Indian Motorcycle Rolls Off Its First 2009 Chief Vintage

It happened the 3rd week of July. The Kings Mountain Indian Motorcycle plant rolled off its 1st 2009 production Chief Vintage. And this picture of Chairman Stephen Julius sitting on the number one with all his factory team behind him immortalizes a new historic step of the Indian Motorcycle saga. And for those, like me, who have been to the factory and witnessed the work done during several years to reach this milestone, it’s not at all 1999 all over again. Objective observers who will see the new bikes in Sturgis will appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to details. Production line is organized in teams of 6 workers who remain responsible for the bikes produced after they are sold. I was told during my visit to Indian that buyers will be able to talk to the people who built their bikes. Cool…So, go to look at the bikes on display during the Sturgis Rally, ask questions to the Indian team, and let me know what you think. Indian Motorcycle.


24 Responses to “Indian Motorcycle Rolls Off Its First 2009 Chief Vintage”

  1. 1 Charlie Lecach Aug 4th, 2008 at 8:56 am

    I see so many details which have been engineered over the years by Harley-Davidson, even if slightly changed for this purpose… sorry personnaly I couldn’t call it an Indian !
    My ’48 Chief had nothing in common with my ’47 Knucklehead, even at a close look.

  2. 2 Buzz Kanter Aug 4th, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Curious how the people react to this bike. I look forward to actually seeing and riding one to share with our readers at American Iron Magazine

    Also curious how members of the classic American iron bulletin board – – react to it. They are a lot of serious classic bike enthusiasts.

  3. 3 Charlie Lecach Aug 4th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Which doesn’t mean that I don’t wish this company the success it deserves ! It would be good if Harley-Davidson had some serious (US) competition again, like it used to have during the first half of the 20th century ! I also plan to publish two pages about these new Indians in our magazine and if it can help this new Indian company even slightly it will be a good thing for the industry. But it’s part of my personal little folklore, to complain about each new model arriving on the market. It’s even worse when a classic engine is replaced by a new one or when an old brand name is making a comeback ! 😉

  4. 4 dark tan superman Aug 4th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I am sure that they will sell some units, no doubt about that. However, how many at 35K to 40K??? That’s the question!!!!!…..Obviously,they are going after the more affluent crowd…..I guess the rest of us can buy one of their t-shirts……

    I am sure that Harley is curious as well. It might open up a new market for them. They are obviously sitting on the sidelines waiting for the results. They have nothing to lose, let Indian spend all of the money on research, development, etc, and roll the dice. If it works, I am sure that Harley will develop a rival creation…..I assure you.

    As for competition for Harley……..please!!!……..the new Indian is just a baby. Let’s wait and see how the testing goes. And I’m not talking magazine testing….we know how the magazines are in the pockets of the heavy advertisers…that’s old news. We want to see REAL comments from REAL people. The magazines lost their credibility long ago.

    Oh….one more thing…….they better have lot’s of money, cause this economy thing is not going to get better for another 2 years or so

    Time will tell???!!!!

  5. 5 Dave Aug 4th, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I have followed them closely every step of the way. I have also spoken directly with many of the key players including Julius, Heese and Bernauer.

    These guys know what they are doing in a business sense and I have no doubt that they are doing about as superb a job with their plan as can be done – including the current market planning. the bikes I have seen are tight and stylistically similar to and somewhat improve upon the Gilroy models – which stylistically were catching on at their demise due to technical issues. Indian of King’s mountain has well taken note and made quality a priority.

    I say great job so far Indian. They have and will weather doubters. They have and will build interest in their product. They have and will continue to deliver on their vision of where a modern Indian motorcycle will go. It is and will continue to be interesting and exciting to watch.

    As the others above say – it will be interesting how enthusiasts and players react.

