Indian Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide
The Indian Motorcycle Company can trace its origins back to 1901. Bicycle manufacturer and ex-racer George M. Hendee needed a machine that could pace bike races. With the help of engineer Oscar Hedstrom, he got one. This motorized bicycle caught the attention of fans, and Hendee began selling these early motorcycles the following year.
Indian gained mass market appeal in the 1910s and introduced some of its most iconic models in the 1920s, like the Scout and Chief. Continued growth wasn’t assured, however. The company shut its doors in 1953, and a number of unsuccessful reboots followed over the next six decades.
Iconic brands don’t stay dormant forever though. Indian roared back to life in 2013 – now under Polaris ownership – and it has resurrected some of its most famous models in the years since. Read on to learn more about the current Indian lineup and see which motorcycle is right for you.
Types of Indian Motorcycles
The Indian brand is largely known for its cruiser and bagger motorcycles, and that’s mainly what the company offers today.
The 2019 lineup includes cruisers like the Scout and Chief, which provide a relaxed riding position and good maneuverability. There are baggers like the Chieftain and Springfield, which mirror the appearance of the cruiser but with the added cargo space provided by waterproof saddlebags. There’s also the Indian Roadmaster, which is a touring motorcycle designed for long-distance riding. It features extra cargo space, a comfier rear seat, and lots of standard amenities like heated seats and a sound system.
The latest addition to the lineup is the all-new Indian FTR 1200, which is billed as a tracker. It evokes the styling of Indian’s flat track racing bikes, but it also fits under the standard or naked bike category. These types of motorcycles have an upright riding position, minimal body work, and they typically offer a sportier riding experience.
It’s worth noting that Indian does not offer a sportbike. These racing-inspired motorcycles are designed for top speed and slicing around turns, and they have aerodynamic body work and a hunched-over riding position. Indian doesn’t really have a beginner motorcycle as well. These types of bikes have small displacement engines and are typically very lightweight. Look to competitors like Kawasaki and Yamaha for better options in these categories.
Indian Motorcycle Prices
Indian’s 2019 motorcycle lineup ranges in price from around $9,000 to $37,000. The average price is about $20,800. Overall, these prices are higher than those offered by a number of other mainstream brands, especially Honda. The least-expensive model in the 2019 lineup is the Scout Sixty, which starts at $8,999.
2019 Indian Motorcycle Lineup
The Indian lineup includes six core models: Scout, Chief, Springfield, Chieftain, Roadmaster, and FTR 1200. The Scout and Chief cruisers range in price from about $9,000 to $20,000. The Springfield and Chieftain baggers are priced in the $21,000 to $27,000 range. The Roadmaster touring bikes cost between $30,000 to $37,000, and the FTR 1200 is priced from $13,500 to $15,500.
Indian offers a wide range of accessories for all of its models, allowing riders to customize their bike to fit their exact needs. That said, these add-ons can quickly raise a bike’s price by a few hundred dollars. Common accessory items include seats and backrests, windscreens, handlebars, foot pegs, luggage racks, and leather saddlebags (which are of course available on Indian’s bagger models, but also on nearly every model in the lineup). Available performance accessories like exhaust or air intake upgrades can cost more than a thousand dollars.
Indian Cruising Motorcycle
The Indian lineup includes two cruisers – the Indian Scout and the Indian Chief. These bikes offer the comfort and practicality of Indian’s larger motorcycles, but with the aggressive styling and agility that some of those bigger bikes can lack. The Scout is the best option for newer riders in the Indian motorcycle lineup. It has a relaxed riding position and a low seat height, and it’s easy to keep steady when stopped or in slow traffic. It also weighs about 550 pounds when fueled up, making it one of Indian’s lightest motorcycles.
Indian Scout Sixty
The Indian Scout Sixty starts at just $8,999. It’s outfitted with a liquid-cooled 999 cubic centimeters V-twin engine – that’s 60 cubic inches – and it produces 78 horsepower and 65 pound-feet of torque. Standard equipment includes a five-speed transmission, a 3.3-gallon fuel tank, two-piston front brakes, single-piston rear brakes, 16-inch wheels, and a single gauge. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is available.
The midlevel Scout (MSRP: $11,499) has the same standard equipment, but it packs a larger 1133 cc (69 cubic inch) V-twin engine making 100 horsepower and 72 pound-feet of torque. This model also gains a six-speed transmission.
Indian Scout Bobber
As its name suggests, the Scout Bobber (MSRP: $11,999) features “bobbed” fenders and minimal bodywork, giving it a racy and barebones appearance. The Bobber also sits lower to the ground, and its overall length has been shortened by about three inches. It’s equipped with the same 1133 cc engine and six-speed transmission as the Scout.
