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2014 Indian Chief Classic, Vintage and Chieftain: MD First Ride (Part 1)


2014 Indian Chief Vintage

I am still in Sturgis, and quite tired, actually.  In addition to riding the new Indian Chief models roughly 350 miles in the last two days, I have attended various press briefings, and events in the heart of Sturgis, and several dinners with Indian representatives.  I will be riding more today, and trying to shoot some video.  Let me get to some solid first impressions, but wait for more details in Part 2 of this report.


Polaris Industries has been frustrated, I am sure, with its efforts to grab market share from Harley-Davidson in the heavyweight cruiser category with its Victory brand.  Although, to be fair to Victory, it has reached the number 2 position behind Harley in worldwide market share for the category.  Nevertheless, for the American consumer in particular, branding is hugely important.  If  you don’t believe me, spend a few minutes doing a Google search of the “importance of branding”.  Indian is the brand to take it to Harley in a way Victory never could, and the reaction of the Harley faithful here in Sturgis (more about that later) is proof positive.


2014 Indian Chief Classic


Oh, and about the bikes.  The new Chief models, including the Classic, Vintage and Chieftain, are extremely impressive on several levels.  Polaris tasked its designers and engineers with building the best bike platform in the category.  In Part 2, I will get into the design process more deeply, but MD is very impressed.  Not only with the incredible Thunder Stroke 111 engine, but the other elements of the entire package.  The largely aluminum, backbone frame feels stiffer than anything I can remember riding from the competition.  Indeed, the Victory platform comes closest, but the Indian frame feels more solid beneath me, leading to more precise handling and accurate suspension movement (without having to deal with random flexing and rebound from a less stout, steel chassis).

The engine is every bit as special as it presents itself from an aesthetic standpoint.  Indian painstakingly removed as much clatter and irritating noise emanating from this mill, leaving the rider to enjoy some beautiful, soulful harmony coming from the air box intake and exhaust.  It sounds good, and the engine pulses feel good.

The engine is also a performer.  Will it prove to be the fastest bike in the category?  We can’t say for sure, but the broad plateau of torque allows you to overtake on the highway in the overdrive sixth gear without the necessity of a downshift.

Watch for our next article where we will go into the painstaking effort by Indian to craft and present every little aesthetic aspect of the machine, with close-up photography by yours truly.  You will be impressed. I will also get into much greater detail about my riding impressions.

I have a few small criticisms that I will get into, as well, but they are not particularly significant, and certainly not deal breakers.  Stay tuned, and enjoy the photos taken of me by Tom Riles during my test so far.


2014 Indian Chieftain



  1. wardy says:

    Dare to be different
    I have own 2 bikes my whole life , 01 scout bought new , and a new 2013 chief vintage ,, which is an amazing ride and u don’t have to add chrome or leather ,
    Just spoiled !
    Its not what you ride , its if you ride !

  2. bart says:

    Beatiful classic motorcycles never go out of style. These new Indians are fabulous.

  3. Jay says:

    I like the motorcycle a lot, but why does Polaris have to acquire the name “Indian” in order to put it into production? It isn’t an Indian, it’s a Polaris. Indian is just a name, but the Indian company died a long time ago and its politically incorrect name should have been allowed to rest in peace without being resurrected for commercial purposes. No one riding today used to ride an Indian.

    Why couldn’t Polaris just call it an “Indiana” or something and forget this “Indian” crap. Indiana worked okay for Jones.

    • James C says:

      ummm someone owns the name and likeness of the brand. you can’t just something that someone else owns. Polaris paid a pretty penny to either lease or purchase the brand (I believe they purchased the brand).

  4. Bruce says:

    I have to say I’m laughing at some of the comments. Holy crap, some of you guys are getting really worked up over this.

    Nice looking bikes that pay homage to the late 40s-early 50s Chiefs. I kind of like the look, but I’d have a hard time justifying 20 grand for any motorcycle.

  5. J. D says:

    Love the motor, umm, Love the motor.

  6. Doc says:

    What’s the deal with OEMs. This is not what I want. I want a bike with at least 150rwhp. Torque like a v-twin down low and scream on top like a inline 4. It’s first maintenance at the 50,000 mile mark. Tires that stick to the track like glue, excellent traction in rain, and work great in the dirt. Oh, and they need to be able go 25,000 miles before changing. It has to run at least 185mph. Crawl like a mountain goat off road. Plenty of cargo capacity. Have an 8 gallon fuel tank. Get 65 mpg. Have absolutely all the electronics available so there is no connection between my brain or any other body part and the machine itself other than my hands and ass. You know, electronic throttle, abs brakes, 36 levels of traction control, slipper clutch even. Maybe auto transmission instead. God forbid I would have to use my brain and use common sense to think about these things. The suspension has to be of Ohlins MotoGP quality. Nothing less. Adjusts by thought. Long travel, 8-10 inches front and back but the seat height can be no more than 27.5 inches. Nice thick seat too. Exhaust has to be out of the way but nothing under the seat or under the bike. Good storage under that seat. The brakes are to be the best Brembo makes. And this thing cannot weigh more than 350 lbs fully fueled. With all of that, if it costs more that $6,000 forget about it! I may have forgot something but I can bitch about that later.

  7. ApriliaRST says:

    Right now I have two sport-tourers and a dual sport. I’ve never had a cruiser, but if I was to buy one, this could be it. It has the design integrity of a Harley, but with a much better functioning frame. Sure, it’s long and low so it’ll never be a sport bike, but that’s no problem on 95% of US highways, especially the sort you’d take crossing a continent when you have limited time due to having one of those pesky ~jobs~ that come with only limited time off.

    What the article’s author said about the importance of branding is so very true. I don’t know why other brands don’t require their dealers to commission a local t-shirt shop to design a few shirts specific to their city. Or sell bikes in more than one color. Or design accessories that fit and work. Maybe Victory/Polaris/Indian will give it a try.

