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A Chariot on Two Wheels : Indian Chief Vintage Review

A motorcycle allows a person to connect with the world in a much more physical way than, say, a car or a plane. You feel the distance travelled; you become one with it.The great thing about touring motorcycles is that you don’t need to go fast to have fun.The domestic motorcycle market has dozens upon dozens of different bikes targeted at those with wanderlust.With affordable 200cc options priced at around a Rs.95000 till the Premium heavy weight 1800 cc cruisers in the Rs.50 lakhs bracket. The premium touring segment was dominated by the likes of Harley Davidson till one of its oldest competitors entered the Indian market.Established in 1901 the Indian Motorcycles is one of the oldest motorcycles brands in ther world.

Famous for its iconic style and rugged design it was one of the preffred brands during the world war era.Having had its own share of issues over the years this brand was finally revived by Polaris in 2013. Since its entry in the doemstic market, Indian Motorcycles has introduced almost its entire range of mtorcycles in India,right from the youth centric Scout Sixty to the touring Heavyweight,Indian Roadmaster. The Indian Chief Vintage is one such premium touring heavyweight that the brand has to offer.While it may look like a bike from another era, it certainly doesn’t ride like an antique.Chromed Indian Script tank design and two-tone paint scheme give the bike a look of yesteryear.The Indian Chief highlights the approach that has served Indian brand so well in the recent years. The heart of the motorcyle is the growling 111cubic inch Thunderstroke engine and an updated chassis. Yet with its unchanged screen, running lights, copious chrome, white-wall tyres and saddle-bags, the Chief Vintage still looks as though it rolled off Indian’s production line in the Fifties.

The Indian Chief Vintage is very much a cruiser in the traditional, long and sculpted, with flowing lines from the headlight to the fully covered rear fender. Approaching the Indian Chief Classic, you are struck by how long the thing is! Starting up the bike is easy. There is no key, and the transponder key fob sits in the rider’s pocket, with starting done using a large push-button in the tank centre console, which also houses the gauges.Also in case if you somehow manage to lose the fob then no worries! The bike can be started with the help of a unique code which the rider has to put in through the indicator switch.Push the start button and the growling large v twin powered Thunderstroke engine comes to life.When you roll the throttle on down low in the rev range, response is near instant, and the engine produces a guttural growl like a 1950s muscle car.

The ride itself is smooth as silk, as you’d expect from a belt drive, and the more deliberate my actions were, the better the bike responded. With 161Nm of torque available, you can short-shift and pull hard out of any gear, then just sit comfortably in sixth on the highway and forget the world. The Vintage is no lightweight, weighing in at around 370kg with fuel in the tank and ready to go. But it doesn’t feel that heavy on the road with the centre of gravity fairly low and plenty of leverage on the wide bars. I found it quite easy to flick around the city, but at about 860mm it’s wide. In traffic, I found that if you can get the handlebar through, the panniers will go through as well.Once moving, a heavy motorcycle doesn’t feel so big, but at slow speeds and in tight spots, it can be a real handful. Shooting off on the Chief, you are aware of the mass of the bike, but it in no way feels lethargic. The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission, which is smooth to operate.The “choose a gear, any gear” flexibility of the engine’s torque made riding the Chief Classic more of sitting back and relaxing.

The torque kicks in from the lowest revs, and the bike builds speed at rapid pace.The Chief Vintage’s suspension has been tuned for comfort. The ride quality, thanks to the suspension setup and the well-padded saddle makes the ride comfortable in the pot hole riddled city roads.Helping with matters are the brakes – ABS is standard – a four-piston dual calliper setup in front and a single 300 mm disc at the back.The ABS-equipped brakes were precise and that fat rear tire loved stopping. However, despite the dual-discs, stopping the Chief took use of both front and rear brakes. Riding the Chief Vinatge in the heavy Mumbai traffic is pretty challenging. The Air cooled engine struggles to keep its cool in the Hot weather and crawling city traffic. Riding it along city streets, in moderate traffic, the bike felt fine, long, making changes in direction and splitting lanes an exercise in thinking ahead a little.

If you are not used to the enormous dimensions of the bike, then there is a very high possiblity that you might end up scoring the paint off some vehicles while manuvering through the traffic. One also needs to wear proper gear in place while riding gear to avoid severe burn injuries from the piping hot engine. Traffic moves slowly in Mumbai and with majority of the roads dug up for infrasturcture projects, there is a little opportunity for overtaking, so when you see a gap, you need to launch into it. Drop a gear and the Chief responds instantly, making safe passing moves in seconds. To sum it up,Thanks to a modern chassis, a lively and charismatic engine, and comfortable ergonomics, the retro-style Indian Chief Vintage behaves like a true 21st-century motorcycle. Enthusiasts will love the combination of vintage styling, sweet performance, and rider-friendly thrills.Priced at around 32lakhs (Ex-Showroom Mumbai) the Chief Vintage will definitely burn a huge hole in your pocket, but having ridden it intensively on the highways and the city, The Chief Vintage would be the definite pick for us over its competitors.

About Author
Apoorv Kudtarkar

Apoorv Kudtarkar

Knows facts about exotics and tuners and has the latest info of all the domestic and international happenings in the supercar scene. Show him a picture of an exotic and this man can spit out its exact stats. Apoorv also works at a reputed multinational corporation.

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