Indian Motorcycle aims at a particular demographic. But clad in my sand-colored, belted jacket, purpose-built denim and hiking boots, I arrived at breakfast of the Scout Rogue launch in Ventura, California – perhaps to their dismay – looking better prepared for a mountain ascent than a press ride for a cool-guy cruiser.

But despite appearances to the contrary, I was perhaps the ideal critic to evaluate the new Scout Rogue. Because until recently, I'd been in a long-term relationship with a 2016 Indian Scout — sold off last December to a deserving candidate.

The road was unusually calm along the usually cluttered Highway 33, and the scenery was as beautiful as ever. When our press group took our first turn into the hills towards Ojai, I was excited to give this buxom corridor of Los Padres National Forest a spin. My beloved Scout (whom I called "Paladin") was a trusty companion on many journeys — flying across the smooth, wet sand in San Quentin, circumnavigating the great state of Texas and zig-zagging through the feral south to Florida and back again. Would an epic ride feel the same with the Scout Rogue?

woman riding the 2022 indian scout rogue motorcycle
Barry Hathaway

I didn't expect the Scout Rogue to reawaken my interests. It's just another Scout, right? But to my surprise, the Scout Rogue wasn't a ghost from my past; it was a glimmer of the future. Call it a phoenix rising from the ashes to be something better and stronger.

What is the Indian Scout Rogue?

The Scout is Indian's take on the midsize cruiser. It's the cheapest and most approachable bike in the Indian lineup. And for me — my petite frame puts a hard limit on the weight and proportions to which I have access — it was an answer to my prayers.

When Indian introduced the Scout, its antiquated rivals were rolling relics carbureted and cooled by air. And many had been derided with labels like beginner and girlfriend (as if that's a bad thing!). But the Scout is different.

Powered by a liquid-cooled, 69 cubic inch V-twin pumping out 100 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque, the Scout offers looks, power, grace and technology that go toe-to-toe with the great road-going machines the industry had to offer at the time - many of which even dwelled in the bagger category. And it's made for the fun stuff — maneuvering twisty canyons, mobbing around town, leaving a mark on the dragstrip, or just showing off its sexy physique.

The brand-new Rogue version sports an even badder look. It's the best mix of clever, pretty and mean with a bigger 19-inch wheel, blacked-out bits, mini apes, a new fairing and sport-style seating. It won't just turn down your drink, it might punch you in the teeth for asking.

2022 indian scout rogue parked
Barry Hathaway

The Indian Scout formula didn't need much improvement

Indian resolved its main issue with the Scout for this model: a factory glitch with the kickstand meant the bike would blow over in a soft breeze if you didn't pivot the handlebars to the left. After rectifying that, the metamorphosis of the Scout model has been subtle. We've seen new colorways and accessories. Indian debuted the Bobber, an iteration of Scout with a beefed-up body and redirected power delivery aimed at the cool kids. But beyond that, Indian has stuck with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality, which I generally supported. — until now.

Riding the new Scout Rogue feels the same — but different

Maybe it's the nostalgia speaking or merely the hope for a better future, but the Scout Rogue actually felt different (and not, at the same time). Vaguely familiar but with distinctly dissimilar features, like a thinner profile Metzeler Cruisetec front tire wrapped around a plus-sized 19-inch black cast wheel, mini-ape hangers, plus optional "sport style" solo seat, adjustable piggyback rear shocks and quarter fairing.

Pairing this with the brand's tried & true liquid-cooled V-twin engine — now in all-black — and the Scout's predictable seductiveness, encountering the Rogue on the street, you might tip down your sunglasses at it when it catches your eye as you pass. Hey, I know you...

indian motorcycle
Barry Hathaway

Riding the smooth, flowing contours of the highway felt liberating. I pushed the limits of this newer model in a way I hadn’t with any other Scout. So, it seemed, did my colleagues. Possibly, it’s due to several years’ worth of miles trailing behind me. Or the enthusiastic cadre of journalists giving chase through the canyon. Or, quite conceivably, it was the larger forward wheel, slimmer rubber, comfy ergonomics and an ample 100 horsepower that brewed the perfect pleasure potion. Ultimately, my experience that day owed gratitude to a pinch of every ingredient.

Even sans the optional bells and whistles – with basic ergos and standard dual shocks – the Scout Rogue was comfortable and confidence-inspiring. Handling it through chicanes, s-curves and hairpins seemed almost effortless. Many riders in our group threw sparks and wore down rubber on the pegs, if not as a badge of honor than an indication of thrill. A hundred horses can do a lot for performance if you know how to wrangle them. And even if you don't, the smooth delivery at the throttle, firm and responsive clutch and 72 lb-ft of torque make the effortless command of this cruiser feel intuitive.

woman riding a 2022 indian scout rogue
Barry Hathaway

For a bit of fun, I would let the lead bike drift ahead on long empty stretches to see how quickly I could catch up. I'd wait a smidge past my comfort zone before braking at the twisties. I did everything that reminded me of my departed Scout, but better than we ever could have done together. Because, for all intents and purposes, the Rogue is what the older Scouts were not (quite). It's the next generation that the old generation loves to hate but is secretly jealous of. The wheel is too big. The handlebars are impractical. Why did it have to black out all of the chrome? Still no fuel gauge, huh?

Every change of the guard will come with criticisms. But the Scout Rogue offers improvements the old one didn't — or couldn't. The most impressive concept was the 5 3/4-inch Adaptive LED Headlight which claims to project light farther and "improve the overall light spread" at night. This tech also activates any of 15 individual lights depending on lean to brighten your path from any angle. And while Indian probably won't be putting turn-by-turn navigation on the baby of the family, their modest LCD screen is functional, if not always legible, teamed up with an analog tachometer and a handy-ish shift light.

front of the 2022 indian scout rogue
Barry Hathaway
2022 indian scout rogue analog tachometer
Barry Hathaway

The Scout Rogue makes for an approachable motorcycle stepping stone

I grew into many skills and had many experiences with my old Scout, and that is exactly how I grew out of it. It was a stepping stone. I'm doing things now I could not have done without it. The Scout's approachability and attractiveness allowed me to develop confidence at the handlebars faster because I didn't have to fight the anxiety of riding a more sensitive, more powerful or heavier bike. Had I been a bit less adventurous, the Scout might have been my forever bike.

The Rogue does all the same amazing things my Scout did, but just that much better. This younger, meaner, more ambitious Indian Motorcycle is still a team player. One of the best partners a rider can have. It supports you while you develop your skills and confluence. When you're at your peak, it celebrates your achievements, making you look as good as you feel. And when you need something else to speak for you, it'll step into the spotlight and do the hard work so you can slink away to find some solace.

A bike is only as good as the purposes it fulfills. While some help you tear up the dirt, others will let you ride into the sunset. And unlike many machines keenly crafted for specific applications, the Scout was designed to evoke emotion. It was meant to connect with its captain and incite passion. The Scout Rogue may not be in your life for the long haul, but it will live in your heart 'til the last beat.

two indian motorcycles parked
Barry Hathaway

The 2022 Indian Scout Rogue

Powertrain: Liquid-cooled 69-cubic-inch V-twin

Transmission: six-speed

Horsepower: 100

Torque: 72 lb-ft

Starting MSRP: $12,749