The Indian Chief Vintage…
a motorcycle designed like a vintage piece of art….

The last decade has seen the entry of all the top motorcycle brands in the India. The motorcycle enthusiast responded to this like a person who finds an oasis in the desert!
For people who grew up in the last century the thought of buying a premium motorcycle came fraught with a sense of lunacy and madness that you would associate with a B- Grade masala Hindi film! One had to deal with shady motorcycle dealers, mechanics and an errant government mechanism. And with no financing options available then, one had to be a rich man’s son or daughter to buy such a motorcycle. But the drama didn’t end there. Post purchasing the bike you had to always keep a lookout in the papers hoping that Mr. X who you bought it from wasn’t in jail for vehicular fraud!

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That is all history now! Name the bike and it yours for owning, courtesy financing and leasing options being available. Premium motorcycles from the range of 6 lakhs to a crore are available to such an enthusiast. I have been lucky that I have owned a few 400cc motorcycles in the past and have ridden multiple liter class motorcycles. But nothing has come close to a day I spent with the Indian Chief Vintage. Before we get to that let’s look at the history of this company that designs motorcycles like art on wheels.

Indian motorcycles were first produced in Springfield Massachusetts at the turn of the century from 1901 to 1953. In that period, they went to become the largest manufacturers of motorcycles in the world, took the first three places in the 1911 Isle of Man TT trophy, riders set world motorcycle speed records. Having manufactured and supplied motorcycles to the US Army during both the World wars of the 20th century it all ended in 1953.

Post that the company saw a chequered run in terms of people trying to make unsolicited claims to the brand, trying to set up a consortium to revive the brand, but it wasn’t anything permanent or long term. Finally, in April 2011 Polaris Industries Ltd the off-road and leisure vehicle maker and parent company of Victory Motorcycles announced its intent on acquiring Indian motorcycles. With this move the production facilities were moved to Spirit Lake, Iowa. Production commenced in August 2011. In March of 2013 they unveiled the new Thunder stroke engine and the motorcycles based on that went on sale in August 2013.

In 2014 Indian motorcycles entered the fast-growing premium motorcycle industry in India. And right away one could see that this is a motorcycle which is designed like a vintage piece of art. A motorcycle that harks back to a time gone by when riding a motorcycle was as much of leisure as a discovery of new places and adventures.

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Here’s my story with the Indian Vintage:

It’s not every day one wakes up and rides an almost 400 kg classical cruiser. Well I know lots of friends who do that regularly and that explains the joy they have plastered over their faces.

This happened to me one autumn morning. My first sight of the Indian Chief Vintage was one of awe. It’s such a majestic looking motorcycle which is as regal as they come. Old world charm and style is what this motorcycle signifies. The Indian Chief Vintage’s design is completely retro paying an ode to motorcycles from the 1940’s. Whitewall tyres, teardrop fuel tank, wide floorboards, leather saddlebags embellished with leather fringes add to the classic appeal. A large headlight along with two smaller aux lamps come with a chrome finish. An adjustable windshield also comes on this motorcycle which is extremely useful on long rides. Walk around the bike and you notice how the classic design showcases itself in the fenders, the fuel tank which has heritage font of the iconic “Indian” brand embossed on it.

The instrument panel has an analog speedometer and fuel gauge with a multi-function digital display. The ergonomics are spot on. The controls feel very good, the handlebar falls into position perfectly, the switchgear is top draw with the buttons positioned just right. The leather seat is extremely comfortable with the option of having a backrest to help those long hours in the saddle on cross country road trips. Another nice feature is this bike is keyless ignition. The key just needs to be in your pocket and bag for the bike to start. But the moment you more than 3 metres away this becomes disarmed.

Press the starter and the Thunder Stroke 111 engine comes to life. You get to hear a loud bass and throaty grunt of the 1811 cc V-twin engine that makes 138.9 NM of peak torque at 3000rpm. Now I am a good and experienced rider but that didn’t matter to the Indian. I managed to stall it twice before gathering my senses and getting it to move. The Indian weighs close to 400 kgs which becomes very apparent when you are stationary at signal lights.

The bike has plenty of grunt to accelerate cleanly from lower speeds at a higher gear. You can comfortably amble away at 70kmph in 6th gear on the highway and pass another vehicle without having to downshift. All it takes is a twist of the throttle and the enormous torque comes into play. The engine is very smooth and extremely refined at any speed. Even when you go past 100kmph there is a relaxed sense of comfort due to the stability this bike offers making you confident to push it further.

This is a motorcycle that needs to be ridden on long and empty stretches of highway. The one thing that happened very frequently on my trip to Pune and back is the kind of attention this motorcycle attracts. At rest stops, traffic signal, even while riding on the highway strangers would come up to pose for pictures and ask how much it costs.
Get ready for all this attention and more when you ride the Indian Chief Vintage!
This is by no means a reasonably priced cruiser. At 26.83 lakhs this is a full bodied premium heavyweight cruiser which could be termed as “old-school cool” but still comes with the latest and modern tech.

If riding on weekends in leisure and style is your calling, then the Indian Chief Vintage is the motorcycle for you. So, what you are waiting for. Go test ride it today!

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sanjeev joshi

sanjeev joshi

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