Archive for the ‘harley-davidson’ Tag

Victory Octane coming February 19, 2016…

Victory Motorcycles has shown several teasers for their upcoming all-new machine, the Octane. This time, Victory has Swiss drag racer and bike builder Urs Erbacher and racing engineer Alex Opperman talking about the Octane. Short as these teasers may be, they are still exciting and raise the anticipation thrill.

Alex Opperman describes the engine of the Octane as being an intimidating presence, and this only brings back to memory Zach Ness’ words. The American builder described the sound of the engine as being the closest thing to the rumble of a supercar.

The two custom bikes that anticipate the Octane, Ness’ Combustion and Erbacher’s Ignition, come with very aggressive exhaust pipes that enhance the grunt of the new Victory engine, but the production version will be a little better-behaved.

Still, we can expect the Victory Octane to be a machine that only makes a few compromises.

If anything, it’s obvious that Victory is looking forward to making a change in the American cruiser segment. Right from the start, the company was bent on offering an alternative to the classic, conservative Harley-Davidson machines, so the Octane is just another step in that direction.

How much the new platform will be able to make a significant change remains to be seen.

We still a couple more days until Victory will pull the wraps off the Octane. However, one thing is certain, and that is the fact that the Octane might represent a turning point in Victory’s evolution.

Two of the videos after the jump show a 4-valve cylinder head for the Octane, but reveal nothing more on how the bike may be, nor do they hint to the power of the mill. The only thing we can speculate on is that the final version of the bike will not be radically different from Ness’ and Erbacher’s machines. Cometh Feburary 19!

Read more at: http://www.autoevolution.com/news/victory-octane-advertised-as-intimidating-104598.html

Advertisements

A Legend Reborn: Indian Motorcycle Unveils the 2016 Scout Sixty

To say Indian Motorcycle has had a tumultuous history would be a major understatement. The brand was founded in 1901 — arguably making it America’s first motorcycle company — and it enjoyed a significant amount of early success, growth, and technological breakthroughs. After World War II took its toll, however, its spot as America’s number one bike manufacturer was snatched up by Harley Davidson, and production eventually ceased in 1953. The nameplate was passed around by a variety of short-lived owners for years, but was eventually put down for good in 2003. Or so we thought.

scout sixty

Indian Motorcycle came back from the dead in 2006, and its 2011 acquisition by Polaris Industries gave it new life. A reliable parent company with financial stability meant that the brand could invest in new projects and technologies, one of which just dropped at the EICMA International Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy.

It’s called the Scout Sixty, an entry-level cruiser based on the Indian Scout that debuted in 2014. The bike shares its chassis, suspension, and brakes with the classically styled Scout, but it’s been fitted with a smaller, 61-cubic inch (999cc) V-Twin engine to bring the cost down and improve agility. With a starting price of $8,999 in Thunder Black, Indian hopes the Scout Sixty will introduce the company to a new group of customers.

“The Indian Scout has been a stunningly successful introduction for us, with balance, performance and maneuverability that appeals to a broad swath of riders here in America and around the globe,” said Steve Menneto, President of Motorcycles for Polaris Industries. “The new Scout Sixty expands that reach even further to include newer riders and a younger demographic who long to experience the legendary quality and craftsmanship of an Indian motorcycle.”

As far as the specs go, the Scout Sixty creates 78 horsepower 64 pound-feet of torque in U.S. configuration, all of which is channeled to the ground via a 6-speed gearbox. Dry weight is 542 pounds from the factory, but as usual, buyers can choose from a variety of add-ons to personalize their ride to their liking. The Scout Sixty is en route to dealerships now.

Read more at: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/legend-reborn-indian-motorcycle-unveils-101536088.html;_ylt=A0LEV7ja1ExWYn0AYQwnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–

Indian Motorcycle Heads to the 75th Annual Sturgis Rally With Entertainment, Events and the All-New 2016 Lineup

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, Jul 23, 2015 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — Indian Motorcycle(R), America’s first motorcycle company, is announcing its power-packed itinerary for the upcoming 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Started in 1938 by Indian Motorcycle dealer J.C. “Pappy” Hoel, close to 1 million attendees are expected this year in recognition of this important milestone for the Rally, which formally runs August 3 – 9 in Sturgis, South Dakota. Join Indian Motorcycle in celebration of all riders for this historic event that will feature the first appearance of the 2016 model year lineup, entertainment, factory demo rides, Indian Motorcycle owner events and rides, an array of custom bikes and much more. The celebration gets a jump start on Friday, July 31 at the Indian Motorcycle display area located on Lazelle St. Visit the Indian Motorcycle Sturgis event page for updates leading up to the rally.

Indian Motorcycle Factory Display on Lazelle St (Next to Lynn’s Dakotamart) Friday, July 31 – Saturday, August 8, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily Explore the entire lineup of 2016 models at the Indian Motorcycle display in Downtown Sturgis. Several new customs will also be on display, including newly-revealed bikes from the “Scout Custom Series” including the Black Bullet Scout and the USO Tribute Scout built by Klock Werks, along with the 2014 Indian “Big Chief Custom,” a new Chieftain custom from Azzkikr Custom Baggers, and more. In addition, a 1948 Chief commemorating the 75th anniversary will be rebuilt on-site by Starklite Cycle during the rally. A brand-new “torque pit,” demonstrating the power and torque of the Indian Motorcycle lineup will run throughout each day, and an interactive timeline will highlight Indian Motorcycle’s founding of the rally and its important place in motorcycling history.

In celebration of Indian Motorcycle’s roots at Sturgis, rally attendees can fuel up from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. each day with complimentary coffee and donuts — a tradition started by Pearl Hoel, wife of rally founder “Pappy” Hoel. Attendees can also sign-up to win one of five limited edition Chiefs, get their photo taken on a custom Indian Scout Hill Climb bike, purchase Indian Motorcycle apparel, sign a commemorative rider map and more.

Limited Edition Model Year 2016 Chief Classic Giveaway Sunday, August 2 and Thursday, August 6 Five limited edition Chief Classics will be given away during the rally. On Sunday and Thursday, the bikes will be raffled off live in the Lazelle St. space (visit location to learn exact time). These beautiful, Model Year 2016 Classics are available during the rally only, and will only be available to rally participants. Entries can be obtained with scan of Indian Motorcycle RFID badges at Indian events and locations during the rally; see the registration booth on Lazelle St. to get a badge.

Factory Demo Rides, 2100 Whitewood Service Road (I-90 on Exit 30)

Saturday, August 1 – Saturday, August 8, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily Join the Indian Motorcycle demo team and test ride the latest models fresh from the Spirit Lake, Iowa plant. New Model Year 2016 motorcycles will be ready to demo ride all week long representing every variation and color and some fully accessorized. Demo ride availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. Rides will head out daily starting at 9:15 a.m. with the last ride leaving at 4:30 p.m. Riders must be 18 years of age and must provide proof of endorsement along with a helmet and appropriate riding attire. Passengers with protective gear are welcome to ride with no endorsement needed.

“Black Hills Heritage Ride presented by Indian Motorcycle”: Ride-in to Sturgis with American Iron Magazine Thursday, July 30 – Sunday, August 2 Join Buzz Kanter and the editors of American Iron Magazine as they ride vintage and modern motorcycles to Sturgis. The ride will kick off at the acclaimed National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa with a complimentary dinner on Thursday, July 30 and will conclude in Sturgis on Sunday, August 2. The ride route will explore backroads and celebrate both great heritage Indian bikes and modern models. The ride is free and open to all who are interested in joining, regardless of motorcycle manufacturer.

