The Rebirth of Indian Motorcycles 2014

An Icon Rolls Into The 21st Century

Photos by Mike Dalgaard, Lisa Dalgaard, Barry Hathaway and Indian Motorcycle Company

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DSCN0052When Polaris Industries first announced the acquisition of Indian Motorcycles from an off shore venture capital company just 27 months ago it didn’t take long for the various pundits along with the Indian faithful to weigh in. Questions, rumors, supposition and theories were the order of the day. Would Indian run as a stand alone company and produce its own motorcycles? Would Polaris just re-badge a Victory motor and slip it into a look-alike Indian package? Would they produce other models besides the legendary Chief, arguably the World’s most recognized bike? Would Indian be the vehicle that Polaris used to go head to head with Harley-Davidson ala the “good old days of the 20’s into the 50’s? And finally how do you redesign an American icon? These questions and many more swirled around the purchase like a desert wind on a hot day. One thing that everyone agreed on however, was that if Indian was to be saved, then this was the right time and the right company to make that happen.

DSCN0051Indian aficionados like me kept our fingers crossed and began paying very close attention to what Polaris was doing. As a long time Indian owner and current owner of an ’03 Gilroy Chief I have followed the Indian saga for over 30 years. I have also written extensively on Indian for the past 12 years. I was encouraged that positive signs kept popping up that the people at Polaris were all moving in the right direction as they formed a complete stand alone company and moved forward. The more they revealed the more questions arose. Finally on Saturday night, August 3rd at the Motorcycle Museum in downtown Sturgis, SD, all those questions and more were answered when Indian Motorcycles rolled out THREE BRAND NEW CHIEF models to an enthusiastic crowd numbering some 15,000 people during a long-awaited “reveal” ceremony. I was there along with my son, Chris, my daughter-in-law, Lisa and even my granddaughter, Gabriella.  We were simply blown away by the bikes, the show and the crowd of excited well-wishers, most of whom were wearing Harley-Davidson T-shirts! That tells you something about the hold and the respect that this iconic brand has on the motorcycle world.


INDIAN-REVEAL-21---VINTAGEAmong the many challenges facing the Indian design team was just how do you pay homage to Indian’s past without limiting its future? You can’t build a successful company turning out copies of a 1948 design and tweaking it here and there. The so called “nostalgia market” is really quite small, as both previous incarnations of Indian found out the hard way. The solution was to create a bike that not only bridged the gap to the past but created a path to the future. Indian did just that with the new Chief, Vintage and Chieftain. Three new models that from the tires to the bars and from fender to fender are all completely new and powered by a state of the art, retro styled kick-ass motor, the Thunderstroke 111 that we covered at length in our May 2013 issue. According to the chief designer and stylist, the motor and what it needed to be and the size and how it fit into the whole design silhouette were crucial to the overall design concept. Crucial also was heat reduction and many parts are double insulated or wrapped or powder coated. Now add in 3 crisp new designs with styling cues reminiscent of Indian’s past, and couple that with many new innovations including a keyless ignition, disappearing windshields, GPS, Audio, and much more. Then rock anything that’s not painted or covered in real leather with chrome and you have a small snapshot of what these new bikes are all about.

INDIAN-REVEAL-20---CHIEFTAIN3 NEW MODELS – THE BASICS: All of the new models come with the Thunderstroke 111 motor with 119 foot pounds of torque, multi-port fuel injection with throttle by wire. Six speed, helical mesh transmission. Colors are very basic and include Indian Motorcycle Red, Springfield Blue and Thunder Black. These colors harken back to Indian’s rich heritage, and the colors match original Indian paint. Chief has real leather seat but saddlebags are optional. Vintage  models include real leather seats and saddle bags available in either tan or black. Chieftain has hard bags. All have dual exhausts, chromed hand controls, 1 ½ inch chromed handlebars with internal wiring for a cleaner less cluttered appearance, full instrumentation, electronic keyless ignition, cruise control, ABS brakes, chrome foot controls, quick release saddlebags, chromed engine highlights, chromed telescoping forks, laced wheels with whitewalls, floorboards, oil cooler, brake caliper covers, auxiliary driving lights, LED taillight and turn signals, cast frame, pneumatic single rear shock with 4.49 travel, chrome highway bars,