The Indian Chief is about a foot longer and 200 pounds heavier. It also features the brand’s Thunder Stroke engine, which is an air-cooled 1811 cc V-twin that produces a hefty 119 pound-feet of torque at a low 3,000 rpm. This low-end torque gives the Chief a confident shove when accelerating up to speed.
Indian Chief Dark Horse
The base model Indian Chief Dark Horse starts at $18,499. It has a six-speed transmission, a 5.5-gallon fuel tank, 16-inch alloy wheels, ABS, four-piston front brakes, two-piston rear brakes, cruise control, and keyless ignition. Unlike the Scout, the Chief’s gauge is mounted to the fuel tank. The ‘Dark Horse’ moniker refers to the bike’s styling. It sports a matte-black paint scheme for a modern, aggressive look.
Indian Chief Vintage
The Indian Chief Vintage (MSRP: $19,999) looks as if it rolled right out of the 1950s. It has lots of chrome, wire wheels, whitewall tires, a windscreen, and leather saddlebags with tassels.
Indian Touring Motorcycle
You can think of a tourer as the crossover of motorcycles. Touring bikes are big, heavy, and built for riding long distances in comfort. They typically have large front fairings, which streamline the motorcycle and help to shield riders from the wind. They also provide lots of cargo space. If you’re thinking of riding across the country, a tourer would be the bike to do it on.
The Roadmaster is Indian’s aptly-named touring bike, and it starts at $29,499. It packs the Thunder Stroke 1811 cc engine, a six-speed transmission, a 5.5-gallon fuel tank, 16-inch alloy wheels, ABS, four-piston front brakes, two-piston rear brakes, and an adjustable rear shock absorber.
The Roadmaster’s list of convenience features is extensive. Standard equipment includes a 7-inch touch screen, a navigation system, an AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, keyless ignition, cruise control, a tire pressure monitoring system, stability and traction control, a raised passenger seat with an integrated storage trunk, individually heated front and rear seats, hard saddlebags with remote locking, and a large fairing with a power-adjustable windshield. The Roadmaster has a claimed 36 gallons of cargo space.
Indian refers to that 7-inch touch screen as Ride Command. This infotainment system operates much like a smartphone – you can use your fingers to swipe, pinch, and zoom – and it responds to inputs even if you’re wearing thick gloves. The screen also has highly configurable displays, so you can monitor specific data like fuel economy and driving range.
Indian Roadmaster Elite
The Roadmaster Elite (MSRP: $36,999) is a special edition model limited to 200 units. It adds a higher-end sound system, as well as a two-tone paint scheme with 24-karat gold leaf trim.
As if the high cost of entry wasn’t enough of a deterrent, these motorcycles aren’t great for beginners, due to their weight. The Roadmaster tips the scales at over 900 pounds with a full tank of fuel. That amount of weight can be very hard for a novice rider to manage.
Indian Bagger Motorcycle
The bagger style of motorcycle fills the void between cruisers and tourers. These models still have the overall style and stance of a cruiser, but with the added practicality of saddlebags – hence the term “bagger”. Indian Motorcycle offers two models in this category – the Springfield and the Chieftain. Both are outfitted with the Thunder Stroke 1811 cc V-twin engine, a six-speed transmission, a 5.5-gallon fuel tank, ABS, four-piston front brakes, two-piston rear brakes, and an adjustable rear shock absorber.
The Indian Springfield starts at $20,999, and – of the two – it’s more like a cruiser. It’s visually similar to the Chief, and it comes standard with a tank-mounted gauge, a windshield, keyless ignition, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, 16-inch alloy wheels, remote-locking hard saddlebags, and lots of chrome. The Indian Springfield Dark Horse (MSRP: $21,999) offers similar amenities, but it trades the windshield for aggressive 19-inch wheels and matte finish paint.
The Indian Chieftain starts at $22,849, and it’s styled to be more of a tourer. The Chieftain has a sizable fairing and a power-adjustable windscreen. It also adds luxuries like an AM/FM radio, a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 7-inch touch screen with navigation (Indian’s Ride Command system).
Three other Chieftain models are available, ranging in price from $25,999 to $26,749. The mechanical specs are the same, but the styling varies. This includes the Chieftain Classic, Chieftain Dark Horse, and Chieftain Limited.
Indian Standard Motorcycle
The Indian FTR 1200 is the brand’s newest model, as well as its most performance-oriented motorcycle. The FTR takes its inspiration from Indian’s flat track racing bikes. As a result, it has a stripped-down appearance with a trellis frame, and it weighs in at around 500 pounds with a full tank of gas – making it Indian’s lightest motorcycle. Prices start at $13,499 for the base model FTR 1200 and $15,599 for the uplevel FTR 1200 S.
