I Rode The 3 New Indian Chief Models

cyril-huzeDuring the August 3rd launch of the new Indian Chiefs in Sturgis, Steve Menneto, Vice President of Polaris Motorcycles, declared “Tonight, America’s number one motorcycle company is going to crack the throttle…” As promised I cracked it for you, successively riding the 3 Indian Chief models on the gorgeous twisted roads of the Black Hills and along the very long stretches of the Dakota plain.

Are 325 miles of riding on very different terrains enough to evaluate 3 brand new machines using the same powerplant?  I think so. And if that isn’t enough, I asked my fellow journalists who also experienced a first ride and those among you who participated  in demo rides in Sturgis what they thought of the brand new Indian Classic, Vintage, and Chieftain. Except for tiny variations of opinion on different aspects of each model, they all expressed full agreement that Polaris, in record time of 27 months since acquisition of the Indian brand, produced 3 exceptional machines,  inside and out.

If you love the different Chiefs of pre-1953, and depending on your riding needs and style, you will probably love at least one of the new models if not all. If the Chief is not what you expected to be released as the first new Indian models by Polaris, be patient. As mentioned last week in my interview of Polaris Director of Industrial Design Greg Brew, other Indian platforms and models are in the works…

feature22014 Indian Chief Classic (starting MSRP: $18,999)

After attentively inspecting all 3 models kept secretly in a Rapid City warehouse where only invited members of the press had access, and having a personal preference for “naked” motorcycles, the Classic was my first choice to experience the power and sound of the already highly acclaimed Thunder Stroke 111. Although the 1st part of the ride was in group in direction of the Black Hills to end up in Sturgis with no possibility to ask the engine to give it all, it was undeniable that this motor, forged from key heritage visual elements with modern technology, is not only beautiful but extremely strong and probably the smoothest mass produced v-twin engine I have experienced. A feeling that I will get all the time, at all speeds, in all types of accelerations. Vibrations are present, never overwhelming, disappearing as you gear up.  Although this first test ride was done with a temperature in the 90’s F, the 49-degree air cooled, 119 ft-lbs of torque motor never produced any uncomfortable heat even when cruising at low speed or stopped in traffic.

cyril-huze-motorcycleAlthough I had to request a clutch adjustment before leaving Rapid City (not a big deal, I was riding a pre-production Classic), brilliant engineering doesn’t stop at the engine. Looking for tranny neutral never failed, shifting up or down was fast, precise with just enough “clunk” feel to tell you where you stand without getting annoying. Sound from the true dual exhaust is absolutely unique, making everybody know that you are riding an Indian, both grunty and as “melodious” I have ever heard from a v-twin machine. While riding down to the tiny Black Hills mountain town of Nemo I had to jump on my brakes a couple of times to avoid bikers surprised by some curves and finding themselves in the wrong lane. ABS braking performed exactly as it should, adding confidence to my ride. It’s only before entering Sturgis that I g0t to play a little bit with the handlebar switches, which were correctly placed and within easy reach. Cruising on a Lazelle street where traffic was still somewhat fluid, heads were turning from both sides reminding me that I am riding a brand new bike that very few have seen on down the street. Passing by the Harley-Davidson display, 3 executives give me the thumb up. How cool is that? Parked at the Indian display to go for lunch, I spent time reviewing all the Classic features, trying to remember them for this report. They are: keyless ignition, genuine leather saddle, cruise control, throttle by wire, all LED’s lights including the front fender bonnet, high quality chrome laced spoke wheels, brake caliper covers, cast aluminum frame with integrated air intake, lots of chrome and much more.Cyril-Huze-Indian-Motorcycle


2014 Indian Chief Vintage (starting MSRP: $20,999)

Wanting to experience this powerful cruiser where speed would be less controlled, with my personal photographer riding a Chief vintage we escaped Sturgis via highway 34. Past the Full Throttle and the Buffalo Chip campground, the road is almost flat in direction of Pierre, capital of South Dakota. We played cruising and speeding, exchanged opinions, agreeing that the Thunder Stroke 111 remains smooth whatever you request from it. Then, impatient to live another Chief experience, we decided to switch bikes, me riding the Vintage to evaluate its windshield ability to protect me from the strong Dakota plain winds.

