When you have a bike that is named Vintage, you get the
feeling that this fella is old and beautiful and carries with him the glory of
days gone by. Yes, the Indian Chief Vintage does carry the majesty and glory of
not just the days gone by but also of our modern times. For those of us bad
with the ‘History’ subject, let me tell you that the Indian brand came into
being in the US way back in 1901. The company was originally known as the
Hendee Manufacturing Company but was renamed the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing
Company in 1928. Decades later in 2011, off-road giant Polaris took over the
In March 2013, Indian unveiled its new 111 cubic inches
"Thunder Stroke" engine, which now powers the Indian Chief Vintage,
the Indian Chief Classic and the touring bike Roadmaster. The Indian Vintage we
drove had all the trappings of a maharaja. Maharaja? Yes, as part of its
standard equipment it had genuine leather seats, quick release lexan
windshield, quick release vintage leather saddle bags and, fender badge and a
whole host of exciting features.
The bike looked majestic from all angles. For practical
purposes, the bike comes with an ABS, cast aluminum frame with integrated
air-box, cruise control, highway bar, an Indian script tank badge, keyless start,
among other things.
The Indian Chief Vintage is no small motorcycle in size. It
is 2634mm in length (tip of exhaust to tip of its front fender) and is 660.4mm
tall (seat height) till the base of its pillion seat, with a 1729.7 mm
wheelbase. Now that’s not an easy bike to handle unless you are mentally prepared
to ride it. As you plant yourself on to the bike and firmly put your feet on
either side on the ground, you have got to understand the motorcycle before
pressing the start button. There are two broad foot pedals or floor boards on
either side that ensure that you can rest your foot comfortably for you to change
gears as well as apply your brakes. On top of it you have a highway bar with
two extended foot rests that come into use when you are on cruise control and
have no plans to change gears for a very long time. You simply lift your feet
and place them on these. It’s like riding a sofa on the road!
The bike is heavy, it’s almost 379 kg. Unless you handle
this weight with great care, you can definitely go crashing. The turning radius
of the bike is not small by any means, hence one needs to be extremely careful
taking a u-turn while on the move. On narrow patches, if you need to make such
a turn, it would also require pushing back the bike with your feet, which could
be a tough exercise.
Whether you like it or not, motorcycles like the Indian
Chief Vintage are not meant for the faint hearted with muscles the size of
peanuts. You need to have a bit of brawn, besides, of course the brains. Yes, a
cool and matured temperament only makes riding this bike a pleasure.
I rode the bike just as morning was breaking. I wanted to
avoid the morning traffic rush. The last thing you want is getting stuck on the
road with a motorcycle the size of an armoured tank! The moment I started the
machine, it roared into life. The bike has a keyless ignition and a mere push
of a button wakes this giant instantly.
As you shift the gear, the distinct clunky sound emanates
from the gear box and the dial tells you that you have moved on to gear ‘1’.
The bike delivers an incredible torque of 138.9Nm at rpms over 2600. The
Thunder Stroke 111 engine has you engaged all along. The leather seats and the
leather saddle bags make you feel as though you have embarked upon a great
journey. The sound from the dual exhaust is loud and commanding. It does not
scream, it simply roars.
Highway cruising is fun on this bike. It simply eats up long
distances as it rides on. With an Anti Lock Braking System in place, you are
confident that braking is a serious business for the Indian Chief Vintage.
If the leather seats and saddle bags are one major
attraction of the motorcycle, so are the generous coatings of chrome. Virtually
every surface that could be chromed has been chromed. It simply ups the style
quotient of the bike. As you speed along and change your gears with a
comforting clunky sound, you realise that the bike does not seem to tire. The
front windscreen protects you from the gush of wind and also the miniscule
insects that can be found in such large numbers in the air. For a blue blooded
Indian (I am talking about myself and there are millions like me) one of the
things that impresses is the horn of the Indian Chief Vintage. By jove, it is
loud enough to wake up your entire neighbourhood. It’s not raucous, it’s not
irritating, it’s like the Maharaja telling you to step aside so that he can
move on. I was truly impressed by this.
Though it was a short ride, and the road was wet after a
brief spell of rain, I came back satisfied with the motorcycle’s road handling
abilities. Even on wet patches and gravel infested roads, the bike rode with
ease. The Indian Chief Vintage is a handsome bloke and it can be made even more
handsome with a lot of additional accessories. These run into almost 100
different accessories like leather motorcycle wraps, leather floorboard trim, front
and rear mud flaps, leather handlebar bag, messenger bag, leather fork bag,
upper saddlebag fringe, motorcycle wraps, leather lever wraps, leather
floorboard trim, pinnacle horn cover, pinnacle heel shifter, pinnacle seat bolt
cover, etc. It’s like topping up your Subway sandwich; it only gets better with
each topping. This Maharaja too is something like that!
(111 cu in)
fork/119 mm (4.7 in) - 46mm cartridge forks with dual rate springs
shock / 94 mm
Tyres: Front & Rear
floating rotor / 4 piston caliper dual front / 300mm with anti-lock brakes
floating rotor / 2 piston caliper / 300mm with anti-lock brakes
Dunlop American Elite 130/90b16 67h
Dunlop American Elite 180/65b16 81h
Rs 28,49,600 onward
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