The birth of the American motorcycle industry occurred in 1901, with the launch of the first Indian Motorcycle. The brand changed hands a few times over the preceding century, including a few decade-long periods of halted production.
Finally, in 2011, the engineering gurus at Polaris Industries redesigned and relaunched the Indian Motorcycle brand.
Polaris went into the project intending to preserve the historical American aesthetic while integrating the cutting-edge tech and high-powered mechanics the brand is known for, but do Indian motorcycles make good bikes for beginners?
Everything You Need to Know about Indian Motorcycles for Beginners Riders:
Polaris’s focus on reliable performance, innovative engineering and technology make the modern Indan motorcycle a good choice for beginners. Multiple moto publications report the Indian Scout, Scout 60, and Scout Bobber as ideal for entry-level cruisers. They’re some of the easiest cruisers to ride.
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Are Indian Motorcycles Harder or Easier to Ride?
Indian Motorcycle makes some of the easiest cruisers to ride, depending on your priorities regarding performance, low-end response, high-end response, comfort, style, handling, etc.
The Indian Scout Sixty is one of the easiest cruisers to ride. While some new riders may be intimidated by its 999cc V-twin engine and 5-speed gear-driven transmission, its predictable powerband and mild manners in the low RPM range make it possible to learn on without burning rubber.
- Remember, just because the entry-level Scout package still has a full dynamic power range doesn’t mean you must redline up through the gears.
- The fact that the Scout Sixty has more substance than other entry-level cruisers like the Honda Rebel means you’re learning to control your clutch and throttle while handling more profoundly on the Indian.
- A larger engine capacity also means you’re not going to outgrow the Indian Scout as quickly as something like the Rebel 500, which is half the size, as all versions of the Scout are equipped for easy highway riding.
The Scout Sixty comes with a forward foot control position rather than the mid-foot controls; some new riders find the forward foot controls more complicated to learn than the classic bicycle riding position central controls provide.
That said, riders who plan on graduating to large cruisers, baggers, and American-style touring motorcycles will have their transition eased by learning about forward controls. For these riders, Indian’s entry-level Scout series is ideal.
Not to mention the slew of upgrades and customization accessories offered by both Polaris Indian and aftermarket manufacturers, including reduced foot controls that bring the order’s feet closer to their center.
The most significant difficulty the entry-level Indian cruiser motorcycles cause inexperienced riders is acceleration jerking. This is the result of the bike’s lively throttle and quick clutch action.
The Scout’s chassis is a composed masterpiece requiring very little rider leaning input when it comes to steering and handling corners. This makes it easier to ride than other bikes in the small/medium cruiser class.
The Scout’s low 25.6-inch seat height makes weight-balancing easy, even though the Scout is heavier than other entry-level cruisers.
The extra weight of the 560-pound Scout builds intimates new riders. Still, an experienced rider can tell you that more weight provides support and resistance against harsh winds, wet roads, and the physics of aggressive cornering. This is thanks to the low center of gravity and exceptionally engineered weight distribution.
Finally, the Scout’s fully adjustable suspensions make it easy to learn to ride, even on rough and damaged roads.
Do Indian Motorcycles Require More Maintenance?
Indian motorcycles require the same amount of maintenance as any other motorcycle.
That said, the shaft and gear-driven style of transmissions engineered by Indian last longer and require less maintenance than a Harley-Davidson chain drive.
While Indian motorcycles require less maintenance than other bikes due to the lack of a chain drive, they still need basic upkeep.
Here’s what you can do to ensure good maintenance of your Indian Motorcycle:
- Conduct a basic walkaround inspection of your Indian Motorcycle before and after every ride. Check for wear, corrosion, oil, fuel, fluid residue, or damage that may affect its performance and safety.
- Most Indian service manuals suggest routine service inspections and grease/lubrication treatments every 5,000 miles; other manufacturers offer dealership services as low as every 2k.
- Your Polaris motorcycle battery should be inspected with a voltmeter at least once a year, particularly after periods of inactivity and before long trips. Indian bike batteries would be put on an OEM-recommended trickle charger during lengthy storage periods.
- Your Indian handling and engine performance are impacted by the spec tire pressure or lack thereof. Inspect your tires, valve stems, wheels/rims, and spokes for wear and damage before and after any significant ride.
- Because most Indian motorcycles are shaft or gear driven, their primary/final drive inspections require less maintenance than other bikes, provided you’re keeping up with oil levels and quality.
- Indian motorcycles require brake inspections every 5,000 miles, with pad and fluid changes every 10-15K, depending on riding and storage habits.
- Some Indian motorcycles are liquid-cooled. These models require a cooler level, quality inspections, and replacements per the intervals outlined in the service manual for said models.
- Oil services and air and oil filter replacements are suggested every 5,000 miles. Indian offers upgraded air filters that can be cleaned and reused. They cost around $500 but lower the cost of air intake maintenance in the long run.