Giving ample time for all bikers present at our pit stop to take pictures of our two Chiefs, I played with the Vintage soft-sided leather bags’ quick release system. It takes just a few seconds to remove them when you don’t need them. Same deal for the quick release windshield, typical of what is offered by other brands for fast installation and removal, although I would have wished its bracket architecture to be a little bit fancier.  If you like handcrafted seat and bags with leather fringes reminiscent of iconic old Indian styling, the Vintage is for you. Bags and seat seemed to attract all hands around us, touching them to evaluate the leather quality, which is very high. The Vintage features the same premium standard features as the Classic, and sports the same iconic design elements like valanced fenders (with chrome vintage badge on both sides), laced wheels, whitewall tires, tank-mounted instrument cluster, and extensive chrome finishes throughout.

feature5feature6Back on the road, we made a 90-degree turn from highway 34 to interstate 90 in Direction of Rapid City. We passed many Harley riders pointing at us surprised to see 2 new Indians flying by. Some, ladies riding in the back included, giving us thumbs up, asking how they ride and finding pleasure in grouping with us for the remaining miles to their final destination. Being 6 ft tall, in upright position at highway speed, I don’t have any issue with wind buffeting around my head and body. Except some wind resistance due to the soft bags (no whistling),  the Chief Vintage behaves exactly like its brother, the Classic. After 6 hours in the saddle and while dismounting the Vintage, I felt a little bit numb in the back. The saddle, I asked to the Indian technician present at the warehouse where our bikes are kept and maintained. Yes, he sid, reminding me that the Chiefs we were riding are pre-production and that the production saddles of these 2 models have already been changed with a more forward position, closer to the bars, like on the Chieftain.

2014 Indian Chieftain (starting MSRP: $22,999)

At launch, nobody was expecting the hard bag Chieftain, the Indian model featuring a motorcycle industry first, a fork-mounted 4-inch adjustable power-activated windshield fitted in a fairing with integrated driving lights. A bold and very unique fairing design inspired by art-deco lines from the past and integrating the best of today’s technology: high-output audio system (pumping100 watts of audio through two speakers), featuring integrated Bluetooth® smartphone connectivity, a tire pressure monitoring system. remote bag locks and very smart quick-release anchors. Fairing is such a unique bold design that it surprises first, letting you wonder what to think about it, but definitively convincing you as you spend more time looking at it and discovering the technological prowess that was required to make the windshield function flawlessly when adjusting both height and angle.

feature12feature13Fairing mounted instrument cluster features electronic speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge with odometer, dual tripmeters with distance and time, instantaneous and average fuel economy; fuel range; real-time clock; ambient air temperature; gear position display; front and rear tire pressure; engine hours of operation; engine oil life percentage; average speed; battery voltage; radio information display; vehicle trouble code readout; heated grip level (if heated grips installed); and 15 LED indicators, cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, low tire pressure, battery, low fuel, security system, low engine oil pressure and MPH or km/h unit designation. What else do you need?

Impatient to test the Chieftain, I started it the same way I did it for the Classic and the Vintage. A key fob that you keep on the bike or on you replaces the traditional key. As long as your key fob is on the bike or on you within close proximity to your bike, you turn on the ignition by depressing a central button on the dash or engage the electrical system by pushing the traditional handlebar mounted start button once, then you press it again to crank the engine. Rake of the cast aluminum frame is 2-degree less than for the 2 other Chief models, creating a shorter wheelbase allowing easier turns with better tracking and leaning angles. In high position, at highway speed, the 2 vents at the bottom of the windshield do a perfect job at limiting wind pressure. At cruising speed, windshield lowered, these 2 vents disappear, recessed inside the fairing, improving the overall fairing aesthetic.

The Chieftain offer easy riding, is very stable, feels lighter to handle than many baggers I have ridden. During tight curves, it’s almost impossible to be betrayed by frame and floorboards clearance. The pneumatic single rear shock with 4.49″ of travel coupled with a very well designed and contoured leather seat makes your ride extremely comfortable. It surprised me a little bit that the Thunder Stroke 111 motor looks visually so appropriate sitting inside a tourer hard bagger model, but it does. Although I rode it only for 75 miles, I have no doubt that the Chieftain is going to be a very strong contender for all those looking to mix beautiful styling, strong power, plush sitting, and all gizmos required for communication and entertainment during weekend evasions or multi-days of saddle time.

all3With the launch of the 3 all-new Indian Chiefs, the fight to take market share from Harley-Davidson, here in North America and abroad, is heating up quickly. Indian is a brand with strong international brand equity, and Polaris just proved its ability at competing in the heavy cruiser market with great design, technological innovation and got significant capital to achieve its goals. It’s now Harley-Davidson’s turn to release its 2014 year models. Fair competition is a condition of progress and always a strong positive for consumers. Today, you have one more American brand choice and 3 more very cool models, resulting in more good looking, more reliable and safer bikes on the road. All conditions to attract more people to the sport of motorcycling. (Photography copyright Barry Hathaway, Tom Riles, Onno Wieringa)



95 Responses to “I Rode The 3 New Indian Chief Models”

  1. 1 BobS Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Wow. Thanks!

  2. 2 Drake Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Great reporting job as always. Now has to convince the wifey to buy the Classic. Blue, like the one you ride.

  3. 3 Vrat Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Nice review, I’ll be is Spirit Lake this weekend for the AVR, I hope I get a chance to check them out and possible take a test ride.

