While nine motorcycles may have been listed on the Reader’s Choice ballot for Motorcycle of the Year, the reality is that two of them garnered 42.67% of the votes. The two bikes going mano-a-mano in a V-Twin, bare knuckled brawl for supremacy? The KTM Super Duke R and the Indian Chief. We bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? What surprised us was that you, the readers, didn’t choose the KTM SDR, like we did. Instead, you let us know that you think the Indian Chief is the motorcycle that stands at the top of the 2014 model year heap in our first annual Reader’s Choice Awards.
We can’t argue with your choice. After all, when we named the Chief Cruiser of the Year, we crowed over Polaris’ efforts at relaunching the historic brand: “Polaris knows motorsports (being the number-one powersports OEM in North America) and is clearly applying what it’s learned from developing Victory over the past 15 years to the Indian revival.” Or how about: ”The fit and finish of the bikes – from the paint to the quality and amount of chrome – announced that Indian is here, here big, and for the long-term. The same can be said of the Indian logos on just about every visible piece of hardware. The overall feeling is one of quality.”
Then there’s the Thunderstroke 111 engine that powers the entire Indian line (with the exception of the Scout). The vintage style pays enough of an homage to Indian’s past to show that the current keepers of the Indian name respect their heritage which will, hopefully, keep traditionalists happy. However, the bike isn’t a step back in time. Rather, the engine’s internals – and features like ride-by-wire – are high-tech enough to deliver riding conveniences (keyless starting and cruise control) plus the exciting ride, fuel economy and emissions expected from a modern cruiser.
Additionally, Indian sales have been strong, pointing to the fact that the brand is creating a connection with the customers. Your votes for the Chief, bested the KTM Super Duke R by over 4%, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you know that third place was over 12% behind the Indian. That’s the kind of passion the bike has engendered. If the recently released Scout is any reflection on what else Indian has up its collective sleeves, there’s plenty more to come.