Indian Motorcycles finally returns as a serious Harley-Davidson contender, and the 112 year-old American brand comes packing a serious arsenal of technology and tradition, thanks to parent company Polaris.
Offered in three variants-- Chief Classic (a clean, cruiser; $18,999), Chief Vintage (outfitted with leather saddlebags and a quick-removable windscreen; $20,999), and Chieftain (a big, locking saddlebag-equipped tourer; $22,999), the 2014 Indian lineup shares the same powertrain across the board while offering a different flavor of styling and functionality within each bike.
Our focus here is the Indian Chief Classic, which trades wind protection and storage capacity for old school, minimalist style. As with all Indians, the Chief features cruise control, ABS, a wireless key fob, and a big ol' air-cooled, fuel-injected 111 cubic inch (1,818 cc) v-twin mated to a six-speed gearbox. Though retro details like large engine fins and signature Indian fenders nod to the past, there are also surprisingly modern touches like a digital style "On/Off" button and a LCD screen inset into the big, analog, sand-colored speedo ahead of a smaller analog fuel gauge. The LCD screen communicates everything from gear position to ambient temperature, fuel economy, and estimated cruising range, all of which is selected by a trigger button on the left handgrip.
A telescopic fork with 4.7 inches of travel handles the front, 130mm Dunlop, while the rear 180mm rubber is managed by a single shock setup with 3.7 inches. Rear preload on the Classic is mechanically adjustable, while the Vintage and Chieftain offer an air adjustable shock-- just like Polaris's Victory motorcycles-- which offers more travel and uses a small air pump that stows tidily away in the back of the bike.
The 2014 Indian Chief Classic weighs in at a substantial 778 pounds, and its seat height measures a low 26 inches.
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