  4. 4 Brutus Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Today Cyril is “selling” a lot of Indians…

  5. 5 baggerdude Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Very comforting that the VP of Polaris like the new Indians!

  6. 6 Gary Princeton Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Although I missed the Sturgis demo ride, I would agree that the Indians look very good and didn’t hear anything negative from my 2 friends who took the demo rides.

  7. 7 Blackmax Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:25 am

    WOW! That ‘s all I can say !!!!
    And it was well worth the wait to have Cyril give a REAL honest appraisal of all 3 models.
    Now the visual cues are all set & the wait now begin to see when a model or a demo truck comes to my area & you can bet I will be one of the first in line.
    So far my decsion of waiting on the purchase of the Victory Cross Country tou has been worth it …
    Hey Cyril when you see Robert or any of the other honchos from Polaris ask them when the Cheiftain Tour with a top box will be out ?
    My guess it’ll be real soon, as the rear of the Cheiftain & the Vic Cross bikes seem very simliar
    and betting $$$ the the quick detach systems are too, if not exactly the same.
    Diffrent attachment hook-ups for the lights & sound system especially if you opt for the
    accessory lids with the speakers. (Yes, I’ve been doing research too!!)
    I would & also want to know how much room the Amp(s) for those speaker lids
    takes up in those bag(s) . It does not look like the Chieftain’s bags are as large or a deep as the Cross Country,but it might just be the photos. To me, it certainly looks like a “Winner” but the question remains at base MSRP of $22.999 & the Vic. Tour costs the about the same,
    are they not undercutting themselves? Given the choice & if a gave a rat ass about what the “harley-phobes” were going to say, they “poo-poo” the Vic all day long, but I doubt they can say anything about the Indian. I also can’t believe I beat Terrence Tory to comment on an article (LOL) !!!!!

  8. 8 Will Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I don’t think Indian will be able to make them fast enough – interesting times ahead!

  9. 9 Blackmax Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Thank You, Cyril for giving THE Best in-depth review so far ….
    Others might have beaten with a report but there is No opinion, out there, more respected !!!
    Glad I took off of my 9-5, for my B-Day, to read this report “hot of the press”.
    Ok, Nicker, Rodent, Olive Oli, Rouge and all the rest of you regulars, let the pile on party begin !!!
    I’m very interested in what you guys have to say ????
    T.T. Not so much !!!!!!

  10. 10 Terence Tory Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Blackmax.I’m keeping my powder dry,for now.I’m sure I saw C.H.’s post first.I chose to let other minds run free,at first.Digesting.

  11. 11 Catamini Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I am not yet in the financial position to buy one, but will asap instead of a Harlety

  12. 12 George Raynard Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Cyril, looking good…

  13. 13 Rick Lossner Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Now .. go buy some PII stock folks, and it’ll cover the cost of your new Indian ….soon

    Indian Motorcycles is going 100MPH .. dealers are taking dozens of preorders… the fun is beginning…

  14. 14 Rodent Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I was told that the handing of these heavy bikes leaves a lot to be desired. This tester is a long time rider with thousands of miles under his belt.

  15. 15 Mike Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Awesome report. Thank you. I will be finding a dealer soon to take a look.

  16. 16 Don Emde Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Great to see you there Cyril. Nice report on the new Indians. I am envious that you got to ride so many miles on the new models.

  17. 17 Brandon Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Me too, I am jealous of all the Indian miles you did in Sturgis. See you Cyril this weekend in Minnesota at the Twin Cities dealership.

  18. 18 Bill Hackworth Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Very good job of reporting i will own one of these bikes soon I’ve always liked the look of the Indian Ty for bringing them back into production some very sweet looking machines would love the chance to test ride one of these Polaris needs to start putting new dealerships up.just my opinion

  19. 19 Sean Fitzpatrick Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:43 am

    If I buy one, it will be the Chief Classic in red. Looks awesome.

  20. 20 Greeko Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:51 am

    The review I was waiting for before taking my decision. Going for the Chieftain. Thanks Cyril.

  21. 21 BobbyB Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I too was lucky enough to test ride the new Indians in Sturgis.
    I agree with all your comments. To me, the most impressive thing was how smooth that 111 power stroke delivers to the tranny and rear wheel. I ride an S&S 117 with a Baker 6 speed. While I think they are terrific products, this Indian was something a while lot better.

  22. 22 Brad Schonberg Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I think Cyril made a very honest review. Didn’t hear, didn’t read any negative about the Chiefs. Most recurrent comment is how smooth and strong the Thunder Stroke is. V-Twin velvet said a friend in Sturgis.

  23. 23 randy kolb Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:13 am

    i currently own a 2003 gilroy roadmaster and after seeing the pics and reading the review can’t wait to take the new vintage and chieftain for a spin. i am very impressed with the reviews and the new motor. i am very glad to see that they didn’t take away those fenders, after all, that’s what sets it apart from the rest. the wife hasn’t seen the new lineup yet but after i told her about the new chieftain i’m sure she will be giving them the once over and it will get her blood pumping for me to get one! great job guys and thank you for the reviews!!!!!