“America’s Block Party” (Between Victory Motorcycles and Indian Motorcycle displays on Lazelle St.) Friday, July 31 – Saturday, August 8, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily Join Indian Motorcycle, Victory Motorcycles, Polaris Slingshot(R) and partner Jack Daniel’s at the biggest party in Sturgis. “America’s Block Party” will feature live music daily, the Jack Daniel’s Experience, beverages available for purchase, complimentary patch sewing, and much more. In addition, the following special appearances will take place courtesy of Jack Daniel’s:

— NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton and Rusty Wallace former driver of
the #2 Cup series Car in NASCAR and now TV commentator, Monday, August
3, 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

— Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett, Monday, August 3, 3 p.m. –
4 p.m.

— 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Museum, August 2 – 4, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(across the street)

“Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis” Welcome Event Sunday, August 2, 3:30 p.m., Lazelle St. Display Join us as we welcome a group of American heroes to America’s motorcycle rally. The riders of the “Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis,” sponsored by Indian Motorcycle, will be concluding eight days on the road from Los Angeles to Sturgis riding across the country they helped defend on Indian motorcycles. These brave men and women from all branches of the military, some with multiple traumatic amputations, will arrive to a warm and patriotic welcome at the Indian Motorcycle display on Lazelle Street.

Indian Motorcycle Night at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip and Reveal of Roland Sands Design / GEICO Custom Indian Chieftain Sunday, August 2, 9:50 p.m., Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip(TM) On Sunday night, a fired-up audience will get a chance to see the unveiling of a new custom-built GEICO Motorcycle — the GEICO custom Indian Chieftain built by Roland Sands Designs. The RSD team will reveal the bike on the Wolfman Jack Stage at the Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip. The night’s entertainment will include: 38 Special, The Guess Who and Brantley Gilbert.

“Military Monday” Monday, August 3, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Lazelle St. Display Indian Motorcycle will honor and salute veterans and those who serve on “Military Monday” with a complimentary gift for those with a current or honorably discharged Military I.D. Visit the display on Lazelle St. for more information. As a benefit to Indian Motorcycle’s military partner, The USO, and Victory Motorcycles’ military partner, IAVA, riders using the complimentary parking behind the factory display on Lazelle St. throughout the week are encouraged to make a donation.

“Indian Motorcycle & Classic American Iron Rally” Tuesday, August 4, Crossroads at the Buffalo Chip, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Indian Motorcycle and American Iron Magazine are sponsoring a heritage motorcycle celebration at the Buffalo Chip. The event is free to attend and free to register any model year Indian bike or pre-1984 classic American motorcycle. Riders can check out dozens of historic machines from all brands, and will feature a bike show and contest. Class winners will be announced at 4 p.m.

Mike Wolfe Autograph Session Wednesday, August 5, 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. Stop by the Indian Motorcycle display on Lazelle St. for an up close and personal autograph session with Mike Wolfe, star of “American Pickers” on HISTORY and avid Indian Motorcycle fan.

Indian Motorcycle Riders Group (IMRG) and Owner Events Monday, August 3 – Sunday, August 9 Owners, past, present and future are invited to join Indian Motorcycle for exclusive owner activities throughout Rally Week.

— On Tuesday, August 4 at 11:30 a.m. owners are invited to attend a
complimentary Owners Lunch at Game Lodge Pavilion in Custer State
Park. Pre-registration is required and owners can sign up HERE.

— Owners are also invited on Wednesday, August 5 to the Indian
Motorcycle of Sturgis dealership for an owners-only open house and
Wall of Death Show at 10:30 a.m.

Throughout Rally Week, owners will receive a commemorative gift when they present their key FOB at the dealership or the Indian exhibit on Lazelle St. IMRG members can also show their membership card for an additional gift.

Indian Motorcycle of Sturgis Dealership Open 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily at 2130 Main St. Visit the Indian Motorcycle of Sturgis dealership’s recently opened 22,000 square foot showroom. The American Motor Drome Wall of Death, featuring the custom 2015 Wall of Death Scout, will be at the dealership with shows each hour starting at 11 a.m., courtesy of Indian Motorcycle. The showroom offers an expanded parts and customization department as well as additional service bays. The dealership is giving away limited edition prizes and will have commemorative 75th anniversary items for sale. For more information please visit: http://www.indianmotorcyclesturgis.com.

“We promise a jam-packed week of activity for this rally, and we’re going to deliver,” said Steve Menneto, vice president of motorcycles at Polaris Industries. “We look forward to visiting with our friends and riders at the displays and celebrating the Diamond Anniversary of Pappy Hoel’s little get-together that, through the years, has turned into the biggest motorcycle rally in the world.”

ABOUT INDIAN MOTORCYCLE(R) Indian Motorcycle, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Polaris Industries Inc. PII, -2.20% is America’s first motorcycle company. Founded in 1901, Indian Motorcycle has won the hearts of motorcyclists around the world and earned distinction as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands through unrivaled racing dominance, engineering prowess and countless innovations and industry firsts. Today that heritage and passion is reignited under new brand stewardship. To learn more, please visit http://www.indianmotorcycle.com.

ABOUT POLARIS(R) INDUSTRIES Polaris is a recognized leader in the powersports industry with annual 2014 sales of $4.5 billion. Polaris designs, engineers, manufactures and markets innovative, high quality off-road vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the Polaris RANGER(R) and RZR(R) side-by-side vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles and on-road electric/hybrid powered vehicles.

Polaris is among the global sales leaders for both snowmobiles and off-road vehicles and has established a presence in the heavyweight cruiser and touring motorcycle market with the Victory(R) and Indian Motorcycle(R) and Slingshot(R) brands. Additionally, Polaris continues to invest in the global on-road small electric/hybrid powered vehicle industry with Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), Goupil Industrie SA, Aixam Mega S.A.S., and internally developed vehicles. Polaris enhances the riding experience with a complete line of Polaris Engineered Parts, Accessories and Apparel, Klim branded apparel and ORV accessories under the Kolpin(R), Cycle Country(R) and Pro Armor(R) brands.

Polaris Industries Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PII”, and the Company is included in the S&P Mid-Cap 400 stock price index.

Information about the complete line of Polaris products, apparel and vehicle accessories are available from authorized Polaris dealers or anytime at http://www.polaris.com.

Read more at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/indian-motorcycle-heads-to-the-75th-annual-sturgis-rally-with-entertainment-events-and-the-all-new-2016-lineup-2015-07-23

Hail to the Indian Chief Motorcycle

There’s a good chance, many years from now, that history will judge this particular red-and-white 1948 Indian Chief as one of the most important Indian motorcycles on the planet. No, it wasn’t owned by Steve McQueen or any other celebrity; it’s not a special VIN, not the only or the first or the last of anything; it certainly didn’t win any races or set any speed records either. It’s unremarkable except for one fact: This is the motorcycle that spent two years parked in the Polaris design studio, where it served as the visual inspiration and literal touchstone for the design team that reinterpreted the vintage Indian style for the modern era.

This bike isn’t a static showpiece. It’s fully operational, and Indian Product Director Gary Gray offered us the unique opportunity to ride this vintage classic side by side with the modern Chief that carries so much of its DNA in its lines and design. Gray is the person who actually located this bike for Polaris, negotiating the purchase from a Minnesota collector shortly after Polaris acquired the Indian brand in 2011. It’s a 1948 Chief with the mid-level Sportsman trim package, distinguished by the chromed crashbars, handlebar, headlight and spotlights, and “De Luxe” solo saddle. Riding this bike alongside the 2014 Chief Vintage reveals how far bikes have come in 66 years—it feels like light-years—but it’s surprising how similar the two bikes feel in certain ways. That’s a testament to the fine job Gray and company did translating the old glory to a new generation.

