2014 Indian Motorcycle Review: Chief Classic, Chief Vintage and Chieftain

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Indian Chief Classic

Harley-Davidson has something to worry

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By Jon August 9, 2013 21

Photos by: Hathaway, Tom Riles

In what had to be one of the anticipated reveals in motorcycle history, Polaris boldly the backdrop of the world’s largest rally to unleash the latest of Indians on the motorcycling community. On the of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and in the of the Black Hills, notice was with a loud and clear Indian Motorcycle is back.

As all great expectations, the risk of is real. But after spending a few aboard the newest American two things are as clear as a Sioux war One, when it comes to its purists, Indian has no reason to and two, that little company in Wisconsin had better get acknowledging that it just have a border war on its hands.

be told, Harley-Davidson never considered Polaris’ other company, Victory, to be much of a threat. As a start-up, Victory the usual assortment of obstacles and and besides, how do you compete with an

Polaris has found an answer: another icon.

American Mike Wolfe at the Indian plant in Spirit Lake, IA. released three new motorcycles week in Sturgis: from the $22,999 Chieftain, the $18,999 Classic and the $20,999 Chief

The new Indian’s tag line is “Choice is in American Motorcycles,” and with the 2014 models coming in at a point far below what (and even Indian initially predicted, it’s the With the … Chief ($18,999), the soft-bagged Chief ($20,999) and the faired Chieftain ($22,999) arriving in dealerships in Indian Motorcycle is poised to its own sister company and immediately with the Motor Company for the and minds — and dollars — of American cruiser riders the world

I was joined at the reveal by Editor in Kevin Duke, and his recent outlined the development of the new Indians and the details that went reinventing the brand. For my part, focus on the ride experience new cruisers provide.

The comparatively Classic is the lightest bike in the and while its fender skirts be polarizing, there’s no denying a trademark of the Indian brand, and great to see them resurrected.

There’s no need to carry on about the differences between the and the Vintage; both are Indian and are distinguished only by design The Vintage features a tan leather matching leather saddlebags and a while the Classic is subtler, a fringeless (although studded) leather seat and trademark skirts. There are other as well, such as the tank the Classic has the Indian script painted on, while the Vintage the logo on a metal badge.

have a nostalgic, tank-mounted with a retro sepia to augment the copious chrome and a scrollable LCD display that vital info, including a indicator and digital tach — a modern juxtaposition to the throwback The Vintage, meanwhile, gets chrome fender tips and tassels to dry-mop an airplane Otherwise, the Classic and Vintage components, ergonomics and architecture.

The is still a Chief, albeit a tall windshield and tan leather make it a natural competitor for Heritage Softail Classic.

The saddlebags utilize plastic clip-latches hidden behind functional buckles. Those clips might be the only bits to be found anywhere on any of bikes, but even they are plasti-chromed. Best of all, the leather matches that of the super-comfy saddle; it looks butter, and feels like it,

Like the windscreen, the bags are of the quick-detach variety.The differences the Classic and Vintage lie in the protection the tall windscreen provides 5’11”, and it terminated well my line of sight) and the cargo delivered by its soft leather The windscreen pops off in seconds, tools, so if you’re in the mood to the wind in your face a quickly achievable sensation.

And a tidbit of tantalizing info: reps assured us that the molded bags found on the which are slightly deeper they rest rubber-mounted on the could surely be deployed on a with only minor

The Chieftain, Indian’s new hard-bagger, a bar-mounted fairing with a chrome nose that the streamliner trains of the 1950s. Two gauges track speed and while a central LCD readout all the info a touring rider want, including a tire monitor (standard). Also in the dash is a 100-watt audio that provides surprisingly sound, and a nook for your iPhone or whatever you want to the audio system to using

Make no mistake: the Chieftain’s is distinctive, and probably not for everyone. to Indian for taking a risk on likely to be a polarizing feature on an undeniably excellent motorcycle. For reasons, the Chieftain trades its spoke wheels and whitewall for cast hoops and blackwalls.

It was to learn that in its rich Indian had never built a motorcycle, and in our opinion, Polaris/Indian could have found far inspiration for the Chieftain’s fairing.

the old war bonnet had slightly downcast the new Indian’s eyes are forward and on the road ahead.

