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Indian Scout Review – The Pillion Perspective

Indian motorcycles are easy to love, let’s face it.

And the Indian Scout motorcycle is no exception.

Glowing reviews have flowed in, as this beautiful, iconic motorcycle has been discussed from every possible angle.

Well, almost.
No-one has offered a view of the Indian Scout from the pillion seat.
Until now, that is…

The first time I saw an Indian Scout motorcycle in the flesh, I actually gasped. She was stunning. She was the distinctive red of vintage Indian Motorcycles, but was crafted with new technology, including ABS brakes.

Oh, honey, I murmured to Pat, I think we need one of these…

There was no answer.
He was already off talking to the salesman.

Turns out, this bike was so hot, there was a waiting list.
Delivery would take 6 months. At least.

Time passes slowly when you’re waiting for an Indian Scout

While we sulked and counted down the days, I found 2 things to worry about.

  1.  We hadn’t test ridden this bike.

Yes, we read every Indian Scout review we could get our hands on (which of course never mentioned the pillion experience).
But in 44 years, Pat had never bought a bike he hadn’t test ridden.
What if we hated it?

…and…

  1.  We’d ordered the pillion seat set-up on faith, too.

This seat was a cool $1,000 – and we’d never seen one in the flesh.
I’d already tangled with nightmare pillion seats which were like sitting on half a slice of day-old toast.
What if this one was terrible, too?

I’d have to shut up, and pretend everything was fine. I suck at doing that.

Good morning, sir, your Indian Scout Motorcycle is here…

When that truck full of Indian motorcycles eventually pulled up outside, Pat and I were like 5 year olds on Christmas morning. We dashed out to the driveway, where I almost hugged the poor delivery guy.

Our Indian Scout rolled down the ramp, and we grinned at her in delight. She gleamed back at us.

Indian Scout motorcycle in the house

Naturally, Pat rode her straight into the living room. She was already one of the family.
Being a brand new bike, there was the running in routine to consider. Pat did a few solo rides, and got to know her a little better. But eventually, I wore him down with my subtle habit of standing at the back door in my riding gear, looking hopeful.

Finally, I climbed aboard.
And right away, I feel a little deeper in love with this gorgeous looking bike.

What it’s like to ride pillion on an Indian Scout

The Pillion Seat

Let’s start with the most important factor first (well, as far as I’m concerned!) – the pillion seat.

Whew! What a relief.

Indian Scout motorcycle seat

The pillion seat is quite thick. It’s relatively soft. And it’s wide enough not to feel like a leather g-string.

That $1,000 investment wasn’t a waste of money.

If you’re wondering about the exact measurements, they are:

  • Width – 19 cm/7.5 inches
  • Length – 33 cm/13 inches
  • Thickness – 7 cm/3 inches.

All perfectly acceptable.

In fact, it’s a lot more comfortable than the rider’s seat! Pat needed to upgrade his own seat.

Pillion Seating Position

The pillion riding position is surprisingly comfortable, especially since the pegs are awkwardly placed.

Watch out for resting your right heel on the pipe – it’s very close to your foot.

Move your feet backwards when the rider is weaving through traffic, or parking – your feet will get tangled up with his legs.

Indian motorcyles seat

Comfort

The shocks on this bike are set at an odd, extreme angle. I wondered how that would pan out, comfort-wise. It’s a pretty mixed bag.

The bike bounces gently over a lightly uneven surface, but when you hit a larger bump, look out! The impact is – bang! – like a punch to the kidneys. We’ll have to look into that. In the meantime, we’ll stick to the smoother roads where possible.

Sound

The standard pipes weigh about 1,000 kg and make a polite throb; Pat fixed that little problem by fitting some fishtails. They look perfect on this retro-styled bike, and they’re about half the weight of the originals.

Indian Scout motorcycle with fishtails

They’ve transformed the Indian Scout’s quiet purr into a statement roar. The kind of roar that attracts unwanted attention, in fact – we spent a couple of fun afternoons in the shed on a fun little baffling project.

