Over the weekend, I finally bit the bullet and purchased my first motorcycle – a 2016 Indian Scout Sixty. With a price tag of less than $10,000, I am exactly the type of rider that Indian was hoping to attract with this new motorcycle: new riders who are looking for a reasonably priced cruiser to start their cycling journey.
Prior to purchasing this bike, I read dozens of reviews, and watched a ton of test-drives on YouTube. Everything that I read & watched seemed pretty positive, but my one complaint was that all of the reviews were by experienced riders, who have owned or ridden plenty of bikes before. There wasn’t a whole lot out there from the perspective of a new rider, where this bike was their first. So – in the absence of other reviews like this, I decided to create one.
To give you a bit of background about myself, I am a brand new rider who, at the time of writing, got his motorcycle license about a week and a half ago, after completing the Motorcycle Safety Course for beginner riders. During this course, I was given a Suzuki TU250X to ride, which is a small cruiser-style motorcycle. A fun little bike for sure, albeit a bit uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time. Prior to this, I had absolutely no riding experience apart from being able to ride a bicycle. The only real exposure I had to riding on a motorcycle was two occasions, many years prior, where I was a passenger. So when I say that I am a beginner rider, I really am in every sense of the word.
As a side rant – many people will probably shake their head and call me foolish for buying a brand new bike, as a beginning rider. The conventional advice is, buy an older, used bike to learn on – then, when you become comfortable on the bike, you can upgrade to something newer. While I don’t deny that is probably wise advice, for me personally, I figured I would rather just have the bike I actually want, and risk having to spend money on repairs, as opposed to blowing money up front on a bike that I didn’t want, and will probably have a hard time getting rid of (particularly if I end up laying it down or crashing it). Beyond that – I also have to say that at the end of the day, it’s just a bike. Yes, of course I want to keep it nice, and will do everything in my power to do so. But – I am not the type of person who lets the things I own, own me. If it gets scratched, or dented – does that really matter in the grand scheme of things? A bike can be replaced. It certainly is not worth letting it ruin the quality of my life.
I also feel like I should say a few more things to my credit.
1.) I live in a very rural area (a town where the population is ~2,000), so traffic is certainly nowhere near as bad as in a city.
2.) Even though I am new to cycling, at the very least, I am old enough to make wiser decisions than many riders who are in their teens or 20’s.
3.) I am, without question, a very cautious driver, who has nearly a perfect track record of good driving. No speeding tickets, no accidents, and no deer (which living in central PA, is truly a feat to be commended).
4.) I generally have very quick reaction time, and am good at thinking on my feet.
5.) I actually put into practice the skills you learn in drivers safety courses.
6.) I really have no desire for speed, thrills, or to be a dare-devil. For me, riding a motorcycle is purely about enjoying the ride at a leisurely pace.
I know many of those things probably sound disgraceful to other motorcyclists out there – but, these are the things that I am confident are going to keep me safe, and alive. So – bash me if you must – but – I am looking to be the exception to the phrase “It’s not a matter of if you’ll crash, but when.”
So, with that out of the way, let’s get into the review. I’ll start out with the good.
For starters, I have to remark on the aesthetics of the bike. Make no mistake, this motorcycle is a thing of pure beauty. Even people who are not super into motorcycles remark about how beautiful this bike is. As a professional designer, I have always been a sucker for good packaging, and attention to details, and I can genuinely say, from a professional standpoint, that Indian hit the nail on the head as far as their branding goes, and especially in their attention to detail. To put this into perspective, before I got my motorcycle, I purchased an Indian t-shirt. Even the t-shirt that I received was so remarkably well made, and detailed! The way I saw it was, if they are putting as much attention and detail into their motorcycles as they are their t-shirts – I am gonna love this bike! And that has indeed proven to be the case.
As you are riding the motorcycle, you almost feel like royalty. You get the sense that every single car and motorcycle you pass is looking at it, admiring its beauty, and your good taste. This bike is definitely out-of-the-ordinary in the looks department, in the best possible way. But, in the event that the stock motorcycle is not quite perfect for you, you will be pleased to know that they have provided a huge assortment of accessories, allowing you to customize your bike to your heart’s content.
