2011 Indian Chief Vintage Motorcycle Review Harley Baggers Motorcycle…

28 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Indian Chief Vintage Motorcycle Review Harley Baggers Motorcycle…
Indian Chief Vintage

2011 Indian Chief Vintage Motorcycle Review

While planning our staff trip to Daytona to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Bike Week, our esteemed, AARP card-carrying Editor Dain suggested we do something nostalgic. Let me go on record as saying, “Not a bad idea, old man.” So, after some brainstorming, and a healthy dose of ginkgo biloba, we came up with the plan to focus our riding in Daytona to production motorcycles outfitted with soft leather saddlebags — the types of bikes that started the term bagger.

A quick survey of what is currently available from American manufacturers made it obvious that our options were limited. Having been taught to respect my elders, I let Dain pick his ride first. It was no surprise that he went with one of his all-time favorite bikes, the Harley Heritage Softail Classic. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Softails, so I was glad he chose the Harley, leaving me to pick one of Indian’s Chief models.

Having ridden and reviewed a Roadmaster in the June 2010 issue of American Iron Magazine. I was somewhat familiar with these bikes, so I chose the 2011 Chief Vintage you see here.

Let me digress. At its purest definition, a bagger is any motorcycle that has saddlebags on it, period. Back in the day, these bags were simply soft leather satchels strapped to the back of bikes to provide some carrying capacity. Since then, things have escalated, and nowadays it is not uncommon for the term bagger to share equal billing with dressers and full-boat tourers.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting or having all the creature comforts on a motorcycle, but at times, I feel like things have gotten out of hand. That said, when I think about our plan, it was probably a longing for yesteryear, when motorcycles were simpler. And Dain was younger.

First and foremost, I am drawn to the 2011 Indian Chief Vintage ’s art deco styling and its fabulous fit and finish. The long-skirted fenders, teardrop head lamp, glass front fender Indian-head running light, auxiliary spotlights, and optional dual-tone paint scheme lends the bike a true vintage Indian feel. Mix in the classic whitewall tires and Willow Green and Ivory Cream color scheme, and you know why this bike gets the Vintage name.

Using high-quality, distressed brown leather on the seat and saddlebags adds to the look. And then there’s the fringe. Oh, yeah, the fringe.

A PowerPlus 105″ 45-degree V-twin serves as the heart of this and all the Kings Mountain Indians. Bottle cap-looking rocker box covers and a left-side air cleaner distinguish it from other American-made V-twins. A slick-shifting, six-speed transmission makes things roll while keeping the rpm down.

I found that the combined setup was plenty to propel me and the bike freely around town and the counties surrounding Daytona. If anything, the massiveness of the bike and lack of responsiveness of the closed-loop fuel-injection at low rpm made the bike a little tricky to ride in slow-speed parking lot maneuvers. This all was a moot point once I got used to keeping the rpm up while in these situations.

For the record, a 2-into-1 stainless steel exhaust system — with a catalytic converter and chrome heat shields — doesn’t help things by choking this bike, but we can thank the EPA for that.

Handling is surprisingly good for a bike that is just over 100″ long and flirts with 800 pounds before adding a rider. A big part of that comes from the adjustable, mono-shock rear suspension that did a great job of soaking up all the bumps the road threw at me. A Brembo brake system all around (dual calipers up front and single in the rear) and 11-1/2″ floating rotors do a superb job of stopping the combined mass of me and the bike.

It could only be better if there was ABS, but that’s not an option.

The combination solo saddle, wide handlebars, and floorboards made for a comfortable seating position. The saddlebags provide ample carrying capacity, but are not lockable. One of my favorite features of this bike is the fact that the windshield and saddlebags are designed to detach quickly. I know it’s nothing new in the windshield department, but it was obvious that some thought went into incorporating the mounting system for the bags into the chrome rear fender struts.

Indian Chief Vintage
Indian Chief Vintage

By simply loosening two latches inside each bag, they can be removed, leaving behind a clean, bracketless look to the rear fender. So basically, in no time at all, I could change the look of this bike from an around-town cruiser to a bagger. Nice job.

Standard, metric-style controls on the bars take some getting used to if you’re a Harley guy, while the analog speedometer and multifunction digital display mounted to the top of the 5.5-gallon tank are easy to read and operate thanks to a toggle switch on the bars. Two accessory 12-volt outlets (one in the nacelle and one under the rider’s thigh) make it a snap to add electronics such as a GPS and heated gear at the same time.

Indian has been making motorcycles on and off since 1901. From the Wigwam in Springfield, Massachusetts, to the garlic fields of Gilroy, California, to Kings Mountain, North Carolina, where this bike was made, the company has always seemed to offer a model that features soft saddlebags. To celebrate its 110th anniversary, all 2011 models will feature a special 110th anniversary speedometer.

This model also gets a 110th Vintage Anniversary badge mounted to the frame in the neck area.

Since this bike has been ridden, the Indian Motorcycle Company has been acquired by Polaris Industries. At the time we went to press, the manufacturing of Indians was being moved to Spirit Lake, Minnesota, where, no doubt, Polaris engineers will put their mark on this brand. It will be interesting to see how things will go with Polaris in charge, but I’m sure soft leather saddlebags will be provided on at least one model, keeping the heritage of the bagger alive and well.

And Dain and his soft-bagging brothers will live happily ever after. MB

NEW BIKE TEST by Joe Knezevic

Story as published in the September/October issue of American Iron Motorcycle Bagger .

Indian Chief Vintage
Indian Chief Vintage
Indian Chief Vintage
Indian Chief Vintage

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