New Indian Chief on the Horizon

2009 Indian ChiefIndian Motorcycles have a storied past going back to 1901. Hard to believe it now, but Indian was once the largest motorbike manufacturer in the world up until the first World War, producing over 20,000 bikes per year.

By 1911, Indian riders held every American speed and distance record.

In 1914, over 3,000 workers supported Indian’s rolling motorbikes off a 7-mile assembly line in their 1-million square foot manufacturing facility in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Chief and the Big Chief models, introduced in 1924 with a 74-cubic-inch engine, were among the earliest and best touring motorcycles available.

The Chief, and all traditional Indian motorcycles became extinct by 1949 while the company passed through various owners and trademark matters passed through court. Those pesky details didn’t stop New Zealander Burt Munro from using a modified 1920s Indian Scout to set a number of land speed records in 1962 and 1967, made famous in the 2005 film The World’s Fastest Indian.

Indian was resurrected from the grave in 1999 and laid to rest again in 2003.

Regardless of the woes of the last 6 decades, the current revival appears to be promising: In 2004, Stephen Julius and Steve Heese acquired Indian’s trademark rights and intellectual properties. Since then, a substantial manufacturing facility has been established in Kings Mountain, North Carolina and the newest Chief is supposed to be available by the end of this year as a new year model. Pricing is not available at this time, but according to their website, “…the 2009 Chief will be a premium motorcycle and priced accordingly.”

Hail to the Chief! (Their website is below).

4 thoughts on “New Indian Chief on the Horizon

  • Hi Robert, Good questions about engine cooling. However, there is no clear answer for “which is better?” In the world of motorcycling, every bike is a manufactured compromise between many factors. Specifically, in regards to engine cooling, air is the lightest and least expensive cooling option – and “less weight” is consider “better” on certain bikes. However, water and oil cooling do offer “better” performance benefits. Conversely, there is an aesthetic consideration. On some bikes (particularly customs), adding a radiator could be likened to a woman wearing sneakers with a formal gown: it could be done, and it could be argued that it would make for a more comfortable experience, but they just don’t go together. Best, MCg

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