2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster vs. 2022 Indian Scout: Cruiser Duel

2022 Indian Scout and 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster comparison article highlights:

  • Besides being their respective brand’s entry-level models, the 2022 Indian Scout and Harley-Davidson Nightster have several design similarities
  • The lighter Nightster has more standard features and better handling than the more expensive Scout
  • The Scout has more horsepower, a few more premium touches, and a more retro-heavy design, though

When I was a kid, the only cruiser motorcycles I saw dripped with chrome, flashed with metal flake and bellowed from loud pipes. But as times, tastes, and laws have changed, so too have even these heritage-heavy machines, including the American ones. Look no further than the 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster, the new entry-level Sportster. Yet as different as it is from the old Iron models, it still faces a familiar foe: the 2022 Indian Scout. And having ridden both, I can say that while they’re not the cruisers from my youth, one feels more modern.

How do the 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster and 2022 Indian Scout compare on paper?

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster2022 Indian Scout
Engine975cc liquid-cooled V-twin1133cc liquid-cooled V-twin
Horsepower90 hp100 hp
Torque70 lb-ft72 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed manual with a slipper-assist clutchSix-speed manual
Front suspension and travel41mm Showa Dual Bending Valve fork; 4.5”41mm fork; 4.7”
Rear suspension and travelTwin preload-adjustable shocks; 3.0”Twin preload-adjustable shocks; 3.0” (Scout), 2.0” (Scout Bobber, Rogue)
Seat height27.8″25.6″
Curb weight481 lbs545-567 lbs

Just two years ago, the Indian Scout and the smaller-capacity Scout Sixty seemed years ahead of the Harley-Davidson Sportster family. But last year’s Sportster S ushered in a new era both for the iconic cruiser lineup and Harley overall. And with the 2022 Nightster, Harley-Davidson’s entry-level model is at least on equal footing with the Scout.

Firstly, like the 2022 Indian Scout, the Harley-Davidson Nightster’s V-twin is a stressed member of its frame. Furthermore, that ‘Revolution 975T’ V-twin is a high-revving, liquid-cooled engine, again, like the Scout’s engine. In addition, as the above table shows, these cruisers have near-identical suspension specs.

However, as you peer closer, the differences stand out. For example, while the Scout has an aluminum frame, the Nightster’s frame contains steel and aluminum. Also, the Harley has a shallower rake and longer trail but a slightly shorter wheelbase. It’s significantly narrower than the 2022 Indian Scout, too. Plus, the Nightster’s front wheel is even narrower than the one on the 2022 Scout Rogue.

But the biggest on-paper differences come down to technology.

What kinds of features do these entry-level American cruisers offer?

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The Indian Scout’s equipment list hasn’t changed much since I rode the Scout Bobber last year. Apart from adding the Rogue model with its narrow front wheel, ape-hanger handlebars, and mini-fairing, Indian’s cheapest bike enters 2022 unchanged. Even ABS is still optional. However, you do get a standard USB charging port.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster is a technological powerhouse, both compared to the air-cooled Sportsters and the Scout. Not only is ABS standard, but it’s accompanied by traction control and rear-wheel slip control. In addition, the Nightster has multiple riding modes, all-LED lighting, and tire-pressure monitoring. And let’s not forget the slipper-assist clutch. But like the Indian Scout, it only has one gauge, though both feature adjustable LCDs.

How much is a 2022 Indian Scout or 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster?

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Since the 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster has more standard features, you’d likely expect it to cost more than the 2022 Indian Scout. And you’d be correct. However, the difference isn’t as much as you might expect.

In black, the 2022 Nightster starts at $13,499; red and gray cost $400 more. Meanwhile, here’s how the 2022 Indian Scout models’ costs break down:

  • Scout:
    • Without ABS: $13,249
    • With ABS: $14,149-$15,649
  • Bobber:
    • Without ABS: $12,249
    • With ABS: $13,149-$14,649
  • Bobber Twenty:
    • Without ABS: $13,249
    • With ABS: $14,149-$14,649
  • Rogue:
    • Without ABS: $12,749
    • With ABS: $13,649-$14,649

Admittedly, the 2022 Indian Scout offers more color options than the Nightster, both metallic and matte. Once you add ABS, though, all the Scouts except the Bobber become more expensive than the Harley. So, from a pure features perspective, the Nightster is a better value for money. However, while my Harley tester had some cheap-feeling areas, the Scout Bobber’s build quality and extra metal components arguably justified its higher price and curb weight.

But enough on-paper dueling—what are these cruisers like to ride?

The Scout has horsepower and vintage vibes, but the Nightster is a truly sporty Sportster

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When I rode the Indian Scout Bobber last year, I walked away converted to the cruiser fandom. And the 2022 version, along with the Rogue and regular Indian Scout, have the same general strengths. Besides their classic-inspired looks which make some parts of the Nightster look cluttered, these bikes have mellow-sounding engines with high rev ceilings and plenty of low-end torque. Plus, they pack smooth-shifting transmissions and communicative brakes.

However, those strengths aren’t limited to the Scout anymore, though. Unlike the old Iron Sportsters, the Harley-Davidson Nightster likes to rev. Far from running out of breath, the Revolution 975T sounds and responds better the more you push it. Yet around town, it’s just as genteel as Indian’s mill. And it’s connected to a transmission that’s just as satisfying to shift as the Scout’s is. But thanks to that standard slipper-assist clutch, the Nightster is even more forgiving to row.

Where these cruisers really differentiate themselves, though, is on twisting, imperfect roads. The Scout Bobber can take corners but in a substantial, rhinoceros-trying-to-do-ballet way. Having a narrower front wheel helps the Scout Rogue in that regard, Cycle World reports. However, it’s still stymied by limited suspension travel and soft shocks, though the $849 accessory shocks fix both issues. And even the Rogue can’t lean over as much as the Nightster.

As for the Nightster, let me put it this way. Even with its fatter front tire and bigger engine, the Sportster S is still more agile than the 2022 Indian Scout, not to mention lighter. And the lighter-still Nightster is even easier to guide around bends. Compared to the Scout, it’s almost a sportbike with how easily it turns and leans into corners. Plus, because the Nightster’s seat is comfier than the Scout Bobber’s throne, you can explore those twisties for longer periods.

The 2022 Indian Scout might turn more heads, but the 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster can turn more corners.

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster vs. 2022 Indian Scout: Which American cruiser motorcycle should you buy?

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Cruisers have always been about emotion as much as logic, and it’s no different with the 2022 Indian Scout and Harley-Davidson Nightster. Choosing between them, therefore, depends on what you want out of these V-twin machines.

If you prefer old-school styling and simplicity, plus a bit more metal and color, the Scout should be more your speed. And you can save a bit by not getting ABS, though that does mean only getting black paint. If you want something livelier, though, and with more safety equipment, the Nightster is ready to carve the road with you. It truly does live up to the ‘sport’ part of the Sportster name.

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