(UPDATE: After we published this article, we discovered evidence that further verifies our reporting and provides additional information about Indian’s upcoming new models).
Photographs of a near production-ready Indian prototype appeared on various online message boards last weekend, revealing a potential Harley-Davidson Road Glide competitor with a frame-mounted fairing and a new liquid-cooled V-Twin engine. The initial post didn’t last long, as Indian reps soon started reaching out, asking for them to be removed. The poster complied, but this being the internet, the same photos began popping up in other locations, proving it’s very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.
We’re going to save Indian the trouble of reaching out to us by not uploading those photos here. Instead, we’ve tracked down what appears to be the patent for the new engine, revealing some technical details and evidence the liquid-cooled V-Twin was originally intended for Victory.
The patent was first filed in May 2017 and approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this March. The illustrations reveal an engine that looks identical to the one in the leaked photos, with similar cooling fins and valve covers. What’s unusual about the patent is that it lists Polaris Industries as the applicant and Indian Motorcycle as the assignee. This is unusual as nearly all patent and trademark filings related to Indian have the the brand listed as both applicant and assignee. Patents for Victory likewise had Polaris as both applicant and assignee.
What this means is that this new patent was filed by Polaris but the rights were then transferred to Indian. The only other patent I could find with a similar setup were for the frame of the Indian Scout which shares much in common with the Victory Octane. This suggests that the engine design was initially intended to be used for Victory but will now live on with Indian.
The patent shows a 60-degree V-Twin with a single overhead cam manipulating four valves per cylinder. Despite the visible fins on the cylinders the engine is actually liquid-cooled, with the water pump on the left side of the engine being driven by the crankshaft via a belt or chain.
The actual purpose for the patent is for a way to easily access the camshaft without having to remove the rocker arms. The engine walls have a cutout on the left side that is large enough for the camshaft to be pulled out, leaving the rest of the valve train intact.
Unfortunately, the patent does not describe the engine’s displacement, so it’s difficult to tell how it compares to the 1811cc air-cooled Thunder Stroke 111 49° V-Twin engine powering Indian’s existing heavyweight models. Based on the illustrations, it appears the engine is similarly set up like the Thunder Stroke with a belt drive on the right side, which seems to match what we see in the leaked photo. (UPDATE: according to our sources, the new engine will have a 108 ci/1770 cc displacement and be paired with a six-speed transmission. The same source says the claimed output will be 120 hp.)
While that photograph shows a fixed-fairing tourer, it’s safe to assume this engine will be shared across several models. But will it replace the Thunder Stroke 111? That may ultimately come down to emission levels and ever changing regulations (Euro 5 is close at hand!), but it’s likely we’ll see both air- and liquid-cooled powertrains in Indian’s lineup.
We don’t yet have a name for the bike in the leaked photo, but we know Indian has trademark applications three potential names: Challenger, Raven and Renegade. Indian also filed a trademark for a stylized “R”. It’s possible this R logo may be used for this new engine, with Raven and Renegade being potential names for the new touring model.
The prototype in the photos looks close to being ready for production. If our hunch is correct, this engine has long been in development and should also be ready to go. Hopefully that means we won’t have much longer to wait before we receive official information about this new Indian model and the new powertrain.
UPDATE: Our source indicates this new touring model will be coming for the 2020 model year. The fixed-fairing tourer is also linked to the name “Raptor”, though it’s unclear if that is an internal codename or the name for the production model.