Speed & Handling

This bike can really move!

She overtakes huge trucks in mere seconds, with no hint of any strain. She’s faster than she looks – and that padded back rest means I don’t fall off when Pat gives her a squirt.

Good for threading through traffic, the Indian Scout is small, nimble and responsive. It makes for easy, confident trundling about town.

X Factor

An Indian Scout motorcycle is head-turningly gorgeous, and her coolness factor is way off the charts. Flying along on a re-born iconic bike like this is a real treat.

So what’s the verdict on the Indian Scout motorcycle?

The bike is not perfect, and we’ve spent more hours (and money) than we expected tinkering on it. She needs some mods, for sure (like the pipes, suspension and a better rider’s seat).

She’s not a long-distance two-up tourer. But she wasn’t designed to be.
So we won’t be taking her on any of our 4,000 km summer rides around New Zealand (there’s only about 170 km in the tank, anyway).

But for short runs (and now with our adjustments to comfort and handling) she’s hard to beat. I won’t be complaining about flying along on a beautiful roaring beast like this.

This is a bike that’s easy to love.
And she does look awesome in the living room when we’re not riding it.

I reckon our Indian Scout was worth the wait.


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37 comments

    Nicely written.I agree it’s a nice looking motocycle.

    Thanks, Effendi! Just back from doing about 600 kms on it over the last few days on a little New Zealand road trip.

    Hi Liz.
    I’m a kiwi living in Japan.
    Your web site is cool and refreshing and your writing is snappy and fun—I like it. I have a question, though it may be better answered by your man. The bike I’m riding now is totally old classic style upright position. I fell in love with the Scout when I saw one recently and I took it for a test ride. Naturally, I thought it was great…but that cruiser riding position was new to me and I couldn’t get it. So, my question is…did Pat change from a regular riding position and was there a transition he had to go through to sit with his feet way forward. What are my chances of getting to like it after two weeks?!
    One other question—do you really also having a Triumph scrambler? I have a feeling you also have another bike(s) there.

    Thanks for your kind words, Gary!
    Yep, Pat reckons you do get used to the more foot-forward riding position – he got foot boards to replace the pegs, and that gives you more leeway to move your feet back a bit to suit your preference. We’ve made lots of mods to the Indian (pipes, suspension, both seats, foot boards) but we like two-up touring and she’s not really a tourer, more a day tripper. But there’s a lot of power in there (easy to get speeding tickets)! And she is head-turningly gorgeous.
    Apart from the Indian, we are a Triumph family, for sure! We’ve been all over the country on the Scrambler, which was a little gruelling! But you know NZ, there’s a lot to see!

    […] Liz said both she and Pat just fell in love with the old school design of the Scout, so much so she wrote about it in her […]

    Hi Liz, great article, just what I was looking for. Have also been drawn in by the scout and all the good feedback out there, and if it was just for me I’d already have one in the garage, but alas, I have a wife and we love to ride together! The pillion scenario has been the only thing to give me pause as I used to have a Harley Street bob with a pillion pad and my wife found it a bit tough after a couple of hours (to be fair on rough Austrlaian roads). We also live in NZ down near Queenstown and its motorbike heaven. Would really be interested in your honest opinion as to whether the pillion set up (with suspension improvements) would be OK for 4-6 hour days cruising around. Mostly we would just do day trips or overnighters on a weekend. What are your thoughts after having the scout for a while now?

      Great to hear from you, Chris. I wouldn’t say the Scout is a big miles bike (esp with a pillion); we happily do 300-ish km/day; she’s a day tripper, not a tourer, for sure. Suspension DEFINITELY needs to be upgraded for 2 up riding; we also got better seats for both of us, and Pat has footboards, which also helped. We also changed the 800kg ugly pipes (I wrote about it here: https://www.pillioness.com/motorcycle-exhaust-into-a-purr/). The other thing is the Scout is very light so you have to pack very light so as not to add too much weight – we take one medium saddlebag. As you know, the road quality varies massively in NZ and even with the better suspension you do get a regular kick in the spine from bumps. Also I’m such a princess after having experienced our Triumph Thunderbird – the most comfy bike I’ve ever ridden on; we did 700km on that in one day with no probs.
      But the Scout is light, she’s low, she’s fast and powerful and the cool factor is off the charts. Having said that, we’ve never made so many mods to get an OK-comfort level bike for short trips! If you can score a test ride, that might also help you decide of course.

