The unofficial MO motto is “More is more.” So, naturally we were happy to learn at the International Motorcycle Shows Long Beach media day last week that Indian has released the Thunder Stroke 116-Cubic-Inch Stage 3 Big Bore Kit. What’s that, you say? Well, how does a claimed 15% increase in torque and a 20% bump in horsepower strike you? Yeah, us, too. So, if your Thunder Stroke 111 has started to feel a little anemic after reading this paragraph, moto-salvation is at hand.

For a retail price of a buck shy of $2,000 (plus installation), the Thunder Stroke 116-Cubic-Inch Stage 3 Big Bore Kit provides you with a set of domed pistons and matching cylinders. Mated to those are a set of lumpy cams and stronger valve springs. The increased intake demands are taken care of by a new throttle body and intake manifold. A set of beefier clutch springs to help deliver the increased power to the rear wheel. Rounding out the kit is an ECU flash to update the EFI-mapping to handle the increased cubes. However, there are some additional requirements for the kit. In order to install the Stage 3 kit, you’ll also need Indian’s Stage 1 Performance Air Cleaner and Thunder Stroke High Flow Air Cleaner on the intake side, while the spent gasses are handled by the Indian Stage 1 Slip-On Exhaust Kit.

More power for the Thunder Stroke 111

Here are all the goodies. Of special note is the inclusion of a new throttle body (bottom right), which is relatively rare in a kit like this.

Since the kit was announced at the Long Beach IMS show, Indian took advantage of the opportunity to put a MOronic butt in the seat of a Chieftain Limited from the company’s demo fleet. So, what follows is an impression from the saddle during a 45-minute ride.

From the instant the engine thundered to life, it was clear that the displacement was more than stock. The Stage 1 slip-ons had a familiar-but-deeper sound. The idle-speed was set a little lower than I like, causing the piston pulses to hit with a little bit of irregularity and making me think the engine was going to stall. Of course, the engine never did, but I’d be tempted to bump the idle up a couple hundred rpm to smooth things out a bit.

Out on the road, the 116 cubic inches impressed me with what hasn’t changed. Unlike many aftermarket big-bore kits which will only function well at full-throttle, the Stage 3 Kit was tractable throughout the rpm range. At every rpm range, rolling on the throttle generated more speed than the stock displacement – with almost the same amount of finesse. However, when in first gear just above idle, I did notice some snatchiness when trundling along in traffic. Commuters take note. When transitioning from off-throttle to on-, the fuel metering was spot on. I purposely tested going out of and back into the throttle on a series of corners in an attempt to get the engine to lurch and was rewarded with smooth transitions every time.

More power for the Thunder Stroke 111

Boom! Yes, those 5 additional cubes make a difference.

Out on the highway, when it came time to pass traffic in top gear, I found that if the rpm were below 3,000, the 116 preferred to have the throttle rolled open rather than snapped WFO. While the engine didn’t bog when the butterfly valve flipped all the way open, it didn’t feel like it was pulling as hard below 3,000 rpm. Rolling on the throttle elicited a much stronger response, as if the injection couldn’t handle the instantaneous increase in flow unless the throttle was transitioned to all the way to the stop. When this technique was applied, the 116 pulled like a completely different animal from the 111.

So, if you’re a horsepower junkie with a Thunder Stroke 111 engine parked in your garage – and you already have the Stage 1 kits installed – the Thunder Stroke 116-Cubic-Inch Stage 3 Big Bore Kit may be just what you’re looking for. Others will need to consider the cost of adding the Stage 1 kits to the mix before considering the 116. Since a stock Thunder Stroke 111 made 74.2 hp on the MO dyno, we’d expect the horsepower to jump to 89.0 and torque to 118.2 lb-ft. Yes, the fuel mapping could be a little tidier to maintain the same level of smoothness available from the original 111 cu.-in. displacement, but the abruptness just above idle is more of a niggle than a problem. The softness in the full-throttle below 3,000 rpm in top gear was mitigated by simply rolling on the throttle instead of whacking it open – something a rider would be able to easily adjust to. The rest of the time, the Stage 3 Kit can be ridden just like the stocker – only with way more power.

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  • john phyyt

    Excellent work Evans; If “Butterflies” are servo controlled. Then it should be possible to make top gear responsiveness at lower revs as strong as possible.independent of rider input.
    Or you could always adjust the cut-away on the flat sides. Or bevel the ports,

    • Auphliam

      A good plug n play tuner like the PVCX would probably do wonders in smoothing out the wrinkles.

  • StripleStrom

    Look at the size of those jugs!

