Indian Chief Vintage: First Ride Review

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Indian Motorcycles is one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers still around. The Indian Chief, the mainstay of the brand, was first built in 1922 and it was still in production when the motorcycle maker shut shop in 1953. So when a company like Indian, which has a history that takes you way back in time, uses the word 'Vintage', you better believe they mean it.

Polaris Industries took over Indian Motorcycles in 2011. Since then, Polaris has launched a new range of Indian motorcycles with a retro cruiser design. One of these retro-styled motorcycles is the Chief Vintage that you see here. However, despite their old-school looks, the cruisers come equipped with all the latest tech that can be found in a modern motorcycle.

We recently spent a couple of days testing the Chief Vintage on the city streets as well as open stretches of tarmac. The motorcycle combines almost a century-old design with modern technology, which, makes it unique when compared to its key competition. Read more to find out!

The Chief Vintage captures the attention no matter from which angle you look at it, there is only one word that will come out of your mouth, WOW. The design is for sure classic, taking styling cues directly from the 1940s era Chiefs.

Starting from the front, the first noticeable thing is the front valenced fender, I mean, just look at it, it almost gulps up the entire tyre and you also get the 'Indian Head Mascot' on it, which acts as the DRL to the bike and the way it is sculpted is just amazing.

Another reason why the bike draws attention is because of the amount of chrome used on it. No doubt, so much chrome also enhances the motorcycle's quintessential retro cruiser look. The Indian Chief Vintage is available in 4 different colours — Thunder Black, Indian Motorcycle Red over Ivory Cream, Springfield Blue over Ivory Cream, and Willow Green over Ivory Cream (the one we tested).

The attention to detail is so precise that the logo 'Indian' is present in more than 40 places on the bike and trust me, you will miss out some of them because they are scattered all over the bike, even in places where no one will even bother looking.

Moving on, you also get a lexan adjustable windshield which, not only adds to the overall character but offers great functionality in terms of wind protection and any obstacle that comes in your way. The front is overlooked by fat chrome-draped forks and a large headlamp along with two smaller auxiliary lamps on each side that sit below the windshield.

The tear-drop tank is mounted with a digital-analogue speedometer which displays - dual trip meters, digital tachometer, ambient air temperature, fuel range, average fuel economy, battery voltage, gear position display, real-time clock, and vehicle trouble code readout. The bike also gets a an electronic fuel gauge with low fuel LED indicator which is really helpful.

Some of the standard equipment that the Chief Vintage gets are a cast aluminium frame with an integrated airbox, cruise control, highway bar, Indian script tank badge, keyless start, desert tan genuine leather seats and quick release vintage leather panniers.

Despite weighing around 380kg, the Chief Vintage does not feel heavy once you are on the move. Turning into long flowing corners is fairly an easy task even without braking. But, the only time you will feel the bulkiness is when you pick it up from the stand or have to take a U-turn, or park it somewhere and trust me, it's not everyone's cup of tea to do that.

The Chief Vintage gets Dunlop American Elite white-walled tyres (130mm front & 180mm rear) which help maintain grip and traction through the flowing corners. The clutch is also light, which means shifting gears should not be a task for most people and it also makes life easy in stop-go traffic.

Though the steering is not quick, maneuvering the Vintage in the city and on the highway is easy, thanks to the 46 mm shocks up front and a single rear progressive linkage unit at the rear, that offer a comfortable ride over broken tarmac. The rear suspension somehow felt slightly softer, which might be an issue if you come across bumpy roads at high speeds.

Braking duties are handled by dual floating 300mm discs at the front with four-piston callipers and a single floating rotor with a two-piston calliper at the rear. you also get ABS as standard which is always watching your back. The ABS is pretty mild and doesn't cut in too early, allowing an overall safe and pleasant riding experience.

Powering the Indian Chief Vintage is a Thunder Stroke 111 engine. The 49-degree, V-twin, air-cooled 1,811cc engine produces 139Nm of peak torque at 2,750rpm. The engine comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox and uses a belt drive system.

Despite being so massive, the heat from the engine is not felt at all; the only time you will feel a little bit of heat under your thighs is when you have to stop at a signal, but, that should not bother you much. The bike which we got for testing had the stock one-by-two exhaust system which, is fairly muted but, it gets noisier as you build up the revs.

The lack of vibration and the effective windshield make the Indian Chief Vintage a motorcycle one could easily ride. Along with the cruise control mode, just stretch and relax like a boss and munching miles will no longer seem difficult at all.

Promeet Ghosh Thinks!
At Rs 30 lakhs onwards ex-showroom (Delhi), the Indian Chief Vintage is a unique type of motorcycle in the bagger segment. The bike till date continues to carry the iconic legacy and the retro looks that are coupled with all the latest tech.

If you have a lot of money to spare and love munching miles on the open highway, then the Chief Vintage is one of the best choices for you.

Read more on: #indian motorcycles
Story first published: Friday, May 5, 2017, 20:53 [IST]
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