Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom Vs Indian Scout Sixty: Comparison Review
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The Indian Scout Sixty packs a punch but does the Harley 1200 Custom have the upper edge?
Indian or Harley? That is a question that has flummoxed the well-versed biker who is out looking out for his second, maybe third set of wheels. This question seems to be more relevant now, with the Indian getting more accessible in the form of the Scout Sixty. Interestingly though, it is not the Harley Iron 883 that the little Red faces heat from if you factor in the asking price. It is the 1200 Custom. Logically the Harley sportster should be your pick, owing to the ‘bigger is better’ mantra but is it as easy as it seems? The only way is to get this two together and let them duke it out in a thorough test. Which is exactly what we did.
It’s all about the looks
Cruisers have this dubious advantage of their design not being constrained by something as trivial as aerodynamics and weight allowing designers free rein. And when it comes to cruisers, Indian (the bikes) have always managed to look a cut above the rest. Ditching chrome flash for authentic old-school lines give the bikes a unique charismatic appeal. My personal favourite has been the Indian Scout which is testament of the fact that you don't need full-size cruisers to amp up the appeal. I am glad that then, that the Scout Sixty, despite being a smaller version of the Scout carries the same dimensions and DNA with even less chrome trim. The low-slung cruiser has a relaxed appeal that very few in the cruiser spectrum can emulate. Attention to detail is top notch from the machined engine covers to the vintage looking speedo dial. Well, the switchgear does look out of place on a Rs 12 lakh bike and for that price, they might as well throw in a headstock cover over the headlamp to conceal the messy wiring and a rear seat (a Rs 20,000 option).
The Harley Davidson 1200 Custom, on the other hand, comes with enough bling to get chrome lovers hot under the collar. The 60’s Sportster styling gives the bike a taller stance while the large 1200cc V-twin stands as a major element of the design as does the unique Porsche inspired ‘Fuchs’ wheels. Despite the over-the-top usage of chrome, the 1200 Custom cuts a handsome silhouette though the Scout Sixty edges it out with its vintage coolness. Where the Harley claws back is in fit and finish levels with its switchgear exuding a rich, tactile feel. Both bikes get fat front tyres which enhance the beefy look.
The adage ‘Bigger is better’ seems to have been made keeping in mind the engine displacement though in terms of performance, it isn't always the case. Sheer numbers do not do justice to the way the power is delivered or the exhilaration that ensues. In that aspect both bikes are different in the way they put their power down. Lets crunch numbers first.
The 1000cc V-twin on the Scout sixty is rated for 78PS and makes 88.8Nm of torque at a high-for a V-twin 5800rpm. The Harley Custom’s 1202cc V-twin then makes a relatively modest 68Ps but makes 96Nm at 4250rpm. Factor in the Indian’s 252kg and the Harley’s 268kg kerb weight and you have nearly identical torque-to-weight ratio of 353Nm per ton and 358Nm per ton respectively. The difference here is the gearing. The Harley’s 5-speed gearbox has a shorter gearing than the Indian’s 5-speed unit. That and the 7Nm torque advantage has the Harley sprint off the line quicker.
Facts aside, it’s the way the two ride that sets them apart. And that begins with the riding position, Shorter riders will appreciate the Scout Sixty’s 643mm seat height but will not appreciate the reach to the handlebar and the footpegs. I am 5 feet 8 inches tall and I found them to be quite a stretch. The Harley has better reach for the handlebar and foot pegs though the seat is a tad high at 725mm. The Scout Sixty is a smooth performer with a refined and linear power delivery throughout with most of the power concentrated at the higher reaches of the powerband. You really have to wind the throttle up to extract max performance here.
The 1200 Custom then is all about usable torque. You feel the torque surge coming in post 2500rpm and it stays strong till 5500rpm. Despite weighing more, the Harley will literally run away from the Indian from stop lights. Roll on figures too are better on the Harley so overtaking at high speeds will be quicker and safer on the hog and the heady gush of torque makes it more fun to ride. In this case displacement seems to trump over everything else.
A cruiser is meant to take the rider long distances in utter comfort but let's not forget that most of these bruisers will spend a significant amount of their time dawdling through city traffic. Both bikes are evenly matched here. The Scout Sixty scores on ease of riding thanks to its relaxed motor and low seating position but loses out on heavy clutch feel and large turning radius. The 1200 Custom has a lighter and more feelsome clutch with a more upright seating position but the short gearing can feel a bit jittery at crawling speeds. It also has a clunky gearbox to the Scout’s refined unit. The rubber mounted motor too is no match for the Indian’s refined unit but then again vibrations are a charm of this torque-rich motor. It is more fuel efficient of the two though and with the bigger fuel tank, has a larger range than the Scout.
Out on the highway, the Scout Sixty exhibits better damping properties but the rear tends to bottom out quite easily. The 1200 has a stiffer rear damper that transmits shocks directly to your spine, In terms of ride quality, it is the Scout that takes the win.
The whole point of cruising is travelling in as straight a line as possible and both excel at that though they are game for a bit of scraping pegs through corners (or exhaust in the case of the Indian) The Scout Sixty grips well but has a tendency to run wide while cornering, You really have to be involved and move your bodyweight around aboard the Indian. The 1200 Custom feels like a natural in the twisties and surprised us with its agile front end.The only limiting factor is the momentum this heavy bike carries into corners but it allows you to correct a line mid corner. While the Indian gets ABS, braking feel could be better and the Harleys brakes felt superior in terms of feel and bike despite the lack of ABS. Of the two, it is the 1200 Custom that inspires the most confidence and us the most engaging to ride.
The great election
So we have two strong candidates here, both of which have their set of strengths and weaknesses. It is a tough call with the Indian scoring highly on refinement, ride comfort and ABS while the Harley scores on performance, dynamics and overall rider engagement. The ultimate deciding factor boils down to the price and at Rs 9.29 lakh over the Indian Scout Sixty’s Rs 11.99 lakh asking price, the Harley 1200 Custom is too sweet a deal to let go. And here is the kicker. The 2017 Harley Davidson 1200 Custom comes with ABS and that just cements the Harley as our pick of the duo.