- Indian suggests detailed inspections of the entire bike. This includes hand controls, steering head bearings, clutch cables, gearbox components, throttle, mirrors, and all necessary clamps, fasteners, mounts, and adjusters per the specified service intervals.
Some additional expenses to consider:
- A new set of tires for an Indian motorcycle is between $300-$700.
- A fork seal, ring, and oil replacement service on an Indian motorcycle are around $600.
- A routine oil, air, and inspection/lubrication/adjustment service are between $350 and $600 depending on make, model, and mileage service.
Do you Need to Know Motorcycles to Drive an Indian Motorcycle?
Like all motorcycle riding, riding an Indian Motorcycle requires a motorcycle education course certification and license. Riders must also have proper safety gear, basic maintenance knowledge, confidence in their experience, and an understanding of their anxiety and its limitations.
Motorcycle safety courses teach you the basics of motorcycle mechanics, the physics of riding a two-wheeled vehicle, and information on motorcycle laws in your area.
The riding experience offered by most moto-courses provides riders with real riding experience in a controlled environment under instructor supervision. This also results in the legal certification allowing you to get licensed to operate a motorcycle in your state or province.
Safety gear is a significant investment, and while Indian gear can be expensive, it’s well-made.
That said, as you’ll learn in your motorcycle education course, any riding gear works, even if it doesn’t match your bike’s make.
Investing in durable and high-rated gear, as listed below, is suggested.
- riding gloves
- tearproof and heat-resistant boots
- thick pants
- a padded or thick leather riding jacket.
Extensive mechanical knowledge isn’t required to ride an Indian motorcycle. However, a basic working and growing knowledge of the oil and cooling system (if applicable), air filters, light bulbs, and tire pressure is suggested.
To build some confidence, after you complete your course, practice riding your Indian motorcycle on backroads with minimal traffic or in slow, controlled parking lots with high visibility before you attempt to ride busy or technical roads.
Finally, understand your anxiety, and prepare for some tense or even anxious moments as you adjust to riding your new Indian motorcycle. Remember, your stress may be more inflated than when operating a car, especially during the first few weeks of learning.
What is a Good Indian Motorcycle for Beginners?
The Indian Scout Bobber Sixty is an excellent motorcycle for beginners because it’s basically a 5-Speed, 1,000cc version of the specialized Scout Bobber. It’s one of the lowest motorcycles Indians make, with forward foot controls for extra comfort, handling, and control while you learn.
The Scout Sixty Bobber starts at $8,999 brand new, making it the cheapest offering not only from Indian but also less expensive than most of entry-level Harley.
The Scout Bobber Sixty has all the American cruiser charm the OG Scout Sixty still has, but with its chopped fenders, retro wheelset, open seat, vintage-styled mirrors, and bars (from which it tasks its Bobber namesake) offers a loud style twist.
- The Sixty has a smaller engine for a reduced power supply that might handle better for a beginner than the full-sized Scout engine.
- The 1150cc full-sized Scout and Scout Bobber come with a six-speed transmission versus the five-speed integrated with the Sixty engine.
- The entry-level 60 cubic inches, 999cc version packs 78hp and 65 foot-pounds of torque for $2,000 cheaper than the full-sized.
- The Scout Sixty and Scout Bobber Sixty have the same great suspension and brakes as their bigger siblings.
If you plan on riding your beginner’s motorcycle on the highway, it might be worth it to splurge for the full-sized Scout or Scout Bobber, as the sixth gear and 25 extra horses handle much better when riding faster than 75 MPH.
What Type of Motorcycle is Easiest for Complete Beginners?
The most accessible type of motorcycle for a beginner to learn is a cruiser. Cruisers are oriented around comfortable riding rather than high speeds and seal-blowing engine specs.
These motorcycles provide more power than required, which gives the rider friendlier control over the motorcycle’s mechanics and maneuverability.
- The handling and steering capabilities of a small or medium-sized cruiser motorcycle are accessible for a beginner rider to acclimate to.
- The lower seat position also promotes a more ergonomic and relaxed riding position and posture and a lower center of gravity for wind resistance and core control.
And finally, cruiser motorcycles are easy to park and back up. Their accessibility makes them ideal for city commuting, country cruising, and highway touring, provided you’ve got the luggage.
Are Indian Motorcycles Comfortable?
Indian motorcycles are comfortable because of their low center of gravity and seating position. Additionally, they have subtle forward controls, over-qualified engines and industry-leading navigation. Indian Motorcycles include luggage, and stereo technologies, smooth shifting, vibration-free shaft, and gear-driven transmission concepts.
While Indian Motorcycle doesn’t have the massive dealership network as Harley-Davidson, it’s steadily growing. The company has been steadily increasing in growth and popularity since Polaris took over.
That said, Indian Motorcycles have fewer reported maintenance reliability issues than Harley, meaning that dealership technician support is mainly required for standard services.
Finally, while Harley has more aftermarket upgrade options from bike to bike, both Indian and aftermarket companies offer upgrades for Indian that are cross-utilitarian across multiple Indian lineups due to Polaris’s style of bike design.