  24. 24 HarleyNot Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I was told and witnessed in Sturgis that these heavy cruisers were fantastic at low speed and even better at high speed. This ” tester” is not a cyber biker. He actually rides motorcycles, he doesn’t post about them.

  25. 25 Canada Robbie Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Cyril is spoiled. 3 Chiefs to ride. 3 photographers to follow him!

  26. 26 Paul Bradshaw Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:24 am

    In love with the blue classic. May also go for a black. Great price point for the features offered.

  27. 27 Art "Loose Cannon" Welch Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Please Join Cyril Huze, “Kiwi” Mike Tomas and wife Carolyn, and Indian Twin Cities, and Riders from all over the U.S. This coming Friday, on the I.A.R.G. Factory Tour to the Polaris/Indian Facilities This Friday leaving at 8am from Indian Twin Cities.. It will be a pleasure riding with great admired people in the industry! Everyone is welcome to Join.. all riders, all makes, all brands all years… Hope to see ya here!

    For More information please call 651-765-9988

    Indian Twin Cities
    2967 Hudson Rd.
    St Paul, MN

  28. 28 Brett Taler Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Floorboards seem to be placed very high. Only me?

  29. 29 SergioB Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Great Job. Very nice report and it looks a very nice job from Polaris to rebirth this iconic brand.

  30. 30 nick Aug 12th, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Sorry cant be excited. Just another Polaris a” Victory with New Covers on the motor.

  31. 31 Scottw654 Aug 12th, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Saturday I put 10% down on the same Chiefton you show in the picture, and am very excited to get back on a bike after 30 years! The dealers should be touting their pre-orders. Mine was #14 in only 6 days at Hernleys in Elizabethtown, PA.

  32. 32 Rex Reeb Aug 12th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I am very proud to be a part of the first sales team for Indian here in Arizona. I have been taking calls like crazy and we barely got our first set of posters and catalogs!

  33. 33 Charles Greenwood Aug 12th, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Years ago, Harley should have bought the Indian brand and rights. Now, each new Indian sold is one less sold by Harley. Wonder how many Chiefs will be sold at the end of december? Great start, Polaris.

  34. 34 Sony Aug 12th, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Top picture is gorgeous. I can see myself straddling this Indian. Will trade in my HD Road King mid 2014. May consider the Vintage or the Chieftain.

  35. 35 Olly. Aug 12th, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    The simultaneous launch in Sydney was spectacular. They signed up 95 plus contracts on the Sunday alone.
    The two day event was a feast of temptations. John Munro, son of the legendary Burt Munro was there with his wife Margaret. He had some great stories about Bert and brought along some rare bits and pieces to show. The Melbourne launch is this Friday night. Hopefully they will have some bikes road registered so we can also put them through their paces too.
    Excellent post Cyril, thanks.

  36. 36 rdawsoniii Aug 12th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I put my deposit down a couple of months ago and glad I did. Yes, it was a leap of faith at that time, but so far it appears to have been a great choice.

    Placed my order for a red Vintage last Tuesday.

  37. 37 Boomer Aug 12th, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    nick Aug 12th, 2013 at 11:03 am
    Sorry cant be excited. Just another Polaris a” Victory with New Covers on the motor.

    Nothing could be further from the truth but from a chopper guy’s point of view I can see how someone could see it that way. No sir. This motor and motorcycle is all new from the ground up. Indian was very careful to not copy Victory. However they did learn something from the mistakes and experiences they had with their sister company, Victory, so they did have a leg up from when Victory was established in 1998 to this day.

    I suggest you take a demo ride on one before making any future opinions. I like it visually but want to “feel and hear” it before making any solid opinions on it. So far everyone is saying good things about it though. I kinda doubt I will have a different opinion. I just wish I was independently wealthy so I could put my deposit down on a new one after the test ride. 😉

    Cyril: Great write-up. I know how difficult it can be to write one. One question. Did you notice any uncomfortable heat between your thighs from the motor? I haven’t heard anyone mention it but they may have been focusing on other things during their rides.

  38. 38 Cyril Huze Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Boomer. It’s a 111″. It was always in the 90’s F + No overwhelming heat.. Didn’t spend much time at idle speed in traffic and was riding quite fast. For sure, not hotter than a HD 103″, and I would guess maybe less.

