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Indian Chief Vintage

You again!

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Feb 2021

The good, the bad and the ugly of factory clones

(See the 'You Again' home page here.)

Indian Chief Vintage

Part 7: Indian Chief Vintage
Lifting the cruiser game

Okay, for some folk the whole idea of a giant cruiser with tan leather and tassels on its saddlebags is too ridiculous for words. However, the whole over-the-top ‘cowboy’ look at various times used by Indian in recent years and Harley-Davidson (think Softail heritage series) is a genre all its own. And it has a real derivation.

Big American twins from both makers were commonly fitted out with exactly that sort of look pre World War II – highly-decorated saddles and bags, along with the big Perspex screen and a pair of driving lights.

Indian Chief 1947

In Indian's case, the predecessor they claimed to reference for visuals, was the 1947 Chief. If you squint a little, you can see the likeness, but they're never going to be mistaken for doppelgangers. For a start, the new version looked huge besifde the original.

It really came as no surprise that Indian’s biggest-selling variant of the new Polaris-engineered line-up from 2014 was initially the Chief Vintage with all the ‘traditional’ fruit.

The engine too had a retro influence, styled to look just a little like the old flathead powerplants that came out of Springfield. That aspect was less convincing. Under the covers, the 1811cc monster had plenty of urge – more than enough to give its competitors something to think about.

Indian Chief Vintage

Despite the looks, the range actually shook things up in that market sector, with very solid performance, good brakes with ABS and cruise control as standard. This was very much the new benchmark.

The only let-down on the early bikes was the tan leather faded horribly (the black versions were fine) and the factory initially dealt very poorly with the issue.

That said, the series proved to be a very worthy addition to the world of cruiserdom.

Indian Chief Vintage
Power 65kW @ 4500rpm (estimate)
Torque 161Nm @ 3000rpm
Weight 379kg wet
Rating: 3/5
Seriously capable cruiser with styling that fits the market segment.


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