Indian Reviews

Updated March, 2020

Indian Motorcycles is of course one of America’s oldest and most storied manufacturers. The original Indian produced bikes in Springfield, Massachusetts, from 1901 until 1953, after which the Indian name was acquired for use by a series of  would-be manufacturers. Some slapped the name on imported bikes, others built their own Indians with limited success, but all  ultimately failed to thrive in the marketplace for one reason or another. The Indian brand, though, is one of those classic American marques that’s so far proved impossible to kill, right up there with Harley-Davidson.

In 2011, Indian was acquired by the huge American manufacturer Polaris Industries Inc., makers of snowmobiles, ATVs, side-by-sides, personal watercraft – and also Victory Motorcycles, since 1998. Upon acquiring Indian, Polaris immediately moved production to Spirit Lake, Iowa, and only two years later debuted three new motorcycles, all powered by the all-new Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin, all designed to go head-to-head with Harley-Davidson – the 2014 Chief Classic, Chief Vintage, and Chieftain – and all named after classic Indian models from the Springfield era.

In 2015, Indian launched its new Scout, a smaller cruiser with Harley’s ever-popular Sportster in its sights. The Scout is powered by an 1133 cc liquid-cooled DOHC V-twin, and the bike promptly won’s Motorcycle of the Year award. The following year Indian produced the Scout 60, a smaller-engined Scout (60-cubic inch engine) with a lower price tag to compete with Harley’s 883 Sportster.

Not fooling around at all, Indian also teamed up with famed engine builder Swissauto to produce a motorcycle for flat-track competition, and ever since its FTR750 debuted for the 2017 racing season, Indian has won every AFT Championship and probably 90% of the races, if not more. This was a real kick in the groin to Harley-Davidson, who previously dominated this uniquely American form of horse-track competition.

Also in 2017, with Indian apparently doing well and Victory Motorcycles never having really taken off in the marketplace, Polaris made the decision to discontinue Victory production and put all its resources behind Indian. What’s in a name? Apparently a lot to buyers of “classic”-styled American motorcycles, the crew among them. Here are a couple of our favorite current Indians.

Indian FTR1200S


In an attempt to parlay its flat-track racing success into a streetbike, Indian released the FTR1200 in 2019. Nobody quite knew how to classify it: Part dirt-tracker on its purpose-built knobbyish Dunlop tires, part Ducati Monster with its torque-laden 1200 cc V-twin engine, and part ADV bike with its upright street-friendly ergonomics and longish-travel suspension, the FTR doesn’t slot nicely into any pre-existing category, but carves out its own unique, hooliganistic niche as a motorcycle that’s a hoot to ride just about anywhere.

Indian Challenger

All new for 2020, Indian’s latest bagger is powered by a 108-cubic inch liquid-cooled V-twin that puts out a claimed 122 horsepower and 128 foot-pounds of torque, and lets you twist the tachometer needle past 6000 rpm whenever you feel the need. That kind of performance is unprecedented in an American bike that wants to take on the H-D Road Glide, and the rest of the Challenger has all the latest high-tech equipment to carry the day, including a big TFT display, Bluetooth connectivity, awesome stereo that goes to 11, and a great ride with 4.5 inches of rear suspension travel.

Scout Bobber 60


The original Scout 60 has segued into the Scout Bobber 60, which is basically the same 60-cubic inch (999 cc) liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin packed into a long, low frame as the first Scout. Painting it black, removing the passenger accommodations, chopping the fenders and a few other mods renders it “Bobber.” What remains is the best part, an $8,999 price tag. He travels coolest who travels alone.

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