  6. 6 geno Aug 4th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    snore snore zzzzzzzz
    wake me up in a year when they announce they
    tallied the sales and just couldnt make it….
    And look at that pik
    Juulius is another white socked, straight armed, nails done, havent’ a clue, Lexus driving, used to work for Campbell Soup, country clubber
    trying to make a buck on a dated design after the horses
    are out of the barn.

    Whats needed is an affordable American made bike
    for the new up and coming gearheads 18-30 who dont want a Sportster
    cause Harley has made it uncool by marketing it as a starter bike.

    come out with a 1200 CC Scout for under $10,000
    and they will flooded with orders

    Why is this so hard to see?

  7. 7 MM Billetworks Aug 4th, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Good to see the Indian coming back, hopefully they offer some unique features not seen on rival HD’s!

    Produce a quality product, control costs, good luck!

  8. 8 Mike Aug 4th, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Hey, Geno. Indian needs to acquire both sides of the market. A high end Chief and an affordable Scout. In a former post I think that Cyril wrote that during a visit to KM Indian he suggested to them to have the Scout as the next model. If i remember well, indian seemed to agree. But in this economy I think it’s smart to start with a high end model for them to make money. The Scout under $10 K woul require a ton of units sold and probably 2/3 years to be profitable. I think that the new Indian has the right strategy: to be profitable with a very conservative 750 units sold the 1st year. Maybe the chairman doesn’t look like a biker (is there a required look?) but he may be much smarter than most bikers at knowing how to make moey. Without money, Indian could not continue. I believe they will be there in 1 year, 2 years, 3 years…

  9. 9 Matt Aug 4th, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Nothing like rolling out a new product in a depressed market…..

    Good luck, Indian.

  10. 10 Martin Serra Aug 4th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I just noticed an OCC magazine ad where they advertise their production models starting at $31,900. I am not an OCC fan, but low 30’s is the starting point where everybody is able to mass produce and market a “custom” bike. Nothing wrong with Indian strategy. the Chief will sell. OCC? Less certain…For quality, I would prefer a Chief at 40K, but would not take a OCC bike at 25K if it would exist.

  11. 11 An Actual Customer Aug 4th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I wouldn’t say that OCC is “mass producing” anything. And to be honest for $32k or even $40k, I would rather go get exactly what I want built.

    Also, for all the folks on here who say that this economy doesn’t affect the rich, I would check the news because there are a lot of “rich” people cutting back on their extravagant lifestyle which includes downsizing of cars, homes, toys, etc.

    But good luck Indian.

  12. 12 Pop Aug 4th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Indian has officially rolled out with models on display in Sturgis. I’ve seen the pix and some of the stuff is, to my retro lovin eye, drop dead gorgeous. Some ain’t.
    I don’t have any particular love for the new factory. I don’t plan on owning one until the price moderates and even then it’s probably going to be used and certainly with a proven track record. All that said, I wish some folks would worry about my money like they worry about Steve Heeses. It’s his cash. He wants to finance a revival in an economic downturn, he’s gonna do it.
    There’s an old saying about my soap and my shower and I’ll wash my bits the way I want to. Same goes for phat dudes with motorcycle companies.

  13. 13 Danny Flucke AKA: Fugedaboudit Aug 4th, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    The market will decide if the new Chief is worth the mooola. In a year or so we’ll know – Although it would be interesting to hear how many orders come in after the national tour.

    Marketing to a specific group would easily sell 2,000 bikes a year – And it wouldn’t cost more than one or two Chiefs………….

    thanx, D

  14. 14 rodent Aug 4th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    I saw it live and in person here in Sturgis and I’m not impressed for 30-40 large. Looks like Gilroys last gasps.

