ALTHOUGH I’VE NEVER HAD THE PLEAsure of rambling along cradled in the sprung, tractor-style saddle of a classic Indian Motocycle (yes, that’s how they spelled it), I did get my fill aboard a Chief of the previous revival, some seven years ago. If memory serves, that first Power Plus 100 model left a lot to be desired.
So, understandably, my expectations were reserved as I headed out astride the current Chief Vintage. Not bad, was my initial assessment, if not exactly on par with the level of performance and refinement coming out of Milwaukee these days-certainly not the clunky shifting. Still, I returned from the ride thinking the new Chief offered a viable alternative to the cruiser status quo.
My opinion changed upon learning of the bike's $35,000plus price tag. Yikes! You had better truly love those skirted fenders and that storied tank badge to justif~y that kind of coin. Sorry, Indian, I'll take a CVO Harley and keep the change.
Don Can;t, Road Test Edito,
I AM HIP TO NOSTALGIA. I AM ALSO HIP to kicking back on a motorcycle and taking the slow lane to enjoy the scenery and listen to a torque-rich engine lope along in top gear.
So, I was fairly certain that the Indian Chief Vintage was going to be just the relaxing machine for me to enjoy doing those very things. And, to a certain extent, it was, at least under the right circumstances. But those circumstances were pretty specific, as in, a meandering two-lane road with speeds kept between 20 and 65 mph.
Any slower, and the Chief was pretty cumbersome thanks to its road-hugging weight (lots of real steel here, folks!), and engine heat on my legs was an issue; any faster and the chassis would wiggle over bumps and engine vibration intruded to an annoying degree.
What I can’t argue with is the quality of the paint and chrome and the flowing 1940s lines. But, mechanically, it’s just a bit too much of a nostalgia trip for me.
-Mark Hoy er, Executive Editor
As OWNER OF A 1948 CHIEF, A 1940 Sport Scout bobber and-egads!-a 1970 Clymer Indian, fair to say I have a certain affinity for the brand. But that’s not why I like the current crew taking yet another whack at bringing Indian back to life. It’s just a good story. How crazy is it that a Harvard-trained MBA goes with his gut and takes a multimilliondollar flyer? Or that so many others at Kings Mountain have diverged from well-trod career paths at established brands to be involved? Or that at a time when other bike-makers are running scared, these guys are rolling out a $35K showpiece with fringe and conchos?
“Harley-Davidson is a giant; we’re just a flea,” says Julius now, but he sees a day-down the road, sure-when the catalog is fatter at both ends, the Chiefs bookended by entrylevel Scouts and luxury-touring Fours, and sales figures are in the tens of thousands. In the meantime, he just wants to sell 600 of the ’09 models. It’s a start.
-David Edwards, Editor-in-Chief