The first difference you notice is scale. Wheelbase and seat height are roughly similar, but the vintage bike, weighing just 550 pounds, is almost 250 pounds lighter than the modern machine. This makes the older bike easier to maneuver, especially pushing it around a parking lot, and it handles well at speed too. Sixteen-inch wheels are concealed under those deep fender skirts, and the ride is surprisingly smooth thanks to the coil-sprung, hydraulically damped girder fork and “Double Action” plunger-sprung rear frame (each shock carries two springs: a top spring for cushioning and a bottom spring for damping) that was a cut above Harley’s then-current rigid frame/sprung saddle combination.

The 74ci (1,200cc), 42-degree flathead V-twin, with roots reaching back to 1920, was already obsolete in 1948 ( Harley-Davidson released its overhead-valve Panhead that same year), but with roughly 50 hp and a broad spread of torque it’s adequate for back-road cruising. Top speed is said to be near 100 mph, but it’s happier nearer the double nickel where it doesn’t feel (and sound) like it’s going to shake itself apart. Besides, the drum brakes—the front all but useless and the back not much better—can’t compete with more velocity than that.

The control layout is utterly unlike the modern bike. Both grips rotate. The right grip “controls” the Linkert carburetor; the left rotates the automotive-type distributor to manually retard or advance the spark for easier starting. “Controls” is in quotes because any grip input to the crude, poorly atomizing Linkert is a mere suggestion. Engine response lags behind grip input by a few seconds, and the lack of a throttle return spring and a solid throttle wire—not a cable—makes rev-matching during shifting all but impossible. Speaking of shifting, there’s no clutch lever. Instead there’s a foot clutch on the left floorboard (a rocker clutch you have to manually engage and disengage, not a spring-loaded “suicide” clutch) and a hand-shifter on the left side of the fuel tank.

Temporarily rewiring your brain to smoothly manipulate that rocker clutch with your foot and fluidly change the cantankerous, non-synchronized, three-speed gearbox with your left hand is the biggest challenge, but once you get the vintage Chief up to speed it’s a delightful back-road ride, with a perfectly upright riding position that’s more natural and less slouchy than the clamshelled hunch the newer bike demands. It’s a classic American motorcycle experience, and Gray and his team have done an excellent job of transposing this vintage vibe onto the new machine. Starting with such sound genetic material as this, though, how could they go wrong?

As read on: http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/hail-to-indian-chief-motorcycle

Part Two: A Closer Look at Indian Motorcycles

As part of our ongoing automotive and motorcycle coverage, we’re taking a couple days to take a close up look at Indian Motorcycles and the business of challenging an industry giant like Harley-Davidson. Today, we check in with an industry expert for an objective look at Indian’s operations.

Basem Wasef, motorcycle journalist, author and industry expert explained that Polaris’s resuscitation of the Indian brand has been both “brilliant and painfully obvious.”

“Polaris has applied considerable financial investment toward bringing back a legendary nameplate, creating relatively reliable modern motorcycles that pay homage to bikes which were arguably better in nostalgic retrospect than they were in reality,” Wasef said. “But at its core, Indian is less about the motorcycles themselves, and more about the power of a brand.”

Menneto evidently agrees: “We can’t build to match Harley’s capacity, but we can build a brand that’s popular as an alternative — that’s popular with a dedicated customer base with which we can build a relationship. Rather that match the size and capacity of Harley-Davidson, we’d rather compare with premium brands like BMW or Ducati.”

Wasef stressed that challenging Harley-Davidson’s market share would have been unthinkable if Polaris had created a new brand altogether.

“When it comes to brand perception, established Japanese manufactures like Suzuki, Yamaha, and Honda still can’t touch Harley-Davidson in the areas of authenticity and that inscrutable sense of cool,” Wasef added. “But by adopting a nameplate that’s older than H-D and happens to be associated with larger-than-life personalities like Steve McQueen and Burt Munro, Polaris has taken on a serious challenge and dipped their toe into a potentially lucrative business.”

Indian’s slow build is still in effect. For three years, all Indian Motorcycles built were the Chief and Chieftain models — ranging in price from about $19,000 to $23,000. For the first time since the company made its return to business, it introduced new bikes this year — expanding its line at the top and bottom with the $27,000 Roadmaster and the $10.000 Scout.

The latter is especially important as it reaches out to less affluent buyers with its smaller price tag. If Indian wants to compete with H-D, they’re now trying to get to riders when they’re young and equipped with less disposable income.

Steven D. Menneto, Vice President for Motorcycles at Indian, admitted that Indian is still not building to full capacity as that all-important five year business plan unfolds. The next phase for Indian looks to be expanding to more international markets in Europe and South Africa to diversify that brand loyalty. Only time will tell if this classic American make will stand the test of time in a new business era of high-tech and international competition.

Wasef insisted it will still take significant amounts of time to make a dent against the Harley-Davidson juggernaut.

“But, considering the aggressive product development that has occurred since the new Indian models were revealed one year ago, Indian looks like it will be a serious force to be reckoned with moving forward.”

As read on: http://www.craveonline.com/lifestyle/cars-auto-motorcyles/781713-part-two-closer-look-indian-motorcycles

Part One: A Closer Look at Indian Motorcycles

Recently, a rival of Harley-Davidson – a Japanese motorcycle company that builds multiple cruising and touring motorcycles – held a recent full-line press event at a rural Georgia country club.

On the first morning of the media gathering, that bike maker lined all of its models up in a shiny row, with the company’s name and logo prominently displayed on large banners posted all around the motorcycles.

As a visiting couple strolled by the display on their morning constitutional, one said to the other, “Wow, honey. Look at all the Harleys.”

That’s the problem a competitor of the Milwaukee-based motorcycle giant faces. In the world of two-wheeled iron, Harley-Davidson is synonymous with big cruiser and touring bikes. Even if a rival makes better machines in the same class, they’re always looked on by anyone outside the enthusiast commune ant as a Harley.

Indian Motorcycles, the Minneapolis based manufacturer is taking on that identity challenge while trying to reestablish itself as a prominent part of global automotive culture. Indian is actually the oldest American builder of motorcycles — beating Harley-Davidson to the market by two years in 1901. But, while Harley survived highs and lows through the years, Indian faded from the business world in 1953.

Harley-Davidson used the rock n’ roll era of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s to build its brand identity as the chosen ride of rebels. Indian missed all of that, finally returning to the American market in 2011 as a smaller division of Polaris – a builder of everything from snowmobiles to ATVs.

In the past three years, Polaris’ branding plan focused on one primary goal — letting the world know its back in business and an All-American alternative to Harley-Davidson.

According to Steven D. Menneto, Vice President for Motorcycles at Indian, the company’s plan for the first 18 months of its existence was “to let them know Indian is back.”

“We knew we first needed to establish what we’d build and what styling cues we needed to make our motorcycles distinctly Indian,” Menneto said. “We knew our motorcycles wouldn’t be small. That’s not our brand. We’d make 100 horsepower, liquid cooled engines powering big motorcycles.”

Of course, by 2011 everyone except dedicated riders identifies such bikes with that H-D Bar and Shield Logo.

Menneto, a veteran Polaris executive before taking on Indian, realized ownership by Polaris offered structural support and financial stability. But, the company needed to look beyond the need for that kind of capital buttressing.

