New models and new engines bring excitement for 2020

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Indian Motorcycle, under the broad Polaris umbrella, rolls into its 2020 model-year with a number of improvements, modifications, and additions to its already-robust lineup. New FTR models and bobbed-out Scouts join the 2020 lineup of existing bikes. New engines for 2020 include what was formally a crate engine. The punched-out Thunder Stroke 116 joins the production line and Indian has a net-new engine in the PowerPlus V-twin. The much-discussed Challenger family marks a new direction for the design staff with its broad fixed fairing and focus on performance.

Indian Motorcycle History:

Top Speed's Guide to the 2020 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
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Top Speed's Guide to the 2020 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
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Top Speed Buyer's Guide to the 2019 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
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Indian Motorcycle is America’s oldest operating motorcycle manufacturer, though the marque has been through a number of hands over the years with long periods of inactivity. It was founded by George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom in 1901 as the Dundee Manufacturing Company, and was originally based in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Racing success brought the brand to the forefront within both the U.S. market and the world stage. The factory took a risk in 1923 and rebranded as Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company at a time when the Dundee brand was the largest bike builder in the world, and it held the Indian name until its demise in 1953.

Several attempts were made to revive the brand with little success, until 2011 when the Indian marque was acquired by Polaris Industries Inc, now known simply as Polaris Inc. Under Polaris’ direction, Indian Motorcycle has all but completely re-invented itself and has quickly emerged as a direct threat to the status quo in the American-made bike scene.

Once again, racing success helped make the brand a household name with its absolute dominance of the Flat Track Racing circuit, and the bikes have definitely benefited from Polaris’ deep research-and-development coffers with a number of rider aids that bring the tech into the 21st century. The existing lineup covers everything from the public-road version of its FTR bike up through the deluxe cruising and touring platforms and most points in between.

Indian Motorcycle Terminology:

2020 Indian Challenger Dark Horse
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Top Speed's Guide to the 2020 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
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Top Speed's Guide to the 2020 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
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FTR: Acronym for Flat Track Racer. It refers to both the civilian version and the proper racebike version of the proven flat-track platform.

Ride Command: Indian’s proprietary infotainment system. It communicates with tertiary devices via Bluetooth and USB port and delivers real-time weather and traffic updates along with a virtual jukebox and hands-free phonecalls.

Smart Lean Technology: A six-axis inertial measurement module adds corner-optimized intervention to the traction control, and ABS.

Drag Torque Control: Mitigates the effects of excessive backtorque in the drivetrain to prevent rear-wheel hop on hard downshifts. A nice safety net for riders with aggressive riding styles.

Thunder Stroke: An air-cooled V-twin engine that is available for 2020 in an 111 cubic-inch version and a 116 cubic-inch version. It channels the look of the old flathead/sidevalve engines through its faux cooling fins on the rocker boxes and parallel pushrod tubes.

PowerPlus: A liquid-cooled V-twin that comes in a 108 cubic-inch displacement and has more in common with the Scout engine, lookswise, than it does the classic-looking Thunder Stroke.

Indian Motorcycle Models

Indian Scout Line

2016 - 2020 Indian Motorcycle Scout / Scout Sixty
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2016 - 2020 Indian Motorcycle Scout / Scout Sixty
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2020 Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
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The Scout family’s first run went from 1920 through 1949, and is arguably the best bike the original factory ever built and the second most-important model after the Chief. Like the Chief, the Scout crossed over from the “Dundee Manufacturing Company” lineup.

The main engine for the Scout line is 69 cubic-inch, water-cooled V-twin that produces 100 horsepower and comes in the classic base Scout, custom Scout Bobber, new old-school custom Scout Bobber Twenty, and limited, commemorative Scout 100th Anniversary. For the entry level, or folks looking for an introduction to cruiser riding, the Scout Sixty and new classic-custom Scout Bobber Sixty runs a 61 cubic-inch, 78-horsepower V-twin that is unintimidating and controllable, but still plenty of fun. This is a direct competitor for Harley-Davidson’s Sportster and Street lineups.

Scout $11,499 1,133cc
Scout Sixty $8,999 1,000 cc
Scout Bobber $10,999 1,133 cc
Scout Bobber Sixty $8,999 1,000 cc
Scout Bobber Twenty $11,999 1,133 cc
Scout 100th Anniversary Edition $15,999 1,133 cc

Indian FTR 1200 Family

2020 Indian FTR Rally
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Indian Unveils Its Flat-Track-Inspired Street Bike At INTERMOT
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2019 - 2020 Indian Motorcycle FTR 1200 S
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Racing put this brand on the map, both back in the day and in recent times, so it’s fitting that the factory would offer a public-friendly version of its newest race machine with its FTR 1200 series. The base FTR 1200 brings true flat-track style to the table in a black-on-black finish and street-biased, dual-purpose tires.

In the middle of the range is the FTR Rally. The Rally is street legal but sports dual-surface tires with an off-road bias and a flyscreen for that rally-tastic look. The FTR 1200 S borrows its iconic look directly from the factory race bike and brings a level of tunability to the table along with corner-optimized Ride Command features. It proved itself last year in the European market, but is now coming home for domestic consumption. No matter which you choose, the engine of choice is the liquid-cooled, 123 horsepower, 1,203 cc V-Twin.

FTR 1200 $11,499 1,203 cc
FTR Rally $13,499 1,203 cc
FTR 1200 S $13,999 1,203 cc

Indian Cruiser Line

2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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Indian draws on its own deep historical roots for the Chief’s design that originally ranged from 1922 through 1953. The model name crossed over from the early “Dundee Manufacturing Company” into the rebranded Indian Motorcycle lineup and persisted until the marque’s demise in 1953.

