Indian Motorcycle and Jack Daniel’s have once again partnered together for a limited edition model. Developed once again in partnership with Klock Werks Kustom Cycles, the latest model is based on the Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse, and will be limited to a production run of just 177 motorcycles worldwide.
Indian announced it initial batch of 2021 models including its touring, bagger and Scout models. Along with new color options for several motorcycles, the 2021 model year includes a new Roadmaster Limited, a new Vintage Dark Horse and a restyled Roadmaster Dark Horse. Not included in the announcement were the FTR 1200 and the Chief cruiser, but we expect further news from Indian in the weeks ahead.
What exactly the hell is the meaning of this, letting a 30-year old kid be the Powertrain Project Engineer for an all-new bagger? What could a callow youth who roadraces a 15-year old GSX-R600 and rides a Tuono on the street, possibly know about the bagger mentality? When they’re not tearing around on sportbikes (and Indians!) because the snow’s too deep up in Minnesota, that 30-year old engineer (who only spoke to us on condition of anonymity) and Product Director Josh Katt are plotting mostly legal routes to get to work on Polaris snowmobiles. If that’s not heretical enough, Indian put a Swedish guy who designed BMW motorcycles for 15 years in charge of design – Ola Stenegard.
A week after announcing its 2020 Scout lineup, Indian announces its updated air-cooled cruiser and touring model lineup, including an upgrade to a larger Thunder Stroke 116 engine for select models, a new Ride Command infotainment system, a redesigned Springfield Dark Horse. a new Roadmaster Dark Horse and the return of the Chieftain Elite.
When I first saw Indian’s photos of the updated Chieftain line, I immediately thought of the presentation during the 2015 Indian Scout introduction. During his speech, Gary Gray, Indian Motorcycle Product Director, said that with Indian’s initial models under Polaris ownership, “we needed to earn the right to change the brand. So, how do you earn the right? You pay the deepest respects you can for the brand, and you pay honor to the people that came before you, and you build a bike that people clearly will see as an Indian.” All of the Indian models prior to the Scout were classically styled in a way that harkened back to the company’s early history, the nod to the past that Gray referred to.
Some may wonder why we’d bother to test a new motorcycle model that basically only includes stylistic changes from the one we tested previously. In the case of the 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse, we last tested a Chieftain in November 2013 and felt enough time had passed that we needed to throw a leg over this Indian to remind ourselves what a great bike it is. Also, there was a battleship tour, in the form of the USS Iowa, involved as well as a chance to get out of the office for a ride.
In 2014 Indian released the Chieftain, and at that stage of Polaris’ reclaiming of the Indian brand, the focus was still very much on the heritage of the name. The styling was clearly inspired by Indians of the past, but great pains were taken to make the Chieftain a modern motorcycle through the inclusion of modern technology. However, the Indian brand has grown to include more modern motorcycles, like the Scout and the Scout Sixty, preparing the public for Indian to be a manufacturer with a clear vision of its past while still looking towards the future.