  39. 39 John Guchone Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Boy I can’t wait to see these in Bangkok Thailand! With over 1700 motorcycle clubs here, I’m sure they will sell like hot cakes. Would love to own a dealership here and in the Philippines!
    Comment by John Guchone- Amplius Group

  40. 40 Bernie Carter Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    It’s a positive review, like others I have read. This one is more credible because of Cyril’s reputation to say and write what he really thinks. The Chief is not the Indian model I want. But such a good start makes me want to be patient until Polaris releases a Scout or equivalent. It’s what I want to ride. I think that harley is going to lose sales not only because of the Chief but also because many will postpone buying a new bike from them while they wait for the next Indian after this one.

  41. 41 Harold Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Harley has trouble on its hands and it is not Honda! These all looked great. Being on the short side personally like the seat height & weight I was flat footed and felt in full control. Especially compared to my HD FLHTCU. Indian is serious consideration for vertically challenged.

  42. 42 Frank Pence Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Wow. If you have the green you are going to buy one!

  43. 43 Charles Ven Decker Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I was fearing wanting one. And it happened. And I don’t have the money, yet.

  44. 44 Daniel Ross Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Like naked bike, too. A black Classic just called my name.

  45. 45 Sisco Aug 12th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Interested by the vintage, but I don’t think the orange leather bags and seat with red body is looking great. Is Black & tan available?

  46. 46 Olive Oil Aug 12th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    What a great review Cyril. After I do my own demo I will probably dump my Road King and choose the Indian Chief vintage in that lovely blue color. The vintage look is a real eyegrabber.
    Can’t wait to feel the power of that 111″
    One question, is it a six speed?

  47. 47 James just another crazy Kiwi Aug 12th, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Indian has to make as much milage as possible during this honey moon period.
    One thing wrong or one incident will dent it.
    I like the looks of the classic too.
    I will not be trading in my Road king I bought it new in 94, one of the only 7 that
    came to this country in the first batch.I think snow storms slowed production that year.
    I guess I have loyalty, I bought a new 83 XLX when I was 22…

    I remember when the Japs dam near torpedoed the SS Harley Davidison.

    I wonder what would of happened to allot of the peoples jobs that read this blog
    Had that eventuated.
    Indian would problaby really been a Kawasaki and HD a bunch of grumpy (ier)
    Old men looking at another restoration.

    I might live along ways away from the Factory but loyalty to me is important !

    Some people change with the tides and weather, others remain true !

  48. 48 highrpm Aug 12th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    great reporting. thanks

    like the massive chrome headlight bezel. it’s flow ties in with the warrior bezel on the front fender. and so does the flow of the fairing.

    but…the style is too iconic…too much of a potential museum piece for me to buy one. so too the honda rune: i like its massive presence and lots of chrome, but is it’s ride bulky? anyway, my weekend ride preference stays with the ‘glide.

  49. 49 tundra Aug 12th, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    @Olive – yes it has a six-speed.

    While the initial offereing is impressive – is it enough to sway me to purchase? Not at this point. Like Bernie indicated – I think there are bigger and better things on the horizon in the next few years. I’ll enjoy my HD for now, but will keep a close eye on Indian…very close…

  50. 50 Laurence Zankowski Aug 12th, 2013 at 3:33 pm


    The thing i have not seen addressed is the used market for Harley. Will Indian take Harleys in trade? If not, does this mean that the used Harley market is going to collapse for sellers? I can see the value of my Road King decrease rapidly.

    Lets just say for fun of it, Indian sells 15000 Chiefs in a year. That is a huge hit on the big twin cruiser / bagger side for Harley, huge hit. Boy, Harley needs to reduce its line up, drastically reduce prices, add warranties that are minimum 3 years unlimited, change its outdated electrics, lighting, get out of the 20th century and start engaging with riders instead of treating them like unlimited revenue streams.

    My two cents, that has probably no bearing on reality.

    Be well


  51. 51 bigwoody Aug 12th, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    So glad Harley has a legitimate, contender. the “Honda” clones just don’t make it.
    Took the “EVo ” engine to save Harley from bankruptcy.In a Harley dealership where a 37,000
    Screaming Eagle dresser was showcasing the lobby.

    Have a customized softail which is now more Americn than Harley made it.
    Have lots of quality Amercan made parts on it.

    Hope the Indian cn make it. Polaris won’t run out of money.

  52. 52 Woody's Aug 12th, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Excellent review Cyril, thanks for taking the time to both get some real miles on before running to press, but also obviously taking a LOT of notes and then compiling them for a review that’s worth reading. I realize “Road & Track never drove a car they didn’t like” but you have shown that you really DID enjoy the experience and that speaks volumes. So glad Harley didn’t buy Indian because if they had we’d just be looking at endless CMC/Kings Mountain etc. Road Kings instead of these new machines and especially the new powerplant. Though there’s nothing there for me (yet?) I am excited that there appears to be a new world quality line of bikes made right here. If these bikes turn out to be as good in the long run as Cyril felt they were on his rides, it’ll only force other brands to become better or fade away. Congrats to Polaris/Indian!

