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Review: Indian Chief Classic

Driven January 2014

Review: Indian Chief Classic

"Bigger, the better" is the American way, and in the world of cruisers, there is nothing bigger than the current range of Indian bikes. The American cruiser motorcycle brand has been launched in India, and is now ready to take on its traditional rival, Harley-Davidson. We got our hands on the entry-spec model, the Indian Chief Classic, and here are our first impressions.

The bike is a typical Indian motorcycle whichever way you look at it. The traditional red paint, bucketloads of chrome, the massive headlight and not to forget, the Indian hood ornament that sits on the front mud guard. If you know what an Indian is, you will love this bike for its looks, and if you don’t, then you will love it for its retro styling. Even the big engine has been given some design touches to keep it faithful to the Indians of yesteryear.

Though the bike may be retro-styled, the mechanical bits are fairly modern. The newly-developed Thunderstroke engine is a V-twin 1,811cc motor (that’s as big as the engine in the Honda Civic). In typical cruiser fashion, even Indian doesn’t give out an exact bhp figure for its motorcycles – but torque comes in at a healthy 139Nm. Thrust us (pun intended) when we say this, that’s about the same amount of torque as you'd get in some budget sedan. The Indian needs all of that torque to move the 370kg (with fluids) mass.

Once on the roll, the Classic is surprisingly manageable. The handlebar feels light to use, so moving the Classic though traffic is never an issue. Power from the engine is linear. What this means is that it won’t pop a wheelie every time you twist the throttle. But rest assured, your butt will dig in to the padded saddle as the bike marches to triple-digit speeds.

Gearing is tall, so you mostly get by city traffic in second or third gear. And then you have another three gears which you can slot into when cruising down the highway. One thing that we would like to point out here is that though the bike feels refined on all fronts, the six-speed gearbox feels a bit clunky. Guess it has to do with all that torque coming from the 1.8-litre motor.

Sure, the bike is capable of doing speeds in excess of 140kph, but with the absence of a windscreen, the ride can get tiring. Worry not, Indian offers loads of accessories, with which you can spec the bike up to your liking and convenience.

Talking about accessories, one thing that we really liked about the Classic (but owners might not) is the exhaust note. It’s distinct, but not very loud, keeping in mind the ostentatious looks of the bike. There is an optional Stage 1 exhaust on offer, though.

No review is complete without the price, and the Indian Classic, at Rs 26.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) is pricey to begin with. But with those retro looks and that 1,811cc engine, we are sure customers won't mind shelling out a couple of lakhs more for a big bad American cruiser.

The numbers
2cyl, 1,811cc, 139Nm, 6M, 370kg (with fluids), fuel tank: 20.8 litres, Rs 26.50 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict

A genuine alternative to a Harley with classic looks and a torquey engine, though the pricing could have been better.

Abhinav Mishra

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