    • Starmag

      Even a boob could see that Indian is just staying abreast of customizing trends in the market and milking them for what they’re worth.

      • StripleStrom

        Bravo! Bravo!

      • Auphliam

        lol

      • Douglas

        What a pun…..

    • Douglas

      It’ll be the “Dolly P” model, when so modified…..

  • Starmag

    Excellent. I was holding off on buying a Indian for racing, but now that this kit is available I’ll be Cheif of track days.

    Indian wisely gets in on the “it should have came with it in the first place” aftermarket engine mods that are no doubt a profit booster for Harley. This also ups the ante from Harley’s 114″.

    • John A. Smith

      You, my friend, have an excellent sense of humor.

      • Callie

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    • Douglas

      Well, you play a waiting game, not doing any more than is necessary to hold an edge. The competition then responds, upping the ante just enuf to get ahead. Then the seesaw battle is underway, until one or the other discerns they’ve gotten all they can out of their existing unit (without getting expensively exotic) and release a new, bigger airpump. But meanwhile, as the back-and-forth to get more from the current production model proceeds, the profits from the “kits” roll in, causing joy in the boardrooms. Capitalism at it’s zenith…..

      • Jean

        Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
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        • Douglas

          On behalf of the folks here, you may now go gargle peanut butter…..then go play in heavy traffic.

  • Xenu Teegeeack

    So when Polaris closed down Victory (“Modern American Muscle”) and they said it was to concentrate on Indian and that there would be no massive layoffs …. I think we are now seeing what those ex-Victory workers have been doing at Indian. Good for Indian! Now go and do the Scout!!!

  • Jobie

    My understanding is that you have to pull the engine to remove the rocker covers. No room between the covers and frame for removing. [ at least for the rear cylinder ] Wonder what the install fee would be plus the 2K for the kit?

    • Jon Jones

      A very good question.

      • Gruf Rude

        Many years ago, you could special order an American car with upgraded brakes, suspension, engine packages, interior trim levels, etc., and in a month or so, it would be delivered to the dealership.
        Ordered up a ‘Q-ship’ of a Plymouth 9-passenger station wagon that way with plain jane exterior, hose-out interior, over-built suspension, brakes, trans, huge motor and cooling systems and it really didn’t cost anything extra over the fancy-interior floor models.
        I wonder if Indian and Harley might ever consider such a system . . .

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Its called a CVO.

          • Gruf Rude

            CVOs are loaded up with fancy paint, etc. You really don’t get to choose.
            I’m talking about being able to order only what you want right at the start: simple paint, un-fancy wheels, longer shocks, mid-mounts and monster engines, put together at the factory without the necessity of disassembling the bike you bought, discarding parts you didn’t want and buying Screaming Eagle this that and the other thing . . .

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Most people want the looks in addition to the performance. HD also has the bike customization program HD1 Bike Builder which lets you choose various options for your bike such as paint, seats, luggage, windshield, racks, backrest, exhaust and intake. You start off with the model and engine closest to what you want. It doesn’t include brakes and suspension, but some of the new models have Brembo brakes and Showa suspension.

    • Fast2win

      It’s a pretty big job. 17 hours is realistic. Or 1700 bucs at average dealership rates

  • Jim L

    Or you can buy a bike that does everything better unmodified.

    • Douglas

      What fun would that be, not being able to “make it yours”….?

      • Jim L

        It is mine, I paid for it. Unless I build something from scratch, it’s not my design anyway. Adding this kit doesn’t make it any more special either, especially considering hundreds if not thousands will do the same. It’s kind of funny and ironic that the screw the man cruiser crowd is some of the most conformist and not unique groups. If they want to make it different, put a pokemon sticker on it.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          The 116 on the engine does give you bragging rights at the local hangout. Also the more open intake and exhaust will make the bike more noticeable, both to your friends and the local constabulary. It is probably illegal for street use.

          • Kevin Duke

            Nope, the kit is street-legal… As such, I might expect Indian to offer a 116 in a future production bike.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            From Indian Motorcycles website: “Non-competition street use may violate federal noise limits. These products are designed for use on closed course competition motorcycles only and do not conform to U.S. EPA noise emission standards. Use on motorcycles subject to EPA noise regulations constitutes tampering and is a violation of Federal law unless it can be shown that such use does not cause the motorcycle to exceed applicable Federal Standards.”
            https://store.indianmotorcycle.com/en-us/shop/accessories/performance/air-intake-cams-engine-components/2881677/

          • Fast2win

            The kit is absolutely 50 state epa legal.

          • Jim L

            The kit is legal as it doesn’t include the exhaust and intake, which probably aren’t.