  53. 53 bart Aug 12th, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    That Blue Classic in the top 2 pics is without a doubt a classy (and classic) looking motorcycle. I think Indian is gonna sell a lot of these.

  54. 54 bart Aug 12th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    I also think the faired bagger is outstanding. The fairing shows design cues from the famous streamliner trains.

  55. 55 Zipper Aug 12th, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Wow, 20 G’s. Must be nice to have that kind of scratch for a toy these days. Great reporting. ..Z

  56. 56 James just another crazy Kiwi Aug 12th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    The Classic certainly is a nice looking motorcycle.Allot of time and money (same thing) has been spent getting it fairly right
    Im sure Indian/polaris will be making as much of this honeymoon period as they
    I for one will not be dumping my Road King ,bought it new in 94.
    Still a good motorcycle one, of the first batch that arrived in this country
    Bought a 83 XLX new.Back when you had to be loyal to buy a Harley Davidson.

    The Japs were trying to torpedo the SS Harley Davidson in those days

    Wonder how many jobs that would have destroyed and how many of the people that read this blog would be doing something different if HD had ceased to exist.
    .The Indian really would have been a Kawasaki and HD guys would have been a bunch of grumpy (ier) old men talking about restorations.

    I would have to have a genuine reason not to remain loyal .

  57. 57 Kirk Perry Aug 12th, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    These ride reviews are what used to be published in CycleWorld® magazine. The difference now is no paper, and it’s probably more widely read that a magazine. Today it’s on the scene reporting like new – and no one knows America like a rider from France. 🙂
    How bizarre.
    He’s Coke® and everybody else trying to do this is in the future are going to be Peps®.
    Which do you like better, the real Bell “500” Cyrils’ sporting? or this 39-day free-shipping carbon-fiber?


    You can always paint the visor rivets flat-black.

  58. 58 Iron Horse Aug 12th, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks Cyril!

    Have my name on the list and I’m waiting for my dealer to get either a Classic or Vintage in to test ride and most likely acquire.

  59. 59 Rick Portella Aug 12th, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I have to agree with all the positive words about the new Indian. I want one now, but have to wait. But the one thing i noticed, and no one has is that every other motorcycle maker has not copied is the turn signal buttons that HD has, why is it that only Harley has independent ones for left and right and everyone else has this little nob to push right or left (left side) of handle bars, and they don’t like to shut off……..whats with that little cheap ass turn switch ! does Harly have the exclusive rights to this or what? I thought would be a cinch to copy, but it seams no other motorcyclebuilder wants too. Wheres the ease of use now!

  60. 60 morpion Aug 12th, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    nice report cyril,,,,,is h-d will let you try and ride one their new 2014 models with the supposed-rumored new liquid-cool engine,,,,,,,,,,,to compare

  61. 61 motojefro Aug 12th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Nice bikes, good reporting. Thanks.
    Now direct attention to a 1000cc 4 and a 45 Scout both well below 15k.
    It can be done. Light small and fast…now that will be a real Indian.

  62. 62 Boris Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    The Chief Vintage is exactly what I want and it already comes with most of the accessories I’d have to add on a Harley. Much of the bike looks to be more “premium” than what Harley offers (the leather seats and bags, for example, and all that chrome). But the deal-sealer is that engine. By all accounts, it’s superb: powerful and smooth throughout the rpm range.

    I would love to see a Four (maybe call it the “Ace” to harken back to Indian’s history) of about 90-96 cubic inches and a Scout between 74-88 cubic inches (debore and destroke the 111 engine but keep many parts in common) on a lighter, smaller frame. A new Scout like that could compete with the Sportster, but outdo it in power and handling. Styling cues from the 101 Scout would be icing on the cake.

    I am sure that there are many more great things coming down the pike from Indian…can’t wait to watch it all unfold in the next few years. The brand is in the right hands with Polaris.

  63. 63 1adam12 Aug 12th, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    great reporting!! yes motojefro, waiting for the next wave of something like a nimble full fendered sport scout! Wondering if the classics are as big and bulky and cumbersome as a Gilroy road master, or more thinner and nimble feeling like a 40’s bike? Can’t wait to test ride one…

  64. 64 BobS Aug 12th, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Rick P, BMW has switches like that.

  65. 65 Homer Aug 12th, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    The bike is BAD ASS ! I’m looking forward to a test ride ! Probably my next bike !

  66. 66 Fritz Aug 13th, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Motojefro makes an excellant point! How about a Four and a Sport Scout!!!!

    Any plans for a shorter wheelbase on the Chief? Something a bit closer to vintage (62 vs 68″) for those of us living in the mountains?

  67. 67 courtney Aug 13th, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Honeymoon… yeah, I agree.

    Next thing you know there’s the farting in bed to look forward to. And oh, that will certainly be reported on by enterprising souls who happen to find themselves sniffing around in just the right places eventually (where ARE all those hidden Victory “genes” anyway, for instance?)….

