davidson, after all. They skip from the smaller, liquid cooled Scouts, and go directly to the full size Chief lineup, then up to the liquid cooled Challenger, whereas H-D has a nice variety of bikes in graduated sizes. From the Evo Sportsters (for now) and the Power Cruiser Sportster S, to the full line of Softails, then up to the Grand American Touring line (not to mention the ADV, the CVOs, the electric and the Trikes). The Scout Rogue is the closest bike, by features, to compare to the Lowrider S and I think that it's a pretty fair comparison.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the horsepower, torque, lean angles or any other technical specs on either of these bikes, the answer is simple- what matters the most is how the bike moves the rider. Numbers don’t mean diddly to me. It’s how the bike feels when I ride it that matters and I haven’t ridden either one of them, so I won’t comment about that. That’s for you to decide if you like how the bikes move you.

Until I have a chance to ride one of these new offerings, or until one of these companies decides to pick me up as a full-time rider/writer for them, I'll keep bringing you unbiased opinions on their newest machines. Now, I've had my concerns about the future of the Indian brand under Polaris because history does tend to repeat itself and, after all, Polaris killed off Victory despite it's loyal ownership and it's apparent success in the industry. I really hope that Indian is here to stay because innovation is born of competition and we can't truly become our best without being challenged... truly challenged. Spirit Lake is bringing real competition to Milwaukee's doorstep and we, the motorcycle enthusiast consumers, are getting the best of that competition.

Stay warm and get your bikes cleaned, serviced and ready... riding weather is just around the corner!