Review: Indian Chief

Review: Indian Chief

The Indian Chief is an iconic name in the world of cruiser motorcycles. Rooted in history, this motorcycle series embodies the classic American cruiser ethos. The Chief is a flagship model from Indian Motorcycle, a company with a rich heritage dating back to 1901. This review delves into various aspects of the Indian Chief motorcycle, from its design and performance to its features, comfort, and overall riding experience.

Design and Appearance

The Indian Chief is a testament to timeless design. It’s an embodiment of classic cruiser styling with a hint of modern touches. The deep, lustrous paint, abundant chrome, and attention to detail contribute to its stately presence on the road. From its valanced fenders to the iconic Indian head on the front fender, every aspect of this bike exudes classic American cruiser aesthetics.

The Chief carries the signature teardrop tank, wide handlebars, and spacious, comfortable seating. The long and low profile of the Chief is a nod to its heritage, reminiscent of the motorcycles that once roared on Route 66.

Indian Motorcycle has paid meticulous attention to build quality. The fit and finish are exceptional, showcasing fine workmanship. The Chief feels substantial and well-made.

Engine and Performance

At the heart of the Indian Chief lies a mighty Thunderstroke V-twin engine. Depending on the model, this engine comes in different displacements, such as the 111 cubic inches (1811cc) and the larger 116 cubic inches (1890cc). The air-cooled engine not only delivers brawny torque but also produces a signature V-twin rumble, making a statement wherever it goes.

The Indian Chief is all about low-end torque. It’s tuned for strong low and mid-range power, making it an excellent cruiser for relaxed cruising and easy acceleration. This makes it effortless to overtake and enjoy a stress-free ride.

The ride-by-wire throttle ensures smooth power delivery, eliminating any abruptness. The clutch operation is light, making it comfortable to manage in traffic.

Chassis and Handling

The Indian Chief is built on a sturdy and well-engineered chassis. This provides stability and control, essential for a heavyweight cruiser. The well-balanced frame contributes to easy handling, even at low speeds.

The Chief is equipped with a telescopic fork at the front and a rear single shock with air adjust. This suspension setup effectively soaks up road imperfections, providing a comfortable ride. Even on uneven surfaces, the Chief maintains its composure.

Braking is managed by a capable system, with dual front discs. These brakes offer strong stopping power, which is crucial for a motorcycle of this size.

Electronics and Technology

Modern Amenities: While the Indian Chief pays homage to its classic roots, it doesn’t skimp on modern technology. Depending on the trim level, it features a comprehensive suite of electronics, including a touchscreen infotainment system, ride modes, cruise control, and keyless ignition.

Infotainment: The touchscreen infotainment system is a standout feature. It offers navigation, smartphone connectivity, and music options. It’s intuitive to use, even while riding, thanks to a responsive interface.

Ride Modes: The availability of ride modes allows you to tailor the Chief’s performance to your preference. It’s a valuable feature for adjusting throttle response and traction control based on road conditions or your mood.

Comfort and Ergonomics

The Indian Chief excels in providing a comfortable riding experience. The broad, well-padded saddle is exceptionally comfortable for both the rider and passenger, and it’s designed for long-haul journeys. The seating position is relaxed, with a well-placed handlebar and forward-set foot controls.

Depending on the model, a large windshield is available, providing excellent wind protection during highway cruising. This feature contributes to reduced rider fatigue on extended rides.

The Indian Chief also offers practicality with convenient storage options. Saddlebags and storage on the tank offer ample space for essentials during your journey.


Engine Thunderstroke V-twin
Displacement 1811cc
Power Varies by trim level
Torque Impressive low-end torque
Transmission 6-speed
Frame Tubular steel
Suspension  Telescopic fork (front), Single shock with air adjust (rear)
Brakes Dual disc brakes
Wheels Spoked (varies by model)
Seat Height Varies depending on model
Weight Varies by model

How does the Indian Chief Ride?

Riding the Indian Chief is a treat. The combination of a well-balanced chassis, torque-rich engine, and comfortable ergonomics ensures a smooth and relaxed experience. The V-twin powerplant provides a steady flow of power, and the throttle response is predictable.

The Chief is born for cruising. It maintains highway speeds with ease, and the comfortable saddle allows for extended journeys without fatigue. It handles sweeping curves well, but it’s not a bike for aggressive cornering.

Despite its weight, the Indian Chief is surprisingly agile and easy to handle. Low-speed maneuvering is not a challenge, and it’s stable at higher speeds.


The Indian Chief is more than just a motorcycle; it’s an embodiment of the classic American cruiser. With its heritage-inspired design, powerful Thunderstroke engine, modern electronics, and comfortable ergonomics, it provides an exceptional riding experience. Whether you’re seeking a long-distance touring companion or a stylish urban cruiser, the Chief delivers.

However, it’s essential to consider your riding preferences and priorities. While the Chief excels in comfort, cruising, and style, it may not be the best choice for those looking for a sportier or more agile ride. But if classic styling, modern technology, and an unrivaled sense of heritage appeal to you, the Indian Chief is a motorcycle that exemplifies the spirit of the open road and the history of American motorcycling.

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