“We had and continue to operate with a five year plan,” Menneto explained. “Gradual, planed growth is key to that plan. We could’ve had 1,000 dealers coast to coast, and we could be building at full Polaris capacity. But, we knew it was better to build the brand first.”

Check back in tomorrow for our continued up close look at Indian Motorcycles.

As read on: http://www.craveonline.com/lifestyle/cars-auto-motorcyles/781711-part-one-closer-look-indian-motorcycles

2014 Indian Chieftain Review

We first reported on the new Indian Motorcycles after their introduction in Sturgis last August. We’ve shared with you our first impressions of the three Indian models after we experienced them in the Black Hills, and we’ve written about the design and development, detailing the tension of creating – from scratch – a thoroughly modern interpretation of a historic marque. With the Chieftain, the designers had the additional challenge of building Indian’s first motorcycle with a fairing while still making it look like a natural part of Indian’s heritage.

Until now, we haven’t actually had an Indian in our possession to sample over an extended period on our home turf, but we’re now happy to report that our recent time with the Chieftain has only increased our respect for what Polaris has accomplished while creating a premium motorcycle from whole cloth. In a mere 27 months, Polaris’s design crew moved from first research and sketches through development and testing to delivering a polished first-generation motorcycle. The task would be impressive for any motorcycle manufacturer. However, when you take the considerable weight of all the previous wrangling over the name and disastrous attempts at re-launching the Indian marque prior to Polaris’ acquisition of the name, the success becomes downright awe inspiring.

The Chieftain is a clear example of something being more than the sum of its parts. Still, when the parts are top-shelf items themselves, the whole endeavor is lifted to another level.

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

Engine

The Thunder Stroke 111 49-degree V-Twin’s undersquare bore/stroke ratio points to torque as a primary motivating force. The 101mm x 113mm cylinders combine for 1811cc, delivering power pulses through a single-pin crankshaft. With torque peaking at 3100 rpm at 102.8 ft-lb and around 75 percent of that available at 1000 rpm, the Chieftain meets those lofty torque expectations with authority. While the engine is relatively slow revving and the peak power is, surprisingly, only 74.5 hp, the Thunder Stroke never feels put upon. It just cranks out the thrust on demand with smooth fuel metering that makes the drive-by-wire connection to the right grip seamless.

While the transmission shifts easily under way, the Thunder Stroke suffers from two noticeable maladies. First, every gear change is announced with a fairly hefty clunk. Some people may feel that this implies solidness of build, to our ears this belies the sophisticated technology that went in to designing and constructing the engine. Second, at a stop neutral can be quite difficult to find, which is somewhat of a nuisance.

Other powerplant quibbles include the early engagement of the clutch (almost immediately after the lever leaves the grip) and the heat cooking the back of a right leg (which came as a surprise, given our experience at the Sturgis launch).

Chassis

The Chieftain’s frame is constructed of forged and cast aluminum (yes, aluminum, not steel), helping it weigh a claimed 58 lbs. The frame’s construction makes it possible to use some of the frame’s backbone section as a hefty percentage of the airbox volume. With a 25-degree rake and 5.9 in. trail attached to a 65.7 in. wheelbase, you would expect the Chieftain to be stable, and it is. It also turns in and easily changes lines mid-corner (note that we didn’t say quickly) thanks to its wide handlebar. Indian’s other models (Chief Classic and Chief Vintage) have lazier steering geometry than the sprightlier yet heavier Chieftain.

2014 Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles Review

The suspension consists of a traditional fork made super-zoot with tons of chrome. The single shock has air adjustable preload. Both do a good job of soaking up the bumps on a variety of road surfaces. Floorboard scraping cornering speeds are no problem, and when they do drag, they touch down cleanly. Unfortunately, you will run out of floorboard fold fairly quickly.

Braking from the dual front discs and their four-piston calipers and the single rear disc with a two-piston caliper is not as powerful as we’d like. Although they are mostly up to the task of slowing down the big, heavy Chieftain, they require a lot of effort when you want to get maximum power out of them. The ABS is helpful and unobtrusive when the road surface is slippery.

Amenities

Touring cruisers are all about comfort, weather protection and carrying capacity. The Chieftain excels in all three categories.

The seat is wide and nicely shaped. The foam offers the right blend of softness and firmness for long days in the saddle. The weather protection provided by the fork-mounted fairing is ample and can be varied with the height of the electrically adjustable windshield. You can choose maximum air flow of the lowest position or the still air of the highest. The shield is distortion-free, so looking through it when in the full up position is not a problem.

Other comfort features, like the stereo with its Bluetooth connectivity, make long days pass by much more quickly and give vital information. Want to know your tire pressure or oil pressure? It’s right there on the LCD screen. The electrically lockable saddlebags are roomy, and the right one features a 12-volt socket for charging your electronics.

Indian has devised a fantastic package for a first-generation motorcycle from a newly revived marque, delivering exciting performance in an attractive, functional package. It has sparked our interest in what the company has in store for future models. If you feel we left some information out of this quickie test, you would be right. This is meant merely as an appetizer, to whet your appetite. We’ll soon have a shootout between the Chieftain and the best-selling motorcycle model in the United States, The Harley-Davidson Street Glide.

As read on: http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/indian/2014-indian-chieftain-review.html

Polaris reintroduces Indian motorcycles

2014 indian line-up copy

Three years ago Polaris Industries bought the historic Indian motorcycle brand and vowed to make it roar again.

The results of that boast have hit the streets, in the form of three mighty machines — the Indian Chief Classic, the Indian Chief Vintage and the Indian Chieftain.

The rollout represents a roll of the dice for the successful powersports company, which has managed to bring the three entirely new motorcycles to market in 27 months from concept to showroom — about half the time most companies take to develop a new bike.

Also, impressively, Polaris has done it at a price.

The company’s previous owners were selling the Indian Chief Vintage at $36,000. The 2014 model starts at less than $21,000. The Indian Chief Classic, the entry-level unit, costs under $19,000. The top-of-the-line Chieftain costs $22,999.

“We thought Indian was a great opportunity to create a high-quality bike with classic styling, true heritage and modern technology,” said Steve Menneto, Polaris’ vice president of motorcycles. “We wanted a great cruiser with real value, but it had to be a quintessential Indian.”

Indian began building motorcycles in 1901, and had a storied run, fielding the first V-twin engines and dominating the American racing scene well into the 1950s, when the original company went out of business. Multiple other attempts were made to re-start the historic brand, many resulting in new Chiefs hitting the road.

But the company gradually lost ground to its chief rival, Harley-Davidson, in part because it was slow to modernize. A joke inside the motorcycle community was that if you wanted a new Indian, buy a 40-year-old Harley.

No one will accuse the new owners of failing to bring the new lineup to modern standards.

The Chieftain features a keyless ignition, cruise control, an audio system that raises and lowers the volume as the bike speeds up and slows down, an iPod plug-in and an electronically adjustable windscreen. The dashboard offers the standard information, but also fuel range and tire pressure. The rear shocks are adjustable, providing a smoother ride when you carry a passenger.

Indian’s three new motorcycles are powered by a massive, 111-cubic-inch Thunderstroke engine, which delivers a studly 119 foot-pounds of torque. (Indian does not release horsepower figures. And you don’t want to know the gas mileage.) Each model is laden with leather fixtures and heavy metal, encrusted with chrome, and weighs over 800 pounds.

And though the Chieftain is the first Indian built with a fairing and hard-sided saddlebags, all three of the 2014 bikes sport the traditional Indian “war bonnet” on the front fender and the elegant fender skirts that recall the company’s 1930s glory days.