        How has the passenger seat feel after getting some miles on it now ??

          Still feels pretty good, Anthony, there’s some wear in it yet! But as I say, this is a day tripper of a bike not a long haul tourer really.

    Wow this is exactly the information I have been looking for! You answered everything I have been wondering when it comes to passenger comfort on the Scout! My Ducati is a blast to ride by myself but horrible for two people and I am looking to make a decision on a new bike for two.

    Great Review!

    Thanks for the good review. I am going to purchase the Scout or Scout 60.

    Can you provide the part number of the pillion seat as Indian offers a standard pillion or touring pillion. I don’t want to disappoint my old lady

      Thanks, Jason! I’m road tripping right now but will work on the part no. ASAP, it is definitely the bigger touring one!

        Thanks Liz. I will pay the extra $70 Canadian to keep her happy on the back. She was never that comfortable on the Vulcan 900.

          I think it’s worth it, personally; the seat we got was about double the thickness of the original. It’s still not a major road trip bike but good for day trips with lots of stretches (and it’s soooo pretty)…

    Great review Liz. Thanks for this. Just curious, why didn’t you and Pat consider the Chief Dark horse?

      Thanks, Jithin! I love the Dark Horse, I think it’s gorgeous; Pat’s not so keen. We already have a Triumph Thunderbird for touring so thought we’d better leave it at that! 🙂

    My wife has a Scout 60 and put on basanni fish tails. But removed them due to fear her bags wouldn’t fit. She may want them back. Ha ha. Here’s a little video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQlBxRlWSdc

      Wow, love the vid, Tim, thank you! Your wife’s Bassani pipes are little less ROARING than ours, we will have to re-baffle them, they’ve gone really noisy. I haven’t seen the white Scouts, very pretty, and love the fluffy sheepskin!

    Hi Liz, nice review I have the Indian Scout Sixty which is a great bike and although the smaller Scout motor 999cc is still a very quick cruiser. The Scout has had many people singing its praises and rightly so but I would like to play devils advocate and name for me what is it’s short comings.
    The biggest problem is the driver’s seat. It’s so uncomfortable, it tortures your tail bone to a point it severely limits your riding time.
    The cost of genuine Indian accessories is ridiculous. Although most of the accessories are tagged made in China they are still stupidly expensive. In saying that, they look to be high quality.
    The range of genuine and after market accessories is still very limited especially when compared to Harley Davidson’s who have a much cheaper and a wider range of accessories.
    So these are the areas Indian could do much better.

      Thanks for your input, Peter! I totally get what you’re saying – we have replaced rider and pillion seats and the suspension on the Scout (oh, and the pipes) – and it’s still a day tripper rather than a long haul bike. There are various suppliers which offer compatible (but not ‘genuine’) Indian accessories, and this at least reduces what you’re paying. We just got a new Triumph Thruxton and I had to laugh when Pat said, “There’s nothing we need to do to this bike”! WHAT!? I said – don’t we need to replace all the comfort-related elements…? 😉

    Indian motorcycle’s are heritage machines and from the way it looks, I think they’ve got it right. I haven’t ridden one, so I’m unable to comment on how well they ride. There’s certainly been a lot of positive buzz. I found this review to be interesting. Confirms what you said. https://youtu.be/346xkbwFtYo

      Thanks for this, Mike! Interesting video as well.

    Fell in love with an Indian rider once, many years ago, but that’s another story. Love the blog!

      Hehe, that involves a different kind of review, I guess, Jane! Thanks for your kind words.

