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Scout’s Honour

Text as seen in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Canadian Biker magazine.

The decision to sell my 2010 Victory Vegas 8-Ball was one I did not take lightly. Three grandsons in three years, along with starting a Master’s program, left me strapped for time and money (a graduate degree is no cheap endeavour). It made head-sense to sell the Vegas so someone else could enjoy it, and I could fund my degree, but my heart felt this was nonsense.

The period of time not owning a bike was challenging. It felt like I lost a piece of myself and definitely noticeable was the loss of an outlet for de-stressing.

After my Vegas sold I thought back to a summer trip my family took to Alberta, and a stop to an Indian Motorcycle dealer where I fell in love at first sight with a “Wildfire Red” Scout. Since then I have met three other women who feel like I do about the Indian Scout. I suspect there are many more.

Sealing the deal was when my daughter Emma sat on the bike and was able to have her feet flat on the ground (she was then 15 and briefly the same height as me at four-foot-eleven). I was in no position then to buy it, but I loved the colour of the Scout a sparkly orangey-red I dubbed ‘Bodie Orange’ after my grandson whose favourite colour is orange.

When we returned from our trip, I emailed CB editor John Campbell about the Scout, which he advised would be a purchase I wouldn’t regret. Smart guy.

Naturally I was excited to tell John when I eventually did purchase my 2016 Indian Scout (in “Wildfire Red”) and it was he who casually mentioned he knew of another woman, Paige Fahie of Victoria, BC, who had also chosen the Indian Scout option. Paige is a Victoria-based tattoo artist who was featured in the two-page ‘Gratuitous Action’ photo file spread in the January 2017 issue—Paige had recently tattooed John with a loving tribute to his late wife Carol.

Of course I was eager to speak to Paige about her experience with a model that now seems (from an anecdotal perspective anyway) like an increasingly common denominator between women riders from varying walks of life. John arranged for us to meet.

An incredibly talented artist, Paige started riding recently, although she knew from a young age, wedged between her mom and step-dad on his 1982 Harley-Davidson Low Rider, that one day she would have her own bike. Those ‘family’ rides, along with her dad being a motorcycle enthusiast made an impression on her.

Paige relates how her first motorcycle was a hand-me-down requiring a lot of “elbow grease,” and with an annoying tendency to spew out oil. While she felt the Scout “looked pretty sweet”, when it came to the point Paige was ready to invest in a new bike, the Scout wasn’t the only option, as she checked out a few Harleys and the Victory Octane. The Scout did win out in the end because “it spoke to me” says Paige who purchased a 2016 Thunder Black Scout straight out of the crate.

In the year she has owned the Scout, Paige has put on the miles, not only as a daily driver to work in downtown Victoria, but highway miles as well, riding around Vancouver Island, along with a tour to the tip of California. There was also a trip this past summer to Mt. Adams, Washington to attend ‘The Dream Roll’ ladies-only motorcycle camping weekend, where women of all ages and interests gathered to take in various events including, skateboarding, meditation, and dancing—DJ and all.

Despite its cruiser classification and 1133cc, Paige finds her Scout “handles like a dream” with a large bike feel to it. Adding a custom sissy bar, Paige has been able to load her bike up for camping trips with her significant other who rides a café racer-styled Triumph Bonneville.

Other changes to the Scout include a reduced reach seat, and aftermarket pipes. We agreed the Scout has a near perfect overall length and seat height, but we both note the handlebars could be a little less of a stretch. Interestingly, Paige said the reach issue, was addressed by another female Scout rider she knows, Candice Peterson, who swapped out the factory handlebars for mini ape hangers, a trade she has not regretted.

Paige put me in touch with Candice, who had no doubts she would one day own an Indian motorcycle. She remembers that her uncle had Indian motorcycles and it was this early exposure that fostered a love of the iconic brand, says Candice for whom the vintage look of the Scout appeals.

A rider for four years now, Candice started out with a Yamaha V-Star, then moved to a Kawasaki Vulcan 900, which she found clunky and not a good fit. This experience led her to a “What am I doing, just get an Indian” moment and she hasn’t looked back since ordering her 2016 Scout fresh from the factory. Not finding the stock pipes flavourful enough, she quickly replaced them with the mini apes and also added saddlebags.

Like Paige, Candice also uses her Scout to get to work at a Victoria-area hospital where she is a Registered Nurse. The 10-minute ride home from work often turns into an hour-long outing, for “wind therapy,” she admits. Candice works in a field of health care that is demanding and complex—even by RN standards—so riding brings an “instant smile,” along with some peaceful time in which she does her best thinking she says.