          • Fast2win

            It can very from State to state. But there mufflers are certainly not obnoxious, and should be fine.

          • Jim L

            There are federal standards and parts that don’t meet them will say offroad use only or whatever the language is. If states prohibit them, they have to say which states.

  • Craig Hoffman

    That sure is a lot of work to get 5 extra cubic inches. I bet a good ECU flash, along with cams and exhaust and fueling mods would accomplish much the same with a lot less effort.

    It is amazing how much modern bikes are limited by their ECUs, Ignition timing is retarded from optimal and limited in the lower gears, fuel mixture at cruising speeds are lean, secondary butterflies are slow to open, all because of EPA regs and to protect us from ourselves. Used to be we installed softer springs and pointier needles in our CV carbs, and 5 degree advancers to overcome this. Now it is all in the software…

    • Sayyed Bashir

      And also it is illegal for manufacturers to sell modified ECUs for street use.

      • Craig Hoffman

        True.

        That is what the aftermarket is for 😛

  • Eric

    Man I am so over the worn-out formula of giant air-cooled push rod V-twins. They are such a bad engine design for making power when weighed against everything else on the market. It’s like a very bad motorcycle design that never quit, and everyone in the USA never found out that motorcycles left the stone age 40 years ago.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      And yet more than a quarter million people a year love ’em so much they buy ’em! And how selfish of them to leave you in the dark. The characteristics of a low revving high torque V-twin are completely different from other engines. It makes for a very comfortable general purpose local or long distance motorcycle that you can put the miles on without tiring. Heavy motorcycles are more planted, like a car. The seats are expansive. Luggage capacity is bountiful. Fuel consumption is great, about 40-44 mpg. Range over 200 miles. Most big cruisers are also great to look at, like rolling pieces of art. Once you get past the adolescent stage of loving sport bikes with hunched-over ergonomics, there is a lot of appeal in big comfortable cruisers with big rumbling V-twins. And who doesn’t like a maintenance-free belt drive and maintenance-free hydraulic valve lifters? “A hydraulic valve lifter is a device for maintaining zero valve clearance in an internal combustion engine”. Not possible without push-rod V-twins.

      • Clutchman11

        Not being an H-D apologist, but: ‘”A hydraulic valve lifter is a device for maintaining zero valve clearance in an internal combustion engine”. Not possible without push-rod V-twins.’ Come again…?!? I’m starting to think that you have little interest in bikes that don’t carry the H-D mark.
        Bikes that have or had hydraulic valve lifters/adjusters:
        Honda CB650/700/750 Nighthawk (S)
        Honda VT1100 Shadow
        Kawasaki VL1500/1600 Vulcan/Nomad
        Suzuki Boulevard C90/S83
        Yamaha RoadStar 1700 and later Star models
        Victory has multiples.
        Sure, most of them are V-Twin, but how many of them are push-rod engines again?

        • Jon Jones

          Good call, well done.

      • Fast2win

        Other than the fubar on the hydraulic lifters, I agree. Most of these clowns stating my XYZ bike make that hp with half the size don’t ever take in consideration torque. A good stock 111 will make 107 ft lbs at the wheel. The bikes are not designed for drag racing. I can run a 111 down to 2000 rpm in 6th gear and roll on with good pulling power. Try that with your 35-40 ft lbs of torque. Comparing apples and oranges is so irritating.

      • Eric

        I don’t care if a quarter million people eat there own picked boogers. It doesn’t change the fact the giant air-cooled vibrating push rod Vtwins are a BAD engine design when weighing them against the hundreds of other engines in motorcycles on the market. They are an archaic design that’s been warmed-over a hundred times and never seriously updated. It’s old tech, old ideas, old function kept alive for whatever reason.

        And yes I’ve ridden cruisers, flogged them a bit, understand them. They are just so far behind everything else. Too heavy. Too slow. Brakes are worst. Weight is worst. Cornering clearance is worst. Power is worst. Comfort isn’t as good as ADV bikes unless you enjoy sitting like a spinning top on the end of your tailbone. Price tags are high, service is costly, vibration is a problem with most of them.

        They are heavy, clumsy, double cradle old tech with heavy clumsy old tech engines. They are the most narrow-use, limited application motorcycles on the planet. There is nothing a cruiser does that another genre of bike does a lot better.

        • steveinandiego

          i owned a 2005 kawi vulcan 1600 classic for 6 yrs and 66k miles. xlnt scoot for me. only problem was an electrical glitch that a fellow rider helped me solve with a paper clip. and, in 2009 i bought a new ninja 650. best of both worlds for two years. 🙂

  • johnbutnotforgotten

    add another 5 cubes and it will officially be bigger than any car i’ve every owned (and almost as heavy as some of them).