As far as the actual ride goes, one of the things that was mentioned in nearly all of the videos and reviews that I went through was how fast & powerful the Scout is. As a beginner rider, this was slightly concerning to me, as I didn’t exactly know if my skill level was up to having a bike that could produce mass amounts of power and speed. On one hand, I knew that a little 250cc bike would be too little for me. On the other hand, a 75hp, 1000cc bike had me worried that it would be too much, as a beginner. I didn’t necessarily want something that was going to be too much muscle for me. This is ultimately why I ended up going with the Scout Sixty rather than it’s bigger brother, the Indian Scout. Now that I have it though, I am happy to report that the power has not been overwhelming for me. And I mean that in a good way. It is not a bike that has a super touchy throttle, and I have never felt like the bike was going to go out from under me. I also take comfort in the knowledge that should I need it, the power is there, and can definitely handle whatever I throw at it. As I ease into learning how to ride, I will say that the bike seems perfectly content in the lower gears as I make my way around town, yet is just as eager to respond when I have to kick it up into higher gears. It really is the best of both worlds.
I will also say just how easy it is to stay balanced. For me personally, it took a bit of getting used to having my feet out in front of me, as opposed to under me, which was how it was in my motorcycle learners course. But – now that I’ve gotten the feel for it, it feels just as natural and comfortable to me. And for being over 200 lbs. heavier than the bike I had in my motorcycle learners course, it certainly doesn’t feel that much heavier, as it is incredibly light feeling, and easy to maneuver. Before I got the bike, I had concerns about getting it in and out of my garage, as my driveway is kind of bumpy, and is at a slight incline. However – the bike is so light feeling and well-balanced, that I am able to put it in neutral and walk it out in reverse with no issues whatsoever.
I was pleased to find that the horn was nice and loud, even if the exhaust wasn’t. I can’t say that the standard exhaust is a pro or a con, because that will largely depend on your personal taste. For me, the quieter exhaust was a major pro, because I strongly dislike obnoxiously loud motorcycles. However, for some of you who prefer a super loud exhaust, this bike will probably fall a bit short for you.
The bike itself was very forgiving in terms of throttle / clutch control. If you are not used to driving a manual vehicle, getting the hang of letting off the clutch while opening the throttle can be tricky. Fortunately, the Indian Scout is very lenient, and makes it very easy to pull out, so long as you have a steady hand.
The other major pro for me was just hearing how well-made the motorcycle is, and how it is virtually maintenance free. Granted, this may have just been the dealer trying to make a sale – but as somebody who does not have much of a mechanical background, I really did not want a bike that was going to require me fine-tuning it after every ride. Some people will love that sort of thing, and prefer their bikes to allow for that. Me? I just want to get on and ride, and not worry about the mechanics of it failing on me. And from everything I’ve read so far, this bike is perfect for that.
Regarding the comfort of the bike – it’s a little tough to say at this point. A lot of reviewers have said that the bike is not super comfortable to them, however, I personally have not found it to be uncomfortable. To be fair, I have not taken the bike out for a significantly long ride yet – but – as a beginner, writing to other beginners, I don’t know that I would recommend going on exorbitantly long rides quite yet either. It should also be noted that I upgraded my bike to the brown leather seat, from the stock vinyl seat. So this may contribute to the fact that I have found the bike to be quite comfortable. What I can say is this: compared to the Suzuki that I was riding in my motorcycle learners course, the Scout is a thousand times more comfortable.
A couple of the reviews that I watched talked about the suspension being sub-par, and would probably need to be upgraded. One gentleman remarked how it bottomed out very quickly for him. To be fair, I don’t have an extensive list of bikes that I’ve ridden for comparison – but – I have found the suspension to be just fine. When I was at the dealership, the dealer showed me how to adjust the suspension to make it looser/tighter. I have a sneaking suspicion that different dealers probably adjust the suspension to different levels during assembly, according to their own expertise. Maybe I just got lucky, but I have found the suspension to be perfectly fine for me – almost to the point where I would say that going over bumps on the motorcycle are even a bit softer than in my car! And I am also on the heavier side of the spectrum, clocking in at around 250lbs.
With all of the good that I’ve discussed to this point, there are a few drawbacks that I have found. None of these things are deal-breakers to me, but I feel like they should be pointed out, in order for me to give the most honest review possible.
