The Look Is Classic And Elegant, And Now With A Sportier Chassis

Indian Motorcycle puts its historical high points on full display with its nostalgic Chief Vintage model. The chassis – straight off the Springfield and Springfield Dark Horse – is new to the Chief Vintage for 2020. It has neo-retro components for a modern machine that looks straight out of circa 1940-something, back when the rear ends were still rigid but the earliest hydraulic forks were hitting the road. The proven Thunder Stroke 111 provides the power with over 100 pound-feet of torque on tap, but the Chief Vintage remains a rather essential ride with naught but ABS and cruise control for ride-quality electronics. Old-school touring goodies come stock to include a large windscreen and voluminous saddlebags, so you can count on some long-range capacity right off the showroom floor.

  • 2020 Indian Chief Vintage
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Thunder Stroke 111
  • Displacement:
    111 cubic inches
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph
  • Price:
    19999
  • Price:

2020 Chief Vintage Design

2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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The Chief Vintage is aptly named as it certainly delivers a strong dose of nostalgia that'll be meaningful to longtime fans of the brand.

The Chief Vintage is aptly named as it certainly delivers a strong dose of nostalgia that’ll be meaningful to longtime fans of the brand. It starts with the graceful curves of the full-skirt front fender that hails back to the early 1900s and the iconic war bonnet ornament that joins a chrome valence to add a bit of bling right up front. Chrome wire wheels mount the tires with the whitewalls out for some of that original-gangster panache.

The chrome is relentless on the Chief Vintage. It wraps just about everything but the painted sheet metal parts to include the fork lowers, classic beercan fork skirts, and headlight nacelle. In another nod to yesteryear, the whisker bar carries dual passing lamps opposite chrome bullet turn signals to finish off the front end, and chrome mullions support and mount the clear, detachable windshield that served for many years on tour bikes before it was superseded by proper front fairings.

There’s a bit of rise to the chrome handlebar, but since it’s pulled back some from the vertical, the bars are more like a tiller-steer setup and less like ape-hangers to start the relaxed rider’s triangle. A chrome tank console houses the round speedometer gauge along with a fuel gauge, an LCD screen, and handful of LED indicator lights to wrap up the instrumentation in classic form.

The 5.5-gallon, teardrop fuel tank slopes gently down to the deep-scoop seat that rides 26 inches off the ground, which combines with the handlebars and forward foot controls to shape an upright riding posture. That puts the load on a vertical spine rather than your neck, wrists, and shoulders. Desert-tan leather makes up the saddle, pillion, and bags on the two-tone package, and that alone is enough to set it apart from a field that largely runs black leather and genuine imitation leather-like products. Conchos, studs, and fringe dress up the leather bits for another classic touch.

LED taillight and rear turn signals take care of business, though the factory could have carried the old-school look a bit further with a nice tombstone taillight, or at least something that could be confused for an older component. Oh well, there’s always the aftermarket stuff at the end of the day.

2020 Chief Vintage Chassis

2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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The new-to-the-Chief Vintage chassis gives you tracking stability, though still willing in the corners and enough lean for a thrilling ride.

Borrowing straight off the Springfield, the cast-aluminum frame sets the stage with the traditional double-downtube arrangement on the Chief Vintage. The downtubes make the turn to the rear to form a double cradle that completely supports the engine and protects the cases rather than using them as stressed members to give the frame its final rigidity.

In spite of the aluminum frame, the Chief Vintage is still pretty hefty at 836 pounds wet, but the steering geometry seeks to balance the scale between stability and agility with a 25-degree rake and 5.2 inches of trail over a 67-inch wheelbase. Those numbers indicate a ride that’s willing enough in the corners, but has a bit of tracking stability that will make it easy to stay in your lane in a crosswind or when the pressure waves from the surrounding traffic push you around. If you have the nerve for it, you can lean in as far as 31-degrees to each side.

The suspension is pretty vanilla with fixed-value, rwu front forks opposite an air-adjustable monoshock that deliver 4.7- and 4.5 inches of travel, respectively. Dunlop hoops line the laced, 16-inch wheels with American Elite rubber in a 130/90 up front, a 180/65 out back and an “H” rating all around.

Dual 300 mm discs and four-piston anchors slow the front wheel with a third 300 mm disc and two-pot caliper out back to provide the brakeage, and no matter which color package you pick, you can count on ABS protection as part of the standard equipment package.

Front Suspension/ Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.2 in (133 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm Floating Rotor, 4-Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 300 mm Floating Rotor, 2-Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/90B16 67H
Rear Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 180/65B16 81H
Front Wheel: Spoked 16 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Spoked 16 in x 5 in

2020 Chief Vintage Drivetrain

2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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More than any other model, the look of the Thunder Stroke 111 compliments the old-school looks of the Chief Vintage.

More than any other model, the look of the Thunder Stroke 111 compliments the old-school looks of the Chief Vintage. Molded-in faux cooling fins on the rocker box covers make a direct connection to the old sidevalve engines from back in the day. Finned exhaust ports make another visual connection, but it’s the quartet of parallel pushrod tubes that really sell the image.

Naturally, as a V-twin the engine has a certain amount of inherent charm, but blackout paint on the jugs and cases are offset by chrome components and polished cooling-fin edges to really make it pop visually. Bore and stroke mike out at 101 mm and 113 mm respectively to give it its 111 cubic-inch displacement and 9.5-to-1 compression ratio that will tolerate mid-grade gasoline. Ample cooling fins radiate waste heat to the atmosphere without the cumbersome complication and weight of a pump, water jacket, and radiator.