    The bikes do look nice as they represent a close facsimile to the bikes manufactured prior to Polaris’ existence. But I must admit that the previous so-called “Indian” Bombers blow these Polaris versions away (no pun intended) at least in the styling dept..

  68. 68 Boots Aug 13th, 2013 at 1:59 am

    Just rode across the USA on my Road King. I think I’ll keep it.
    I hope Indian makes it but they have a long way to go!

  69. 69 Mike Greenwald Aug 13th, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for a fine review of a promising product.
    Several questions have come to mind.
    What is the service network for Indian Motorcycles? (dealers are few and far between)
    When will you customize a 2014 Indian?
    Defining the competitive spirit, what are the 1/4 mile times and speeds of the 2014 Indians?

  70. 70 baggerdude Aug 13th, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Not enough dealers to make a dent in Harley market. Sold my Polaris stock after it topped at 114. Thanks for the astounding ride on the stock!

  71. 71 Louis Aug 13th, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Good review. The bikes are looking great. Great company behind this products. Priced for anyone now days.
    I would like to know more about V I B R A T I O N S and dealers network. In NJ so far we have only one dealer. I am sure he is going to be very busy and therefore….bad attitude.

    I am in the market for a new bike….I will wait for more info about engine vibrations at any speed but basically above 60 MPH.

  72. 72 George Brennard Aug 13th, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Mike Greenwald. I never seen Harley nor Polaris publishing numbers regarding 1/4 mile speed on any model.

  73. 73 Matt W. Aug 13th, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Great write up Cyril. It’s great to see that refined engineering, value, performance, and elegant styling isn’t as exclusive to Japan and Europe anymore. I think Polaris potentially has a real world class cruiser on it’s hands!

  74. 74 Woody's Aug 13th, 2013 at 10:35 am

    @Rick P The lack of self-cancelling turns on many metric bikes (especially Hondas) is a financial and stupid IMHO decision, and has nothing to do with the use of a single switch on one handlebar. Those mfrs seem to doggedly continue to use maintained position switching instead of a momentary contact like on the Harleys & others, and it makes no sense to me how they haven’t been sued out of existence by survivors of those killed because they “forgot to turn off their turnsignal”. With virtually all bikes using non-mechanical speedos now, even a rudimentary cancelling feature can be done on a PCB with just momentary switches.
    Personally, I’ve hated the Harley separate turnsignal switches on each side on my bikes, and much prefer a separate slider on the left side. Anybody here got a car/truck with a separate L&R turnsignal stalk on either side of the steering column? 😉

  75. 75 Jawz Aug 13th, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Like you, I rode the red Indian around and couldn’t wait to put it in the turns and it didn’t disappoint to my pleasure. I was really pleased with the engineering of making this bike a ground pounder. It felt like all the weight is in the bottom which I found extremely pleasing. Very light and agile with a 55 lbs frame and 111 engine equaling 116 ft torque pounds at the wheel. It will be interesting to see how quickly they make accessories to accompany the long distant riders needs. Then again they may not as they already have a Victory cruiser line.

    My ole lady rode the bike as well and was just as pleased. She was most pleased with the power the bike provides, 6th gear is still a power gear not just flat land gear. That and the agility of the bike when you pick it up off the kickstand.

  76. 76 Mike Greenwald Aug 13th, 2013 at 11:51 am

    George Brennard,

    My experience with stock HD Baggers/tourers has been in the 13 -14 second range.

  77. 77 Odlamn Aug 13th, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Great article Cyril. I suspect new Indian has potential as another great North American bike here, to go along with H-D & Buell. (Victory does not qualify as ‘great’ IMO.)

    I am more comfortable on my Dyna than I suspect I would be riding anything I’ve seen from Indian. I love looking at old Indians running, but to pay those dollars for a new Indian??? The styling just makes me feel like a poser. I keep thinking…what is so wrong with a Harley it needs improving? (OK, ok. I can hear you out there…but really!)

    If the Indian technology rides, handles and performs that much better and people want the improvements – why not put it in a bike that doesn’t try to be something it is not. It is not a vintage bike. As much as I dislike (I’m being kind, here) the Victory styling, at least they are trying to establish their own look. Albeit over-the-top poser styling.

    It’s great to see the interest and the ‘polarized’ opinions. It keeps the bike world vital and interesting. At the end of each day tho, it’s the ride that counts, and the feelings we all get from our own choices and sacrifices made. I look forward to seeing more Indians and more Harleys on the roads in the years ahead.

    We’re all different. There’s only one way to make the world strong – let’s all get along, lil dogies. Get along. Yee ha.


  78. 78 Jawz Aug 13th, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    The biggest drawback is its all metric. I have thousands of dollars of HD tools and American wrenches. Non which would crossover.

