Indian Chief Vintage Ride Review
Had it been any other motorcycle, we could have gone ahead and written an introduction about its inception and other things surrounding the brand and its whereabouts but then this wasn’t just any other motorcycle… Instead of known for its motherland, this motorcycle made its motherland known for it has been a legend for long.
Indian Motorcycles, America’s first motorcycle company, has left quite an impressive mark in the history of motorcycles as they started with a single cylinder 1.75bhp engine. Fighting all the odds against it, they have not just survived but have evolved in due course of time. Their fantastic line-up lists six amazing motorcycles and the one that made it to our hands is the Chief Vintage. How does it feel to ride a piece of vintage history? Let me explain…
Designed like a swagger
Have a liking for Old School and despise the wannabe new? You will love the way the Indian Chief Vintage has been designed. This mammoth thing on mere two wheels will push you back with its gigantic road presence. The gleaming fresh red paint flows from the front tip to the rear tail in unison. The best part of the shade is it does not feel brand new instead it has a whiff of vintage with a subtle fading texture on it.
Very much like its name, the Chief Vintage looks clearly designed in the 1940s with its periodic cues and stylized sections. The quality of finish left on this machine is truly impressive and then the added attention to the detailing is enough for anyone to keep looking at it for hours. One would spot the brand logo and other brand related etchings and embossing all over the motorcycle but not once does it look out of place.
Sitting tall on the front wheel fender is the War Bonnet, which gets illuminated with the headlights and makes it an unmistakably Indian trait. Then comes the swooping valenced fenders which again draw inspiration from the original 1940s. They also provide protection, effectively blocking road spray and gravel kicked up by the tyres. Once on the roll, the larger than life front windshield keeps everything at bay from reaching the rider.
Saying its beautiful is virtually demeaning this work of art as it is nothing less than a gorgeous thought of the rare few. Take a look at the tear drop styled 21-litre fuel tank which is as best as it can get. Once seated on the Vatican throne styled riding position, the detailing of the instrumentation falls short of none to impress. One can alter the position of clutch and brake levers with the help of torque screws on the control pod. The same goes for custom positioning of rear view mirrors; mind you they aren’t just show as they are very useful indeed.
What sets motorcycles like these different from mundane is their kingly feel. Planning for long…long journey? The relaxed foot peg pedals are of great help. Shorter riders might complain but then I (at 6’1) found it completely relaxing. The throttle side has the ignition starter, emergency flasher along with a cruise control switch…CRUISE CONTROL (how cool can that be!!!) and it works similar to that on cars as it has a separate button to activate it. There are separate buttons for resume / accelerate and Set/Decelerate. The only weirdly positioned button is the function button which is located at lower left of the pod.
Moving to the other side, you can hear India’s iconic trumpet by pressing the chunky horn button. The left side also features high beam switches, turn signals etc. The information screen can be toggled with the help of a button on this side and one can get access to bike information like range in the tank, average fuel consumption etc.
Performance of a Theatrical
The riding position suits riders on the larger side of life as it gets well suited upholstery to comfort its two occupants. They don’t mention it on the brochure but the rear seat is best for the fairer sex with a petite bottom. The suede leather stitch is something to feel, enjoy and show-off. Like a conventional motorcycle, it gets a handlebar, two wheels and an engine but ditching the convention is keyless ignition. That’s right, with the fob in your pocket and some dirt on those denims; you are good to go anywhere the mood shall command.
Make the thumb take a lil effort and the Thunder Stroke® 111 engine creates a country side soundtrack with its twin chrome made exhaust pipes. While the stock might sound sweet, the press bike came with souped up outlets, which means everyone and all got cautious when this thing roared beside them. More than being scared, they were in awe as this gleaming red royal chariot of a machine demands attention.
The muscular 1811cc motor makes a mind numbing 138.9 NM of torque, meaning it can actually tow some of the hatchbacks or sedans sold in India. In spite of the Vintage weighing close to 379Kgs, there is enough power to be distracted from this bulk as the revs build rather quickly than expected. It might take some time to get used to the instrumentation and riding style and also the punchy first gear, the clunk of which is dearly audible.
The ease of riding is felt coz of an amazing throttle response which is available even at the slightest of throttle twist. It is amazing the feel the smoothness of all the mechanical elements working at tandem to make the motor deliver ideal performance. Though there is enough bite available to cling on to, riding it inside the City is not a dear recommend as the motor needs long stretches of unadulterated road to build on and deliver those impressive amounts of torque.
On highways, the balanced weight of the Vintage is mainly responsible to maintaining a solid straight stance even at great speeds. The laid back styling of the handle bar and the Chrome Heel Shifter add to the comfort along with the superbly cushioned seats and back support. Ideally, you won’t be scraping knees on this one but the way this beasty acts in the most tamed way on corners is way too impressive and to give you more confidence, the Vintage comes with ABS as a standard safety feature.
The Cult of an Indian…
This Classic work of art can decorate your personal garage at just Rs 35 lakhs (on-road). There are cheaper options available but then putting a tag on something as unique and as cult as an Indian is demeaning it. Indian Motorcycles, have always been known as iconic motorcycle makers and the reason for that is their adaptation of modern technology with an evident flavor of past.
It is exactly the kind of motorcycle which can grey with you for years to come and even then stand as an iconic hero in your son’s eyes.