  15. 15 madpuppy Aug 5th, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Hey Pop. I heard that “old” saying . But the way I hears it was ” its my soap and I will wash it as fast as I want too ! LOL

  16. 16 Sheridan Aug 5th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Build an affordable Scout and I’d be interested, but that high end stuff is way out of my league…

  17. 17 Chucky Aug 5th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I was a Gilroy casuality and two of the many reasons it failed was lack of focus and releasing to early to market to get the bottomline back to the investors. I see KM Indian approach much differently. First of all its their own investment , and they are in control of their own destiny not some smuck in New York. Julius did that absolutely the right thing and released the Cheif when it was ready. They stayed focused and tooled up to release one model. Is the market ready for a $30-$40k heavy cruiser in this Bagger market is the question. I’ll put it this way. Indian is a heavy brand and that will carry them. When i was at Indian we were outselling the Victory even with all the quality issues.

  18. 18 Mark Aug 5th, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Rodent…if you weren’t impressed, then I SERIOUSLY doubt you have actually SEEN the bikes.
    But then… you might have.
    Since you’ve been bad mouthing Indian from the get-go I wouldn’t expect anything else outta you but that sort of comment. I’da been shocked, actually.
    You probably wouldn’t like them even if they wiped your rear and did your laundry for you.

    I, on the other hand, HAVE seen them. As a matter of fact, I have toured the factory.
    They are a vast improvement over the Gilroys. Vast.
    The general manager of Indian told me that out of 1300 major parts and assemblys, over 1200 of them were either new or totally re-engineered.
    The engine is gorgeous, and has been reworked in a major way. The displacement is now 105″, and the cylinders are Mahle Nikasil. EFI has been added, and an OBD-II CPU. There is a catalytic converter, which allows them to comply with all projected EPA and CARB regulations. Happily, the exhaust note is still very nice. It doesn’t sound strangled. It also produces over 100hp and 100 ft lbs of torque.
    The frame is beefed up, and the suspension is way better…the spring and shock on the monoshock swingarm are significantly larger than the one on my 02 Chief.
    The build quality is just incredible. The chrome looks about an inch thick. The attention to detail is also amazing.
    The bikes are not assembled on an assembly line. Each bike is built by a team of four craftsmen, and believe me, they are very proud of what they do. They move the bike through 26 assembly stations on an assembly dolly.
    Everyone that I met at Indian is acutely aware of the hostility they are encountering, and the naysayers, and the expectation that they will fail. It just serves to made them more determined to succeed. They are also determined to produce “Real Indians” . They are working as hard as they can to move their engineering away from the HD model, and establish themselves as a distinct entity, with proprietary engines, frames, everything. It’s coming.

    They are expensive, no doubt.
    But they had to start somewhere, so they started with their flagship.
    The Scout is coming, as are other models which won’t be as expensive.

    But they have to get on their feet first. They are starting with the Chief, and in very limited numbers. There will be less than 750 built per year initially.
    Will they sell, in this economy?
    Well, Harley just sold out of their 105th Anniversary Ultra Classic at OVER $36,000…and there were 1800 of them!
    Will someone pay $31-36K for a bike they won’t see one of on every streetcorner?
    A bike that’s an American legend?
    That draws a crowd at every gas station and rest stop?
    Can Indian find just 750 people a year? Out of literally MILLIONS of bikers?

    Yup. I think so.

    They impressed the hell out of me…so much so that I put down my deposit.
    I’m buying one.

    Geno…Julius is most definitely not a country clubber…he’s a seriously savvy business man, and he and Heese are aware of the market you are talking about….and I think the bike you are talking about is coming. But it won’t be 1200cc’s. I’m pretty sure that it’ll be bigger.

  19. 19 dave Aug 6th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    mark – very nice summary of where indian is. thanks. the naysayers don’t bother me. as has been fetted on many blogs – some have an agenda and others a healthy skepticism. the fact that indian developed a hard shell early and often is great testament to their focus. despite this they will discuss with you their plans and progress on any level. I think they are doing it all right. time will tell. most bikers have their opinions that anything they think is wrong they could improve upon. that’s good. that is what the aftermarket and customs are for!