    To me, the worst thing about Harley-Davidson is that ~the brand~ cannot be separated from Harley-Davidson the supposedly useful transportation object. Along with that branding comes the inability to ride a motorcycle without dressing up like a pirate, wearing a beanie helmet (no helmet is better) and riding with your best practiced cruiser face. For myself, the lack of associated stereotypical baggage just MIGHT be enough for me to buy this bagger.

  8. mk says:

    Does it Buffet with the fullface on the Chieftain?

  9. HalfBaked says:

    I didn’t have the time or the inclination to read all the comments so just in case the Poser Police haven’t been here either I’m going to remind everyone that these are nothing but straight up flat out poser bikes don’t be caught on one least you be mistaken for one of the dreaded posers.

    • Starmag says:

      It’s a real shame that you’ve been forced to come here and post so eloquently. You might want to look up the term “pyschological projection”.

  10. kjazz says:

    Ride what you like; buy what you can afford. Let everybody else do the same. I find room to laugh at HD riders, sportbikers, and ADV riders….. and most importantly, at myself from time to time. Geez guys…’s just motorcycling!!!

  11. 502flier says:

    I’m 58, long-time rider. Owned Honda, Harley, and currently Indian. Without a lie, I would rather push my Indian than ride a Jap cruiser. Talked to the dealer today about ordering my new Indian. I’m on the fence about the bagger, but the Classic and Vintage are what I was hoping the new Indian would look like. Instantly recognizable, and not a Harley clone wannabe or Arlen Ness space mobile. My Dad had a mid-80’s Aspencade up ’til he had a stroke 3 years ago and I once took it on a 2-day road trip through the Midwest. By the end of that ride, I could barely walk due to a bruised tailbone that took 2 years to rectumfy (yes, that was intentional). Never happened on either my Harley or my Indian.
    Even though my current Indian is a Gilroy (bring on the haters), people still walk right on by all my buddies’ Harleys to look at it and compliment.

    I traded a buddy on the highway for a few miles once. He had a 993 (or something) Ducati, which rarely made it home without breakdown, and I had a FatBoy. I had never ridden a crotch-rocket before and never will again. Oh, and 2 months later he traded his Duck on a Harley.

    Everyone has an opinion about what Polaris ‘should have done’. If you don’t like it, oh well, go buy a Yamondaki and join the weekend warriors. If you need to go 200 mph somewhere, get yourself a missile that any 16 year-old can buy and good luck. The important thing is – the choice is yours. Be glad there are choices in every market. We now have one more choice and I personally think it’s a pretty good one.

  12. Stoopy says:

    It’s not really an alternative to HD until Indian can also offer a completely alternative marketing package for their clientele based on clothing-as-lifestyle. HD has very carefully tuned their niche in this regard by getting new owners hooked up with off-the-rack pirate garb (“Your first leather vest is free”), and from there transitioning them into the next important marketing aspect, an off-the-shelf, easily duplicated (and rarely questioned) weekend lifestyle image. HD does a great job of teaching their new owners the finer points of acting out as Sons Of Anarchy caricatures by way of dealer-sponsored poker runs, replete with spontaneous tutorials on “The Harley Scowl” provided during rest stops so the neophyte owners can be assimilated into the fold (mold?) as efficiently as possible. I suspect they use thumbscrews and other implements from the Spanish Inquisition to help new riders get that all-important painful grimace on their face as they slowly motor down the road.

    So to get a good start, Indian would do well to look at the remaining Village People characters that HD’s Marketing dept. has not yet laid claim to. I think one of them actually *is* an Indian, but that’d be too predictable, as well as risky from a diversity standpoint. There’s also a cowboy I think, and I’m not sure how most folks will deal with the idea of a Cowboy riding an Indian, but come to think of it, maybe it’s just crazy enough to work. There’s gotta be as many, or more, boomers out there that played Cowboys and Indians as there are ones that played Pirates of the Carribbean. The only remaining question is what sterotyped lifestyle to merge the garb with. It’s all about getting the right combo. It has to be something that the pediatrists and office managers *want* to emulate on weekends as part of their group escape from reality. Farmer? Stockbroker? Plumber? Redneck? Hillbilly? “Hay maw, gimme a swig from that-there jug o’shine, I had ta lay’er down on mah way out ta check up on th’still”. Something like that.

    I don’t know, I’m no good at this marketing stuff, but I think that’s their ultimate recipe for success.

    • jake says:

      Easy to make fun of Harley and how mindlessly conforming its fans have become. But one still has to admit, those mindless fans willing to overpay for alot of chrome and appearance while getting too little function, have a point. HD’s are the coolest bikes around. It’s not what HD is doing right as much as what other bike companies aren’t doing. None of them will outright challenge HD for a share of the biggest market out there.

      These Indians are disappointing from a styling point of view, but they will still sell well, simply cause the market they are entering is that large. It’s like a freaking ocean and they are the only ones willing to dive in.

    • goose says:

      Wow, another sport bike type jealous of Harley’s success. You’re so original!

      Ever wonder why sport bike threads don’t have a bunch of similarly inane comments from cruiser riders? Maybe they feel less need to compensate?

      Sorry, I’m just sick of time wasters/ trolls like this guy posting the same crap over and over.


      • jake says:

        Sometimes truth lies in how others see us rather than how we wish to be seen. As silly as sport bike riders must seem to the older HD riders, HD riders look just as laughable to the younger sport bikers. Both groups are based more on style, lifestyle expression, and posing than function or the simple joys of riding, so both groups are easy to pick on and make fun of if someone so desires.

        But you are right. The sport bike genre is declining while the HD motif is still running strong, if not growing stronger.

        HD’s success? Not sure if anyone’s jealous of it. It is easy to be successful if you are the only game in town. HD is in the largest market segment in motorcycling and no one has ever decided to compete with it, head to head. Also, bike buyers are alot like pickup buyers in being very nationalistic. Where their ride is made is very important to them. With HD being the last U.S. bike manufacturer in the largest bike market and with every one else choosing to let that market pass and not compete with it, how in the hell could HD ever fail?

