People often tell me that I'm riding the wrong bike, that I should be on some kind of adventure-touring bike, such as a KTM or BMW. But the reality is I'm not into that style of bike. I know they are well-made machines, which will function incredibly well both on and off road. However, there is something about their vibe, or commonness perhaps, that deters me from wanting one. I also think it's possible they are so comfortable for long-distance traveling that once you go that route, you never go back to touring anything else. Anyway, it is also true that I enjoy a good challenge.

Indian Scout Sixty in South America facing mountains.
Testing limits is where you truly get to meet yourself and see how capable you and your machine are.Janelle Kaz

Adventure-touring the Indian Scout Sixty has been incredibly fun. Not only is the bike gorgeous, but it’s an absolute joy to ride and, with a few modifications, far more manageable on very rough roads than you might expect.

Roland Sands Design pulley guard.
This Roland Sands Design pulley guard enables the switch for mid-controls. Due to the greater exposure of the rear drive belt, I am carrying a spare belt with me.Janelle Kaz

I picked up my 2019 Indian Scout Sixty in Santiago, Chile, and made the following changes before heading north:

  • Stock Indian Scout Bobber Kenda K761 tires (130mm front, 150mm rear)
  • Protection bars
  • Roland Sands Design mid-controls
  • Roland Sands Design pulley guard
  • Roland Sands Design risers
  • Roland Sands Design gauge relocator
  • Roland Sands Design Progressive Suspension 970 Series
  • Roland Sands Design slip-ons
  • Memphis Shades Gauntlet shield
  • Memphis Shades hand guards

The stock Scout Bobber Kenda tires offer more traction in wet conditions, the tread gives extra grip on dirt or rough roads, and they’ll still last well on pavement. I added the protection bars mostly to protect my legs and feet from the infamously terrible drivers on dangerous roads in Peru, where they all seem to have a personal death wish and display zero respect for motorcycles. Additionally, if I need to pick up the bike on my own somewhere remote, this will make it a bit easier for me.

Indian Scout Sixty in South America in front of mountains.
It is something else to ride such an elegant looking motorcycle out in remote places, where even elderly grandmas selling fruit complement your bike.Janelle Kaz

The mid-controls allow me to stand up on the footpegs when things get gnarly and the pulley guard makes this switch possible. The risers and gauge relocator allow for better handling and a more comfortable body position in conjunction with the mid-controls. Progressive makes top-of-the-line shocks which are 1/2 inch taller, offer a better ride, and are adjustable; these are what Roland Sands Design uses for its Super Hooligan racers. The chrome slip-on mufflers to match my chrome headers are simply an RSD special touch—and sound amazing.

Indian Scout Sixty in National Park.
Impossible to stick to the pavement; the majority of my destinations are in National Parks, protected forests, or within biological reserves.Janelle Kaz

I knew it would be necessary to have a fairing but prefer not to have anything (other than a helmet face shield) between my eyes and the road. The Gauntlet fairing from Memphis Shields is great for this as it is just tall enough to make the bike more aerodynamic, blocking some of the stronger winds to the chest and neck, but not obstruct the view. If you’re going to be bombing on highways all day you will likely want a taller fairing. I am also trying out Memphis Shields’ hand guards and have really appreciated them in the colder temperatures and sandstorms.

Indian Scout Sixty in Chile.
Compacted salt and earth roads are common in Chile, which seem to be in great condition in places where there is little to no precipitation.Janelle Kaz

The bike’s weight with a full tank is 542 pounds (246 kilograms), with an additional 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of my luggage on back. Because of the low center of gravity and seat height, the bike is very manageable for me at my height of 5-foot-6 (about 170 centimeters).

I am using Giant Loop Moto soft bags, which are water-resistant, very lightweight, collapsible, and hold everything I need to carry (I have an absurd amount of books for plant and animal identification).

Affixed to my helmet is the Sena Bluetooth 10C Pro, which allows me to capture photos, video, and delivers navigation through speakers installed in my helmet.

Carbon fiber Roland Sands Design and Bell collaboration helmet with the attached SENA Bluetooth 10C Pro system.
Carbon fiber Roland Sands Design and Bell collaboration helmet with the attached SENA Bluetooth 10C Pro system.Janelle Kaz

This journey has me crisscrossing the Andes mountains, with all types of roads—from chilly slopes laden with switchbacks to endless compacted desert to washboard, talc-fine dirt, sandy cliffs to coastal highways and back over the mountains and descending into the jungle. I have yet to experience the jungle or rain, so be sure to stay tuned with how this adventure Scout journey will unfold.

Cliff-side washboard with silty, talc-fine dirt.
I wasn’t expecting this cliff-side washboard with silty, talc-fine dirt... some back roads are more easily traveled than others.Janelle Kaz

What is this journey all about?

I’m a biologist and journalist living on a motorcycle to document the positive actions taken to protect ecosystems and the animals and people who depend on them.

For the past five years, my focus has been on the fight against wildlife trafficking. I have lived on various enduros in Asia, creating and implementing wildlife and environmental education programs in remote villages in collaboration with wildlife conservation organizations. As the monsoon rolled in, I’d sell the enduro and buy a cruiser on the East Coast in the US, riding it across the country to deliver talks at schools and motorcycle events about the intriguing wildlife in Asia and beyond and why we should help protect it.

Indian Scout Sixty with spare gas container.
The spare gas container was needed for some of the extremely remote roads in northern Chile.Janelle Kaz

Last year I made my first moto trip in South America, purchasing a Royal Enfield Himalayan, traveling 10,000 kilometers (about 6,214 miles) in seven months throughout Colombia and northern Ecuador, highlighting the people and projects on the frontlines of conservation.

My next journey has just begun, as I make my way north through the unique landscapes of Chile to visit the areas where the Amazon meets the Andes in Peru, documenting those working to protect the incredible biodiversity that exists there.

Biodiversity is truly the wealth of our planet and it seems that being a woman, alone, on a motorcycle, in far off places is a compelling way to talk about it to those who otherwise might not listen.

A biologist and her Indian Scout out to document the stories of those honoring and protecting the wild..
There’s nothing normal about this adventure: a biologist and her Indian Scout out to document the stories of those honoring and protecting the wild.Janelle Kaz