Indian opts to not include its Rear Cylinder Deactivator on this model, but unless you have a lot of stop-and-go traffic to deal with, it’s no great loss here in my opinion. A 54 mm throttle body regulates the engine with closed-loop fuel injection to deliver atomized hydrocarbons to the mix, and with nothing in the way of advanced electronic rider aids on board unless you count cruise control, the engine controls are down to the bare essentials.

Waste gasses pass through a dual-exhaust system with a crossover tube that shares power pulses for a bit of tuned backpressure that helps prevent exhaust-gas reversion and ensures a clean air-fuel charge on each intake stroke. At 3,000 rpm, the Thunder Stroke 111 puts out 119 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed transmission and belt final drive that turn in a top speed of 115 mph at the rev limit.

Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio: 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2020 Chief Vintage Pricing

2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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MSRP starts at $20k, but for the elegant two-tone colorway, you're looking at a grand more.

The Thunder Black finish comes with black leather seats and bags for $19,999. If you want something a little less monochromatic, you can score the Willow Green over Ivory Cream model with tan leather for $20,999. Indian covers your new Chief Vintage with a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.

Standard Equipment: Quick Release Lexan Windshield; Genuine Leather Seats; Genuine Leather Saddlebags; Highway Bars; Light Bar; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition; Indian® Script Tank Badge; Indian® Headdress Fender Ornament
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Colors: Thunder Black, Willow Green/Ivory Cream
Price: $19,999, Two-Tone: $20,999

2020 Chief Vintage Competitors

2018 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
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2020 Indian Chief Vintage
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Old-school classic looks abound with these two competitors from America's oldest marques.

Indian’s oldest surviving competitor has a direct challenger for the Chief Vintage in the Heritage Classic. The Heritage Classic is one of the Harley-Davidson’s oldest retro-[Softail1819] models, and as such, it carries frame geometry that suggests the old rigid frames. In fact, H-D takes it even further than Indian as the triangular swingarm makes a direct visual connection that the Chief Vintage only hints at. Best of all, the Softail uses a monoshock to deliver a modern ride in spite of its dated looks.

Harley touches on the classic custom vibe through judicious use of blackout paint and chrome, and really drives it home with blackened sections on the windscreen and the pimp-light cans. Showa forks deliver a ride that’s superior to the fixed stems on the Chief Vintage, and the emulsion shock out back also tops the Indian’s air shock to give Harley a slight edge in the suspension.

The pendulum swings the other way at the brakes as the Heritage Classic only uses a single front brake against the dual anchors on the front wheel of the Indian. You get a choice in powerplant from H-D with the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and 114 both on tap, and this introduces a wide range of prices that run from $18,999 at the bottom of the range and up to $21,599 for the big engine and top color package. Indian’s 2020 Chief Vintage pretty much falls in the middle of that bracket, so neither marque really gains much at the checkout counter.

He Said

“It’s easy to see that the Chief Vintage is going directly after Harley’s Heritage Softail business, and I’d say Indian has a better-than-average chance of getting some of it here. I really like the two-tone and tan leather package ’cause that combination of colors accentuates the historical aspects and boosts the illusion Indian was looking for.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The willow over ivory and tan leather is the most beautiful bike, in my opinion. It’s funny that every time Indian upgrades a model, in this case, giving the Chief Vintage a sportier chassis, I start seeing speculation about whether it’s a “Harley killer.” These two bike-makers have been around for over a hundred years, and if one was going to “kill” the other, it would have happened already. Let’s just look at it for what it is. It’s a beautiful bike. Power is smooth, the seat is comfortable, and you’ve got lots of torque down low in the rev range. The look is classic and elegant. You can’t say that about too many bikes other out there.”

2020 Chief Vintage Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio: 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Chassis:
Front Suspension/ Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.2 in (133 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm Floating Rotor, 4-Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 300 mm Floating Rotor, 2-Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/90B16 67H
Rear Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 180/65B16 81H
Front Wheel: Spoked 16 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Spoked 16 in x 5 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal (20.8 L)
Ground Clearance: 5.6 in (142 mm)
Overall Height: 56.8 in (1,442 mm)
Overall Length: 101.7 in (2,583 mm)
Overall Width: 39.4 in (1,000 mm)
Seat Height: 26.0 in (660 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 804 lbs / 836 lbs (365 kg / 379 kg)
Wheelbase: 67.0 in (1,701 mm)
Electric:
Gauges: Tank-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer; dual tripmeters; digital tachometer; ambient air temperature; fuel range; average fuel economy; battery voltage; gear position display; real-time clock; vehicle trouble code readout; heated grip level (if heated grips installed); low engine oil pressure; and 9 LED telltale indicators: cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, and MPH or km/h unit designation; tank-mounted electronic fuel gauge with low fuel LED indicator
Infotainment: N/A
Lights: Halogen Headlamp/Driving, LED Tail/Brake/Turn Signal
Details:
Standard Equipment: Quick Release Lexan Windshield; Genuine Leather Seats; Genuine Leather Saddlebags; Highway Bars; Light Bar; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition; Indian® Script Tank Badge; Indian® Headdress Fender Ornament
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Colors: Thunder Black, Willow Green/Ivory Cream
Price: $19,999

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic

2018 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic.

Indian Springfield Dark Horse

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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See our review of the Indian Springfield Dark Horse.

Indian Springfield

2016 - 2018 Indian Springfield / Springfield Dark Horse
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See our review of the Indian Springfield.

Indian Motorcycle

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
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Read more Indian Motorcycle news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: indianmotorcycle.com, harley-davidson.com

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