Road Trippin' with Pops: Part Two

Kitting out the Indians for our father-and-son road trip

Scout Kit
Scout Kit.Morgan Gales

For the last few weeks, my dad has been riding a Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom and loving it. It's the first cruiser he has ever thrown a leg over, and the relaxed riding stance, while it took a little getting used to, is more conducive to his daily commute and coastal cruising than his old adventure bike was. While the Kawasaki is a great size for him ergonomically, we both felt a little more power might be necessary for the long haul north through California, so we started talking about what the best option for him would be.

Comfortable ergonomics, good wind management, a powerful engine for highway cruising, and a little storage were the main priorities when looking for a bike for Pops to ride, and I recommended an Indian Scout. He liked the look of the Scout and had “been wanting to ride one,” though that was news to me, so it seemed we had a match! I called up my buddies at Indian and told them how incredibly awesome this story would be if they would only loan me two of their prettiest motorcycles for a week. Apparently I’m not the worst BS artist on the block because they actually approved my idea!

A week later, a truck arrived at the Bonnier Motorcycle Group HQ with a brand-new Indian Scout and the Roadmaster Elite that Jeff Holt rode into the Hot Bike Tour from New York. Two perfect bikes for our trip—I could load up all of our camping gear on the Roadmaster with room to spare, and we could kit out the Scout with saddlebags for all of my dad's accoutrements.

To outfit the 2018 Scout for the road, we ordered a set of leather saddlebags, a matching backrest, and the detachable windscreen. I was excited to get everything in and spend some time with Pops in the garage installing all of it, but it only took us about an hour. Seriously, from taking my pocket knife out of my pocket to cut the tape on the first box until we both sat on the bike to see how everything felt was just a little more than 60 minutes. Saddlebag mounts replaced the existing bolts and the bags slid right on, locking in place by hand inside the bag. The backrest was just as easy—four screws out, four screws back in. We were both already starting to like the accessories and they weren’t even fully on the bike yet.

Dressing up the Scout was all quick and easy, but that wasn’t the point. Yes, my dad, who I have never seen turn a wrench on anything other than a bicycle, could have done this without me in a cinch. But we hadn’t worked together on a project or anything really for years, and in a way this garage session was a warm-up for our trip. It was weird being the one who (sort of) knew what he was talking about on the subject (only motorcycles, nothing else). Aside from the disturbing lack of tools in his garage, which a quick trip to the hardware store fixed, our role-reversal version of pine-car derby was easy and fun. I get impatient pretty easily, but he just joked with me for taking it too seriously when we were supposed to be having fun, and it was all good. Were it a longer or more difficult project, it might have been a little more tense, but this was all light and easy—hopefully an omen for the ride to come. Now on to my bike…

Bike modifications
Bike modifications.Morgan Gales

Over the last couple of years, I estimate I have spent about 10,000 to 12,000 miles on the Indian Chieftain platform, be it Limited, Elite, Roadmaster, or what have you—I really love that bike. It's big, stable, puts out great power, has a lot of room between gears, and possesses a surprisingly low lean angle for a bike of its size. Not to mention the massive storage capacity with the trunk included on the Roadmaster. When I am doing serious miles, that's one of my favorite bikes to ride. For me, the choice was a no-brainer. I wanted the nines, and with the new Roadmaster Elite being recently released, I saw the opportunity to have an incredibly plush ride and test out Indian's top-of-the-line bagger. Heated grips, heated seat, huge stereo—yeah, I figured I'd be just fine on that one.

Once we got the bikes all set, it was time to start looking at the route. Our plan was to spend five days on the road, nothing too crazy, just head up north through California. His style of traveling is usually more regimented than mine, but we decided to keep it loose and plan out the days as they came. If we’re heading up through California to Yosemite, I have a few campgrounds in mind that I want to stop at and figure they won’t be too busy this time of year.

Two of my favorite campsites of all time—Rock Creek off US Route 395 and Tamarack Flat, a first-come-first-served $10 campsite in Yosemite—were going to be along our route and stopping always brings back some of my best memories. While I was working on convincing him to camp, he was trying to get me to find him some 4E, mega-wide riding shoes.

I travel for work all the time, so the idea of a hotel room is not exciting to me. I want to be out camping under the stars (or in my fancy Big Agnes tent), especially if we’re in an area as gorgeous as the ones we’re headed to. But Pops doesn’t travel for work, so when he gets the time to get out, he wants to be comfortable and would prefer a hotel room. And some super-wide motorcycle boots, which I keep getting texts about.

With the bikes here, it’s just a matter of days before we take off and I am excited but still nervous about the trip. If anything was to go wrong, I would feel completely at blame, taking him out on a long trip. But he is assuring me that he’s confident and ready, and he still has a few days to ride the Scout around and get used to it before we take off. That’s not the sort of thing that should be on my mind gearing up for a trip like this anyway! I’m thinkin’ of sunsets and long open highways… Here we come!

Be sure to check out Part One and stay tuned for the trip next week!