First Ride: 2015 Indian Chief Vintage—The King Of Cruise

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India is opening to several international motorcycle marques. Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Benelli, Aprilia and many others are exploring potential in the quickest growing market. There are manufacturers that are offering premium luxury motorcycles, while others plan to sell their products to a wider audience.

America has a long history of cruiser motorcycle manufacturers. Out of many, a popular brand that has stood the test of time is Indian Motorcycle. They specialise in retro-modern cruisers that will leave most observers drooling.

In India, the manufacturer offers the Scout, Chief Classic, Chief Vintage, Chieftain and Roadmaster. Their cruiser motorcycles range from INR 11,99,900 to INR 37,00,000 ex-showroom, Delhi. These bikes are not for the faint hearted and will be preferred by (wealthy) individuals who ride with passion and an open mind.

The story continues in the next slide.

Indian Chief Vintage: Overview

Model Tested: 2015 India Chief Vintage.
Engine: 1811cc, V-Twin.
Gearbox: 6-speed.
Road Test Location: Thane, Maharashtra.
Price: 28,49,600 ex-showroom, New Delhi.

Indian Chief Vintage: Design

The Chief Vintage cruiser from Indian Motorcycle is a unique package put together for today's time. It is reminiscent of a period during which riding culture was steadily picking up. The motorcycle is typically American—bold, huge and over the top in every aspect. There are a ton of parts that are chromed, giving the motorcycle a retro look. The front fender is typically old school and covers most portion of the wheel—we like how the chrome strip breaks up monotony of the maroon colour. Other prominent features are the large whitewall tyres, which they call Laced Wheels.

Indian Chief Vintage: Design

This motorcycle mixes retro styling with subtle modern gadgets and gizmos to provide a safe and easy riding experience. The dual exhaust ports are long and extend further than the cruiser—Indian Motorcycle provides several exhaust tips as accessories for individuals to adorn on their bikes. The rear fender is also extended and covers most of the open area. There is prominent use of premium leather on the seats as well as the saddle bags. Each and every detail has been highlighted to the last millimetre. The large bike's presence may seem intimidating, however, it always feels welcoming and ready to munch kilometres. The rider can relax and ride this motorcycle as there is sufficient floorboard area for him to rest his feet.

Indian Chief Vintage: Engine

Indian Motorcycle Chief Vintage is powered by a gigantic 1811cc, V-Twin engine. This engine is popularly known as their Thunder Stroke 111 mill. It produces a phenomenal torque output of 138.9 Nm, along with 100 BHP of maximum power. The engine is paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox with a belt final drive. Fuel is delivered via Closed Loop Fuel Injection, while the engine is air-cooled.

Indian Chief Vintage: Equipment

The American manufacturer has fitted its cruiser motorcycle with ABS, cruise control, keyless start, quick release lexan windshield, quick release vintage leather saddle bags, highway and light bar. All these features are standard equipment on their Chief Vintage cruiser, however, there are several more personalised items buyers can choose from to customise their bikes further.

Indian Chief Vintage: Riding Impression

The Indian Chief Vintage is a huge motorcycle and might be a little intimidating, however, it was actually rather easy to ride. This cruiser weighs 364 kilograms and its weight is only felt during starts and when standing in traffic. Once you get moving the bike is easy and light to manoeuvre.

Indian Chief Vintage: Riding Impression

One thing we can guarantee you is that once you buy this bike it will almost instantaneously turn you into a celebrity. There will be several individuals that will ask you which bike is it and you will have to be patient as most will not understand you when you tell them it is an ‘Indian Motorcycle'. No matter where we went everyone turned back and wanted a second glimpse of this mammoth-sized cruiser.

Indian Chief Vintage: Riding Impression

All in all, the cruiser was rather easy to ride in hustle and bustle of Mumbai traffic. We thought this bike would overheat and would be difficult to manage, however, there were no issues in this regard. But our advice to future owners would be to build a good physique to master this Vintage cruiser...

Indian Chief Vintage: Good Bits

We like how the manufacturer has provided a Red Indian ornament, which is made out of glass while his hat is embellished in chrome. It sits proud on the front fender and is the first thing that stands out in the motorcycle as it lights the way ahead. Indian Motorcycle call it their 'War Bonnet', and it is genuine piece of history, which they have been using since 1947. The logo of Indian Motorcycle is a Red Indian Chief and they proudly flaunt it on their products.

Indian Chief Vintage: Good Bits

The windshield is a useful addition to Chief Vintage motorcycle. It does what it should do, which is provide protection to the rider from wind blasts. It reduces fatigue that would otherwise be prominent during long journeys.

Indian Chief Vintage: Good Bits

These leather saddle bags on either sides provide adequate storage space. They also add a retro/classic element to the motorcycle. The finish on them is premium and Indian Motorcycle branding is well highlighted.

Indian Chief Vintage: Good Bits

We liked how the instrument cluster is embellished with chrome and is situated on the tank. We also like the keyless feature, similar to what is offered on premium cars. The company has tried to keep the instrumentation analogue, however, a small addition of digital display does not do it any harm.

Indian Chief Vintage: Bad Bits

Too many switches create a touch of confusion while riding. The horn and other switchgear are a little difficult to reach for a shorter rider and need some getting used to. Grips also could be a bit longer to accommodate bigger hand sizes.

Indian Chief Vintage: Bad Bits

No backrest was present for the pillion and we believe it should be present as standard equipment on a cruiser. There were no grab rails for passengers to hold on to as well. The Indian Vintage packs a punch and an unaware pillion could be thrown off during sudden acceleration.

Indian Chief Vintage: Competitors

The Chief Vintage from Indian Motorcycle faces competition from the Harley-Davidson Street Glide, Triumph Thunderbird LT, Honda Goldwing and Suzuki's M1800R. The American motorcycle, however, looks and feels more premium than its competitors. We wonder though, whether people will be willing to shell out the extra money for such a high-end, ultra-premium luxury cruiser motorcycle.

Indian Motorcycle History

Indian Motorcycle is an American brand that manufactures cruiser motorcycles. It was founded back in 1901 by George M. Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom. Their headquarters have been established at Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. The Chief and Scout are their most popular models and till date are their best selling motorcycles even in the modern era.

Over the years the company has gone through several owners and had shut shop too. In 2011, Polaris acquired Indian Motorcycle and have done an excellent job of maintaining the originality of the brand. They have revived an ageing product and made it appealing to modern buyers as well.

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Story first published: Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 17:15 [IST]
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