Indian Chief Vintage Review

Retro looks complemented by modern technology and equipment befitting a premium cruiser. We take the Indian Chief Vintage for a short spin


Indian Chief Vintage


Big heavyweight cruisers are not everyone’s cup of tea; or coffee, if you will. Some bikers love them, some absolutely detest them; for their weight, dodgy handling as well as poser notoriety. Styling and design of cruisers, of course, reflect the dominance of styling over either comfort or speed.


Indian Motorcycles is not just another contender in this heavyweight cruiser market. In fact, Indian Motorcycles is older than Harley-Davidson, being in production from as early as 1901 till 1952.


Over the next five decades, Indian Motorcycles saw more than half a dozen successor organizations trying to revive the iconic brand with varying degrees of limited success.



Indian Chief Vintage test ride


That is, until Polaris acquired the company in 2011 and within two years, launched the new range of Indian motorcycles with the same retro cruiser design unique to Indian motorcycles, but with all the technological bells and whistles of a modern motorcycle. And now the iconic brand has their motorcycles available in India too, and the Chief Vintage is one of the three heavyweight cruisers on offer here.



Indian Chief Vintage

The new Indian Chief Vintage is one of those born-again retro bikes, and the future of Indian heritage depends on these modern classics. It’s definitely a looker - the design is most definitely classic, taking styling cues directly from the 1940s era Chiefs.


Valenced fenders, whitewall tyres, tear-drop tank design, wide floorboards and genuine leather saddle and saddlebags together with leather fringes give the Chief Vintage classic cruiser appeal.


The front is adorned with a large, chrome headlamp, with two smaller aux lamps, again loaded with chrome, sitting below a height adjustable windshield.


Indian Chief Vintage details


The valenced fenders hark back to the classic Indian Chief design cues, the Vintage badging displayed prominently with a sculpted war bonnet taking pride of place on the front fender.


The saddlebags come in high quality tan leather with period three-buckle straps, although there are “modern” plastic latches behind the buckles. The tear drop shaped 21-litre fuel tank proudly displays the curly heritage font of the iconic brand and a leather “Indian” embossed strap leads on from the classic tank mounted instrument cluster to the seat.



Indian Chief Vintage fuel tank


Instrument panel features a single analog speedometer, and a multi-function digital display with an analog fuel gauge and a tank mounted “power” button sits next to it. The power button is to turn the bike “on” before you thumb on the engine kill switch and the starter.


Did I forget to mention it’s got keyless ignition? Yes, the fob can sit in your pocket or bag while you start the bike up. And starting is disarmed if you’re more than three meters away.



Indian Chief Vintage review


The ergonomics are spot on, for a rider with average height like mine. The controls feel right, the handlebar falls into position and switchgear is top notch and buttons positioned just right, with generous amounts of chrome making their way to the end of the handlebars.


The leather seat is generous enough to be comfortable and a back support on our test bike provides much-needed relief if you’re going to be in the saddle all day long.


Thumb the starter and the Thunder Stroke 111 engine rumbles to life. Indian Motorcycles says the twin exhausts are specially designed to eliminate high-pitched sounds so that all you hear is a bassy and full throaty rumble. Our test bike however, came equipped with aftermarket pipes and it sounds even better.



Indian Chief Vintage


At 379 kg, the weight of the bike makes itself felt, especially if you’re standing still and getting to know all the buttons on the switchgear. Toe the shifter into first, release the clutch and the bike instantly starts crawling, with the barest of throttle inputs.



First gear settles in with a thunk, but second and third are as smooth as the rest of the gears in the six-speed gearbox. I accelerate through the gears and all that weight seems to disappear magically.


The Thunder Stroke 111 is an 1811cc V-Twin engine makes an enormous 138.9Nm of peak torque at 3000rpm.



Indian Chief Vintage Thunder Stroke 111 engine


That means you have plenty of grunt to pull cleanly from lower speeds at a higher gear. Sixth gear is good to chug along at a decent 70kmph on the highway and there’s no need to downshift to make a pass; a twist of the throttle and all that torque comes into play. The engine is smooth, and at its refined best at any speed.



At triple digit speeds, sitting in a relaxed position, there’s little sense of speed and the bike’s stability offers enough confidence to push it further.



Indian Chief Vintage Test Ride and Review


The Chief Vintage however, is not meant for high speed manoeuvres. Sit back in the relaxed position and cruise comfortably. Whether you’re out on a long highway or taking on a twisty mountain road, there’s little to find fault in the Chief.



300mm four-piston dual floating rotors at the front and a single 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston calliper at the rear – equipped with ABS offers confident braking, even when braking mid-corner realizing you’re going too wide.



Indian Chief Vintage ZigWheels test ride


On the Chief Vintage, you’ll long to hit a wide open road, and at stop lights be prepared to be the centre of attraction. It’s a heavyweight cruiser in the truest sense, and one which is as unique as it’s attractive. Starting at prices of over Rs 28 lakh, the Indian Chief Vintage isn’t what we would call an affordable cruiser.



But if you’re in the market for a premium heavyweight cruiser, and one which is old-school cool, yet equipped with modern tech, by all means look at the Chief, and while you’re at it, do take a test ride. You certainly won’t be disappointed. 

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