        HD has been set up to succeed and become the monster it has become from the very start.

        • Scotty says:

          Well yes and no- I have nothing but admiration for the way HD has been marketed and I think that Indian might be able to get a little bit of that action.

          But going back further, quite clearly HD has manipulated the rules of bike sport in the USA from the very start until today to ensure HD products were winning products. Look up Dick Klamforth Norton” and see what happened when little British 500s started beating US 750s….regularly.

    • Mike Simmons says:

      By God, I think you are on to something! Since the pirate motif is already spoken for by the MOCO folks, what persona could the Indian buyer use? What indeed?



    • GuyLR says:

      You nailed it! But we who are not of the H-D or Cruiser persuasion should watch out for the smug trap.

      Modern motorcycling seems like it’s all about the look and not about the ride. However, if you look back at the old photos of post WWII guys from the late 40’s on you see the same sort of thing with the leather jackets, jeans and cop hats that said, “we’re tough, you don’t want to mess with us”. Riders have always been ready to adopt the look that made them feel like they stood apart from the “Squares”, the “Cagers” or as our tattooed cafe racer hipsters are now from the “Olds”. It’s just the way it goes with humans. We’re special. So let’s mount up on our $18K, 1200cc, 550 pound adventure bikes wearing our brand new $1000 Aerostich suits and leave those H-D posers behind.

      It’s all about the ride brothers and sisters.

    • dino says:

      LOL does not quite do this justice!

      Might not be a PC response, but by God, that was funny! And there is nothing funnier than real life, and you nailed a healthy dose of that, with a slice of tounge-in-cheek…

      I like the moon shiner that “had to lay it down” while checking on the still!! (real riders know that “laying it down” is NEVER the best option)

    • Ross says:

      Funny stuff, Stoopy. Well-written.

      Amazing how psychology has so much to do with bike sales/design/marketing.
      As much as the technology and performance?

      Or more?

  13. Boris says:

    It’s exciting to see the Indian brand revitalized. I’m sure Indian has a Scout in the works for its entry-level bike to draw buyers away from Sportsters, and it will be interesting to see that chapter in the new Indian story unfold. I would hope that it will use a completely different frame, and have a shorter wheelbase and more ground clearance. I would also imagine that the new Scout will be much, much lighter (at about the same weight as a Sportster or even less). They could use the same engine/trans platform but de-stroke the engine for around 80-85 cubic inches.

  14. TomS says:

    Although I’m not a cruiser guy, I really like Indian’s design. In particular, I find the integrated look of the filler panel below the seat, and the way it flows into the rear fender skirt and the rear fender itself very attractive… it makes the rear of the bike look cohesive, and that’s an area that HD has never made look good. The front skirted fenders look nice, too, although I understand that they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. The overall design is an attractive retro thing and I think Indian will be poaching HD buyers like crazy.

  15. stinkywheels says:

    I’m hoping this doesn’t become cruiser daily. I just added my first cruiser/geezerglide to the fleet(used). They have their merits and am glad to see a restart for Indian that has a chance of succeeding. I’ve always liked the Victorys but their resale is horrible, good for me, bad for new bike buyers. For just droning, commuting, parade speed in style these bikes(cruiser) are king. I hope they succeed and build up their dealerships and service. They’ve got the trike market, fast(kinda?) cruiser, luxury tourer. They’re really trying to keep us geezers riding.Bravo!

  16. Lenz says:

    Obviously this style of motorcycle still sells well in the US. The whole “week-end road pirate” thing totally eludes me as does the appeal of these porcine relics.

    • red says:

      Arrr! Aye! days of Indian talk turning me into a pirate too..

      Seriously though aren’t there any cool bikes coming out that we can talk about? I’ll settle for photochopped “spy pics” and totally unsubstantiated rumors.

      • dino says:

        Speaking of rumors, I heard Arnold Schwarzenegger was involved with a recent bike introduction.. He was the perfect guy to introduce the “Motus-cycles” at Laguna Seca.

        (sound of crickets?)

    • Mike Simmons says:

      Me too!

    • Hot Dog says:

      I’m with you, I just don’t get it. I guess they’re right, “If ya got to ask, you don’t understand”.

    • Michael H says:

      So what? They are motorcycle enthusiasts, just like the rest of us. It’s a big tent, with room for a lot of riders who have different ideas of what and how they like to ride. Frankly, seeing someone wearing the full-on adventure suit riding a farkled-out, knobby tired, gigantic pannier’d adventure bike to a coffee shop looks just as ridiculous.

      V-twin configured motorcycles are the best-selling motorcycles in America for a reason: people like them.

    • paul A says:

      One of the reasons Harleys sell so well is that they are almost maintenance-free. No valves to adjust, no chain to lube or adjust, no carbs to sync. Indian might just light a fire under H-D to make some much needed improvements, specially the Sportster line (six speed trans. and better handling). Polaris CEO sounded like he might be making a bike to compete with Sportsters in the future. He said they weren’t making mid sized bikes “yet”. Polaris spent a lot of money to make these Indians, I hope it pays off.

      • Hot Dog says:

        Once I get all the coffee out of my nose that I just choked on, I’ve got to wonder why, if they’re so maintenance free, do I see groups of them being followed by a chase van or truck?

        • paul A says:

          That’s in case it rains. LOL

        • bigjoe1 says:

          OK, I just choked on my coffee after reading your ‘choked on my coffee comment’. Hot Dog that was a jewel and I could not said it better myself. Perhaps the last thing I would ever call a Harley is ‘maintenance free’.

      • Boris says:

        Compared to the Harleys of the AMF era that I grew up on, they’re “maintenance free.”

    • Chris says:

      I’m with ya. Where are the curb feelers and static straps?

