When Polaris Industries closed the doors on Victory Motorcycles earlier this year, it claimed it was focusing its energy into its reincarnated Indian brand. It was a smart move; despite being solid bikes, Victory could never get a foothold into Harley-Davidson’s dominant market share. Sometimes, it takes a legend to challenge an icon.
In rejuvenating Indian, Polaris wisely incorporated much of what it learned in building Victory from the ground up, and with Victory shuttered the parent company is clearly melding the two brands into a singular motorcycle identity: A heritage brand with modern technology.
That trend continues with the Chieftain Limited and the Chieftain Elite. The two new top-shelf baggers will hit the streets this summer with Indian's massive Thunderstroke 111 cubic-inch engines, “infotainment” systems with navigation and Bluetooth capabilities, ABS, leather saddles, premium audio systems, and plenty of chrome. The Limited comes with a 100-watt stereo, triple-disc brakes, and remote-locking saddlebags. And it’s available in your favorite color, as long as that’s black.
Victory fans will notice the fancy graphics and wraparound front fender, styling touches clearly borrowed from that company's most popular model, the Cross Country bagger. It’s the first time in history Indian is breaking tradition from its trademark fender skirts; it’s also incorporating cast wheels rather than classic spokes. It’s a clear effort to modernize the brand and from what we can see, it works.
The Chieftain Elite is the one you’ll be putting on your wish list. It’s got all the aforementioned bells and whistles and throws in a couple more speakers — for 200 total watts — plus an upgraded LED headlight, billet floorboards, and hand-painted bodywork.
The new models will start at $24,999, which is still a few thousand more than a fully dressed Harley-Davidson — but if you wanted a real leather seat and an engine this strong on your Harley, you’d end up paying more than this to ride it off the lot. Your move, Milwaukee.