Justin bought himself an Indian Scout and it changed his views on cruisers.
Life altering decisions come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you're getting married or planning to procreate, or perhaps you have a job offer that will relocate your life and augment your formerly associated style. My “life moving” moment, however, came in the way of a midsize cruiser. To be specific, an Indian Red-clad 2016 Indian Scout with overpriced leather saddle bags, a small metal tail rack, and a windscreen. All of these accessories are, of course, OEM and installed upon purchase.
To clarify, I'm relatively new to cruisers. Before the Scout I had never owned one, never wanted to own one, and generally poked fun at those that did. I came out of the ADV industry and carved my teeth in the dirt alongside good ol’ boys. For a long while, I was the marketing director for a rather well known German accessories manufacturer and spent my weekends on a dual-sport. I entered the motorcycle journalism racket by way of Baja and a month-long ride with my father and fiancé. While I haven’t cut ties with the off-roading world completely, I see motorcycling a little, well, differently now. It was 6,000 miles aboard the Indian Scout that changed my perspective.
You know about this bike. You've probably read a review, seen it on the cover of something, or watched a few short films on YouTube. While the world is becoming familiar with Indian’s entry-level, feet-forward, fun machine, I am already an old hand. In March of last year, Kyra and I rode a pair of Scouts from California to Key West. What we learned along the way was not just how vast and wide and diverse this Great Nation of ours is, but also how much we needed a motorcycle like this to see it. Something that we could load with luggage, fill with fuel, and disappear down the road indefinitely. A mid-size cruiser though? Wouldn't we enjoy the American highways and byways that much more aboard, say, an Indian Chieftain or a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide? No. No? No, and let me tell you why.
Fun is a funny thing. A subjective thing. Some people find it in binge watching the latest season of popular Netflix show X. Others equate spending time with friends and family to be fun, even fulfilling. Many people spend their Sundays sitting in front of the flat-screen – cheering and hollering and groaning over the athletic achievements of others. We, however, find fun in the form of time and distance. The former, as Riff Raff tells us, is fleeting and the latter can be measured in a variety of ways.
For my argument, let's assume that a 100-mile weekend ride is not something we strive for. Instead, Kyra and I opt for multi-week marathon rides from place to place, packing as light as possible and seeing as much as we can in the time allotted. Take our recent circumnavigation of England for example: 25 days spent circling an island which, to quote a local friend, "most Englishmen don't see much of." Comfort was not crucial on this trip. Hell, we rode Royal Enfields! What was, and is, important is the ability to see new things, again and again, to make the adventure last, and to make sure the fun never ends. That brings me back to my bike.
READ MORE: 2016 Indian Scout Sixty – Ride Review
The Indian Scout is, like most midsize cruisers, relatively affordable as cruisers go. It provides ample power, a semi comfortable riding position, and most importantly, connection to a community that I would have balked at prior to spending so much time on one myself. In our country, the Indian motorbike is an object that nearly everyone is familiar with, however far removed. You stop in a small town, and the gas station attendant tells you about his uncle's old Indian. You grab tacos in Dallas, and an old iron worker goes on about the bike – how much he'd like one and how beautiful the big ones are, in his opinion. When you park the Scout in front of a coffee shop, you see people doing hot laps around them or even snapping photos. That's how we met a man named Keith in Gettysburg, PA, who himself owns an Indian and was taking the aforementioned photo with a vintage Roliflex camera (I'm still waiting to see that shot, Keith, so if you're reading this, pony up!). My point is that the Scout is more than a motorcycle. It opens doors, sparks conversations, and introduces you to things you'd otherwise overlook. I'm not here to drone on about the bike or the brand, though. What I want to touch on is why a midsize cruiser can be your "go anywhere, go often" bike.
What we've learned these last few years of touring is that you really don’t need much stuff to be comfortable. We pack just enough gear to keep us warm and dry when the world is doing its damnedest to make us cold and wet. We cycle through shirts – black, always – and keep the little things to a minimum. You'd be amazed at what you can live without! The Scout, with its modest saddle bag setup and solo tail rack installed, allows us each one roll-top duffle bag, a waterproof messenger bag for laptops and camera gear, and a few other items – tools, gym clothes, spare gloves, small parts, cables, etc. – essential to spending 20 or 30-plus days on the road.
What the bike lacks in the luggage capacity it makes up for with character, looks, ease of use, and agility – at least as far as we're concerned. But, and this is a big but, (Everyone I know has a big but. Come on Justin, let's talk about your big but. - JM) the bike makes the miles just melt away. Really. The small windscreen deflect just enough of the elements to keep us warm and dry while still connected to the surrounding environment. The heat from the 1200cc power plant beneath our butts keeps us toasty when the weather turns cold. Frequent fuel stops allow us the chance to stretch, snatch a kiss, and to snag a cup of garbage gas station coffee. See, that's what this is all about – The travel and experiences.
Maybe we're mildly masochistic. Maybe we enjoy the sore bones and bent backs. On the other hand, maybe we're just the product of a generation looking to experience more and own less. I guess we'd rather collect sights and sounds instead of salt and pepper shakers and sports cards. Yes, we could accomplish this same feat on an FZ-07 or something similar. We love the look, we love the sound, we love the speed and, perhaps most importantly, we love how connected we've become with the Scouts, though. To a brand? To the bike? No. To the ride. To each other. To the idea that our grandchildren might relive this a little while poring over photographs and listening to my grouchy ass tell them tales.
I suppose this article really has nothing to do with which bike we're riding or what size it is. It's more about how a bike this size can change you, your perspective, your reach in the world. How it’s altered our lives, and about our ability to continue down that road, into the distance, indefinitely.