When Indian Met Jack — The Motorcycle and Spirits Legends Join Forces


If you’re a fan of Indian Motorcycles and Jack Daniel’s, good news: There’s a new bike for you, a 2017 Limited Edition Chieftain.

When David Stang, the director of events and sponsorships for Jack Daniel’s, decided to collaborate with a motorcycle company, he immediately thought of the Indian Motorcycle he used to see around his grandparents’ meat-packaging factory in Baltimore when he was a kid. Paul, an employee of the factory, relied on this bike to bring him to and from work every day of the week in the 1950s and ’60s.

In the summer of 2012 Stang met with Steve Menneto of Polaris, the current owner of Indian Motorcycles, to discuss collaborating in honor of Jack Daniel’s 150th anniversary. After a few meetings at the Sturgis and Daytona motorcycle rallies over the next few years, Stang and Menneto decided to enlist the help of Brian Klock, founder of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles of Mitchell, South Dakota, to design a custom bike. Klock, who started in the industry customizing bikes with his friends, made a name for himself through the invention and design of a new motorcycle windshield. Together they embarked on a group ride from Nashville to Lynchburg. Once in Lynchburg, the men met in a small clubhouse to discuss details of the partnership over cocktails. After a simple handshake, it was official. The men had agreed on the release of a motorcycle that would be available to the public during the year of Jack Daniel’s 150th anniversary.

In 2016, four years after the first mention of a collaboration between the two companies, a limited run of 150 custom Indian Springfield and Indian Chief Vintage motorcycles were released to the public to celebrate Jack Daniel’s birthday. This week the collaboration continues with the custom 2017 Chieftain.

The bike features Old No. 7 emblems and badging throughout, including a print of the traditional Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 bottle logo on the front fender, Old No. 7 branded floorboards, and a charcoal-colored badging on the tank, engraved with the limited edition number of each bike. One of the more noteworthy details is a pure silver Old No. 7 badge on the left side of the engine, made by Montana Silversmiths specifically for this release. The bike’s black paint is reminiscent of the charcoal Jack Daniel’s uses during its five-day filtration process. New to this 2017 release of the Chieftain is a 19-inch contrast-cut front wheel with an open fender.

We tested it across 20 miles of open country roads just outside of Lynchburg, and it offered a smooth, luxurious, and well-balanced ride. The 1,811cc V-twin engine and six-speed transmission yields enough power and torque to provide comfort cruising at 75 mph on the longest of highway rides, while the hard luggage bags on either side offer enough capacity for anything one may need on such a ride. The handlebar-switch controlled retractable flare windshield allows users to choose whether or not they would like to utilize the full windshield, giving the rider the opportunity to experience more of a “naked-bike” feel.

The custom ride is limited to a total production number of only 100. The rear fender of each Chieftain will be inscribed with the reminder, “bottles and throttles don’t mix,” encouraging riders to enjoy riding and drinking separately. The motorcycle comes with a two-year unlimited mileage factory warranty, a one-year membership to the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group, and a commemorative American flag made from the wood of a Jack Daniel’s aging barrel that can be customized with the owner’s name. You can buy the bike starting today at noon EST. [$34,999; indianmotorcycle.com]

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