INDIAN-REVEAL-18---VINTAGEWARRANTY: 5 Years. 1st year is a bumper-to-bumper full coverage warranty with no mileage cutoff. 2nd thru 5th year are a $50.00 per repair incident with no mileage penalty or cut off. Extreme Example: Blow your motor or tranny at 100,000 miles and as long as you are inside 5 years you’ll get a new one for $50.00 bucks! Each motorcycle also comes with a free nationwide roadside assistance program.

GUARANTEED TRADE IN VALUE: We all know that trading in is the fastest way to get yourself into a new bike but it does have its pitfalls. The new Indian models include a trade in value guarantee. Trade in after 2 years and you are guaranteed 70% of your purchase price. Trade in after 3 years and you are guaranteed 60% of your purchase price. Takes a lot of the sting out of working a trade-in deal.

There will also be a military discount of $1000.00 off each bike for current active duty military personnel as well as retired military veterans.


THE CHIEF: Starting at just $18,900 the all new Chief looks like a stylistic combination of traditional icon meets pro street racer. It’s everything you want and everything you’ll need in a leaner, meaner, narrower and shorter version of the older traditional package. Length: 103.5  Width: 39.8  Height: 46.3  Seat Height: 26.0

Rake 29.0 degrees.  Trail: 6.1 in.  Dry Weight: 778 lbs  GVWR: 1260 lbs  Fuel: 5.5 Gal. Wheelbase: 68.1

THE VINTAGE: Very traditional styling with lots of leather including real leather padded saddlebags, quick release windshield, Chrome badging, fender tips, backrest adaptable leather seat and more. $20,900

Length: 103.7 Width: 40.4 Height: 58.7 (windshield on) Seat Height:26.0 Rake: 29.0 degrees. Trail: 6.1  Dry Weight: 801 lbs  GVWR: 1260 lbs  Fuel: 5.5 Gal.  Wheelbase: 68.1

INDIAN-REVEAL-15---CHIEFTHE CHIEFTAIN: At $22,900 this is the top of the Indian line and includes a unique fairing with an automatic power windshield that you can raise and lower into the fairing with the touch of a button. It also includes lockable hard bags, GPS, added instrumentation and a full 100 watt audio system with Blu-Tooth. The instrument pod also includes a Tach, speedo, and 15 LED warning lights for everything from oil issues to tire pressures. It also includes cast black wheels, chrome badging, remote locking and more. While the Chief and the Vintage are essentially the same bike with different trim and design touches, the Chieftain is a very different bike all together. Note the Fairing, rake and wheelbase as a case in point. This is a no nonsense tourer and is built and equipped accordingly. Length: 101.2  Width: 40.2 Height: 60.2 (windshield up)  Seat Height: 26.0 Rake: 25 degrees Trail: 5.9 Dry Weight: 815 lbs. GVWR: 1385 Fuel: 5.5 Gal.  Wheelbase 65.7

ACCESSORIES: Timed to be introduced along with the three new bikes is a very full line of accessories for all three models. The range of add-ons runs the gamut from slip-on mufflers, handle bars, various covers and badging, added leather items, exhaust tips, fender bumpers and tips, racks, windshield and tool bags, floorboards, backrests, audio items, and a very full line of Indian logoed riding and wearing apparel both modern as well as retro. The extensive line of fringed leather items is unique in that all of the fringe is velcroed in place and can be removed for replacement, repair or mood and taste shifts!

At press time Indian was still setting up dealers around the U.S. and already had 140 dealers in place with a projected dealer base of some 250 dealers anticipated by year’s end. In fact deliveries to already approved dealers had begun as we went to print in late August. To locate a dealer near you use the dealer locator tool on the Indian website: