Top Speed Buyer’s Guide to the 2019 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
The 2019 Indian Motorcycles Explainedby Allyn Hinton, on
The Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company LLC is currently one of two American-style heavyweights currently in operation in North America. It mainly offers mid-size/heavy cruisers and large baggers/tourbikes, but the success of its flat-track racing team launched a small but very race-tastic FTR line to round out the bottom of its range. In addition to its dominant FTR750 race-team bike, Indian currently puts out the third-largest production V-twin engine with its 111 cubic-inch (1,819 cc) Thunder Stroke and more or less matches its longtime domestic foe H-D in every important category.
Indian Motorcycle History
Initially launched in 1897 as the Hendee Manufacturing Company, and originally, it built push-power bicycles before starting on gasoline-powered machines in 1901. It was rebranded as the Indian Motocycle (sic) Manufacturing Company in 1928. The factory enjoyed some early racing success that drove sales and placed Indian as the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world by the 1910s. Board-track and cross-country racing kept the marque in the limelight and the Great War saw Indians in the European Theater, but that starved the domestic dealerships and caused the factory to cede its number-one spot to Harley-Davidson.
Between the wars, Indian joined forces with Du Pont Motors to produce bicycles and boat motors along with its motorcycles, and even branched out into aircraft engine production. World War II put Indian bikes in action once again, but post-war economics saw a decline in the company’s success, and it eventually succumbed to market pressures and domestic competition in 1953. After several abortive attempts at capitalizing on the brand name under an array of banners, the marque came under the Polaris Industries umbrella in 2011, and as of this writing, it is rapidly emerging as a real threat to the status quo in American motorcycle manufacturing.
Indian Motorcycle Terminology
Dark Horse: Dark and sinister, the Dark Horse line comes with generous blackout treatment throughout the drivetrain and standing structure, and the sheet metal comes similarly monochromatic in either White Smoke or Thunder Black Smoke with the Bronze Smoke Chieftain Dark Horse bagger as the only exception to that rule. This leaves a dearth of chrome with polished aluminum as the only bits of bling. The Dark Horse bikes represent Indian’s factory-custom line,and as such, they come with numerous touches that set them apart from the rest of the tribe.
Ride Command: Indian’s proprietary infotainment system. It delivers advanced engine metrics to let you monitor the bike’s maintenance schedule along with tire pressure, heading azimuth, fuel economy and more. A Bluetooth connection pulls your smartphone into the network to pipe in your favorite tunes and allow you to field calls on the road. If you’re into making a plan for your trips, you can map out your route online then download it directly to your bike. The seven-inch touchscreen is currently the largest color TFT interface on a bike, and you can swipe, pinch and drag the display even with gloves on.
Indian Motorcycle Models
Indian Motorcycle FTR 1200
Indian’s flat-track success, and the popularity of the limited-release FTR750 racebike, led the factory to build the FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S for public consumption. This pair brings the flat-track panache to the masses while paying appropriate homage to the racebike proper.
Exposed Trellis framing and the distinctive faux fuel-tank hump set the tone, and the tapered tail finishes it off with a p-pad and passenger footpegs so you can share the fun with a friend. The base model is fairly vanilla, but the “S” sports a 4.3-inch Ride Command feature with fully adjustable stems, a trio of variable power-delivery ride mode,s and lean sensitive ABS and traction control. Power comes from a 1,203 cc plant, and all around stealth knobbies give both a measure of off-road capability.
|FTR 1200||$13,499||1,203 cc|
|FTR 1200 S||$15,499||1,203 cc|
Indian Motorcycle Midsize
Indian’s Scout range buttons up the midrange with a 60 cubic-inch (999 cc), liquid-cooled powerplant stuffed into a cruiser-style chassis in the bottom-tier Scout Sixty, but ramps it up a notch with a 69-inch (1,133 cc) mill in its Scout and Scout Bobber. The factory borrowed from the looks of the past without becoming a slave to it, and as a result, the Scouts have a sort of ambiguous nostalgia about them. The Scout Bobber takes it a step further with chopped-down fenders, bar-end mirrors and ample blackout to make a connection to the custom culture. ABS serves as the only electronic safety feature.
|Scout Bobber||$12,499||1,133 cc|
|Scout Sixty||$9,499||999 cc|
Indian Motorcycle Cruiser
Indian’s only current cruiser proper is the Chief Dark Horse. The “CDH” delves a bit deeper into the company’s history for its design elements. An iconic war-bonnet ornament rides like a ship’s figurehead on the front fender, but it’s the headlight nacelle, full rear fender and body panels that really kick the nostalgia into overdrive.
The Chief Dark Horse is also the lowest-tier model that comes equipped with Indian’s torque-tastic Thunder Stroke 111 with its stump-pulling 119 pound-feet of torque that has something to give all the way through the rev range but maxes its grunt out at 3,000 rpm. A work of art unto itself, the engine mimics the look of the old side-valve/flathead lumps, all the way down to the faux cooling fins on the rocker-box covers.
|Chief Dark Horse||$18,499||1,811 cc|
Indian Motorcycle Bagger
Indian offers an array of bagger-style bikes to meet a variety of tastes. From the minimalist Springfield Dark Horse to the dressed-to-the-nines Chieftain, all models come with hard sidebags that define the genre. All but the Springfield Dark Horse offers a windshield at the least, with a choice between two front-fairing styles throughout the range for protection from the weather.
The only real difference between the top-line fairing baggers and a full dresser is the lack of a top case, so baggers can be considered just as capable as the dressers on the superslab, just with a little less storage.
Power comes from the Thunder Stroke 111 across the board, and the fairing models are equipped with the Ride Command feature for a little lagniappe.
|Chief Vintage||$19,999||1,811 cc|
|Chieftain Classic||$25,999||1,811 cc|
|Chieftain Dark Horse||$26,749||1,811 cc|
|Chieftain Limited||$26,749||1,811 cc|
|Springfield Dark Horse||$21,999||1,811 cc|
Indian Motorcycle Touring
If putting state lines behind you is your thing, Indian’s Roadmaster line is your Huckleberry. No “sheet metal” is spared between the full front fairing, valence fender and lower fairings mounted out on the engine guard to deliver the max in weather protection. Recessed passing lights and turn signals keep the front end slick in spite of its overall bulk.
A top-case storage compartment sets them apart from the baggers and supplements the hard bags, plus these dressers carry the Ride Command feature along with all the electronics the factory has to offer.
|Roadmaster Elite||$36,999||1,811 cc|
Indian Chief Dark Horse
See our review of the Indian Chief Dark Horse.
Indian Chief Vintage
See our review of the Indian Chief Vintage.
See our review of the Indian Chieftain.
Indian Chieftain Classic
See our review of the Indian Chieftain Classic.
Indian Chieftain Dark Horse
See our review of the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse.
Indian Chieftain Limited
See our review of the Indian Chieftain Limited.
Indian Scout / Scout Sixty
See our review of the Indian Scout / Scout Sixty.
Indian Scout Bobber
See our review of the Indian Scout Bobber.
Indian FTR 1200
See our review of the Indian FTR 1200.
Indian FTR 1200 S
See our review of the Indian FTR 1200 S.
See our review of the Indian Roadmaster.
Indian Roadmaster Elite
Indian Springfield Dark Horse
See our review of the Indian Springfield Dark Horse.
Read more Indian Motorcycle news.