The Scout has also provided the opportunity for Candice, a single parent, to bond with her son Nick who rides an Indian Chieftain. Her hope is to get daughter Emily riding too. Having been a single parent at the age of 17 and through my first university degree, I completely related to Candice’s desire to put off riding as she worked through her nursing degree, and raised her children. But there comes a point we are able to carve out “me time” and for both Candice and I that included the adventure of learning to ride.

Craving a new adventure Calgary-area Scout rider Anita Wolf says she was prompted by her two sons, Theo and Hudson, who both wanted to pursue a motorcycle endorsement, much to their mother’s reluctance. It took nearly two years for Anita to turn her initial “no” to a yes—a process that led her to take stock of why she had resisted supporting her sons in their desire to ride.

That initial opposition fell away as Anita embraced the challenge of learning to ride, and experiencing the joy of decompressing that riding brings to her, and her sons. Just as they have been for Candice, motorcycles have become another avenue for Anita to connect with her adult children.

With the motorcycle training completed, Anita’s first bike purchase was a 2015 Honda CBR300, and though it was a fun bike she quickly realized it was not the best fit for her. The bike was handed down to Theo. Considering the options, Anita thought back to the TV series MASH; it’s a favourite of hers and she often watched old reruns with her boys, In one episode, the character Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt rides away on a vintage Indian Scout. The memory lingered, and though she had myriad questions and concerns, most were diligently addressed by the Calgary dealership where she eventually purchased a 2017 Metallic Burgundy Scout.

At the time of this writing Anita had kept her Scout bone stock, saying she wants to get to know it better before making any modifications. Yet, Anita knows at some point she’ll want to make long-distance runs and will need saddlebags. To that end, she engaged the services of Myles Maxey from Calgary’s Little Lion Man Leather, who creates one-of-a-kind leather pieces by hand. His craftsmanship now accessorizes her bike much as Anita herself is adorned by jewelry created by her friend Sheri Surkon, who is also a rider and whose designs are influenced by motorcycle culture. Clearly, for Anita, her friends Myles and Sheri represent the sense of community bikers share, and the experience of being immersed in the motorcycle community has surpassed “everything [she] could have hoped for in a hobby.” Riding has brought a new perspective on life, shedding baggage as Anita puts it, embracing freedom, and a new sense of self.

So what is it about the Scout that has so smitten and impressed the four of us who are from completely different walks of life—Candice the RN; Paige the tattoo artist and illustrator; Anita, a certified fly-fishing instructor; and me, an education counselor living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan? Besides the obvious beauty of the model, it seems parent company Polaris has made a concerted effort to position a bike in their lineup that makes an emotional appeal to non-traditional riders.

Paige, Candice, and Anita all had good success purchasing new from a dealer, and likely in a bid to entrench customer loyalty, Indian sends out random swag bags to new customers The Indian-branded clothing and accessory line is markedly superior to what Victory ever offered, and is even making gains on its primary target in the market: Harley-Davidson.

Much like Harley-Davidson’s HOG members, buying straight from the dealer entitled these three women to complimentary one-year memberships in the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group (IMRG) with all the perks that come with it.

I purchased the so-called Hendee Membership, that Paige, Candice, and Anita can acquire once their comp membership year expires. You do not have to be an Indian owner to join IMRG. Those who love the iconic brand can purchase a Hedstrom membership. IMRG pays homage to bicycle racers and manufacturers George M. Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom who famously joined forces to produce a single cylinder motorcycle in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Not a direct buy from a dealer, I was fortunate to purchase my low-mileage Scout in a private deal with the original owner  in North Battleford, Saskatchewan who took excellent care of it. As luck would have it, he had already added the windshield and saddlebags.

My husband was surprised when I asked him and my brother to go pick up the bike without me. “Don’t you want to ride it before you buy it, he asked?” Nope. I knew from the moment I saw the Scout in that showroom, it was meant for me.

And from the first time out on my Scout I felt “home.” I shared that realization with all three women I connected with, who in turn offered similar experiences. Paige just knew the Scout was right; Anita said she knew it was the bike for her, part of a universal plan; and Candice apologizing for sounding corny, said she feels like she is one with the bike.

It’s not corny at all Candice; the Indian Scout is a powerfully alluring model with an iconic brand well positioned to win the heart of any rider.

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