Polaris, based in Minnesota, launched the Victory line of street bikes 14 years ago, adding to its successful lineup of recreational off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and jet skis. That gave the company deep pockets to redevelop the Indian brand. Total Polaris revenue for 2012 was $3.2 billion, and 2013 is expected to show growth of 15% to 16%.

UPDATED Nov. 18, 2:20pm:

The company has not yet announced a Los Angeles dealer, and is relying for west coast sales on partnerships with dealers in Fresno, Dublin and Hollister, Ca., and in Las Vegas.

But Indian does offer an innovative “Fly & Ride” program, which offers a $250 rebate to any buyer who wants to fly in to a dealer area and ride home on a new motorcycle.

Building a successful dealer network will be key to Indian’s chances in the market. The company is on track to have 140 U.S. dealers on board by the end of the year. Dealers seem pleased with the new lineup.

Kevin King, General Manager of Arlen Ness Motorcycles in Dublin, Calif., said the new machines have exceeded dealer expectation and are a hit with buyers.

“They’re moving very well,” King said. “We have retailed everything they’ve sent us, and I could have sold many more if we’d had more.”

King said the buyers are men, 40 and older, and “seasoned, veteran riders.” He also said most are former or current Harley-Davidson owners, and 70% of them are buying the top-of-the-line Chieftain.

That profile fits new Indian buyer Ron Bruno of Corte Madera, Calif. He owns several Harleys, as well as a Ducati MultiStrada, and sold a BMW to make room in his garage for a 2014 Chieftain.

“I wanted to be part of the rebirth of the Indian brand,” said Bruno, 51, who is director of human resources for a retirement community. “I was blown away by the styling, and I had confidence in Polaris because of the success they’ve had with Victory.”

After 500 miles on the new Chieftain, Bruno said, “There’s nothing I want to change on this bike.”

With the rebirth of Indian, the company is aiming to take a bite out of the heavy cruiser market, which is dominated by Harley-Davidson.

Menneto’s ambition is to take 10% of the heavyweight market away from Harley within three years.

“We have a phenomenal competitor in Harley-Davidson,” he said. “But we can do that.”

For new owner Bruno, the difference between the two legendary American brands is one of emphasis.

“Harley is still making classic cruisers,” he said. “They have modern features, but at the end of the day it’s a motorcycle you could have bought in the 1960s. Indian is a modern motorcycle with classic features. They’ve switched the paradigm.”

Is that a winning formula? King, the dealer, thinks so.

“We sell a fair number of used Harleys, and I wish Harley-Davidson no ill will at all,” he said. “But they need to look very seriously at the competition.”

As read on: http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-indian-rides-again-20131115,0,7733382,full.story#axzz2lCZa3smH

RoadRUNNER’s Motorcycle of the Year: The Indian Chieftain

During this past year, we tested a wide range of motorcycles. Our editors have run around on a 700cc scooter, cruised on an Italian V-twin, traversed states on a liquid-cooled adventure bike, and crossed the country on a three-wheeled machine. All of the motorcycles seem to be leaders in their category, and some even excel far beyond what we call fun and adventure. But to win our MOTY award, we look for a game changer—this year it was a clear choice.

We’re pleased to announce that the Indian Chieftain has been voted Motorcycle of the Year by the RoadRUNNER team.

The entire industry has been waiting since April 2011 (when Polaris bought Indian Motorcycles) for the reincarnation of America’s first major motorcycle brand. Arguably the most fabled brand on our continent, it has seen its share of mismanagement and bad luck since its inception in 1901. With the backing of a $3.5 billion company, consumers can, and should, be excited about what’s to come. Three models were introduced during the Sturgis Rally: the Chief Classic, the Chief Vintage, and the Chieftain. We chose the latter for its retro-modern styling that resembles a streamliner train from the 1950s, the Thunder Stroke 111 engine, the incorporation of current technologies, and its outstanding ride quality. Indian’s ad slogan is “Choice is here in American Motorcycles,” and the domestic motorcycle industry is about to undergo a transformation. These machines are designed and built in the USA and assembled in Spirit Lake, IA. Although it’s the same facility that Victory Motorcycles uses, they do not share any components.

The 111-cubic-inch Thunder Stroke engine was designed to resemble the look of mid-century Indians with a flat head, multi-directional finned valve covers, downward firing exhausts, and parallel push-rod tubes. Whereas a typical new product launch takes 40 months, Indian’s engineers made it happen in just 27 months. It’s incredible to imagine that they started from scratch and tried to pack a modern engine into the look of an old one. The result is 119.2 lb-ft of torque. The powerful, yet smooth, engine is a joy to ride and produces just the right amount of rumble when rolling on the throttle.

Instead of a traditional key, the Chieftain (along with the other two) has an electronic key fob. In case it’s lost, the owner can press a combination of pre-programmed control buttons to start the motorcycle. The Chieftain also features a power-retractable windshield that lowers into the fairing. A seat made of premium leather and lockable hard saddlebags make it tour-worthy. Features such as full Bluetooth connectivity, a 100-watt audio system, and an onboard computer that gives more than the basic information bring this brand into the digital age.

Trying to take a chunk out of Harley-Davidson’s market share isn’t easy, but the Indian motorcycles have the best chance. Well played, Polaris.

See more at: http://www.roadrunner.travel/2013/10/30/roadrunners-motorcycle-of-the-year-the-indian-chieftain/#sthash.X6saxEBg.dpuf

2014 Indian Chief Vintage Vs Heritage Softail

They’re the most storied motorcycle manufacturers in American biker lore. Both scratched to life in the early 1900s, developed motorcycles that quickly earned reputations and fostered brand allegiances that ran deep. The companies grew by carving their names into motorcycle racing history books, from the Salt Flats in Utah to as far away as the Isle of Man. They bred Wrecking Crews and spawned Jackpine Gypsies, waged battles on board tracks, hill climbs, and the beaches of Daytona. They’ve championed Emde’s and Munro’s, Petrali’s and Parker’s while instigating countless rivalries. Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle Company have been nemesis for a long time.

But disparate fortunes caused the rivalry to wane. Indian Motorcycles has risen and fallen with the tide as its golden years passed and production ceased in 1953. Several attempts to resurrect the brand failed as it toiled through the Gilroy era before a British private equity firm did its best to again relaunch the company with high dollar motorcycles built in Kings Mountain. Now it has landed in the hands of a very able partner for the first time in many years, parent company Polaris with a multi-billion dollar portfolio. That portfolio includes Victory Motorcycles, which helped Polaris trim Harley’s sales, but admittedly it lacked a company with an iconic American image and long-standing heritage. And so it bought Indian, and finally the company that has seen its share of turbulent times is in the possession of an entity with the talent and resources to once again make it competitive. On Saturday, August 3, in front of a packed house on Main Street in Sturgis, Polaris rolled out the first three Indian Motorcycles it had produced, among them the traditional-styled 2014 Indian Chief Vintage.