Like the original, the new Chiefs run with a Big-Twin powerplant, and the current engine — the Thunder Stroke 111 — delivers 119 pound-feet of torque. A trio of Ride Modes give the engine a tuneable demeanor, and the Rear Cylinder Deactivation helps reduce heat and fuel consumption in stop-and-go conditions.

As for looks, the Indian Chief Vintage takes us right back to the fifties with the stock, old-school touring windshield and saddlebags that marked the early touring models. The Chief Dark Horse comes with generous blackout treatment and a stripped-down build that makes a connection to the custom culture of yesteryear and to make riding even more fun, for 2020 the Chiefs now have the chassis from the Springfield and Springfield Dark Horse.

This family makes for a good entry point for new full-size cruiser riders, partly because of the engine electronics, and partly because of the second-to-highest displacement it brings to the table. This is a direct competitor for some of Harley-Davidson’s new Softail cruiser models.

Chief Dark Horse $18,499 1,811 cc
Chief Vintage $19,999 1,811 cc

Indian Bagger Line

Top Speed's Guide to the 2020 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
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2019 - 2020 Indian Springfield
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Top Speed's Guide to the 2020 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
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Indian’s bagger category covers a lot of ground in every sense of the phrase. All of the bagger models sport a set of hard saddlebags for secure dry storage and some mid-range touring capability, and all come in the blackout livery of the Dark Horse line in addition to packages with bright colors and plenty of chrome.

If old-school touring or custom work is your thing, then something from the Springfield line should fit the bill. The Chieftain line builds on the touring platform with the addition of a fork-mount front fairing and windshield for long-range work or riding in inclement conditions. New for 2020, the Challenger range brings a new look to the lineup with a fixed fairing that is not entirely unlike H-D’s “Sharknose” fairing – a point of contention and discussion – and a full range of electronics to round out the luxe touring capabilities.

As for propulsion, this line carries all three big V-twins throughout, the proven Thunder Stroke 111 and new Thunder Stroke 116, along with the even newer PowerPlus powerplant.

Challenger $21,999 1,768 cc
Challenger Dark Horse $27,499 1,768 cc
Challenger Limited $27,999 1,768 cc
Chieftain $21,999 1,811 cc or 1,890 cc
Chieftain Classic $25,999 1,811 cc
Chieftain Dark Horse $27,999 1,890 cc
Chieftain Limited $27,999 1.890 cc
Chieftain Elite $34,999 1,890 cc
Springfield $20,999 1,811 cc
Springfield Dark Horse $22,499 1,890 cc

Indian Touring Line

2020 Indian Roadmaster
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2020 Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Roadmaster Elite
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Indian’s flagship touring bikes reside in the Roadmaster stable. The Roadmaster sports full bodywork that starts with a full front fairing and legguards, as well as a topcase to supplement the storage provided by the hard saddlebags. Like the base model, the Roadmaster Elite rolls with full footboards, a backrest, and armrests for your passenger’s long-distance comfort. To round out the aesthetic choices, the Roadmaster Dark Horse comes dripping with blackout paint.

Indian powers their top-line tourer range exclusively with the new-for-2020 126-horsepower, air-cooled Thunder Stroke 116 and relies on the Ride Command system to deliver the ride-quality and safety electronics suite that rounds out the package. This line is a direct competitor for H-D’s Electra Glide and other FLHT/touring models.

Roadmaster $29,999 1,890 cc
Roadmaster Dark Horse $28,999 1,890 cc
Roadmaster Elite $38,999 1,890 cc

Indian Dark Horse Family

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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Unlike the above model categories, the Dark Horse line is comprised of a model from each of the big-twin families that has had all of the chrome blacked out. There are choices to be had in the color of the actual sheet metal across the board, but the engine, suspension, frame and exhaust are all blacked out no matter which Dark Horse you choose.

Challenger Dark Horse $27,499 1,768 cc
Chief Dark Horse $18,499 1,811 cc
Springfield Dark Horse $22,499 1,890 cc
Chieftain Dark Horse $27,999 1,890 cc
Roadmaster Dark Horse $28,999 1,890 cc

Indian Elite Range

2020 Indian Chieftain Elite
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2020 Indian Chieftain Elite
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2020 Indian Roadmaster Elite
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Indian’s “Elite” range consists of two models for 2020, the Chieftain Elite and the Roadmaster Elite. Everything on this pair comes straight off the top shelf, up to and including the finish. Hand-laid paint makes each bike a unique work of motorcycle art, and this year, the Chieftain was slimmed down for a cleaner look, improved penetration, and an aggressive panache.

The Roadmaster Elite is as opulent as it gets with a stock Indian with lots of chrome and premium custom touches, and the upgraded Ride Command infotainment system is a constant across the board. Power comes from the new Thunder Stroke 116 with 126 pound-feet ready to go.

Chieftain Elite $34,999 1,890 cc
Roadmaster Elite $38,999 1,890 cc

Further Reading

Indian Motorcycle

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Read more Indian news.

Allyn Hinton
Allyn Hinton
Writer and Associate Motorcycle Editor -
If it had moving parts, it had Allyn's interest from a very early age. At age 11 when bicycles were too simple to hold her interest any longer, her father found her taking apart the lawn mower. When he asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I need to see how it works.” That curiosity and mechanical drive served her well over the next 40 years as she pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her now husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that love and knowledge to TopSpeed as writer and associate motorcycle editor.  Read full bio
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