  17. Gronde says:

    Looks like an attempt by Vespa at designing an Indian motorcycle. Let’s hope it sells better than the current offerings by Victory. Who knows, maybe they’ll branch out and offer something other than a cruiser next time?

  18. TheMurf says:

    I bet the phones were ringing off the hook at the Willie G Design center on Monday evening this week. Competition is a great thing,along with technology it drives better products and a reduced price to intice the buyer. I think the new Indian’s will drive Harley to make better bikes with more featurs for the money. I pedict the new Chief’s will sell and at that price sell alot. I have been ridding for forty plus years,I’ve owned Kawasaki’s, Yamaha’s, Honda’s including two Goldwings, and three Harley’s. My present ride is an 012′ Ultra. I plan on test ridding a new Indian. I’ll wait for the Chieftain to get a two tone paint job, and a full trunk before I spring for one. Would love to have a Indian sitting next to my Harley..

  19. Don Fraser says:

    Comments from 62 year old, been riding for 41 and wrenching for 39, mostly Japanese. Harley is building a decent product and markets it in a way that is kicking all butt in this category, so “pressure” to do better? don’t think so. Mostly wondering about claim that Victory is #2 worldwide in this category and would like to see some numbers.

    From my point of view here in Western New York, the Japanese motorcycle business has been in a steady decline for quite a few years, and that includes service work. I commute 85 miles a day on my ’08 Ex250 and see very few other bikes on the road. The most motorcycle traffic I see is large groups on Sundays. I have 6 friends that have bought new Harleys in the past year.

    As for Polaris getting in to the sportbike game, I disagree. Work for a dealer selling all 4 Japanese brands and we don’t sell many sportbikes, mostly cruisers.

    • NORKA says:

      Same here in Arkansas, most bikes around are cruisers. The group riders tend to be on Harleys, while the individual riders are on Japanese cruisers or Gold Wings. The laydown sports bikes draw the young males, while the so call standards are rare.
      The young males that live long enough get married and soon no longer have a bike.

      • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

        I loled. Thank goodness for those young males surviving and getting married…thats how I pick up sport bikes on Craigslist for cheap

      • Starmag says:

        ” while the so-called standards are rare”

        Does anyone else think that it’s just plain odd that America is so polarized between one extreme riding position and another? That is, it’s got to be crouch or slouch? ADV bikes seem to be making ergonomic headway, but holy cow, are they ugly. They are comfortable but will never make me turn around for one last look after I park it.

        • BlackCayman says:

          The new Yamaha FZ-09 Triple is is standard position! Maybe the worm is turning.

          The Adv Bikes also have the sit up straight position.

        • kjazz says:

          There is more to the ADV riding position than just a compromise between to “extreme riding position(s).” Actually, the ADV (upright) position IMO is MUCH safer. It allows easy head swivel, balanced access to all controls under all situations of braking, turning, gassing, etc. Being upright and tall is better for visibility (cars seeing YOU). And probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

    • todd says:

      I am so intrigued that it’s the opposite here in California. I typically count an average of 50 bikes I see on the road each day, about a third of those are cruisers/bobbers/retro-standards. “Adventure” and other bikes (scooters, dual-purpose/motards, three wheelers) are growing, almost to 10% now. The remaining 60%, the sport bikes and sporty standards, I can’t tell if they are on a decline or not. I don’t see many dealer paper plates on bikes so I can’t quite tell how old they are.

      These are all observations from commuting. It may very well be an entirely different make up on Sunday or around the local bar…

      • mickey says:

        Here in Ohio, out of 50 bikes I’ll see on a weekend, 3 will be sport bikes, 0 will be standards, 3 will be ADV bikes, usually Beemer GS’s, 3 will be Goldwiings, 6 will be Metric cruisers but their riders will be dressed like HD riders and will have the required loud pipes, the rest will be Harleys, usually black, 1 of which will be a Vrod. I have seen 1 Victory this summer that I recall, and if I’m lucky will see 1 Indian next summer. Doubt I will see any Motus’s.

      • CowboyTutt says:

        I don’t think that all parts of CA are the same in that regard. When I travel to SoCal I do see a lot of sport bikes but also Harleys. But up here in NorCal in Ukiah, we have a Suzuki shop owned by the same man who also owned the Harley shop and the sport bikes just languish here unsold, in the sales room floor. I almost never even see a sport bike on the road here, so I can say we are mostly a Harley or cruiser community up here. I do think the larger metro areas have more sport bikes though. Regards, -Tutt

      • Bob says:

        Here in Florida, guess what? Yep almost all Harleys driven by boomers.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: what’s on the roads diego to sac…?

      A: everything. afterall, it is cali.

  20. Paul says:

    I think this is the bike Harley owners have wanted from another brand. As a recent owner of a CVO Softail Convertible (which I sold for a K1600GT), I paid $30k for a bike that Indian has produced for less than $20k. Here is where I think the Indian’s have the advantage to all Harley’s and some models in particular.

    -The use of chrome is only something you get on the CVO models as stock.
    -The adjustable windshield and digital infotainment center is long overdue on Harley tourers.
    -It’s got an oil cooler from the factory, not the case on Dyna and Softail, and not the case on my $30k CVO!
    -It’s got style, perhaps a little too much here and there, but I think people buy these bikes as much to look at and have others look at, than for function. My K1600GT has lots of function and very little style.
    -The use of brown leather really works here. I doubt it should ever get wet, but it still looks cool.
    -The saddle bags look like a much better design and are better blended into the fender.

    I am still concerned about the weight though. Even with an aluminum frame, the thing is still a porker and will handle as such relative to other lighter bikes. No mention if the fenders are steel, but shaving a few pounds here and there by using aluminum would help. I predict the Vintage will not sell because even cruiser owners want some utility and those bags look fragile. I think the Road King Classic was just discontinued due to lack of sales in support of my point.