The other company in this test has weathered on despite its own hardships to establish itself as the iconic American motorcycle manufacturer. Celebrating 110 years in continuous production, Harley-Davidson hosted parties around the world this year and threw a big shin-dig in Milwaukee. And rightfully so. It has survived the great World Wars, the Black powdercoated heads and cylinders with machined cooling fins topped by chrome rocker covers add up to an eye-pleasing V-Twin powering the 14 Heritage Softail.
The 1690cc Twin Cam 103B of the 2014 Harley Heritage Softail Classic put out 82.26 lb-ft of torque @ 3200 rpm and 66.33 hp @ 5200 rpm.
2014 Harley Heritage Softail Classic Dyno Chart – Twin Cam 103BA powerful 1811cc Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin sits at the heart of the 2014 Indian Chief models and turned our dyno to the tune of 100.87 lb-ft torque @ 2700 rpm and 73.33 hp @ 4500 rpm.
The 1811cc Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin of the 2014 Indian Chief Vintage turned our dyno to the tune of 100.87 lb-ft torque @ 2700 rpm and 73.33 hp @ 4500 rpm.
2014 Indian Chief Vintage Dyno Chart – Thunder Stroke 111 Depression, the Recessions, and what is known as the AMF years. It has done so by staying true to itself, true to producing what it knows best, and it’s ability to transcend beyond simply sales and into a lifestyle is a recipe everybody’s eager to steal. On Monday, August 19, Harley’s introduction of its Twin-Cooled engine, Project Rushmore and a restyled Batwing fairing stole the headlines at the introduction of the 2014 models. But there was a long list of Sportsters, Dyna and Softails released for 2014 too, including a timeless American cruiser, the 2014 Heritage Softail Classic.

Hoping to stoke the flames of a rivalry that stretches over 100 years, we pit the 2014 Indian Chief Vintage against the 2014 Harley Heritage Softail Classic. Externally, the two are carbon copies of one another, big classic-cued cruisers clad in chrome, swooping fenders and softail-style suspension, chrome auxiliary lights and tall windscreens, cush leather seats and classic leather saddlebags. The tell of the tape shows both are powered by big pushrod-driven V-Twins, the Harley Heritage running a 1690cc Twin Cam 103B while the Indian’s propulsion is provided by the 1811cc Thunder Stroke 111. Both have six-speed transmissions fed by electronic fuel injection, each has ABS and hidden rear suspension. Dunlop is the tire of choice for both cruisers, whitewalls in the case of the bikes we tested, wrapped around shiny spoked wheels. Overall the long list of similarities is undeniable.

So Motorcycle USA test rider Justin Dawes and I set about testing the two under real-world conditions, from the clogged arteries of LA’s 405 freeway to cruising the PCH, doing dashes over Ortega Highway and inland to secret photo stops. We lived in their saddles for a week, from stop-and-go stints to light touring, and the 2014 Harley Heritage Softail Classic won the efficiency award with an average of 35.514 mpg, a bit better than the guzzling 33.99 mpg average of the 2014 Indian Chief Vintage. Given the Indian has a 0.5-gallon larger tank than the Harley, projected range is almost identical with the Harley good for approximately 177 miles before a fill up while the Indian should be able to stretch it out to around 186 miles. Peeking at the spec sheet, the ’14 Chief Vintage has an MSRP of $20,999 while the ’14 Heritage Softail Classic with the Morocco Gold Paint and wheel package as tested is priced at $19,259.

And while we believed the two would perform almost identically based on their similarities, we couldn’t have been more wrong. They offer much different riding experiences, from the output of their engines to the way they handle and steer. One stretches riders out and feels long and low while the other is tight and compact. From turn-in to braking, there are notable differences between the two. Read on as the 100-year-war reignites, Harley versus Indian, Heritage versus Vintage.

Who says a motorcycle can’t project an aura around its rider? You can’t help but feel a sense of class riding Harley’s Heritage Softail Classic. Ours is a regal ride, pearl paint and polished chrome that reflect the world passing by in its sheen, spinning spokes and whirling whitewalls. A drumming exhaust note declares your approach long before you arrive at a destination. It’s a cool customer cruising between the avenues of trendy Huntington Beach stores, skateboarders gliding by in front of surf shops as people fill the umbrella-covered tables of sidewalk cafes. We sit high in its saddle feeling like a king on his throne as we comfortably cruise down California’s palm tree-lined boulevards.

It is in the stop-and-go of city traffic that the Heritage Softail Classic shines. The first thing you’ll notice about it compared to the Chief Vintage is how much smaller H-D’s cruiser feels. A peek at the spec sheet discloses that the Harley has a 3.7-inch smaller wheelbase and is nine inches shorter in total length. The Heritage Softail Classic also tips our scales 90 pounds lighter than the Indian cruiser. The rider’s triangle on the Harley cruiser is much more compact, riders situated relaxed and upright in its saddle. The bike’s floorboards are forward and a rider’s legs are almost parallel to the backbone but it doesn’t stretch you out as much at the Chief Vintage. The bars on the Heritage Softail Classic are higher and in closer than the Vintage and have a wider range of motion. Dawes called the Heritage’s seat “This big cushy Barcalounger looking thing but it works really well,” adding “It’s comfortable, it supports your butt, the passenger seat presses on your lower back a bit and that can get a little uncomfortable, but there’s room to move around. It doesn’t lock you into place like the Indian seat.”

Once situated in the Harley’s compact rider’s triangle, launching the bike is facilitated by a clutch pull that is firm but not overly stiff. Even though its bars are up, they are easy to negotiate as the front end on the Heritage Softail Classic has less weight to it. Despite having a couple more degrees of rake on the fork, a more compact wheelbase and good centralization of mass give the Harley lighter steering. This makes it easier to handle at low speeds and allows for sharper U-turns when cruising around town.

“Right when I got on it, I was surprised by how light that bike actually feels for how big of a bike it actually is. It doesn’t feel long, it doesn’t feel big, it feels low to the ground and the center of gravity is real easy. It’s got this really light handling which was a big surprise for me because I didn’t expect that at all out of that bike,” agreed Dawes.

Out of town and in the twisty stuff, the ’14 Heritage Softail Classic is quicker to turn-in and transitions with less effort than its bulkier counterpart. It’s primary deficiency in turns are floorboards that scrape easy and often so riders get much less lean angle to play with as the Indian sweeps deeper.

“Cornering clearance – there is none. The floorboards, they look pretty high, but you dip that thing into a corner and it starts dragging almost immediately, it’s pretty crazy. I mean it looks cool, sounds cool, you’re throwing sparks everywhere and people are looking at you like you’re a cornering bad-ass, but it limits the speed at which you can ride around a twisty mountain road. Granted, it’s a Heritage Softail and you’re not going to be ripping it up anyways, you want to cruise, but when you want that extra cornering clearance, it’s not there for you,” lamented Dawes.

Despite its lack of lean, the 2014 Heritage Softail Classic is a bit more composed on the road thanks to suspension that is dialed in almost ideally. Spring rates on the thick fork keep the front firmly in contact with the road as it ranges through a generous 5.1-inches of travel. The hidden horizontally-mounted rear shocks on the rear are equally adept at absorbing bumps in the road while riders remain comfortably shielded and in control. As Dawes said, “The suspension, it’s pretty much spot-on for a cruiser. It’s not too harsh, not too sluggish, not too soft. It’s pretty much like the Goldilocks of suspension for this type of bike,” in the sense that it’s dialed in just right.

