Indian Chief (2014)

Author: Phil West Posted: 04 Dec 2015

Powered by an all-new 1819cc V-Twin

Why you want it:

Harley’s first, credible, US-built cruiser rival in 50 years is classy, effective and will be causing some sleepless nights in Milwaukee

Harley’s historic nemesis from the ‘30s and ‘40s has had many, mostly frankly embarrassing revivals since its original demise in 1953 but this time round it’s different. Very different. Bought by the massive Polaris Industries concern in 2011 (who had already had some success with its own Victory motorcycles brand) it took the all-new, fully-revitalised firm just two-and-a-half years to come up with an all-new range of machines, of which the Chief is the cornerstone.

The Chief, named after the 1922 original, is Indian’s classic, Harley-rivalling ‘Big Twin’. It’s powered by an all-new, air-cooled, 1819cc (111cu in), 49º V-twin which puts out a claimed Harley-beating 119ft-lb of torque and around 100bhp. The chassis, meanwhile, comprises an equally brand new cast aluminium frame with fat 46mm forks, monoshock rear end and up-to-date four-piston brakes complete with ABS. With a ride-by-wire throttle its power delivery is without fault for this style of bike: immediate, grunty, smooth enough and yet characterful, too. While the handling is also without complaint: it steers well enough for a big bike, most of the weight is carried low, the suspension gives a decent ride and the brakes, so often a criticism on these kinds of bike, are more than up to the job as well.

Best of all, though, is its build quality and equipment levels – which is up there with the very best: there’s Bluetooth, cruise control, keyless ignition and more depending on which model you go for. The Chief Classic is the ‘bare bones’, ‘50s retro-styled cruiser, right down to its whitewall tyres and ‘flared’ fenders (an Indian styling icon). The Chief Vintage is its basic ‘bagger’ style variant and Harley Road King rival, with an added plexiglass screen and luxurious tan leather panniers. While the Chieftain, which is arguably Indian’s Harley Street Glide rival, gets a full ‘Batwing’ style fairing and hard panniers. All are class acts.

Chieftain gets the Batwing style fairing and hard panniers

What to look for:

The Chief is so new there’s been little chance for anything to go wrong mechanically but, if it’s any reassurance, sister company Victory have had an impressive reliability record. At the same time Indian quality is high: the paint and chrome is thick, build quality, fit and finish excellent and overall it’s arguably better even than Harley. Of course, being a premium machine, quality and condition of used examples is paramount, so look carefully. Any scruffs, scratches or neglect can be expensive to repair or replace and can massively affect value. It’s also common for bikes of this type to be accessorized or customized although Indian so far can’t match H-D for the range and variety of accessories it offers. In fact this, proven residuals and a more extensive dealer network are the three main areas where Harley has Indian still comprehensively beaten. That said, among the accessories currently available, performance or ‘loud’ pipes/silencers are common, so make sure the vendor still has the originals – they will be vital come MoT time.

Indian will need to match Harley's strong residuals when it gets a little older

Any updates?

No significant updates so far but an additional model, the Indian Chief Dark Horse, was introduced in 2015 (although in usual US fashion it’s actually called a 2016 model) as a mean ‘n’ moody, blacked-out version.

What to pay:

They’re still so new and so cherished few used Indians are yet available and those that are all have ticket prices over £15,000, so don’t expect much by way of a bargain. That said, that’s an encouraging indicator for future used values. One of rival’s Harley’s strengths has always been strong residuals and Indian will need to match that.

Who to ask:



1819cc, 49º ohv V-twin




100bhp (est)



119ftlb @ 5000rpm





Have you ridden the Chief? What do you make of it?  or !