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Chief sets its sights on rivals

25.04.2014

WE WROTE not so long ago that Indian Motorcycles has arrived in South Africa and as a new brand to most locals, Indian will have to prove itself to a market where Harley-Davidson is taking home the lion’s share of sales at the moment.

We received a Chief Classic model to try out for ourselves. This is the entry-level Indian at R325 000, which is rather hefty sum when you consider the pricing of some of its rivals. Speaking of which, I’ve had the privilege of riding both the Moto Guzzi California and the Harley Softail Deluxe before this test so I could at least compare the Chief to its competitors.

The first thing you notice when riding the Chief is the engine, which produces a massive 161Nm of torque. Its engine is a 49-degree air-cooled V-twin coupled with a six-speed gearbox. It displaces 1 819cc and the grunt is still impressive for a bike with a wet weight of 368kg, despite the aluminium frame.

The next impressive aspect is the handling. On the Harley and even the Moto Guzzi, to a certain extent, I was constantly worried about scraping the foot pegs when making a turn and even cautious about how fast I entered a bend, but with the Chief I felt more confident to lean the bike. The strange thing is that the turning radius on the Chief is far bigger than I had anticipated and is something to watch out for when making tight U-turns.

The clutch action on the Indian is slightly heavy for a boulevard cruiser, but overall the ride is very smooth, especially on the open road. You can activate the cruise control and sit back and enjoy the scenery; just don’t go over the national speed limit as this Classic does not have a screen, which makes things quite turbulent. As standard you do get niceties such as keyless ignition, ABS brakes, fly-by-wire throttle, dual-exit exhausts and chrome-covered wheels.

On the whole, Indian has an impressive product and from an engineering perspective, it is a winner thanks to the handling and strong engine. In terms of looks, it is right up there with the best. A few niggles here and there are not really enough to detract from what is a strong competitor in the segment.

Indian is owned by Polaris and brought in by the Cardinals Motor Corporation locally. 
All models come with a 2-year/unlimited factory warranty and a 2-year AA roadside assist programme.

Article written by Sean Nurse
25.04.2014
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