    • RyYYZ

      And less powerful than any car of that displacement I’ve owned in the last 20 years. Of course, they also had higher redlines than one of these. My ’96 Sentra was probably the weakest, making about 115 HP from its 1.6 liters.

  • Jayy Cee

    How poorly do you have to engineer something to only get 74 HP from 1818cc’s??? My SV650 makes that at the crank.

    • Jong Lee

      and it probably weighs 6-700lbs??? My XSR900 (actually 850) supposedly makes 115hps….

    • Fast2win

      So poorly that it will walk away from many bikes from a roll on. Which in the end is what it is designed to do. Have very good roll on power. Why do you ask? 60 – 80 under 5 seconds, average 600cc SS bike 5.5

  • Bikendad

    Lloydz cams, a Good intake, pipes and a tuner with Dyno tune will get you better results for less $$$>

    • StripleStrom

      I bet there is a lot of truth in what you said.

  • Pretty cool, but I didn’t buy a Chief Vintage to go fast. If I want to jet, I’ll jump on my Ninja. Sure, “More is more” but not really justified.

    • Jim L

      I wouldn’t buy one for speed either, but I wouldn’t buy one to begin with. It’s a first world problem.

  • Chris

    I’d be pretty unhappy with only 89hp with that displacement and investment. My 113 Ultima El Bruto Evo clone pulls 127Rwhp with 125lbft of torque with a carburetor. Good for 11.20’s at 125 in a Road King

    • Jim L

      Yeah, but would you go coast to coast with it or to Alaska or ride through the desert when it’s over 100˚?

      • Chris

        Well, I have 20,000 MILES on this engine and it’s been to Sturgis from Hamilton, ON. as well as The Wheels Through Time in NC, so touring is not an issue. Fuel economy is not as good as stock, I will admit that.

    • Fast2win

      It’s also not epa legal. Or up to factory standards for reliability

      • Chris

        This 116 isn’t EPA either. As far as reliability, we are talking performance upgrades here. It does come with a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty. If you need 100,000 out of your bike, leave it stock. That being said, I’ve seen tons of blown up stock Gixxers and CBR’s.

        • Fast2win

          It is epa legal. We have already addressed that. This is a kit the factory can offer and not effect the warranty. Much different than comparing it to a crate engine. Besides if on wanted to tune this engine the results would be much better. Stay tuned as the aftermarket gets a hold of these.

          • Chris

            I do agree that worrying about keeping it EPA is holding back the output. One can see that with 118lbft of torque but only 90hp this engine is falling on its face by 5000rpm. Assuming the intake and exhaust systems can support the airflow, it must be running out of cam. EPA hates camshaft overlap. Mustn’t have that nasty exhaust valve open at the same time as the intake! You can help that effect with direct injection with high flow injectors fired after the exhaust valve closes, but there’s a whole redesign.

          • Fast2win

            True. These motors don’t like to rev. With all the low end grunt you short shift these. I watch for 4500 then shift when all out accelerating.

        • Jon Jones

          “I’ve seen tons of blown up stock Gixxers and CBR’s.”

          Only if run low on oil. If the bike is properly maintained, your statement just isn’t true.

          • Chris

            I worked at a Honda/Kawasaki/Suzuki/ Triumph dealer. Yeah, its true.

          • Jon Jones

            I’ve wrenched at dealerships—busy dealerships—for over thirty years. Unless there’s an inherent design flaw or neglect, bikes don’t just “blow up”. Certainly not “tons” of them. Maybe YEARS ago there were more failures, but it’s so very rare now.

            If a bike does have a major failure, it often gets right back to the owner. For example, I’ve seen a few ding-dongs completely fry their clutch so that almost all of the friction material was removed. They decide to just install a new clutch with no thought given to the lost friction material. It’ll run for awhile, then the oil light flickers, then stays on, and is ignored. I have to tell them that the warranty will not cover their lunched motor because THEY didn’t think to clear the oil pump screen of the fried friction material.

            Then there’s the ones who crash, crack an engine cover, and decide to chance it and ride home with oil blowing everywhere.

            If I got paid by the word I’d leave plenty more examples. But to blanketly state that modern Japanese bikes are prone to catastrophic failure is a falsehood.

  • Kevin Butler

    @Evans Motorcycle.com needs to do a comparison test between the Harley M8 107 with stage lll or lV and the Thunder Stroke 111 stage lll