Indian FTR 1200
The FTR 1200 has a liquid-cooled 1203 cc V-twin engine that produces 123 horsepower and 87 pound-feet of torque. Standard features include a six-speed transmission, a 3.4 gallon fuel tank, cruise control, ABS, four-piston front brakes, two-piston rear brakes, staggered 19- and 18-inch alloy wheels, and a 4-inch gauge cluster with a USB charging port.
There are four option packages, ranging in price from $2,800 to $5,730, and these take the FTR’s styling in different directions. The Rally package (which is the most expensive of the lot) adds wire wheels and mud guards, giving the bike an off-road scrambler look. The Tracker package mirrors the look of flat track racing bikes even further with side number decals. The Sport package adds carbon fiber covers and guards, and the Tour package outfits the FTR for longer distance travel, thanks to its windscreen, messenger bag, and tank bag.
Indian FTR 1200 S
The FTR 1200 S shares the same mechanicals as the standard motorcycle, but with a few convenience and performance upgrades. It has a 4.3-inch touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity, a fully-adjustable suspension, traction control, and stability control.
Overall, the FTR is an intriguing option for Indian riders that want a bike with sharper handling, but don’t want the hunched-over seating position that comes with a genuine sport bike. The FTR’s seat and handlebars put the rider in a fairly neutral position that remains comfortable even after an hour or so on the road.
Indian Motorcycle Warranty
Each model in Indian’s lineup is covered by a two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. That’s pretty typical for the motorcycle industry.
Indian vs. Honda
The Honda brand is a better starting point if you’re shopping for a new motorcycle. The main reason is variety. Honda has a much wider selection of motorcycle styles to choose from. Its lineup has classic cruisers, touring bikes, and standard bikes – similar to Indian – but it also includes sport bikes, café racers, dual-sport and adventure motorcycles, scooters, and mini bikes. Honda offers far more engine options as well; from its high-performing four- and six-cylinder engines, to its small single-cylinder engines that are ideal for novice riders. No matter what you’re looking for on two wheels, your local Honda dealership probably has it.
The other big reason to start your search with Honda Powersports is price. Honda’s motorcycles often cost a lot less than their Indian counterparts. For instance, the most-affordable Indian model is the $8,999 Scout Sixty cruiser. Honda offers several cruisers at a lower price point – the Rebel 300 and 500 ($4,499 and $6,199), the Shadow Aero ($7,699), and the Shadow Phantom ($7,899). It’s a similar story for the uplevel models as well.
Warranty coverage is the one area where Indian does stand apart. Indian covers all of its models with a two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. That’s better than the one-year/unlimited-mileage warranty that Honda offers on most of its models, however it’s not quite as good as the three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty offered exclusively on Honda’s Gold Wing models.
Indian vs. Harley-Davidson
The rivalry between Indian and Harley-Davidson goes back a century, both on the street and the racetrack, as well as in dealer showrooms. In fact, this competition is more heated now than it has been in a long time thanks to Indian’s expanded lineup, which has more models to compete with Harley-Davidson in a wider range of segments.
Both of these iconic American brands offer a similar lineup of cruisers and touring motorcycles. Both back their models with a two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty as well. As a result, choosing between these rivals may come down to brand loyalty for many shoppers.
If you’re undecided though, you’ll probably want to check out the local Harley-Davidson dealer first. Despite competing in the same categories, Harley has a much deeper range of models to choose from and many undercut their Indian counterparts on price – the least expensive is the $6,899 Street 500 cruiser. Harley-Davidson also has more engine options, ranging in displacement from 500 to 1900 cc. This all adds up to more choice when buying your next bike.
Indian vs. Triumph
Choosing between the Indian and Triumph motorcycle brands might be easier than you think. These companies are steeped in history, but their product lines are quite different.
Indian offers an extensive lineup of cruisers and touring motorcycles, making it a better option if you want a bike with a relaxed riding position and long distance comfort, especially if you need to carry some cargo. Triumph, on the other hand, doesn’t offer any tourers, but it does have a deeper lineup of sport-tuned motorcycles. These include stripped-down standard bikes like the Street Twin and Speed Twin, café racers like the Thruxton, as well as off-road adventure bikes like the Tiger 800 and 1200. If you want two-wheel thrills, you should opt for Triumph.
Both companies back their motorcycles with a two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. Pricing for each brand starts in the low-$9,000 range as well, though Indian’s prices climb much higher on its uplevel models.