    I also predict that Victory will scale back their product line to be more performance oriented. Less show and more performance. If people want a classic cruiser, the Indian is your boy at this prince point, not a Victory Judge, etc.

    Note to Indian, stop using the term “every owner is an original” in your marketing hype and then direct buyers to a list of accessories that can be purchased. If everyone buys the same crap, then no one is original. Stop listening to your marketing firm and just build a good bike. Honda sold millions of bikes over the years with no need to be original. They did it with reliability, value and performance. These are qualities motorcycle buyers still want in a cruiser.

  21. NORKA says:

    I am 73 years old and my current bike is a 2004 Concours. For me the joy of riding comes from the oneness between me and my machine. While I have never ridden a modern Harley or any cruiser for that matter, I cannot conceive that the ridding position could provide that oneness.
    Also, there are so many wonderful bikes for less than $15,000 that spending more than $20,000 seem incomprehensible.

    • CLB says:

      Kudos to you Norka!

      I can only hope that I make 73, let alone arrive on an ’04 Concourse. That’s just nice!

      At 58 I have moved from an ’06 1050 Sprint to a ’13 ZX636. I am having a blast with the lightweight little machine. I am currently looking for soft bags/tank bag and looking forward to some less than comfortable days on the road. Needless to say I don’t get the whole cruiser mojo.

      Keep the rubber side down.

  22. Clasqm says:

    I dunno. Maybe one day they will build something like this:

    And I will go “please, take my money!” These don’t do it for me.

    • H1 says:

      Yeah, but the bike you refer to is neither a Royal Enfield or an Indian…just something that someone came up with and named it that. You might as well call it a Honda RC166, and have some real sex appeal.

      • clasqm says:

        My brain cells both agree with you. It’s a Photoshop special. Which is why I said “something LIKE this”. Wouldn’t care much whose name was on the tank, if the product worked well.

  23. George says:

    I wish them the best of luck,with that being said I feel safe making a few comments.
    I believe I am somewhat their target market.I’m 57 years old,experienced rider and shopping for a new bike.
    The models looks are a mixed bag.
    I like the looks of the motor/exhaust and fenders.
    I hate the look of the under seat area (looks like a Honda Pacific Coast)
    The tank looks too small with all that frame neck sticking out.
    The total package looks waaay to long.The handlebars look awful.
    I look at the new Moto Guzzi California and it gets my blood stirring,the Indian doesn’t.

  24. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    I think we should withhold judgement until we see the bikes in real life. Harleys are so common that they are like taxis (at least here in TX) and that ubiquity (like that of most Harley rider clones) has made them boring. I’m not a cruiser guy by any stretch. But I could definitely see owning one of these as a 3rd or 4th bike. They have style.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Agreed. It will be nice to have something fresh sprinkled into mix I see on my rides. Cruisers are like cattle to me here. There are so many of them, and they all look alike to the point where I am completely apathetic to their existence. You pegged it – they are boring. No matter how much chrome you sprinkle on your Harley, all I see is a Toyota Camry. I am not a cruiser guy either and so perhaps overlook aspects of certain bikes that make them unique to cruiser connoisseurs, but I guarantee I will notice, and welcome, the sight of an Indian coming down the road in the near future.

  25. Norm G. says:

    re: “The largely aluminum, backbone frame feels stiffer than anything I can remember riding from the competition.”

    need more info. whadda we mean “largely” aluminum…? there’s no way those down tubes are ally…? they’d have to be steel, so how would they be employing the 2 dissimilar metals…? talk to me goose.

  26. Motorhead says:

    Is it a comfortable ride for a guy with long legs? Really, that’s my criteria: comfort. Can’t stand cramped up legs. Harleys tend to be a bit cramped, Victories a bit more spacious, BMWs about the best.

  27. kawzies says:

    Big, Stupid, Made in ‘Merica!!!! Watch out Harley-pretty soon your employees will be yelling Dey Turk Er Jurbs!!!!!!!

  28. hrembe says:

    Wow another BUTT UGLY v twin cruiser just great! Hey Polaris how about a technologically advanced SPORTBIKE for godsake. My grandfather raced Indian board trackers (the original sportbike) not cruisers.

    • Colors says:

      Why? so everyone can continue to buy the Big Fours 600’s. And Polaris can throw millions on R&D for a $20k sport bike that won’t quiet messure up to industry standards. Cause their company a huge finacial dent that might end in the closing of “the other” American motorcycle. I love new sport bikes as much as anyone, but if Polaris built a sport bike which gap in the market would it fill? What about an Indian badge on a plastic repli racer would result in grabbing sales from exotic European sport bikes? Start ups can’t compete for sales with Jap bikes. We saw what happened there with Triumph and the TT. This bike isn’t for sport bike guys. We now have 3 total, American cruiser companies, all of which work with one major engine platform. Sportbike riders have soooo much more choice in our machines. 4 Japanese companies each offering at least 3 different sport bikes, and then you’ve got BMW, KMT, Aprilia, Ducati, and Triumph offering us all kinds of high tech exotic sport machinery. It would be nice if America had a real sport bike offering BUT it would only be nice if that offering was competitive, both in specs and price. Until something in our economy changes, we’re not going to see that, we see MOTUS instead.

      • paul A says:

        So instead Polaris builds Indian bikes to compete with H-D and Victory motorcycles, not to mention the big four. How many cruisers do the big 4 Japanese companies offer? Yes, it looks like Polaris really played it safe.

        • Colors says:

          Japanese cruisers aren’t in direct competition with HD. Mostly because they aren’t American and most Harley riders won’t buy a Japanese motorcycle. They might buy an American made Indian though. Indian isn’t going to compete with Victory any more than a Heritage Softail competes with a Road King.

          • paul A says:

            Funny, the local Honda dealer has six Harleys that were traded in for Hondas.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Funny, the local Honda dealer has six Harleys that were traded in for Hondas.”

            those people were Harley pretenders. they exist in every tribe. those same 6 Hondas could get traded for say triumphs in the next 2 years, or even sold in an exit from riding altogether.

