Fresh off of winning the 2022 MotoAmerica King of the Baggers championship, Indian has gone and done it – Indian is offering a super-exclusive opportunity to actually buy yourself a Challenger RR. This is an exact replica of the bike Tyler O’hara used to win the KotB championship. Yes, an exact replica. Meaning if you had the skill that Tyler has, you could go and win bagger races with it. This is a full-on, non street legal, racing machine that just happens to look like an Indian Challenger (well, loosely…).
The Harley-Davidson vs. Indian rivalry is a great American classic on par with the likes of Army vs. Navy, Lakers vs. Celtics, Ford vs. Chevy, Pepsi vs. Coke, and even…Google vs. Bing? Ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the point. Harley and Indian have been at each other’s throats going back over a century, save for a 50-odd-year pause in the middle when Indian originally closed its doors. But when Polaris bought the keys to the palace and opened the doors again, the fight resumed as intense as ever when the FTR750 flat tracker started beating Harley’s legendary XR750. Repeatedly.
Five years on from the 2018 launch of its first ever twin-cylinder models to be made in India, since when over 400,000 examples of the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 have been sold around the world, Royal Enfield has now added the first of a much-anticipated series of spinoff models to its range.
Man, it’s been a while since we managed to get seven baggers together for a real-live comparison, but last time we did, in 2018, this BMW won it against the usual suspects from Harley-Davidson, Indian, et al. They’ve all received upgrades in the ensuing years, but nothing earth shattering to upend the pecking order. And nothing to upset our earlier, semi-collective conclusion that a bagger does not have to be built in America or powered by a big V-Twin.
You know who you are: You love the Indian Challenger, but it just quite isn’t enough for you. You want something super exclusive. Well, Indian’s got good news for you. Today, Indian unveiled the 2023 Challenger Elite. The name alone should tell you it’s something special, but as usual, it’s all in the details.
As we reported last month, Honda is introducing a new bagger version of the Rebel 1100. The 2023 Honda Rebel 1100T adds a fork-mounted fairing and color-matched hard panniers. For the U.S., the bagger model will only be offered with DCT, while some markets may offer a manual transmission option.
Harley-Davidson unveiled the latest member of its Icons Collection with a devilish take on the Low Rider ST. Limited to a production run of just 1,500 models, the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo introduces a custom red paint job and a factory-installed Rockford Fosgate audio system for a price of $27,999.
Perhaps what I love the most about the English language is its flexibility, how you can bump disparate words together and create something with an entirely new meaning. When it comes to motorcycles, the words sport and touring bring to mind two very different kinds of motorcycles. Sporting motorcycles place an emphasis on handling, acceleration, and braking, while touring bikes tend to focus on cargo capacity, rider comfort, and long-range capability. Butt those words together, as in sport-touring motorcycle, and you get a spectrum of bikes that ranges from sportbikes with bags to tourers that can corner better than you think they should. The reality of sport-touring motorcycles is that most favor the middle ground, compromising both sporting capability and touring chops, to create a supremely flexible motorcycle. What happens when you throw a third word into the mix? What would you expect from a sport-touring cruiser? Well, the folks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin have done their level best to define this category of motorcycle with the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST.
Kyle Wyman knows a thing or two about superbikes. Having ridden quite a few over the years as a MotoAmerica rider, and having built some himself as a MotoAmerica team owner – including the Ducati Panigale V4R he campaigned most recently – the 2021 MotoAmerica King of the Baggers champion didn’t mince his words when describing the synergy between himself, Harley-Davidson, and the Road Glide he took all the way to the title.
Harley-Davidson has the fortunate position to stand atop the perch that is its popularity and loyal following to see where its customers take their motorcycles. Yes, the folks at Harley hear all the time about the different places their motorcycles have taken them. But Harley designers and engineers also have the advantage of reading the pulse of their customer base by seeing what these people decide to do to customize and modify their bikes. Need I remind anyone of the unfortunate custom chopper craze of not too long ago…?
How’s this for a no-pressure assignment? Completely redesign the Harley-Davidson Sportster, the best-selling Harley that’s been around since 1957. Start with a clean sheet. Make a motorcycle that appeals to people who’ve never considered a Sportster. Whatever you do, don’t offend the Base. On the other hand, it’s okay and even preferable that it offends some people – the ones who’d never consider a Harley under any circumstances.