By Marissa Baecker
As I approached the array of 2010 Indian Chief bikes all lined up beside the Indian trailer, a gentleman rider, senior to me in age, took one look at me and exclaimed, “Surely your not going to ride the Indian today,” to which I calmly responded, “No, I rode them yesterday.”
The motorcycle brand was born in 1901 and according to indianmotorcyle.com, “The trade name chosen for their innovative machine would signify “a wholly American product in pioneering tradition”. The name was Indian.”
For some, the bikes are intimidating. Boasting a 1720 cc engine, these are powerful bikes. However, from one model to the next, is really only about personal preference and appearance as each model sports the same air cooled Power Plus 105 Cubic inch V-Twin engine and chassis.
Director of dealer development for Indian said, “We are basically operating on one platform. The motorcycle was in development for three and half years and passed through 22 engineers. The result is what you see today: five different variations of the same model.”
I chose the dark water smoke coloured Dark Horse for my first ride.
The Dark Horse is a flat “smoke” finish in three colours with a solo studded leather seat and a multi-coloured head dress on the gas tank.
With a wheelbase of 68.4”, this is a very comfortable cruise for the riders with long legs. I was told that Indian is currently looking at designing a smaller wheelbase bike.
Also with 3.5” wide 16” base tires and single shock rear suspension, there are virtually no bumps in the road at any speed.
Hand position makes for a wide open upright ride which I found tested my endurance at highway speed but the issue is easily corrected with a windshield.
I quite enjoyed the positioning upon the bike. It was a very comfortable and gave me room to ride with my legs extended. I am also starting to like the comfortable feel of floorboards as opposed to pegs.
All Indian models have floor boards as well as heel and toe shifters.
“There will be a lowering kit that will offer two different options; a rear suspension lowering to ensure that the geometry of the bike stays correct as well as a seat lowering option,” said Lionel Mercier of Indian.
While Mercier states that the lowering kit option is not specifically geared toward the women riders, the Indian brand of motorcycles will become more accessible to women riders with lowering of the bike.
These are big bikes. They are not the type of bike you would keep in the garage for the occasional boot around town to do errands.
The bike weight ranges from 728 to 750 lbs. Remember this is the weight without your bags packed and a full tank of gas. Trying to maneuver that much weight at low speed will not only test your riding ability but also your strength. This bike is meant to be ‘handled’ and not ‘babied’. It is designed to be ridden extended hours and distances each time you start it up.
One downfall is the signal lights do not auto cancel. Not only that, you can’t see if they are on as they don’t appear very distinctly in your tank display. With the entire demo fleet on the road – there was always at least one person who didn’t cancel their signal lights.
The Chief Classic offers a classic script tank, lots of chrome, a solo leather studded seat and four colours to choose from in a glossy finish. The limited edition Bomber takes a visual trip through time and provides the look of a vintage bike boasting a pin-up model on the gas tank, rustic brown leather with baseball stitching solo seat and saddle bags and flat black paint detailing. You can even choose your pin-up gal from Red-Haired Ruby, Blonde Betty or Dark Debbie.
The remaining two models offer the classic cruising look with vintage two tone paint. The Roadmaster designed for the touring for two with its brown studded leather dual seat and saddlebags, lots of chrome, a windshield and three headlights. The Vintage delivers the appeal of its name. Three standard vintage colours or 6 optional two-tone selections compliment the brown studded and fringed solo leather seat and saddlebags. The white-wall tires and spoked wheels finish off that old style look.