The biggest complaint I have so far is how stiff the clutch lever is. This may eventually subside as my hands get more accustomed to squeezing it repeatedly – but in my first few rides out, my hand would start aching after about 3 or 4 minutes. I did some researching to see if this was something that would eventually go away – and the reviews are a bit varied. Some people have said that the clutch lever may just need to be adjusted slightly to make it a bit looser. Other people have said that it has to do with your squeezing technique. And still others have said to make sure that when you are not squeezing the clutch that you are keeping the hand relaxed otherwise – as the hand cramping may be a sign of having a “death grip” on the handles. I get the sense that in my case, it’s probably a combination of these things. As I get some more miles under my belt, I will provide updates as far as this goes.
There are a few other issues that I’ve encountered as well, though admittedly, none of these things would have been deal breakers for me, if I still hadn’t made the purchase.
The turn signals are supposedly “auto-cancelling”, but it has been fairly hit-or-miss for me. Sometimes they cancel, other times, I look down and realize that they’re still flashing, long after I’ve made the turn. I’ll be honest when I say that it’s very easy to forget to turn your blinkers on, let alone remembering to turn them off – especially if you’re in the habit of your car’s auto-cancelling feature. Additionally, because the turn-signals are controlled by your left thumb, when your hand is already cramped from repeatedly using the clutch-lever, it can be somewhat of a challenge to use the turn-signals repeatedly.
The gear indicator is a handy feature that I did not have on the motorcycle that I used in the motorcycle learners course – but it only works when the clutch is fully engaged (meaning, when you aren’t squeezing it in). If you are in the habit of keeping the clutch squeezed long-after you should be in gear (as beginners tend to do), it can be irritating looking down at your console to see what gear you’re in, only to see “–” in the display. I have stalled the bike out a couple of times now, because I tried accelerating from a stop, while unknowingly in 2nd gear. Naturally, I recognize that these are mistakes that show my inexperience – but I figure if it happens to me, then it’ll happen to other beginners as well (which is why I am writing this review).
At the time of writing, I am riding around without a windshield, and a 3/4 helmet without a visor. As such, once you hit about 35mph, the wind definitely starts becoming noticeably uncomfortable. This may or may not be an issue for you, as I am sure it will vary from person to person. For me personally, I don’t particularly like having that much wind resistance pushing against me. However, I have now started being hyper-observant of other motorcyclists that I see driving around, and I see a rather large number driving around without windshields, at speeds much higher than I have been going. So – it may just be a matter of personal preference. A full-face helmet might also make a significant difference as well. So more updates to follow, as I will most likely be investing in a windshield as my first accessory.
As far as maneuvering and handling goes, I can make claims on both sides of the spectrum. On one hand, the bike does feel super light, and easy to handle, as all of the reviews say it is. On the other hand, for me personally, maneuvering and handling in tight little spaces seems exceedingly difficult. This may just be because I learned on a smaller bike, and so by comparison, the Scout seems almost like a big bike – but – at the time of writing, doing the figure-8 drill that we learned in the motorcycle learner’s course seems almost like an impossibility. Once again though, I am certain this is due more to my own inexperience. I am sure that a skilled rider would be able to pull this off with no trouble whatsoever.
The only other downsides that I can remark on are, the fact that there is no gas gauge, and the fact that the gas tank is missing the “Scout” emblem, which in my opinion, is an ever-so-slight downgrade visually. As far as the gas gauge goes, riders are left relying on tracking their mileage, and the low-fuel light. Not difficult by any means, but an inconvenience for sure.
Overall, and perhaps I am a little biased, as I have already purchased the motorcycle – but I can say without hesitation that I have absolutely no buyers remorse in buying this motorcycle. I was a bit intimidated during my first one or two rides – but I think that will be true of any new rider, regardless of the type of motorcycle they get. In almost no time at all though, I have started to feel very comfortable with the bike, to where it is no longer intimidating to take it out for a ride around town. I am eagerly anticipating getting more and more comfortable with the bike, in preparation for the beautiful Pennsylvania fall season, which is something I’ve been dreaming about for several years now.
I hope this review has been helpful for you, and helps to sway you one way or another if you are considering purchasing an Indian motorcycle. Be safe out there, and always wear your helmets! Happy riding.