I'm an enthusiast for all styles of riding, and in the past few weeks I seized the opportunity to ride not just one, but two, mid-sized 2015 American V-twins. The best part - they both fit right off the showroom. You see, I stand at an even five feet tall, sometimes pushing five-one when wearing boots. This makes finding a bike that fits my short stature sometimes challenging.
Therefore, while the cheesy grin still permeates my face, I'm writing this to encourage other vertically challenged riders to check these models out. In similar fashion as my Ducati Scrambler Review, this article serves as a tale of my personal experience and is therefore not intended to be an objective regurgitation of the factory spec sheet.
So here it goes... The Mid-Size American V-twin Comparison
Kicking up the Side Stand
Scout - From the moment I saw the Indian Scout at the Eaglerider Rental location in Orlando, I was immediately drawn to its compact size. The shape of the tank and low slung stance are a few features that are more striking in person than on a screen. When climbing on, it felt comfortable straight away. The low 25.3 in. stitched tan leather seat cupped by cheeks nicely as I pleasantly recalled my first date with my hubby. The stock bars were swept back enough to be reachable without straining, and the low weight distribution of the chassis made picking it up off the side stand nearly effortless.
Sportster Forty-Eight - Two weeks later I found myself in Vegas visiting family. My generous brother, bless him, accepted a momentary trade-off involving my 4 year old son and his new Harley. Perhaps he was still feeling the bacon-infused Old Fashion cocktails we consumed the night before. Though I only got to ride the Forty-Eight a brief twenty-five minute ride from Dad's house in Henderson, Nevada, out to brunch at The Coffee Cup in Boulder City, it gave me a chance to gather some initial impressions.
The Harley had barely 230 miles on it and had a set of black Vance and Hines Shortshots with a Screaming Eagle intake kit. Kicking my leg over the 26 in. high black textile seat, in the coolest and most intimidating motion I could muster mind you, I realized how narrow the bike was. As I pulled the bike upright and kicked the side stand back, I noticed the bike's 562 pounds is distributed a little high and required some muscle. The handlebars were more of a tacker style, requiring a bit of a reach on my part. If I was just a smidge taller, or a primate, this wouldn't have been an issue.
Mean Mugging Stop Lights
Scout - I got plenty of practice doing this up and down Daytona during the pre-game follies of Biketoberfest, which was about to kick off the day I left. Cruising from light to light and around city blocks, the Scout offered a smooth and maneuverable ride. It only had two little quirks. First was the stiff feel of the clutch, which took a while to get used to. Next was how quiet stock exhaust was. With my best
murder face, I did my best to look tough riding next to the other bikes rumbling next to me. Not a huge deal, it was a rental after all.
On a high note, the suspension on the Scout soaked up the driveway transitions and speed bumps like a champ. It even saved me from a few surprise bumps when I was admittedly trying to take a selfie while going down a dirt road. Ah what we do for our Instagram feed. Not the smartest thing I've done, but at least it illustrates my point.
Sportster Forty-Eight - The suspension on the Sportster is stiff and took me by surprise. My kidneys weren't bleeding, but I did find myself increasingly conscious of the lines I chose through parking lots. One nice feature of the Forty-Eight was the responsive clutch engagement. The lever required very little release before the bike wanted to take off, which is a preference of mine due to having petite hands.
Scout - During the one-day rental, I was thankfully able to up over 300 miles on the Scout. Since most of the roads around Central Florida were long, flat highways and backroads, I was left with a strong impression in this is the category. This is actually where the Scout really shines for someone of my size, and probably even for those a little taller. The compact cruiser probably had the most ergonomically inviting features I've experienced during a long ride. The Scout's 69 cubic inch 6-speed engine loved cruising at 75 MPH. The only complaint I had was that the windshield installed on the rental had the tendency to push the front end around when in heavy wind, and a few trucks caused white knuckles. But that seat though, I could have been tucked in it for another couple hundred miles easy.
Sportster Forty-Eight - The five-speed, 73.4 cubic inch engine in the Forty-Eight also performed well on the highway, and pulled away from traffic with ease. Though I didn't get to put more than a tank full of gas through the trip, but I did notice how small the tank was. This bike gives you an excuse to stop and check your social feed every hour or so as its capacity mirrors most off-road bikes with its 2.1 gallon limit.
Conclusion - Either of these bikes are a logical choice for smaller riders, and both would be most welcome in my personal garage. The history of the Indian Scout is iconic, originally being introduced back in 1920. Though the current model is technologically a completely different beast than the original, it still has plenty of style ques that capture is heritage and make it unique. Overall the Scout is a stylish V-twin that will allow you to cover some serious miles in comfort, striking a pleasant balance between form and function. The downside, it was quiet and tame when it came to sound and acceleration.
The Harley Davidson Forty-Eight is one of the most unique and recognizable models from the Sportster lineup. Admittedly, the particular bike I rode did have extra grunt due to the aftermarket exhaust and intake kit, so I can't say what the stock bike sounded like. With that acknowledgement, I confess that I felt like a total badass when riding my brother's Forty-Eight. When we got to Boulder City and other bikes were out, I remember brow-beating a Honda Shadow. I have no idea where that came from, that's not like me at all. So don't get me wrong, I am a lover of Japanese bikes, and have owned several. Maybe I just got caught up in the moment. Who knew that cruising into a group of bikes with a Harley turned me into a complete hard ass - which is funny if you've ever seen me in person! I'm like a buck-ten, blonde, with no visible tattoos. I even still get carded!
Bottom line, these bikes are the yin and yang of the middle-weight standard V-twins. Both kick ass, so pick your poison and go cruise!
Written by: Kandy Longstreet