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Discussion Starter #1
Straight to the point:
Do I think the Scout makes a great touring bike for one? Yes
Do I think the Scout makes for a great touring bike for two? No… Well maybe with some caveats. Read on.

I recently bought a 2017 Indian Scout. One of the bikes I have always dreamed of. As a single person bike, I love it. Great pickup, handling and the looks!

My partner loves to ride pillion but had until recently only done short day trips around Sydney and the surrounding regions. We always planned on doing longer trips and last week we finally put the bike to the test on a six-day regional trip around New South Wales (NSW) Australia. It was supposed to be a four-day trip, but more on that later. The big question we had before the trip was whether the Scout was a bike that could handle two-up touring comfortably.

We compiled everything from distances, rest break times, fuel usage and more, as we travelled around.
You can see it all on this spreadsheet
And here is a map with the overview of the whole trip

Some of the high level details:
Trip length: 6 days
Total distance ridden: 2220km (1380 miles)
Total riding time: 28hrs 19mins
Total fuel used: 96.26 litres (25.95 gallons)
Bugs who couldn’t get enough of me: 316,226

Bike: Indian Scout 2017, standard seat.
Extras: Highway Bars, Pillion Seat, Indian Quick Release Sissy Bar, Indian Saddlebags
Me (B): 6’2” male, 90kg (198 pounds)
Pillion (F): 5’9” female, 60kg (132 pounds)

Initial setup thoughts:
The saddlebags look great! Do they hold much? Not really. I have my full review of the saddlebags coming soon.


Here is what we have to say about the Scout pillion touring experience:

Day 1: 561km (349 miles), 6hrs 59mins riding time
Map Link

This was our biggest day in terms of distance and a good indication of what we were in for. This part also had some of the most scenic and fun roads to ride - Putty Way, Thunderbolt Highway, and more. Unfortunately some of the surfaces were pothole parties, leading to a more concentrated ride. They also helped show us what the Indian Standard Shock Absorbers can handle - that is a bit of a rough ride especially for the pillion. Thanks to Google Maps, the final 35km of our trip went through a national park that was all gravel. Not really fun on the scout (or any road bike no doubt). We managed to make it averaging about 20km/h without any falls.

Soreness levels:
B: feeling pretty good, but can feel a little strain in my lower back.
F: saddle-sore


Day 2: 387km (240 miles), 5hrs 1min riding time
Map Link

Road conditions were pretty good for the most part, with stretches of bumpy highways. We did a few stops in the morning but by lunchtime, F was really feeling the pain. That coupled with the heat led us to reevaluate what we could achieve with the trip. We settled on stopping a lot shorter than had initially planned, and to extend the trip by a day to give us more recovery time. We figured that the maximum we could go at any one time was an hour tops before the pain was too much for F. At the end of the day, we found a sports store and F bought some padded bike pants to wear under her jeans.

Soreness levels:
B: Not bad, one again just a little sore in the lower back.
F: Mildly wrecked. Mostly due to a sore tailbone caused by the rigidness of the shocks and bumps on the roads.


Day 3: 351km (218 miles), 5hrs 21mins
Map Link

Another day where the road conditions were pretty good, until we entered the opal mining town of Grawin/Glengarry. The whole town is dirt roads so it took a lot longer to get around here averaging about 15km/h. Once again, the Scout is not made for these conditions so more care was taken. Some of the locals were impressed we made it to the Sheepyard Inn (about 12km into town) on the bike, and told of a guy and pillion on a Hraley who came off 5 times going down that road. The bike pants definitely made an improvement in the comfort for F.

Soreness levels:

B: Good, though a little rattled from the dirt roads.
F: Better in the bike shorts, still copping the brunt of the bumps. Happy we made a lot of regular (beer) stops.


