13 December 2013 - 09:00
Indian Motorcycles coming to India next month
Up until now, if you wanted a proper, high-capacity, chrome-lined, V-Twin-powered heavyweight cruiser, the only real choice you had was one of Harley-Davidson's many sizeable offerings. But what if you wanted something a bit unique? Something that was a bit more of a statement? Something even more American? If you did, you need not be wistful any longer, for the legend of yesteryear, Indian Motorcycle, has emerged from the ashes, and is headed to our shores next month. The name's unique, the brand makes a statement and if you look at pictures of its new products, you will see that they are indeed very American.
But first, some history. Indian was the first American motorcycle brand, having come out in 1901, which was way before Harley did, and in just two years' time, an Indian motorcycle held the world speed record for motorbikes. Indians won a number of international racing events that followed, and in less than 10 years, Indian was the largest bike maker in the world. These bikes were also used by armed forces during the World Wars, but because of some brainless business decisions, Indian shut down in 1953. It has passed hands since, but never found an owner that could breathe new life into the dormant American marque. Now though, Polaris - yes, the same chaps who make truckloads of ATVs - has taken over, and after spending about $100 million on R&D, revealed the latest versions of the Indian Chief at the annual motorcycle parade in Sturgis earlier this year. And would you look at them!
There's not one, but three new variants of the Indian Chief, starting with the Chief Classic, which is the entry point to Chief ownership. Let that not have you believe that it is low-rent in any way - much like its more expensive stablemates, it too gets those deeply valanced fenders, the special Indian lighted war bonnet on the front fender, leather seats and enough chrome to blind you on a sunny day. It also gets ABS, cruise control and even push-button start as standard. This is a true-blue cruiser, and its clean profile does tell you that this is not a 'bagger', as the Americans would call a bike with saddlebags.
If a soft-bagger is what you want, the Chief Vintage it is. As its name suggests, this is the Chief that harks back to Indian's glory days - in addition to all the equipment and the whitewall tyres that the Classic offers, the Vintage features a quick-release windshield and studded leather saddlebags with fringed leather tassels (!!). It couldn't possibly be any more American if you draped the American flag over it.
And that brings us on to the flagship bike - which is the Chieftain. This is the full-blown touring option, and it gets a massive fairing up front, and in what Indian claims to be a world-first, an electrically-adjustable windshield on a fork-mounted fairing. It also features solid lockable saddlebags, a Bluetooth-enabled 100W stereo and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring system.
All three variants are powered by the same new 1,819cc Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin that has been designed to look like Indian motors of yore. Indian, in Harley fashion, won't disclose how much power the engine makes, but here, it is the 161.3Nm of torque that matters, which is enough twist to move these hulking Chiefs that weigh the thick end of 400kg.
What's more Harley-like is the price. Polaris understands that Indian needs to be realistic about its chances against a well-entrenched brand like H-D, and unlike the previous owner's extravagant pricing proposals, has hacked quite a few thousand dollars off the asking price, thus positioning these new bikes to compete head-on with Harley's finest. The range in America starts at $18,999 for the Classic, $20,999 for the Vintage, and $22,999 for the range-topping Chieftain.
Indian's India launch is on the 22nd of January next year, and we expect the range to be priced between Rs 20-35 lakh, all duties and taxes taken into consideration. Have a browse through the pictures and tell us, which of the new Indians would you have? And would you have one over a good 'ol Harley in the first place?