Indian Motorcycles

Updated March, 2021
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 the bottom fell out in 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 and Coca-Cola.
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 Indian's all-new Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin: the 2014 Chief Classic, Chief Vintage, and Chieftain were all named after classic Indian models from the Springfield era, and all were designed to go head-to-head with Harley-Davidson.
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.

The sweet Scout Bobber Sixty is Indian's current low-price leader: $8999.

Speaking of competing with Harley-Davidson, Indian also teamed up with famed engine builder Swissauto to produce a motorcycle specifically for flat-track competition. 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. Harley-Davidson had dominated this uniquely American form of horse-track competition for decades, and the success of Indian's FTR showcased the company's performance bent.

Also in 2017, with Indian 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 motorcycle resources behind Indian.


Naturally, Indian parlayed the FTR750's racing success into a uniquely American performance street motorcycle asap. The FTR1200 debuted in 2019, with a modern 120-horsepower liquid-cooled 1200 cc V-twin housed in a flat-track/naked-bike chassis, with custom Dunlop street tires mimicking the look of dirt-track racing rubber. Nobody quite knew how to classify the FTR: Part dirt-tracker, part Ducati Monster, and part ADV bike with its upright street-friendly ergonomics and longish-travel suspension, the FTR carves out its own unique, hooliganistic niche as a motorcycle that’s a hoot to ride just about anywhere.

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.

2022 Indian Chief

One century after the original Chief rolled out of the Springfield, Massachusetts works, Indian launches a whole new line of stripped-down Chiefs. The base model pictured gets Indian's 111-inch Thunderstroke V-twin and not a lot else. Three other models, the Chief Bobber, Super Chief and Chief Dark Horse provide variations on the clean, elemental theme.

2022 Indian FTR1200

You can still get the original adventurous FTR1200 in the form of the Rally, which continues on with the bigger (wire-spoke) wheels and dirty road capabilities. Now, Indian’s brought three new 2022 FTR1200s to bear (FTR, FTR S, and FTR R Carbon), all with 17-inch wheels front and rear shod in proper sportbike rubber, revised suspension to suit, a lower seat, a refined engine tune, advanced electronics, and – Indian hopes – a whole new appeal for people who have no intention of leaving the pavement. I think we all wondered why they didn’t build this one first?

2020 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.

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