All three utilize the same Thunder 111 V-Twin and promise 119 ft-lb of at the crankshaft. All make use of spring-mounted floorboards; and all feature the trademark war bonnet running light on the fender.

But wait, there’s All three Indians use dual floating 300mm disc brakes paired with 300mm disc out back. And all feature internally wired keyless ignition, ride-by-wire cruise control and ABS as standard

The Classic and Vintage sport an pull-back handlebar that its grips higher and closer what cruiser riders are used to, providing a comfortable riding position that most of the turning torque in the upper body. The Chieftain’s meanwhile, is rotated down to room for the fairing.

Which us to our first rave. While turning could be problematic on other heavyweight cruisers, bikes make use of their frame to dive into with nary a bow or flex, hefty tank-empty weights pounds for the Classic, 801 for the Vintage, 815 for the The result? Surprisingly – no, astonishingly – cornering, even when aggressively. And the cornering clearance is

Scraping pegs, er, floorboards, serious effort, way more what was necessary to throw the around with aplomb. Add it all up, and you get cruisers that relish riding.

Even the most of moto-journos were blown at how well these bikes the curvy stuff. “I kept deeper in turns without anything down,” said knee-dragger Duke.

All three new are extraordinarily dexterous in the twisties. the aluminum frame, credit the power band, credit the bars — credit whatever like, because there’s to go around. Fact is, each of the Indians provide solid and handling.

The lower, further forward position belies the Chieftain’s purpose, but its slightly more riding position combines its dimensional specs to provide an sportier ride than of its brethren. And it’s not really close. The larger and heavier feels smaller, lighter and on the blacktop than either the or the Vintage, and the reason sits and center.

The Chieftain employs a rake, as opposed to the 29-degree of the non-faired Indians. That incline translates to a wheelbase of inches, significantly shorter the Classic and Vintage’s 68.1. that with a pneumatically rear mono-shock and you’ve got a that not only looks than most of the other in its segment, but one that flat any other heavyweight bagger on the

Bar none.

This may be the best best performing tourer rider/writer has ever had the pleasure to or write about. It’s freakin’ good.

Unfortunately, maneuvering on the Classic and Vintage no such mind-blowing charms. admittedly easy to suffer a after setting such a standard in the twisties, but U-turns and lot choreography on these two cruisers relatively ponderous, thanks to considerable weight and what like a subpar turning

Perhaps we were just after being astounded at agility on Black Hills True, the 26-inch seat and easy clutch action it a breeze to power-walk all three of bikes anywhere you need to put And it should be noted the Chieftain’s wheelbase made its slow-speed comparatively easy. But our advice? If you opt for the Vintage or Classic, don’t ponying up for the accessory beach

You’ve pretty much got them.

Braking is fine, Duke lamented the lack of I found them grippy, not lightly dragging the rear enabled shame-free low-speed that would make the proud. During the annual Ride. I found keeping big upright via the slow-speed tango of brake and throttle as effortless as can be of a bike this size.

The ABS isn’t overwhelming when put to the — just a series of gentle to let you know you might be heading for crap if not for its input.

In the cockpit, the hand and foot on all the Indians are intuitive, effortless. The foot petals are easy to but don’t get in the way of the capacious floorboards. long floorboards allow a of leg positions,” Duke noted, stretched-out forward to nearly a location.” The cool dogleg levers are easy to reach and and the simple teardrop rear mirrors provide plenty of feedback.

Even with the cruise control, neither on any of these bikes sports a console with a confusing of buttons, nor a dangling control box bolted on as an afterthought.

On the Indian’s headstock, everything’s tightly but tactilely discernible. The black stand out from the chrome, and gloved thumbs readily and actuate the appropriate buttons.

the same is true on the tech-laden The right grip is identical to the with two buttons operating the control functions. Its left though, has a large, round button below the turn akin to the one on your TV’s control – pushing it on the top, or to the sides controls the various functions.

It also has separate for audio mode (Bluetooth WX/AM/FM, iPod, etc.) and for the electrically adjustable windscreen – a in a bar-mounted fairing.

