Is it a half bagger, a cruiser or a boulevard bruiser? No one knows for sure. What I do know is the look is growing in popularity, and nearly every major manufacturer produces bikes that fall in this sort of in-between category. Indian and Victory are two such manufacturers, with the 2015 Chieftain and Cross Country models that follow the “bagger sans tour-pack with a vestigial windshield” look. Although they both are owned by Polaris Industries Incorporated, they each retained their own identities and own ideas about bike design, and it shows. Let’s take a look and see how these two bikes from their together-but-separate companies stack up.

Continue reading for my comparison of the 2015 Indian Chieftain and the 2015 Victory Cross Country.


Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country
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Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country
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Let me start by saying I like this style. It’s clean. It has the comfort of a dresser without having to push around the great big, honking tour-pack and huge windshield. What’s left is a ride that isn’t a drag to deal with around town, and is still quite capable of highway jaunts.

While the Chieftain puts its historical roots on full display with a full front fender complete with figurehead, batwing-esque fairing and classic lines, the Victory presents a more contemporary look with a smaller fender, a sexier flow to the lines and a fairing that looks like it would be just at home on a jet fighter somewhere. Both have hard bags — a first for Indian — and come stock with a pillion pad. The Indian wins out in the lighting department with a pair of pimp lights recessed in the fairing, as opposed to the Victory’s single headlight, and it sports a larger windshield as well, almost too large for the low-profile look typical of this genre.


Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country
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Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country
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Long and low is the order of the day, with both bikes at just over 100-inches long and an identical wheelbase of 65.7 inches. Add that to the nearly identical seat height of 26 inches on the Indian, and 26.3 on the Victory, and you have a couple of very similar profiles.

The differences are in the details. Indian went with traditional, right-side-up, 46 mm front forks while Victory went with the more modern 43 mm inverted forks. The Cross Country sports an 18-inch front wheel and a 16 in the rear, while the Chieftain has 16s front and rear. While you can get both bikes with ABS, it comes stock on the Chieftain, but is optional equipment on the Cross Country – remember that when we look at the prices later.


Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country
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Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country
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Indian comes out on top in the “whose is bigger” contest with its 111 cubic-inch “Thunder Stroke” engine over the 106-inch mill on the Cross Country. As you would expect, the size difference shows up in the torque figures with the Thunder Stroke cranking out 119.2 pound-feet of torque versus 110.6 pound-feet from the Victory V-twin. Not a huge difference, and once you get over 100 pound-feet, does it really matter that much?

Both engines use traditional air cooling via cylinder fins plus an oil cooler for extra waste heat removal, leaving them well protected for hot weather and slow traffic. They also both run electronic fuel injection, though the Cross Countryt runs a 45 mm throttle body, while the Chieftain sports a whopping 54 mm throttle body.

The Chieftain uses a gear-type primary drive to send power through the wet clutch to the six-speed transmission, while the Cross Country uses a belt-drive primary, and its six-speed tranny comes with an overdrive ratio for what is surely low rpm at highway cruising speeds. Not much to choose from here really – OD is nice but isn’t a dealbreaker for me, and the rest of the differences are just that, different, but not necessarily better.


Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country
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The price tag is where Indian takes a hit. If you head down to your local “no-dicker sticker” dealership, you will pay $22,999 for the Chieftain – $4,000 more than the Cross Country. The bikes are very similar in all the places that matter, so perhaps the Indian name plays a part in the price differential? I’m sure that’s part of it, anyway.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, "I gotta say that I have a special place in my heart for Indian. It’s a tough, scrappy brand with a checkered history under various owners and it seems to be making a strong comeback. That aside, I prefer the classic looks of the Indian to the modern or even alien-looking Victory. While the name itself wouldn’t be enough to make the deal, the name plus the looks puts me solidly in the Chieftain’s camp."

She Said

"I have to agree with my husband on this one. I’m not a fan of the Cross Country styling. I much prefer the classic, iconic look of the Chieftain. Looks aside, I really like the Thunder Stroke engine. If I wasn’t already an Indian fan, that engine would be a seduction."


Specification Indian Chieftain Victory Cross Country
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111, V-Twin Four-Stroke 50 degree V-Twin
Displacement: 111 cubic inches 106 cubic inches
Cooling System: Air/Oil Cooler Air/Oil Cooler
Valvetrain: Two Valves Per Cylinder, Hydraulic Lifters Single Overhand Camshafts with Four valves per Cylinder, Self-Adjusting Cam Chains, Hydraulic Lifters
Bore: 101 mm 101 mm
Stroke: 113 mm 108 mm
Compression Ratio 9.5 to 1 9.4 to 1
Fuel Injection System: Electronic Closed Loop Fuel Injection with 54 mm Bore Electronic Fuel Injection with Dual 45 mm Throttle Body
Maximum Torque: 119.2 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm 110.6 Pound-Feet
Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate Wet, Multi-Plate
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Belt
Exhaust System: Split Dual Exhaust with Cross-Over Split Dual Exhaust with Crossover
Suspension: Front: Telescopic Fork, 46 mm Cartridge Forks with Dual Rate Springs Inverted Cartridge Telescopic Fork, 43 mm Diameter
Suspension: Front Travel: 4.7 inches 5.1 Inches
Suspension: Rear: Single Shock, Pneumatic Adjustment Single, Mono-Tube Gas, Cast Aluminum with Constant-Rate Linkage, Air Adjustable
Suspension: Rear Travel: 4.49 inches 4.7 Inches
Brakes: Front: Dual/ Floating Rotor/ Four-Piston Calipers Dual Front/ 300 MM with ABS Dual 300 mm Floating Rotors with Four-Piston Calipers
Brakes: Rear: Single/ Floating Rotor/ Two-Piston Caliper/ 300 MM with ABS 300 mm Floating Rotor with Two-Piston Caliper
Tires: Front: Dunlop® Elite 3 130/90B16 73H Dunlop® Elite 3 130/70R18
Tires: Rear: Dunlop® Elite 3 180/60R16 80H Dunlop® Elite 3 180/60R16
Wheels: Front: Cast 16 x 3.5 inches 18 X 3.5 Inches
Wheels: Rear: Cast 16 x 5 inches 16 X 5.0 Inches
Rake: 25 degrees 29 degrees
Trail: 5.9 inches 5.6 Inches
Overall Length: 101.2 inches 104.3 inches
Overall Height: 60.2 inches NA
Overall Width: 40.2 inches NA
Seat Height: 26.0 inches 26.3 Inches
Wheelbase: 65.7 inches 65.7 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.6 inches 5.8 Inches
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 Gallons 5.8 Gallons
GVWR: 1,385 Pounds 1,360 Pounds
Weight - Empty Tank: 815 Pounds -
Dry Weight: - 760 Pounds
Price: $22,999 $18,999
What do you think?
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