And while its low-speed handling and slick suspension set-up are better than the arrangement on the Chief Vintage, the Twin Cam 103 comes up a bit short in comparison to the Indian powerplant. Aesthetically, it’s a thing of beauty, stout pushrod tubes against black powder-coated heads offset by machined cooling fins and chrome rocker covers. The undersquare mill features a healthy 3.87-inch bore hammering down at a 4.374-inch stroke so you’d anticipate an arm-wrenching jolt of low-end torque. And indeed, a peek at the spec sheet shows that you do have a 70.68 lb-ft to play with as early as 2000 rpm. But glance at the Indian’s chart which shows it’s pumping out 92.69 lb-ft at the same 2000 rpm. Overall the Harley’s powerband is very even, strong but not intimidating as it builds up to its 82.26 lb-ft peak at 3200 rpm. Both motorcycles are geared to top out in first just below 45 mph while second gear gets riders up to freeway speed as it signs off at approximately 64 mph. But the Indian will definitely get up to that speed with more enthusiasm. Once up to speed, the Harley’s counter-balanced TC103 operates smoothly as riders drop the transmission into its six-speed “cruise drive,” but the bike did demonstrate a little buzz in the tank at higher rpm before hitting the shift point. Shifting down, the Heritage Softail Classic demonstrates a generous amount of engine braking. Overall though, the output of the Harley engine felt subdued compared to the torque-rich punch of the Indian Thunder Stroke 111.

“It’s a really flat, mellow power band. Usually, think Harley motor, you think character, but the Indian motor actually has more character. It accelerates well, it’s got plenty of power, it just doesn’t have a rush or a hit to it, it kind of just builds,” agreed Dawes.

While its engine didn’t match up, the six-speed gearbox on the Harley is slightly more refined than the transmission on the Indian. Gears engage just a tad smoother and quieter as the Indian transmission is a bit rawer. It only takes a quick push on the heel/toe shifter to run up and down the Heritage’s mechanisms and overall gear ratios are very close, but Harley has had more years to fine tune its gearbox and it shows. One thing the Harley lacks is cruise control, a standard feature on the more expensive Indian Chief Vintage, a feature we believe should come stock on a bike equipped with bags, a windscreen and capable of light touring.

The greatest area of disparity between the Harley and the Indian though is in the braking department. Both cruisers come with anti-lock brakes, the Harley’s system unobtrusively integrated into the wheel hub. But grab a handful of front brake on the Heritage and you don’t get much bite or power out of the four-piston calipers. The Harley also sources a single disc while the Indian uses a dual arrangement on the front. Riders really have to squeeze the brake lever to get the calipers to dig in and provide any feel. A big brake pedal for the rear provides better feedback and the rear unit bites more aggressively than the front, but it doesn’t take much for the ABS to kick in. When it does, it pulses much faster than the Indian and pushes hard in the ball of a rider’s foot while its impact on braking distance is minimal. Both Justin and I agreed that we’d like to see more power to the front while cutting back on the rear’s ABS a bit.

“It feels like you’re pulling on a block of wood, the front brake lever. You can squeeze on it really hard and it doesn’t do much. You’ve got to really rely on the rear brake. Rear brake, it’s got more power, it’s got more feel, the ABS though kicks in pretty soon on it. Too soon. You’re relying on that rear brake to slow you down, so you’re pressing on that rear brake and you get into the ABS and it kicks back on your foot pretty quickly,” concurred Dawes.

While there is notable disparity in the braking department, the two compare favorably in curb appeal. The Heritage earns its name with time-honored styling cues, from nostalgic chrome laced wheels wrapped in wide whitewalls to its studded seat and bags. Chrome trim dresses up everything from its front fender to its auxiliary lights. And the depth of Harley’s paint is unparalleled. The Heritage Softail Classic has a detachable windshield whose height is quite a bit shorter than the Indian. The cutoff line of the windshield sat right across Dawes’ line-of-sight causing him to either look up and over or slouch a tad to peer under. I’m a bit taller so it wasn’t an issue for me. Wind protection is excellent and rider buffeting is nominal, but the fact that it’s fork-mounted means air channels created by other vehicles in front of you create a little buffeting in the bars. Instrumentation is relegated to the essentials, highlighted by an analog speedo centrally located on the big tank-mounted console. The dial doesn’t rise up quite as steeply as the cluster on the Indian so it’s not quite as easy to see. The “low fuel” gauge, embedded in the faux gas tank cap to the left of the console, requires riders to take their eyes off the road, especially as it drops in to the far left corner as it gets closer to “E.” The bike’s leather saddlebags add to its “Heritage” bloodline and are just big enough to cram my backpack and computer in, but that’s about all. Plastic clasps cinch them closed, but there’s no way of locking the bags.

Billed as a boulevard cruiser, the 2014 Harley Heritage Softail Classic excels at exactly that. With a compact rider’s triangle, tight overall design, and easy-going characteristics at parking lot speeds make it a great bike to cruise locales like Huntington Beach. It’s got upscale good looks when you pull into Duke’s on the pier for lunch. We expected a bit more punch from its 1690cc engine, but admit the power of Indian’s 1811cc V-Twin left us jaded. We’d definitely like to feel more power from its front brake and less intervention from the ABS on the rear and would dearly love a bit more lean angle. Overall though the big cruiser is a refined, dignified member of the Softail family, traits which are easily projected upon its rider as well.

Speculation ran rampant as to what direction Polaris would take the Indian Motorcycle Company. Would Polaris carry on tradition, or take it in an entirely different direction altogether? Would a Scout be included in the offerings, or maybe they’d surprise us with something new that paid homage to its racing roots like a 750cc flat tracker. The questions were duly answered when Polaris pulled back the covers on the 2014 Indian Chieftain, Chief Vintage and Chief Classic at Sturgis. While a hard-bagged, hard-faired bagger in the form of the Chieftain was the biggest deviation from the norm, the one bike that held truest to Indian form was the 2014 Vintage. It is imbued with styling cues that made the Indian marque famous, from the deeply valanced fenders to distressed leather seats and tassled saddlebags. On the front fender sits a stoic-faced “Chief” in his light-up “War Bonnet,” the signature trait as recognizable as the script on the tank and the red of the paint. Laced, 60-spoke wheels and a thickly striped whitewall add to its “Vintage” designation.

As classic as the Indian looks, fortunately its performance is 21st century. Ignition is keyless, the standard key replaced by an electronic fob that has to be within proximity of the motorcycle for it to start. The bike drums to life courtesy of an electric starter, roll on the throttle and a ride-by-wire system controls the closed loop fuel injection system and it is equipped with anti-lock brakes. Though its engine sports multi-directional cooling fins, a left-side intake and down-firing exhaust similar to Indian Chief engines from the 1940s, its three camshaft and parallel pushrod arrangement delivers power numbers never before achieved by a stock Indian engine. With the 2014 Indian Chief Vintage, Polaris has done an admirable job of combining the classic and contemporary.

“When I first saw the Indian, photos of it, I really actually wasn’t impressed. It didn’t look that great in photos. But once you get up close to it, it’s a beautiful bike. There’s no getting around it. They really paid attention to every little detail on this bike. Every little thing – the logos, all the castings and the millwork, and the body work and the awesome leather seats and bags that’re old and distressed looking, all of it is spot-on for an American cruiser. You can tell that they really cared about this bike when they built it,” said fellow test rider, Motorcycle USA Editor Justin Dawes.

Climb into its 26-inch high saddle and the Indian Chief Vintage feels long and low. With a total stretch of 103.7 inches, it is a big bike. Its riding position is dictated by long floorboards that are out a bit further and up more than those on the Heritage Softail Classic so a rider’s knees are higher. Its bars are more beach-style, set lower and much wider. The vintage leather seat is a work of art but is scooped at steep angle, so it pushes riders back in the seat. Dawes didn’t like that as a result of this scoop, it locks riders into place and for him, put numbing pressure on his tailbone. On the up side, Indian is already aware of this and the production Chief Vintage motorcycles will feature a slightly different seat.

