A Middleweight Cruiser Comparo

When editor-at-large Ted Edwards asked me several months ago if he and his cousin/riding buddy Dave could come spend a week riding over here in the southeast with us, I of course welcomed the opportunity. Ted had been urging us to get into more multi-motorcycle reviews, so I set to work on turning their time here into a 3-way bike comparo. I reached out to my contacts at several brands, and came up with a cool assortment of middleweight cruisers to ride and review together- the brand new Harley-Davidson Nightster Special, the Indian Scout Rogue, and the Honda Rebel 1100T. These machines hold enough similarities and yet differences that I figured a 3-way ride and comparison would be quite interesting and entertaining, especially with these two clowns coming into town.

So before the guys get here and we ride, I thought I’d set it all up with some basic digits and first impressions of each bike.

The 2023 Harley-Davidson Nightster Special runs a liquid-cooled 975cc V-Twin, and is essentially the new Sportster. The Nightster runs on a 6-speed manual tranny married to a traditional H-D belt drive, and makes some 90 hp to the rear wheel. The bike’s dimensions are a 61.3 in. wheelbase, 27.1 in. seat height, and a 483 lbs. wet weight. It uses a 3.1 gal underseat tank, accessible via a left side key slot. The Nightster allegedly gets 52 mpg, 164.2 mi on a full tank. We’ll see of course. It also now uses a proximity key fob rather than a traditional ignition key.

The H-D Nightster Special smallest of the three here, at 975cc. Yet it sports lots of electronic features, found in their larger touring bikes- three ride modes, adjustable/switchable traction control and ABS, cruise control, grip warmers, Bluetooth pairing for navigation, music, phone calls, voice commands, etc. Flat bars pull the rider forward some, but the pegs/foot controls are neutral positioned. Interestingly, with the fuel tank under the seat, the Sportster-shaped faux “tank” now houses the wiring harness and some electronics. So the bike carries its weight low. H-D kitted this bike with nice accessory saddlebags, a rear turn signal relocation kit, and removable passenger backrest. Huge thanks to Frazier’s H-D for installing these. So far, I’ve found the brakes a bit mushy, but the shifting pretty solid.

I hated to see the venerable old 883 and 1200 air-cooled Sportsters disappear, especially the Iron 1200 I loved so much, but there’s much to appreciate in this all-new Sportster iteration.

The 2023 Indian Scout Rogue runs on a 1130cc liquid-cooled V-Twin, with a 6-speed manual tranny as well, but makes 100 hp also driven through a belt final drive. The Rogue’s dimensions are a 61 in. wheelbase, low 25.6 in. seat height, and a somewhat heavier 561 lb. wet weight. The Rogue holds a 3.3 gal tank and gets about 47 mpg, or about 150 mi on a full tank. The pegs and foot controls are forward set, with 10” mini-ape handlebars.

The Indian Scout Rogue (of which Joshua rode the Bobber Sixty version back in 2020) has solid shifting, that slammed low but very comfortable seat, stops on solid brakes, and gives strong acceleration in each gear, coupled with good handling, although pegs drag pretty quick when getting froggy with cornering. The 10″ mini-ape bars are actually comfortable, but I’m not too fond of the forward set pegs/controls. The Rogue has no ride modes, and very few electronic options. It reminds me of that 2019 Sportster Iron 1200 we reviewed a few years ago. Just basic and elemental. There are few luggage options for this particular Scout model, save some small swingarm-mounted leather bags Indian didn’t send with the bike. We’ll have to fashion a tailbag mount to multi-day tour it.

The 2023 Honda Rebel 1100T Bagger runs a liquid-cooled parallel twin 1083cc mill, the same as utilized in their Africa Twin interestingly, married to their DCT 6-gear automatic tranny found in the Goldwing and several other models. The Rebel makes 86 hp, sending it to the rear wheel via a chain drive. The Honda’s dimensions are as follows- a 59.8 in. wheelbase, 27.5 in. seat height, and a 524 lbs. wet weight. The Rebel holds a 3.6 gal tank and gets 46.7 mpg, and approx. 150 mi. on a full tank.

The 2023 Honda Rebel 1100T Bagger runs that smooth DCT tranny we actually looked so much in the original Rebel 1100 we sampled back in 2021, with easy to navigate ride modes, solid brakes, good acceleration, and great manners in urban environs. The bars are a bit pulled forward for shorter riders, yet with a comfortable neutral foot placement and a relatively comfortable rider triangle. There’s no adjustments with the fixed batwing fairing, and the hard bags are of moderate size for packing. The familiar electronics package is very user friendly. and easy to navigate. The Rebel 1100T is an odd/interesting amalgam of tourer using an ADV engine, with the low hooligan cruiser stance and reach.

I’ve been out getting acclimated to all three bikes over the past week, enjoying their similarities and differences. With all three parked in our driveway or in the Road Dirt garage, combined with my own motorbikes, the place looks like a mom & pop motorcycle shop around here. I like it. Not sure if the wife does, however.

Stay tuned for the official ride review writeup with many more photos and videos to accompany. This should be fun!


*Rob’s sponsored gear-

REV’IT! Davis TF Jeans

Bell Helmets Stockton Eliminator

SA1NT Leather riding gloves

Cycle World Athens


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