  79. 79 fuji Aug 13th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Jaws you made me chuckle

  80. 80 Smitty Aug 13th, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Indians are going to be all metric? How can this be?
    Some people will have to figure buying a full set of metric tools into the purchase price!

  81. 81 BobS Aug 13th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    It’s 2013, who doesn’t have metric tools? Of course, one would only need to buy a full set of metric tools if the bike is a piece of junk in constant need of repair. Victory’s, contrary to Odlamn’s insults (I like the way he insults and then says lets all be nice) have proven to be reliable, therefore no reason to believe that Indian’s will be in constant need of repair.

  82. 82 Jim Aug 13th, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Great article. I really hope that Indian (Polaris) can make this comeback happen. My brother in law had a 2004 Indian and that bike was had that same classic style and I thought it was a really well put together bike. Then they seemed to disappear for a few years, until 09 and then I saw some articles on a new Chief (that looked great) which I have never seen on the road

  83. 83 Bret B. Aug 13th, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I have waited over 2 yrs. for the new Indians “LOVE THEM” currently have a Indian Silver Cloud & Scout will keep them have already put a deposit on a new Black Chieftain all I have to do is sell my 2 Harley 105th Anniversary’s Ultra Classic & Dyna LowRider ! Any takers ?

  84. 84 Doc Robinson Aug 14th, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Rodent, you got the wrong info. Handling is NOT heavy. I had two press bikes for a day and could not fault them. They are, without a doubt, the best stock production American built motorcycles I have tested in two decades as a motorcycle journalist.

  85. 85 Drive The Wheels Off Aug 14th, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I tried using the Indian “customize” website page and could not figure out how to get the black, Indian Chief Classic with the tan leather but w/o the tassels.

    Basically, all I’m interested in is the top blue bike in black with tan grips and a tan seat.

    Are these combinations not available?

  86. 86 davidabl2 Aug 14th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Mr. Brew’s own Polaris build plus his time spent on a ’46 Chief gives me great hope that Polaris will
    build some middleweight high-performance traditionally styled bikes..for which I’d hesitate to use the label “cruisers.” One of them might well be the brand new American-made bike I want to buy.. The FIRST brand-new motor vehicle I’ll have bought in my entire life. And the first vehicle I’ll have to finance instead of just paying cash:-)

    I am not a regular reader of Cyril Huze, to say the least..but in this review he sure seems to know his stuff. Although seeing the pics in this article I gotta question the judgement of somebody who rides gloveless and in athletic shoes 😉

    And in reply to the reader who claims that there’s no crossover between S.A.E. tools and metric..
    take 7/16 ” a 9/16″ and 3/4″ wrenches down to Sears and compare ’em to 11mm ,14mm and 19mm
    with your eyes closed and see if you can tell which is which;-) With 5/16″ and 8mm, yes, you can but with the other three probably not.

    Thanks for reading
    I certainly hope that I’ve avoided “offensive, vulgar, or hateful language” And respected others.

  87. 87 J Aug 14th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Looks very promising- have to admit, Polaris has been on the ball the past 10 yrs, while Harley continues to idle…. If nothing else, I hope this provides incentive to Harley to turn its designers and engineers loose and work on something bigger than the next “blacker than black” idea….

  88. 88 Doc Robinson Aug 14th, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Nick, you are a full blown idiot!!!

  89. 89 Deen Aug 14th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    If anybody can find out if they will be building a four, Cyril can.Well?Cyril get on it .Haha.

  90. 90 bart Aug 14th, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    The more I look at them the more I like them especially that faired bagger…it’s the tits.

  91. 91 Dead Center Joel Aug 14th, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    This is huge for the consumer. I feel we all win when new blood is pumped into a given segment. I am not a huge Chief fan, but can hardly wait to see what they do in the mid weight realm. Long live Indian.

  92. 92 Panshov Aug 14th, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Hey Jawz, check out any late model HD.They have BOTH metric and standard fasteners. As a HD mechanic, I can say what a pain in the ass. I’ll take the ALL metric Indian!

  93. 93 Steve The Producer Johann Aug 15th, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Waiting for local dealer to pick it up so we can do a demo ride and talk about it on the show.

    As for metric tools no big deal. i already own both types since I’ve owned both metric and standard vehicles for the past 30 plus years. So very smart idea to make them metric since all other countries outside the States are based on the metric system and will make for better global sales.

  94. 94 Mr Dick Aug 16th, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Rode the Classic and the Chieftain at Sturgis. In short ,my 1993 Fat Boy will be replaced with a new Classic, sorry HD.

  95. 95 Flynn Nov 23rd, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I hope they do well I am looking forward to getting one but I just bought a new road king hopefully they will re introduce the Indian ace or the 401 before I buy one I think that would be awesome everybody makes v twins nowadays but I think the triumph rocket is the only true inline and they could easily on up them

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Cyril Huze