          • raivkka says:

            Maybe they do but I own a harley and just recently sold my honda cbr100rr to a young fella. I will never buy another sportbike and will never buy a Jap cruiser.

            If Honda gold wings were not so expensive i would consider owning both my harley Xbones for around town and weekend blast AND a gold wing for long distance or daily commutes to work (a gold wing being a tourer and not a cruiser).

            I like the Victory’s and Indian but if I want ANOTHER cruiser i’ll just build it myself the exact way I want it as my Xbones is perfect for me at this point.

            I like those Indians!

    • Boris says:

      Sportbike? Are you talking about those things that look like cockroaches with wheels? You mean a rolling exoskeleton with a few plastic trim pieces, with stupid ergonomics that hoist the rider’s butt way up in the air and force him to look down at the pavement while riding at 130 mph? One of those? My gawd, those things are BEYOND ugly. Grotesque. Sure glad that Indian isn’t going to make one.

      • Louis says:

        Actually, what would look grotesque is seeing the average (overweight, huge belly) Harley rider on a lithe sportbike, without a helmet of course. And heading to the nearest bar. (or worse, away from the bar) He wouldn’t look the part, and of course wouldn’t be comfortable.
        Seeing an athletic man/woman on a sportbike with a cool looking helmet and colorful armored jacket is a thing of beauty and function. How does that make you feel, Boris?

        • Boris says:

          Ideally, Louis, one would want to view a trim, athletic man or woman aboard a sleek, stylish cruiser with flowing lines, like the new Indian. He or she would be wearing a half-helmet, of course, with a black traditional zippered motorcycle jacket, black gloves, and boots.

          Cockroaches are to be stepped on.

          And hey, why do so many cockroach riders wear full-face helmets… but with shorts, T-shirts (no jacket or gloves), and flimsy open-toe sandals? That kind of unsafe outfit on a typical sportbike rider makes him look even more stupid with his butt way up in the air. Do sportbike riders crave road rash?

          • Louis says:

            I guess the answer is not as many riders die from road rash as from their helmet less head hitting the pavement. Good talking with you.

  29. MGNorge says:

    To me how sad that we Americans can’t look past brand names. Just might be surprised as to what you’d find. It’s rather like Apple and its iPhone. People rush to it, sometimes rather blindly, because it’s all they know. Same with Harley, they have a very strong base of loyal followers and those that don’t even ride..yet! All they know is when they grow up they want a Harley. When they get a smartphone they want to get an iPhone. As good as either product may be doesn’t that strike many of you as “limiting”? Perhaps if one was to look just a little further they’d see a very rich, diverse range of products from a number of manufacturers.

    I wish that Indian is a able to crack that nut and finally open some people’s eyes to other brands. Then, in my view, they go on to be a much broader manufacturer of fine motorcycles to fit a greater taste. Good luck to you!

    • Yoyodyne says:

      Uh, Indian is relying precisely on that hunger for brand names (Indian) to arouse consumer interest.

      • MGNorge says:

        Yes, that’s it. My point is simply how brand conscious we are. Look what the Japanese needed to do in order to sell their premium brands in North America.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “To me how sad that we Americans can’t look past brand names. Just might be surprised as to what you’d find. It’s rather like Apple and its iPhone. People rush to it, sometimes rather blindly, because it’s all they know.

      Madison Avenue gives a FISTPUMP…!!!

  30. Gronde says:

    Gee, looks just like a Harley with that batwing fairing. Why not just get a Harley and be done with it? The base price of the Indian is a lot more than most Harley’s base and by the time you add all the extras (there’s always extras) yer’ looking at a $30,000 bike that you bought just for the fat fenders.

    • Bud says:

      Because now there is an alternative to a Harley. That’s the point.

      • Gronde says:

        The Japanese have been making Harley alternatives for over 30 years…long before Victory was even a thought. Most of them are better bikes than the current Victory offerings (especially the Yamahas) so we really don’t need another “alternative” to the Harley. BTW, all these alternatives haven’t hurt Harley sales on bit.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          This is arguably the first alternative to everything Harley offers. The Japanese manufacturers make excellent cruisers no doubt, but neither they nor Victory can wrap nostalgia, historical significance, Americana and brand prestige into their bikes. In the US cruiser market, all of those attributes seem to be more important than just being “better” functionally.

          Most other cruisers try to emulate Harley Davidsons. The Indian is emulating an Indian. It is a true alternative.

          • Gronde says:

            Nostalgia? It’s a brand new bike! If you want nostalgia, go ride an old Indian motorcycle and tell me if you still like nostalgia. The new Indian is just a big, fat comfort machine…not an overheating, rattling, leaky, ill-handling rust bucket from the 1940’s. It’s a new motorcycle that slightly resembles the old Indian.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            That isn’t nostalgia, that is reality. Nostalgia is fond memory or sense of the past one gets from seeing the Indian label or the fancy fenders with all the bad stuff filtered out. 🙂 Most of use are only old enough to have a romantic link to Indians or yesteryear rather than any real experience riding one.

  31. Ricardo says:

    Poor you my friend, in Sturgis and riding a brand new motorcycle for two days…if you need someone to relieve you from this duties, please give me a call.

  32. Starmag says:

    This thing’s beautiful and sounds great. I hope Indian:
    1. does something better than the scooter look beneath the seat next year. Too much body color in one area.
    2. brings back the war bonnet horn cover,(or the after-market will)
    3. brings back quality metal tank badging. The single-color war bonnet tank decal looks cheap compared to the original multi-colored one. The script one looks too far back on the tank placement-wise.
    4. gives me one of these. I promise to stop sniveling if you do.

    Can’t wait for part 2

  33. goose says:


    Thanks for toughing it out. I’m too old and cynical to be jumping for joy but it sounds like there is finally a bike that will push Harley. Personally, I couldn’t care less about this bike being connected to a brand that died out 50 years ago. What I do care about is they are made in the USA and first reports are they really work well. I can’t wait for part II.


