What’s that they say about great minds? Well, it’s certainly true of both the staff and the readers when it comes to the Best Cruiser. For the 2015 Reader’s Choice Awards, our readers and staff were in complete agreement as to which 2014 model year cruiser deserved the honors: the Indian Chief. For rescuing the fabled Indian marque out of the quagmire of litigation and poorly implemented attempts at cashing in on the Indian name, Polaris deserves the thanks of all motorcycle enthusiasts. For compounding that success by launching such a well-conceived reintroduction of the Indian Chief, Indian Motorcycles deserves both the MO staff and MO readers’ Best Cruiser awards.
Somehow Indian’s designers managed to capture the right balance of homage to the name in both substance and style while finding a way to make the Chief a thoroughly modern motorcycle. The Thunderstroke 111 looks like a direct descendent of the previous Indian V-Twins in both the cylinder fin shape and the downward facing exhaust ports but updated it with modern fuel injection and ride-by-wire. The same is true of the chassis. A tubular steel frame was forsaken for a cast aluminum frame. Then there are the modern conveniences like ABS, cruise control, and keyless ignition that put the Chief head-and-shoulders above the competition.
However, the proof was in the riding, and we love riding the Chief. (See our Chief review.) The Thunderstroke 111 is a willing power plant from the first crack of the throttle. Although the steering is slower than we typically like, the Chief’s ride is top notch. Most importantly, though, the Indian Chief signaled that the brand is back – and in a big way. All three of the models based on the Chief have been successful from motojournalists’ perspective, and your vote for the Chief as Best Cruiser 2015 points to the public’s more than mere acceptance but to outright enthusiasm over the return of Indian.