Day 4: 338km (210 miles), 3hrs 30mins
Map Link

Past the halfway point now, we started late and headed back via some decent highways, not too many bumps and potholes, though rain had started to form and we copped just a light sprinkling (we seemed to have been chasing the storm as each town we got to said it had just bucketed down there). The highway bars were proving their worth by allowing me to stretch out the legs on a lot of the trip. The windshield would be nice as today was bug central on my jacket and helmet!

Soreness levels:
B: Good. Could have done a few hundred more km if had to.
F: Not bad, not great. Happy we made a lot of regular (beer) stops


Day 5: 390km (210 miles), 4hrs 46mins riding time
Map Link

Some nice windy roads through the Warrumbungle National Park with fairly good conditions. We stopped for a while at an emu farm, and I asked about petrol at the next town over. I was informed that the petrol station in the next town over had shut down last year due to the droughts, so would either need to make the following town (60km away) or backtrack 50km to the previous town for petrol. We decided to try to make it to the next town, with the fuel light coming on as soon as we left the farm (at 178km). It was pretty much highway and 110km/h the whole way but about 10km from the town, the Scout said she’d drunk it all (at 228km). Conveniently, we rolled a few hundred metres into a rest stop. I thumbed a ride to the town, filled up a container (only 5 litres) then got a lift back to F who waited with the bike. So at an average of 100km/h, when the light goes on, I got pretty much 50km until the tank dried.
We decided at lunch that we would push the trip out another day to make it a little more relaxing and less stressful since we would need to then ride all afternoon and into the night to make it home.

Soreness levels:
B: Starting to wear a little.
F: Tired. Regular stops helped but glad to get into the hotel.


Day 6: 202km (125 miles), 2hrs 42mins riding time
Map Link

Final day and not too far from home. We took it slowly and stopped though some of the wineries in the region. Road conditions were fair and the scenery was picturesque. The regular stopping and shorter distances made it probably the best day of the trip from a “we need to pull over now cause my ass is killing me” point of view.

Soreness levels:
B: Pretty good today, but glad it was the last day
F: Not too sore. Probably numbed by the last five days riding.


General thoughts:
  1. We love the bike. It is fun, punchy and great to ride
  2. The bike is a head turner. We had a woman come up to us and say she doesn’t like bikes or know anything about bikes, but that it was a nice bike.
  3. The bike is NOT a touring bike (which we already knew). However with the right planning we could see ourselves doing another trip of similar distances in the future.
  4. The maximum we want to ride is an hour per section. This is kinda nice as it forced us to stop in some smaller towns that were quite charming which we otherwise wouldn’t have.
  5. Padded bike pants are essential for the pillion (on the standard seat) for such trips. F planned on buying a padded seat cover but never got around to it before the trip, is definitely looking into that upgrade for the next multi-day trip.

Other Notes:

Some costing factors (In AUD. For USD take about a third off).
I bought the bike for $14,995
Added the sissy bar $1,060
Added the saddlebags $1,500

For next time would want to add:
Quick Release windshield: $670
Riders backrest: $720
Luggage rack: $310
Better rear shocks: $1,360
Pillion seat cover or pad: ~$150

So to get it close to a comfortable bike for touring, you’d need to spend over $20,500.
But is it worth trying to make it into something it isn’t?

Final thoughts on touring with a pillion

Prior to the Scout, I was also looking at the Triumph Thunderbird which you can pick up for around $15,000 with all the above mentioned extras. The Indian touring range such as the Springfield just goes up another price range.

If I was to recommend a bike that was to be used prominently for touring, I’d say the Thunderbird (or bigger Indian bikes if you can afford them) would be a better choice especially for the pillion.

If you want something to be able to tour on, but also navigate city streets with ease and turn heads wherever you go, then the Scout is a fantastic choice. If it is only a single rider, then it’s a no brainer. If your pillions comfort is important (which it should be), then you just need to make more regular stops and prepare a little more.

Thanks for reading and I hope it helps some other Scout owners or potential Scout owners decide if it is a bike they want to tour with a pillion.

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