  34. mickey says:

    i’ll give this to Harley Davidson, that I wouldn’t give to Indian or Triumph ( or Excelsior or Norton) I think you can claim your birthright if you have been in business continually. maybe if you went out of business for a year or two and came back with new management and the same but improved models. Not if you went away for 50 or 60 years and are attempting to comeback on the back of the name or branding as you call it.

    I dont think Hildebrand and Wolfmueller should be able to come back at this point and say they have been building motorcycles since 1894 and are therefore theboldest motorcycle brand.

    • joe says:

      if all you care about is heritage then get a royal enfield. they have been making those since 1898. continuous production since 1901

      • mickey says:

        I won’t be buying a Harley, Indian or an Enfield, but at least Harley and Enfield can rightly claim their heritage. Now if the new Indian says “Indian since 2014” I think all is good. But to say Indian since 1901 is disingenuous. I think the Bloor Triumphs should say “Triumphs since 1999”. I think Nortons should say “Norton since.”. oh wait you still can’t get one.

        If KYMCO had bought the name instead of Polaris, you all would be screaming how it might be an Indian by name, but it’s not an Indian.

        • BlackCayman says:

          have they said “Indian Motorcycles, since 1901”????

          I think you need to calm down anmd take one of your pills

          • mickey says:

            STURGIS, SD— August 3, 2013 — Indian Motorcycle®, America’s first motorcycle company, today announced the highly anticipated details for the all-new 2014 Indian® Chief® family of motorcycles. Before thousands of motorcycling fans at the site of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in downtown Sturgis at 9 p.m. Mountain Time on Saturday, August 3, Indian Motorcycle unveiled the three models that comprise the Indian Chief line up. The reveal ceremony and party signaled an inflection point in motorcycling history with the renewal of America’s oldest and most legendary brand.

          • Gary says:


            That copy you put STILL doesn’t say since 1901, it just says “Indian, America’s first motorcycle company”- and that is true. They also mentioned the “renewal of America’s oldest and most legendary brand”. Doesn’t sound to me like they are trying to claim anything that otherwise is basically true.

          • Bob says:

            It’s cast right into the engine case, “Indian Motorcycles 1901”. The are definitely claiming that heritage. I believe it to be disingenuous as they really have nothing to do with the past, other than the fact that they bought the name. There is nothing in the bikes that can trace back beyond the clean sheet that Polaris started with.

            Having said that, I do believe it to be a commendable effort and I wish Indian success.

      • Tim says:

        Joe, I somewhat get what you say, but duration doesn’t insure a great product (let’s not forget the AMF Harley years, and the years that followed) just like a short time in business doesn’t insure a poor product (witness the Hinkley Triumphs). What makes this bike different from other start up companies, is that the bikes are being designed and built by a company already in the business, and already making quality motorcycles. If the Indian name helps them compete more with Harley, and force Harley to elevate its game (and perhaps even price more competitively to maintain market share), then I’m all for it. I really believe this is going to be great for the cruiser market in general. I don’t believe they’ll take a lot of sales away from Harley, but they will take enough to be profitable.

      • Moto_Chicago says:

        Or, buy a Moto Guzzi
        Continuous production since 1921

        And check out the California 1400. Sweet

  35. Bob says:

    MD is spot-on, given its American history and iconic stature, Indian has the ability to take market share from Harley in a way that Victory never could.

    These new models make clear that this time, FINALLY, Indian is back to stay. I owned and thoroughly enjoyed a HD Softail Custom for 13 years, but competition is always good for the consumer in every way.

    You had better believe that Harley is more than just a little concerned about this re-born competitor, and justifiably so!

  36. Tom R says:

    The Chieftain’s fairing looks like a war bonnet. Very cool, love it!

  37. kjazz says:

    They are pretty.

    However…I’d really like to see someone’s vision of the valenced fenders and other Indian design touches on a MODERN designed motorcycle. By modern, I mean modern design, not modern systems etc. I know the Polaris Indian is a modern bike. But I want to see a modern DESIGN interpretation of the swoopy look, fenders, Indian running light etc. Bound to be some talented artist willing to take a shot at it.

  38. Tommy see says:

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder for sure. I love the Skirted Fenders. Polaris has made a fabulous effort to rekindle an iconic brand. I look forward to seeing many of these machines on the High Waves. The Indians are coming! Way to Go.

  39. Superchicken says:

    The Chieftain’s front fairing is growing on me, as well as that shrouded bit on all the bikes beneath the seat. I like how they pulled that line into the back fender, as you can see in the picture of the Chief Classic. The headstock doesn’t bother me so much anymore either, although that has something to do with me seeing a picture somewhere showing that the part that is exposed, is also cleanly covered, not like the ugly welds (as opposed to beautiful welds, which exist) on something like a Harley Sportster (though they have cleaned that up over the years.)

    Still not my type of bike as the ride makes me want to cry in a way no other style of bike can, however I can appreciate what people see in some cruisers, aesthetically.

  40. Gentleman Rook says:

    Fourth, fifth and sixth photos–it’s got a radio antenna? In the age of bluetooth and integrated hardware it’s got a metal rod sticking up from its bum? Please tell me that’s not an appeal to “retro.” lol

    • Peter says:

      Bluetooth is only for close proximity device-to-device communication right? Cant receive FM/CB radio with it, so a traditional antenna is required. though, the could have maybe hit it somewhere like cars do in the rear window glass etc.

      • Gentleman Rook says:

        Ah, good point, thanks. 🙂 I was somehow blocking out the memory of Goldwings with twin LED-lighted masts. lol Still, seems like a bit of an awkward fitment. I agree, hiding it somewhere would have been a MUCH better alternative, and with a pricetag already that big I doubt the cost to design a better fit wouldn’t make that big of a bump in the final cost.

