six little indians

The Complete Indian Motorcycle Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained


July 12, 2019 Buying Guides By Photo by Indian Motorcycles

The company currently known as Indian Motorcycle was founded in 1901 by George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom, under the name Hendee Manufacturing Company. The goal was simple: build a motorized bicycle to help pace bike races of the time. Their invention, however, would go on to prove itself powerful and reliable, leading it to be desired by a much greater swath of society. By 1910, it was considered one of the largest motorcycle companies in the world, and it went on to hold multiple military contracts during the Great War. But it was not until the 1920s that the company officially became known as the Indian Motocycle (no ‘r’) Company.

Indian managed to solidify itself in the history of motorcycling through road racing, dirt racing and land speed attempts on the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats throughout the 20th Century. Indian also established itself in the world of flat track, leading it to become rivals with Harley-Davidson.

But time then turned cruel to the company. Indian floundered for decades, changing ownership numerous times before ultimately going out of business in 1977. While it had maintained its Art Deco styling with ornate emblems and valenced fenders that gave it an iconic look throughout the years, no significant advancements in engineering or technology or new models had been introduced over the years, leaving it behind the competition until it expired.

The company was bought in 1998, only to go bankrupt again in 2003 due to economic and business mismanagement. It was not until 2008 when Indian was acquired by Polaris Industries that the brand finally saw a resurgence. Today, Indian motorcycles embody the allure of its greatness from the 20th Century while strategically moving forward as a modern American motorcycle manufacturer.

In the 1920s, Indian Motorcycles introduced motorcycles called the Scout, Chief, Big Chief and Ace. Many of the motorcycles in the modern line up of Indian motorcycles pays homage to Indian’s most successful models while also incorporating names of historical relevance to the brand. For example, the Springfield Dark Horse is named after the famed Springfield Mile in Illinois where Indian riders won numerous flat track championships.

Naming System, Relevant Acronyms and Terms of Note:

Ride Command: Indian’s proprietary infotainment and navigation interface.
FTR: Flat Track Racer
ABS: Anti-lock Braking System
Rear Cylinder Deactivation: A system that deactivates the rear cylinder in the Thunder Stroke 111 engine during stationary or slow moving traffic for enhanced comfort.

Standard/Tracker

Indian FTR 1200

The Indian FTR1200 is Indian’s most ambitious model to date, and the company’s foray into a new model segment outside of the traditional cruiser or touring models. The FTR1200 represents years of development on and off the dirt track, and stands poised to pave the way to an expanding portfolio of Indian motorcycles.

The FTR1200’s design is pure flat tracker, featuring a standard riding position and wide tracker bars. At its heart lies a new liquid-cooled 1203cc V-Twin engine making approximately 120 horsepower and 85 pound-feet of torque, making it plenty capable on the highway or occasional fire road.

The FTR1200 includes premium components like Brembo brakes, adjustable suspension, touchscreen LCD display, Bluetooth connectivity, three ride modes, LED lighting, switchable traction control and ABS.

  • Models: FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S
  • Engine: 1203cc V-twin
  • Base Price: $13,499

Midsized

Indian Scout

The Indian Scout is Indian’s notion of what its classic 1928 motorcycle would have evolved into, had the company continued production. Of the motorcycles in the Scout lineup, the Scout Sixty features a smaller displacement engine ( specs) geared toward entry-level riders.

The Scout is powered by a liquid cooled 69-cubic-inch V-Twin that produces 100 hp and 72.2 lb-ft at 5,900 rpm. Its power delivery is smooth and makes highway travel a breeze. Styling is nothing short of stunning, with the V-Twin taking centerstage amongst dual chromed mufflers and the single saddle. Additional features include: a low seat height of 27 inches, affording riders good handling at slow speeds; ABS; extended service intervals; and a single gauge instrument display.

  • Models: Scout Sixty, Scout, Scout Bobber
  • Engine: 999-cc liquid-cooled V-twin (Scout Sixty); 1,133-cc liquid-cooled V-twin (Scout and Scout Bobber)
  • Base Price: $9,499

Cruiser

Indian Chief Classic

The Chief heralded Indian’s return to the world of motorcycling in 2015, and reproduces the classic style and design of its bikes from the 1940s with modern technology and more refined engineering.

The Indian Chief Dark Horse and Chief Classic are powered by Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin, which produces 119.2 lb-ft of torque, affording riders smooth and effortless power in the low- and mid-ranges. Swept-back handlebars and forward foot controls to ensure a comfortable yet relaxed ride, and the low seat height ensures excellent slow speed maneuverability and comfort at highway speed.

Additional features include a six-speed transmission, keyless ignition, ABS, cruise control, valanced fenders, a lighted war bonnet, a low seat height of 26 inches, an analog tach and speedo with a digital multi-function display and a quick release touring windscreen.

  • Models: Chief Dark Horse / Chief Classic
  • Engine: 1,811-cc V-twin
  • Base Price: $18,499

Bagger

Indian Springfield

The Indian Springfield is classic beauty wrapped in modern technology. For those who seek a versatile modern classic cruiser capable of long highway stints or simple weekend excursions, the Indian Springfield exceeds expectations.

The Indian Springfield is powered by Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin, produceing 119.2 lb-ft of torque. Additional features on the Indian Springfield: A genuine leather seat, remote-locking hard saddlebags, tire pressure monitoring, light Bar, ABS, cruise control, quick-release touring windscreen and keyless ignition.

  • Models: Springfield / Springfield Dark Horse
  • Engine: 1,811-cc V-twin
  • Base Price: $20,999

Indian Chieftain

When the highway calls and you require premium amenities like extra wind protection, a multimedia system, and a banging 100-watt audio system, the Indian Chieftain should be high on your list of considered motorcycles. Featuring the Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin, the Chieftain combines smooth, effortless power and relaxed riding ergonomics for a plush and luxurious ride.

Beyond the thrill of a proven power plant and classic styling, the Indian Chieftain includes premium features like a large fairing with electronic windscreen, keyless ignition, cruise control, lockable saddlebags, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, ABS, rear cylinder deactivation, and three riding modes.

  • Models: Chieftain and Chieftain Elite
  • Engine: 1,811-cc V-twin
  • Base Price: $22,849

Touring

Indian Roadmaster

Do you need to crush one thousand miles or more in a single day, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort and power? That’s no problem for the Indian Roadmaster. This machine is born to conquer the open road.

Beyond the thrill of the proven Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin and classic styling, the Indian Roadmaster comes complete with Indian’s full line of premium amenities including a premium 200-watt audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, full dresser luggage pack, comfortable passenger accommodations, a large front fairing with electronic windscreen and side leg fairings with adjustable vents, Pathfinder LED lighting, keyless ignition, cruise control, heated hand grips, a 7.0-inch Ride Command touchscreen, ABS, rear cylinder deactivation, and three riding modes.

  • Models: Roadmaster and Roadmaster Elite
  • Engine: 1,811-cc V-twin
  • Base Price: $29,499

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