  20. 20 Chris Aug 8th, 2008 at 5:45 am

    It looks like a good start. I know they’ve put a lot of work in it to get it to market and I wish them luck. Call me stupid, but it doesn’t look yet like they have a design that is as good overall as it could be regardless of the price. As was said earlier, the price is what it is., but to me the overall image of the bike still doesn’t flow well enough. Seems that the sum is LESS than the parts…at least from what I’ve seen from a distance. Am I missing something or does that tail light still look goofy? They didn’t change the suspension design and so they’re still stuck with that dorky looking cover that sticks out like a sore thumb aft of the engine. BTW…never did like that suspension too much. Why don’t they sit down and re-engineer the whole frame/suspension for the next generation of bikes? It can be done…it should be done. Also, it looks to me like the headlight and housing are still a great big old eyesore hanging out there in the wind…like Harley and everybody else’s. What’s with the “headlight envy?” Hey Folks, I don’t see a smokestack or side rods on it…it’s not supposed to be a steam locomotive. Thanks KM for bringing Indian back to market, I’m sure you made a lot of quality improvements. Now, how about a real change and do some serious redesign and downsizing of the frame on the next version? Put on some handlebars that will be more comfortable for the average person on a long trip. Hey…that’s a lot of wind on your arms at speed out there on the road. Gets old after awhile, like old school apehangers. Go ahead and balance out the bike front to rear and side to side. Trim some weight off…BIG TIME, Oh well, didn’t mean to rant. Hell of a time to run out of bourbon. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get creative and offer an S&S flathead in a future Scout. Kiwi’s messing around with the idea. Hmmmm……a smaller, better balanced retro style Chief, a PP Sport Scout, a flathead 101 Scout…a FOUR! Set the standard. Set it high. Make up your minds, do what the others aren”t doing….before they DO do it. N w’s the time…there’s a window of opportunity out there. When the market falls, the smart investors get creative with their money and buy. Re tool, rework, respond……………get back to the drawing board for the new stuff. Time to innovate. Looks like a good first step and I hope everyone who buys one of the 2009’s will get the quality they deserve for the money they’re coughing up. BTW…what the hell were they doing cutting J-H Design Group (Ragtrade) loose in Canada? Between J-H, Vanson, and Gilroy’s other rag suppliers they sold a ton of quality apparel to us walking billboards at mostly reasonable prices. No, motor clothes shouldn’t be their number one priority, but ya got to wear something when it gets cold and Pakistani leather bought at the H-D dealership doesn’t cut it. Enough…..I need a drink and some sleep.

  21. 21 Iraqi vet Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    When I got back from overseas in 06 I bought a new Harley, only because Indian wasn’t around. I lived on it for a while which was cool because people don’t do that anymore. I just sold it and got a 2000 chief. I landed in Iowa and still ride more than anyone I know. I love my Indian because of the fact that nothing is fake on it. My Harley gave the image of chrome in places that had fake plastic chrome. I think I could take a hammer to my Indian and ride it off into the sunset later. Even the air cleaner gives a ding when you tap it. I don’t see any comparison to Harley. If you would like to compare then you would have to take all the wiener bikes into consideration also. I spent 20 grand on a night train when I got it and another 8 grand getting it to look good and be comparable to my chief. It’s one more reason to buy a chief. Why buy a Harley and change everything on it to assure that when you park it at work you don’t accidentally get on someone else’s bike. You don’t have to do anything to an Indian. I think that the product will speak for itself. Most Harley’s are around the same price range anyway. Buy a Big ole bagger Harley, pay chuck to put a bunch of custom parts on it and hey guess what everyone with the same bike as you changes the same stuff. Well I rest my case. We will see what happens. I have faith.
    One last thing however, a guy asked me why I went this route after all I had done. I said “Cause it looks so damn cool.” We both agreed that it made sense.

  22. 22 Iraqi vet Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    /chris for a pussy you sure sound excited about them coming back. Don’t worry I’m excited too.

  23. 23 Visa Blackcard Feb 7th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    good stuff thanx :p

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