    Getting the pillion passenger pack (stock) and a new slipon exhaust (maverick) tomorrow. Inspired by your website! Will report back.

      Fantastic, Bjoern! A lot also depends on the quality of the roads and the distance you’re going. Even with all our various mods (seat, suspension, pipes) I still wouldn’t call our Scout a long distance bike but for day trips she’s a lot of fun. Hope it works out great for you 🙂

    Hi Liz, we are having a difficult time trying to decide on a either a Triumph T120 Bonneville or an Indian Scout. My wife and I would be using it for shortish day trips. Any comments from a passenger point of view.

      Hi Dale, what a cool decision to have to make! Have you taken a test ride on each with your wife? Sometimes there’s a natural affinity with one bike or the other.
      We have a 2001 Bonnie and a 2017 Triumph Thruxton, and I believe the new T120 is somewhere between the two, so I can certainly compare our Triumphs with the Scout.
      With the Triumphs, the only mod we needed to make was to ensure it came with the dual seat of course, and then add a luggage rack so I know where I am re the back edge of the seat.
      With the Scout, we had to do a lot more before I stopped whining. The standard dual seat was too thin and we had to upgrade to the deluxe model. The suspension (as you’ll note) is on an odd angle and doesn’t work too well over bumps (what kind of roads will you be on? That’s a factor with the Indian but not the Triumph). So we replaced the suspension. It’s better but still bumpy. The standard pipes were also pretty heavy and sounded too much like a sewing machine so we replaced them with fishtails which are lighter, prettier and sound much better.
      There are other factors too, of course, like how beautiful the bikes are and what you prefer. We’re a pretty dyed-in-the-wool Triumph family, and I really like the understated elegance of the Triumphs. The Scout was something of a departure: she’s red, retro styled and a real head turner.
      If I had to choose on pillion comfort, I’d have to say Triumph. But the bikes offer radically different experiences, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference (and how much you want to fiddle around with Scout mods). Hope that helps!

    Thanks for the response Liz. We are test riding both tomorrow and will hopefully make a decision. I’ve ridden both solo and would be happy with either so I have left the decision up to her!

      Fantastic, Dale! Let me know which one becomes the newest family member!

    Now you just need one of your own. While I absolutely loathe hauling passengers with me, I can understand if you’re slightly afraid of being on your own. That said, if you’re willing to ride passenger, I don’t see why not. Try it out sometime if you haven’t already. Best times I’ve had with my friends and girl would be when everyone was on their own machine.

    A little addon, I totally dislike cruisers in general, but the Scout is a fun bike. Test rode it not long ago, not bad my friend. Have fun out there.

      Thanks for your input, Frosty! I reckon it’s fun no matter who’s riding! We’ll have the Scout out and about again if it ever stops raining in the New Zealand springtime!

    Hi- I was wondering how y’all you are? The passenger pegs seem like they sit pretty high for someone with longer legs (5’6” or up)

      Hi Tony, yep valid question. I am short! About 5’3″. The bike itself is very low to the ground. As the rider, Pat has floorboards which let him move his legs around more. The passenger pegs are not adjustable – another scary thing about buying the bike without a test ride – you can’t tell if it will “fit” you. Hope that helps. 🙂

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks for this review of the Scout from a pillion’s perspective! We just purchased a 2017 after riding Triumph America 2007 for the last five years. It’s a different ride for sure! I can already see what you mean about having to move my feet when he’s weaving, First impression was that it was a lot hotter, especially when idling. It’s only the first days of spring and it felt like it was kicking up a heat towards our legs. Interesting to read that you travel light on this bike, we were planning on getting the Indian saddlebags. We loved having two saddlebags on the Triumph but it was a heavier bike. Thanks again for the article, really enjoyed it!

      Glad you found it useful! Yep, we’re mostly a Triumph family, which is why the Indian was such a change for us. This is the awesome thing about bikes, everyone is different and you can tailor them to your needs – and then tailor them again if it doesn’t work the first time. Hope you have many miles of wonderful adventure on the Indian! xo

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