July 16, 2013 by Rider Newsletter Staff
This year at Sturgis…there’s a new Chief in town
It’s not unusual to see the motorcycling community take notice of an upcoming new model. But, the pending introduction of the 2014 Indian Chief is making news far beyond the world of bikers. And, among riders, it’s the biggest news in decades – or so it seems. Even the Wall Street Journal has gotten in on the game. So, why is this new motorcycle causing such a fuss?
A Little History
As you may already know, Indian was actually the first American motorcycle company; and there is a lot of history behind the name. Indian, which began as a bicycle manufacturer called Hendee, began selling motorcycles in 1901 and was forced into bankruptcy in 1953. Since then, the Indian brand name has passed (legally and not-so-legally) from hand to hand. Various owners have stamped the name and logo on everything from customized, rebranded British Royal Enfield motorbikes to imported scooters. Every attempt to resuscitate the Indian name has failed.
In 2011 the brand was purchased by Polaris. You may know them as a snowmobile company or as the manufacturer of Victory brand motorcycles. Having failed to create a rival to Harley-Davidson with Victory, the company is putting a ton of money and prestige behind its new-from-the-ground-up entry.
The New Chief
After more than two years of engineering and design, Polaris will unveil their first new Indian motorcycle, called The Chief, on August 3, 2013, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. According to Polaris marketing executives, they chose this venue because the first Sturgis rally, in 1936, was hosted by the local Indian Motorcycle club, known as the Jackpine Gypsies. It has since grown to become the largest motorcycle rally in the world.
A series of events and specials are planned for the introduction. A complete schedule is available on the company’s Web site. The introduction will be hosted by Mike Wolfe from the History Channel program American Pickers, who is a well-known motorcycle rider, Indian motorcycle collector and historian. The History Channel also plans to stream some parts of the event on their Web site.
Will the Chief Measure Up?
All the hype aside, the real question is will the new bike be worthy of its name and heritage? In March 2013, during Daytona Bike Week, the company successfully introduced the all-new Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin engine which will power the Chief. At that same event, they featured a new streamliner motorcycle called the “Spirit of Munro,” designed to honor the memory of Burt Munro who broke a land speed record in 1967 riding a modified 1920 Indian Scout. The sleek machine is, of course, also powered by the new Thunder Stroke 111 engine.
Since then, Polaris has been busy promoting the introduction and providing “sneak peeks” at other events and on the Indian Motorcycles Web site. Amazingly, no actual photos or even renderings of the new machine have been “leaked” to the press. The company announced recently that the base price for the new Indian Chief will be $18,999.
If you are going to Sturgis this year, you should make plans to see (and even test ride) the new Indian Chief. Polaris is going way out on a limb here to create a viable alternative to Harley-Davidson, and it will be interesting to see if their massive investment pays off.
There’s another new American motorcycle company beginning to make some waves in the industry with their high-end touring machines. We’ll provide more details on the Motus Motorcycle Company and their unique M4 “Baby Block” V4 engines soon. In the meantime, check out their Web site here.
Other than the actual design, information on the new Indian Chief is plentiful on the Web. Here are just a few links to get you started:
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