You may have already noticed what Polaris has done with its acquisition of one of the most iconic brands in American motorcycling. By nearly all accounts, Indian is BACK, BABY (said with more emphasis if it’s in a George Costanza tone)! Many in the industry have hailed Polaris’ engineering prowess for being able to bring forward the brand to its true heritage that is equal parts art and mechanical potency.
[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou could’ve expected the company to rebadge its Victory brand and call it a day, but to their credit they started with a clean sheet design, beginning with a new engine and aluminum reinforced frame. And with the introduction of the Scout at Sturgis last year, Indian now has a full model lineup that can compete with anyone in the V-twin market, including the Goliaths in Milwaukee.
Indian’s most famous bike is the Chief. Polaris’ engineering team looked at all of the past Chiefs from 1922 up until the original company went bankrupt in 1953. These machines were the face of the company and what any new design had to be based off of. The 2015 Indian Chief Classic is designed for those who want a bike that mixes the old school with all of the benefits of modern technology. They wanted to evoke the past but step into the future at the same time.
The 2014 Chief was named Cruiser of the Year by Cycle World and the 2015 version is virtually the same – because why mess with success, right? Well, Indian didn’t totally rest on their laurels. The 2015 machine has an an additional cooling channel for the rear cylinder molded into the airbox (only really needed for the Roadmaster, but on all Thunder Stroke engines). The leather has also been upgraded on the tan leather to something more fade-resistant. But the most noticeable change is the two-tone color schemes available for this year.
The potent Thunder Stroke 49-degree 111cc V-twin engine delivers smooth power and gobs of torque at 119 ft.-lbs. at 3,000 rpm. But the engine wasn’t just designed for power, it had to look the part as well. It’s a throwback to the traditional air-cooled designs of the past because designers figured that the engine was just as much a part of the look of bike as anything else. The power is kept in check by a six-speed transmission with a wet, multi-plate clutch. The Chief line comes with all the modern amenities like ABS, cruise control, keyless ignition, dual exhaust, a quick release windshield, a pinnacle heel shifter, throttle-by-wire, and a tank-mounted console that includes both analog and digital displays.
In terms of style, the bike comes with an attractive war bonnet that evokes those ’40s models along with the valanced fenders, laced wheels and brake caliper covers. Virtually every surface that could be chromed has been chromed.
The 2015 Indian Chief Classic “is everything an Indian Motorcycle was and ever should be,” according to its marketing materials. “It’s a sculpted, powerful cruiser, built with the purest necessities of Indian style, wrapped around the innovation of tomorrow.”
Indian first revealed its two-tone paint schemes at the Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, where Indian was also the presenting sponsor. The two-tone paint schemes will retail starting at $19,799 and will be offered for the full Chief line that includes the Chief Classic, Chief Vintage and Chieftain.
“Two-tone paint schemes are among the most iconic elements of vintage Indian motorcycles dating back about 80 years, giving the bikes a look and feel that is instantly recognizable and beloved by motorcycle fans,” said Steve Menneto, VP of Indian Motorcycle. “It is exciting to reintroduce two-tone paint for our 2015 Indian Chief models. These paint schemes pay tribute to Indian bikes of the past but come coupled with the exceptional technology and power that the 2015 Chief lineup offers. They are simply stunning, and the quality and craftsmanship of the paint jobs is exceptional.”
Featured two-tone colors for 2015 are the following:
- The 2015 Indian Chief Classic available in Indian Motorcycle Red/ Thunder Black. (Also available in solid Indian Motorcycle Red)
- The 2015 Indian Chief Vintage available in Indian Motorcycle Red/ Thunder Black, Indian Motorcycle Red/ Ivory Cream, and Willow Green/ Ivory Cream. (Also available in solid Indian Motorcycle Red and solid Thunder Black)
- The 2015 Indian Chieftain available in Indian Motorcycle Red/Thunder Black, Indian Motorcycle Red/Ivory Cream, and Springfield Blue/Ivory Cream. (Also available in solid Indian Motorcycle Red and solid Thunder Black)
Indian enthusiasts say Polaris has done the job right. Let’s see if sales follow.