But again, of this is ungainly or even too while riding once you get the of it. Indian has kept its tech package snug, instinctive and pleasing.

Back to the road, the throttle provided what called “impeccable response, any abruptness whatsoever,” and the cruise which activates only in above third, is never just a flick of the thumb and the ACC and DEC gently increase or decrease about 3 mph — ideal for minor adjustments and random cop sightings.

All bikes feature trademark dual-sided exhaust pipes provide a superb, supple that develops into a roar at speed. “The is quiet at low revs, but ramps up to a deep baritone,” Duke

Now for the ultimate rave. From a the Thunder Stroke pulls confident, laconic ease, all the way up sixth gear and cruising Duke and I agree that heat management is superior to thanks to ceramic-coated headers, shield and dual-layer valve although it should be said three hours of tooling I quite a bit of heat behind my knee.

Still, that shouldn’t be a The T-… is more than a beautifully sculpted piece of art; it’s a superb that performs flawlessly. On a full of top-notch components and the Thunder Stroke 111 is perhaps its exquisite.

Not a fan of fringe? Worry it’s attached by hook-and-loop and rips right off. won’t mind — as long as you put it the way you found it, of course.)

The six-speed shifts with an audible but that’s de rigeur for bikes of caliber and style. If anything, is smoother than the Victory’s crunchy one. Clunky or I found the gearbox’s feel and terrific; Duke was less calling it “merely average.”

All new Indians are cut from the same We can safely say we preferred the faired but it’s clear that first motorcycle company has reborn. This time be the last time.

All three exhibit superb handling, fit and finish, outstanding performance and design. The 2014 Indians are the package, a perfect blend of and function that are sure to the RD departments of all other American manufacturers – Victory included – back to the drawing board.

Versus Harley-Davidson: More For the

As mentioned at the top of this story, the point Polaris was able to with the 2014 Indians was not eye-opening for motorcyclists; it took some learned insiders by Sure, off the showroom floor models cost the same or more than their competition, but for the consumer to get comparably Harley-Davidsons – and in some cases, simply not possible – they end up paying more money.

first the Thunder Stroke 111 With its claimed 119 ft-lb of it’s far more powerful Harley-Davidson’s Twin Cam 103 used in of its Big Twins. Now take into that the new Indians all offer as equipment internal handlebar keyless ignition, chrome and hand/foot controls, cruise and anti-lock brakes.

Got all that Great – let’s shop

The prime target for the Indian Vintage, with its soft and windshield, is Harley’s Heritage Classic. Although similarly at $20,999 the MSRP of the Vintage $3,400 more than the due to all the above-mentioned features. However, the of upgrading the Harley with features will cost

ABS requires $1,195 for the Security which includes the key fob that your Harley from but won’t let you start it without the If you’d like cruise you’re out of luck – it’s not an

The Chief Vintage comes leather seat and bags, as as chrome forks and hand and controls – all available farkle on the Harley that will cost well over by the time you’re done. the Thunder Stroke 111 pounds out 20 more torque than the Twin Cam 103.

To get the Twin Cam near the kind of output the makes, you’re looking at to the Twin Cam 110, which add up to about $5K by the time you install the kit, new exhaust and intake, Your comparable Heritage Classic now costs in the neighborhood of

The new Chieftain has the best-selling motorcycle in America – Harley’s Street – … in its sights, but at $22,999 $3,200 more off the floor the Street Glide. However, the power windshield and internal aren’t even available the Motor Company. A leather will cost about 600 ABS?

Again, you’d the $1,195 Security Package, doesn’t provide the Indian’s Pressure Monitoring System, ignition, or Bluetooth enabling. Control? Sorry, that’s option. Chrome hand and controls and forks? Sure!

You can those three items up the H-D catalog for about $1,300. Now the two are in the same ballpark, about a bucks apart.

Oh, shoot – we forgot. The Street Glide the Twin Cam 103 engine, which is next to the Chief’s Thunder 111. You’re welcome to that up for about five extra.

The TC110-equipped CVO Street retails for $32,699, nearly more than the Chieftain.

has closely examined it competition and has priced the Chief lineup, the range-topping Chieftain


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