The Indian brand has been on a tear lately, selling bikes practically faster than Polaris can build them. Doing its best to keep behemoth Harley-Davidson honest, it’s delivering gorgeous bikes with an exceptional riding experience, good value and lots of really cool tech.
The newest member of the Indian family is a modern revival of one of its oldest model names, the Chief. In spite of the anachronistic iconography and naming convention, it looks like the Chief will be a typically great product in this market.
Available in three different styles — Chief, Super Chief and Chief Bobber — this stripped-back cruiser is right up my alley. It’s got a big air-cooled V-twin, a pair of chunky tires, vintage aesthetics and all the modern tech I want.
“We wanted to capture a timeless look that never goes out of style, and looks beautiful whether naked or fully dressed,” said Ola Stenegard, lead designer for Indian Motorcycle. “We also wanted to keep it simple enough to allow riders’ imaginations to take flight with personalization options and possibilities. Ultimately, this is a bike that evokes emotion with simple mechanical styling and raw American muscle. It’s a pure riding machine.”
All three styles use the Thunderstroke engine that Indian is so proud of these days. It’s mounted inside a steel tube trellis frame reminiscent of the postwar Chiefs. That nameplate dates back to 1921, and Indian is quick to announce that it is celebrating the 100th anniversary by launching this bike in 2021.
The basic Chief’s 1920s-style mechanical simplicity is the name of the game in this bike, hiding absolutely nothing. “Power, minimalism and attitude” lead the way, according to the company. It’s a great canvas from which to build your perfect hard-edged cruiser. The Super Chief adds leather saddlebags and a windshield for long-haul cruising. And the Chief Bobber throws it back to that custom style of the 1950s with a solo bobber seat, taller hanger-style handlebars and chunkier rubber.
Every Chief model comes standard with keyless ride, swappable ride modes, cruise control, rear cylinder deactivation and LED lighting. On higher trim option packages you can get this new four-inch round touch-screen display. In addition to offering multiple gauge display options, this one will allow you to run turn-by-turn navigation. It’s also Bluetooth compatible, so you can answer phone calls and control your helmet music with handlebar-mounted controls. That little screen looks pretty badass, without looking out of place, on this throwback bike.
The three basic Chief models come standard with the Thunderstroke 111 engine, delivering 108 lb-ft of torque and around 75 horsepower. The Chief starts at $14,499, the Super Chief will run you $18,499 and the Chief Bobber is $15,999.
You can step up to a Dark Horse version of the Chief and Chief Bobber, which adds the 120 lb-ft Thunderstroke 116 engine, the digital gauge cluster and a bunch of blackout parts to rid the world of chrome. Chief Dark Horse runs $16,999 and Chief Bobber Dark Horse will cost you $18,999.
If you’re a big chrome fanatic, you can get the Super Chief Limited with a fully chromed Thunderstroke 116, the digital gauge cluster and deep metallic paint choices for $20,999.
The Chief and Chief Bobber are 670 pounds, while the Super Chief tips the scales at 739 pounds. With those weights and prices, the Chief is aimed pretty squarely at Harley’s Softail models. Shots fired, as they say.