  41. Cage free says:

    Besides being ugly and uncreative the skirted fenders front and rear will make tire changes and repairs more difficult especially on the road. I also wonder why not one mfg of cruiser bikes with spoked wheels makes them to run with tubeless tires, to me this is a giant issue and would be a deal breaker.

  42. motowarrior says:

    I had a few guys get really upset with me when I wrote that Indian was going to take Polaris where Victory can’t go. In this category, pedigree is everything. Indian is a brand, Victory is a product. Polaris will stay with Victory for a while, but ultimately they will consolidate their cruiser line under the Indian brand. You Victory guys may not like it, but it’s coming.

    • Wes says:

      No, it’s not. They will keep Indian and Victory as separate lines as each of them speaks to a completely different market. You act as if you know something, but you do not. Combining the two would not ruin just one, but both of the lines and Polaris knows that.

      • BlackCayman says:

        I agree. Victory will continue. Its obvious to anyone with motorcycle industry experience or a brain.

        I think motowarrior bought a Victory and then sold it in shame when his Harley buddies didn’t pay nice.

        • motowarrior says:

          I happen to have both motorcycle industry experience and a brain. I have personally owned 56 motorcycles, but never a Harley or a Victory. So, pretty much you are 0 for 4 with your comments. I was at the very first Victory dealer meeting, representing my friend who is a very successful dealer, but ultimately elected to give up the Victory franchise because of slow sales. I happen to think that Victory is a very good cruiser, superior in many ways to H-D. You guys obviously have no understanding a the value of a brand, and in a few years when Victory fades away and Indian has become a success, you will ask “What happened?”

          • BlackCayman says:

            If Polaris can make a profit with Victory than it stands to reason they can do even better with Indian, based on your position that the Indian brand has more power in the marketplace.

            You say Victory goes away – I say the evidence that it doesn’t is based on its current success and trajectory. You know a dealer that didn’t have success with Victory… That’s not necessarily indicative of the brand.

    • dino says:

      Maybe Victory will become the brand that comes out with the Sportbike / Motocross / V4 / Scooter / Standard bikes that many of the complainers wish they would…

      That could be interesting… Let Indian go head-to-head with HD, while Victory gets to take a lot more risk in design..? I do lean toward the Victory cruisers already as I don’t really care about “brand”, but more about performance in any bike..

  43. BlackCayman says:

    I sure like the tank logo much better on the Classic. There is a photo of a black Classic on the Indian website. The bodywork under the seat is going to take some getting used to.

    Regarding the strength of the Indian Brand. If you buy a Victory, your HD buddies can still say “nice bike…but it’s not a Harley”. If you show up on an Indian, they can’t say Jack $&!#.

    I hope in the end, during side by side testing, the Indian comes out setting a new high watermark for performance, handling, & fit and finish.

    Someday I might be ready for a cruiser, and it won’t be a HD.

    • powermad says:

      Its interersting to me in a way. This bike is no more related to the original Indian than the new Triumphs are related to the originals. They bought the name. Nothing wrong with that, I just don’t think anyone should fool themselves.
      As for arguments from HD riders I guess you never heard but HD and Indian guys had rivalry going as far back as the original two brands date. Believe me there will be plenty of ‘good natured ribbing’ (aka bashing) to go around.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I always find it amusing when people assert that a current bike has nothing in common with an “original.” What did you expect? Drum brakes? Leather belt drives?

        The styling is certainly influenced by the Indians of old. If Indian had never gone out of business, chances are their bikes would be no more related to the “original” than this one either. Progress happens. All that is really left from bikes of the past to be emulated is styling, mystique, nostalgia and culture. Most of that is intangible, and like it or not, much of that intangible component resides in the brand name. This isn’t a garage shop chop job attempt at putting a motorcycle together and stamping a badge on it. It is a clean sheet design with respect paid to the things that made an Indian and Indian. That is as related and you can get to a relic from the past.

      • BlackCayman says:

        I know what your are saying – but HD people are dismissive about Victory and they just can’t be that way with Indian. The brand has legitimacy even though they flamed out and went away.

        Harley went through some difficult times – like that 10+ years of AMF. Buy a bike and get a free bowling ball! They’ld like to forget about those dark days – not to mention the absolute Crap Quality they put our for years and years.

      • 70's Kid says:

        True, but at least the “new Indians” are being made in the same country where they were originally made. Most of the “new Triumphs” are now made in Thailand, and while that doesn’t disqualify them as great bikes, it sure doesn’t do much for the heritage thing.

  44. bikerrandy says:

    How could anybody not like that fairing? It looks great to me.
    Looks like the bags aren’t made for easy detaching.
    Sounds like the motor feels as good as it looks.

    • Peter says:

      Saw a video that showed them detaching with not much effort. They just did a really good job of hiding the mechanism.

    • goose says:

      The fairing doesn’t look that great to me but, like somebody else said, its growing on me. Looks are 100% subjective, some people are going to love any design, some people are going hate any design. Designers need thick skins.


      • brinskee says:

        As subjective as design is, there is still a sense of “good” vs “bad” design. Look at the 999 vs the 1098. The proof is in the numbers sold.

        • Randy says:

          What was wrong with the 999? Aside from the fact I would never buy one (or a 996,998,1098, etc for that matter) I thought, in the physical, there was hardly a more businesslike bike created. Maybe not real sleek, like an A10 of a bike.

        • goose says:

          But look at the people who (Still!) defend the 999! David Edwards, formerly E.I.C. of Cycle World, defended the 999 to the end. Sales numbers tell what most people think, not everyone.

          Remember, somebody bought a Pontiac Aztec, a car that makes a 999 look like art.


        • dman says:

          Actually, I saw some sales figures recently and the 999 sold quite well. And while looks are subjective, I think time will be kind to the 999. When I see one now, it stands out and I know exactly what it is (or its a 749). A 1098 looks like any other sport bike from a distance. And I hated the 999 when it came out.

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