Since Polaris Industries acquired the storied Indian Motorcycle nameplate in 2011, the Minnesota-based powersports company has been working hard to revive Indian, which was founded in 1901 and has seen more than its share of ups and downs in the past 115 years.
Indian swung by Business Insider’s New York headquarters last year (it wasn’t the first time) to show off a couple of its most visually impressive bikes: the Springfield and the Chieftain Dark Horse, both “bagger” cruising or touring bikes that aren’t designed for single-day weekend rides, but rather for extended getaways. These are the SUVs of the motorcycle world, and both bikes can carry a passenger.
If you’re into fast sport bikes or some of the newer cafe-racer-type rides, these motorcycles are going to see too “old guy” for your tastes.
But if you just want to roll large down the highway or across some scenic back roads, hefty machines like these are the ticket. Interestingly, as big as they are (around 700 pounds), they’re designed to be easy to handle. And they’re a lot more relaxing that your average Yamaha or Suzuki sport rocket.
Check ’em out:
Photos by Hollis Johnson.
Neither motorcycle is subtle. These are big, bad cruisers — powerful, old-school bikes that are comfortable for the long haul and designed to attract attention wherever they go. They drew a crowd on the sidewalk in front of our New York City headquarters.
First up is the Springfield, named for the Massachusetts town where Indian was founded. This is a throwback classic touring motorcycle, intended to carry one or two riders on a serious road trip.
This is a familiar setup for the windscreen, headlights, and turn signals. But wow — check out all that chrome! The screen can be quickly removed, by the way.
Here’s what the rider sees. A big tourer/cruiser like this is ridden upright, with feet forward.
Pretty minimalist, actually. Well, except for the chrome.
There’s a big ol’ speedometer with a digital screen that displays additional information. The bike also has cruise control.
The seat is fat and nicely stitched and tooled.
And there are two of ’em! The passenger also gets a set of flip-down footrests.
The Indian logo is the opposite of subtle. But it’s also historic — more than a century old. This Springfield came in “Indian Motorcycle red” and costs $ 21,000.
Chrome, chrome, chrome, the iconic chief head in profile, and a reminder that Indian has been with us since 1901.
And why not a bit more branding? There’s plenty of room.
This ‘war bonnet’ ornament lights up and projects from the front-wheel fairing.
Here’s the business for this bike: The Thunder Stroke 111 is an 1,811-cubic-centimeter beast of a motor that, by all accounts, provides the Springfield with a bottomless well of power for freeway cruising.
It’s not for everybody, but for some, it’s utterly gorgeous. Out back, a pair of hard ‘baggers’ allow for long trips and can be remotely locked and unlocked.
Here’s the Springfield’s sibling, the Chieftain Dark Horse, all ‘murdered out’ in a fetching and somewhat menacing matte black paint job. It’s called ‘thunder black smoke.’
This is a new-school throwback bike, with sleek and updated styling.
But like the Springfield, it’s a touring bike that’s ridden upright, in a relaxed seating position.
The instruments are a bit more complicated that on the Springfield.
The arrangement is more like what you’d find in a car. And yes, those are speakers on either side for the 100-watt stereo.
The Indian logo is combined with the chief’s profile.
Additional branding is nearly invisible.
But the war bonnet feature isn’t.
Chrome isn’t the dominant story on this $ 22,000 motorcycle.
But the Chieftain gets the same Thunder Stroke 111 engine. Check out that deep finning on the heads.
Both bikes have push-button starters. No automatic transmissions, however — something that more manufacturers are offering these days on big touring bikes.
A pair of hard baggers means you can take this monster on vacation. A short vacation, anyway. As with the Springfield, options packages enable you to carry more cargo.
Indian has made tremendous progress since the brand was revived by Polaris in 2011. The idea was to offer a modernized legacy alternative to Harley-Davidson. These aren’t necessarily the style of bikes that young people gravitate toward, but for veteran riders, they serve up some attractive choices.
I don’t ride anymore, but if I did, I wouldn’t mind having one of these big boys. Slow and easy fits my mood these days. Various reviewers have praised Indian’s large tourers and cruisers for their styling, comfort, and power.
Now let’s give the bikes back the guys who know what they’re doing.
Business InsiderFinance – Business Insider