“You get on the Indian, and it’s got these wider beach bars, it’s real long feeling, it’s real low feeling, and it definitely feels heavier maneuvering at slow speeds. When you’re first pulling out of the parking lot, you’re like ‘whoa, this thing’s quite a bit heavier feeling than the Harley.’ Once on the road, that heaviness goes away a little bit but it does take more effort to get it around corners and muscle it around,” said Dawes.

This is due in part to the bars of the Chief Vintage carrying more weight. Its chrome headlight housing looks fantastic, a ribbed spine running down along its top, but its sheer mass adds heft to the bars. So do the great looking running lights, big steel fender and removable windscreen. The wide bars also have a limited range of motion before physically coming to a stop, giving the Harley an edge when executing U-turns and slow-speed maneuvers. The Indian Chief Vintage doesn’t turn-in or transition as easily either, giving up 90 pounds to its competitor, much of it front-biased.

The disparity in low-speed handling decreases attacking corners at speed though. Contrarily, the big bike stays true to its line in turns, its Dunlop American Elite tires tacky and reliable. Because its floorboards are higher, riders can confidently carry more speed into turns than the Harley and achieve greater lean angles. On the winding SoCal stretch known as Ortega Highway, the Indian Chief Vintage hustles fluidly, never letting the Harley out of its sight. Twist the throttle upon corner exit and its power advantage quickly closes any gaps.

Because the Indian definitely has the Harley covered in the engine department. The difference is notable from the first crack of the throttle as the Chief Vintage surges off the line with arm-wrenching power, the 1811cc mill putting out peak numbers of 100.87 lb-ft @ 2700 rpm and 73.33 hp @ 4500 rpm. As low as 2100 rpm, 94.94 lb-ft of torque is already accessible. After hitting its 2700 rpm peak, another wave of 100 lb-ft midrange muscle quickly follows when it hits 3100 rpm. It beats the Harley in roll-on power and by the time you throw the Indian into sixth gear, the powerful mill is maintaining that speed with little effort. We noticed a difference at redline, too. As the Heritage Softail Classic reaches the parameters of its powerband and signs off abruptly, the Thunder Stroke 111 has a little over-rev so it continues to deliver power even at redline.

“The motor on this thing is very impressive to me. It has a much more gruntier feel than the Heritage Softail did. It just seems, when you gas it, it kinda tugs on your arms, pulls on your shoulders and it pulls out. It’s got a rumble and a lope that when you gas it, you feel it in your chest,” Dawes said.

This isn’t to say that the Indian V-Twin isn’t without it nuances. There’s more valve noise coming from the engine on the Indian, a constant ticking we believe may come from the shape of the valve covers. In congested stop-and-go LA traffic on a warm day, the long-stroking mill with the almost four-inch pistons puts out noticeable heat on a rider’s right calf, too.

Hitting the less-than-smooth thoroughfare known as the 405, similar suspension arrangements between the two cruisers provide comparable ride qualities. While both motorcycles feature traditional forks, the one used on the Indian is a little springier with less travel at 4.7 inches. Both cruisers use a Softail-style arrangement on the rear, albeit the Chief Vintage sources a single rear shock instead of the Harley’s double shock set-up. And while there’s not much disparity in performance of the rear, Dawes and I agreed that the fork is slightly off.

“It seems to have too much rebound, and so you’re going around corners and over bumps and stuff and you get this, it’s not really a hop, but it just comes back through the stroke too fast and has this bouncy feel to it. Going down the freeway in a straight line, when you hit seams and things, the front and the back react at a little bit different speed so you get a teeter-totter, back-and-forth effect when both ends spring back too quickly. If it was a little more cush, a little more slow reacting, that would go away and it’d be a pavement-gobbling machine,” Dawes said.

Once again, we have to include the disclaimer that the Indian Chief Vintage we tested is a pre-production unit. Indian says it is already addressing the issue with the seat, is changing out the floorboard rubbers and has other small details to attend to. Whether one of these details is the spring rates on the fork is unknown at this time.

What is known though is that the 2014 Chief Vintage definitely has the stronger brakes of the two. There’s much better power and feel on the front thanks to big, dual floating rotors teamed to four-piston calipers. Action from the Indian’s single floating rear rotor is comparable to the power and feel of the Harley and will seize with a heavy stab of the pedal before the ABS takes over. That said, the ABS on the Indian is less intrusive and the pulse rate is different so it doesn’t kick back in the ball of a rider’s foot as aggressively as the system on the Harley.

“Braking power from the front brake on the Indian is far superior to the Harley. It’s got good feel, a nice lever pull, and doesn’t take too much effort. The rear brake doesn’t have so much feel. The ABS locks and lets off, you can lock it and slide it, half-second pulses. Up front, it’s really difficult to get it into the anti-lock,” added Dawes.

On the form and functionality side, Motorcycle USA’s tester Justin Dawes already commented on how Indian has paid an admirable amount of attention to details. Its chrome, tank-mounted console features a large analog speedo with a digital window that reads out gear position, dual tripmeters, and digital tachometer. The console also includes a small round dial for the fuel gauge. The instruments on the Indian are mounted higher and slanted more toward the rider making them easier to see than the cluster on the Harley. Cruise control is a standard feature the Chief Vintage has that the Heritage Softail Classic doesn’t. The system is push-button activated via switches in the right control housing, the system operable even with gloved fingers. Like the Harley, the Chief Vintage also has a removable windshield, albeit the one on the Indian is a bit taller. It offers first-rate wind protection, but Dawes commented that he was getting a reflection off the “awesome looking dash” in the windshield.

“You have these kind of lines and flares in the windshield all the time, especially noticeable when you go from light to dark on country roads,” he said.

Being a little bit taller than Dawes, my line of sight is higher and the reflections he mentioned weren’t an issue for me. But both he and Jason Abbott, who tested the Chief Vintage for Cycle News and is about the same size as Dawes, mentioned it so we thought it a valid enough point to comment on. Its saddlebags have the same high quality leather workmanship as the seat and are a tad wider than the ones on the Harley. Metal clasps are a sweet accent, but like the ones on the Heritage Softail Classic, the bags don’t lock.

As noted in our introduction, we thought the two American cruiser motorcycles would be carbon copies of one another. But they’re not. The Harley sports a more compact rider’s triangle, feels like a much smaller bike than it is, and enjoys an advantage in low-speed handling. The Indian on the other hand is long, low, and feels large and in charge. Riders are sprawled out more, from the stretch to the floorboards to the reach to the bars. After spending time on both bikes, it is a hard one to judge. The Heritage Softail Classic is easier to ride, its suspension is dialed in better, and its gearbox is just a tad more refined. Bottom line though, the Indian Chief Vintage stops and goes better. The pop of its Thunder Stroke engine makes you drunk with power. Its binders on the front are much more powerful while its ABS is less intrusive. While the Harley has lighter steering at low speeds, it also grinds boards much easier than the Indian and sacrifices lean angle at speed as a result. The Heritage Softail has the better fork, but ride quality on the backside is almost identical. The differences between the gearboxes are minute, and Indian has said it is already addressing Dawes’ issue with the seat. Overall, we believe the Harley’s soft front brakes and monotone power delivery are a bigger trade-off than the fast rebounding fork and heavier steering of the Indian. Having 18.36 lb-ft more torque to play with and faster-reacting roll-on also tilts the scales in favor of the 2014 Chief Vintage. Indian’s marketing strategy declared that “Choice is Here” for people who want an American cruiser motorcycle. We say buyers do indeed have a choice now in high quality American cruisers as the flames of a 100-year-old rivalry are once again ignited.

As read on: http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/10/17173/Motorcycle-Article/2014-Indian-Chief-Vintage-Comparison.aspx