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We put one of the new Indian Chiefs – a 2009/2010 model from the Kings Mountain factory – through its paces in American-V 39 and came away very impressed with both the bike and the company's attitude to getting it right, and consigning almost sixty years of false hopes and heroic failures to history.

We concluded:

  • Its high price was justified by the sheer quality of materials and engineering: from the double-stitched leather to the steel, whether chromed, painted or powder-coated.
  • The twin Brembo front brakes were reassuringly capable.
  • The Powerplus 105 engine is strong, and looks stunning.
  • It reintroduces a sense of exclusive exotica to American-made motorcycles in the UK, using a different business model to Harley-Davidson.
  • The minimal vibration of the hand-build, unbalanced, solid-mounted motor isn't a barrier to using the motor properly: smoother and more sophisticated than the Gilroy Powerplus 100 but more character than Harley's Twin Cam 96B.
  • The QD system for the rack, backrest and panniers is very well designed, allowing the bike to run undressed without any aesthetic compromise.
  • It could be improved by self-cancelling indicators with more visible tell-tales, and a fuel gauge.
  • The same switchgear as previous generation Victorys – including a trigger to control the digital element of the clever speedo – will be more familiar to recent converts to American motorcycles than Harley's traditional switch clusters.
For more details, and the chequered history of Indian from their days as America's dominant motorcycle manufacturer to the present day, see American-V issue 39: on sale in all good newsagents and most WH Smiths with a strong motorcycle section, by mail order or in a digital on-line form.

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