Indian Motorcycles released images of its first prototype, the 2009 Chief Standard, that will also be available in three other variations - the Deluxe, the Roadmaster and the Vintage.
When Stellican Limited purchased the rights to Indian Motorcycles
back in July of 2004, the cruiser and custom crowd held their collective breaths. Would the new owners rush an inferior product to market in the same vein as Gilroy or would the company produce collectible, classicly-styled motorcycles more in the manner of Hendee and Hedstrom?
After our May 2007 interview
with Indian Motorcycles' Chairman Stephen Julius, we came away with the impression that it would be the latter, based on Stellican's successful record of restoring iconic heritage brands to visages of their former glory. Julius confided that rushing a product to market wasn't a priority, that production would move slowly and that doing it right the first time was of utmost importance.
While initial prognostications quoted an ambitious release date of late fall 2007, that time frame has come and gone. But still no new Indians. Now we're almost halfway into 2008, and speculation as to what the new line of Indians would look like remained a mystery. Until now.
Indian Motorcycles finally released the first photographs of its 2009 Chief Standard prototype. The model shown stays true to Indian styling, with deeply valanced fenders, a studded leather seat, wide chrome bars, and classic-looking spoke wheels with whitewalls. The lettering for the Indian insignia is the same scroll type that we've come to know and love, and the Chief in his headdress is still perched on the front fender.
While it would have been easy to give S&S a call for its new mill, Indian did things the old-fashioned way and produced its own 105 cubic-inch engine for the new line.
Power for the new platform is provided by Indian's proprietary air cooled Power Plus 105 cubic-inch engine. The pushrod-equipped mill has an undersquare 3.97 x 4.25 inch bore/stroke with a 9:1 compression ratio. The closed loop sequential port fuel injected powerplant is claimed to put out 100 lb-ft of torque, but Indian admits that this initial projection is still arbitrary.
The engine sits in a tubular frame made of high tensile steel and connects to a six-speed tranny and exits out of two-into-one stainless steel exhausts with chromed shields. An inverted 41mm fork smoothes out the ride up front while a hidden monoshock will hold down rear suspension duties. The motorcycle sports a 68.4-inch wheelbase and weighs in at a claimed 738 lbs.
The 2009 Chief's ergos appear to be upright and rider-friendly. The studded leather solo seat sits at 26.7 inches and teams with slightly raised handlebars and good-sized floorboards. An analog speedo sits higher up on the 5.5-gallon tank than Harley-Davidson's tank-mounted console so it should be easily visible.
Brembo brakes could be spotted on the 16-inch front wheel, a 4-piston caliper set with dual floating rotors. Though we couldn't see what it has on the backside, we assume that they are Brembo also, only with a single floating rotor instead of dual and two piston calipers. The tires come in at pretty much standard 130/90-16 dimensions while the back is a modest 150/90-16. Rake has been established at 34-degrees, and in tandem with the skinny tires, we're curious to see how the new Chief handles.
Thunder Black is the standard color, but riders do have a choice of silver script or silver headdress graphic options. Short fenders come standard, while the large valanced ones that Indian Motorcycles are known for will set you back another $499. The 2009 Chief Standard comes with a MSRP of $30,999, which means that they are placing a lot of faith in the Indian logo's marketability. This is a pretty big chunk of change for an untested product, especially considering you can get a fully dressed Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic with 105th anniversary trim for $23,270.
The 2009 Chief will also come in three other variations. The 2009 Chief Deluxe comes standard with a two-up seat and has a longer list of dual-tone paint options and available aftermarket accessories for a grand more. The 2009 Chief Roadmaster is Indian's touring edition that comes decked out with a quick release windshield, an upgraded luxury touring seat and accompanying pillion/backrest to go along with studded leather saddlebags. It also has sweet dual-tone paint options like midnight blue metallic with winter white and a silver headdress for an extra $899. Overall, the touring package will set you back $33,999 without the spiffy paint job. The 2009 Chief Vintage is the fully-dressed version, with custom touches like an Indian metal tank badge, chrome fender tips, engine guards and chrome grab rails. The valanced fenders that Indian charges more for on other models comes standard, as do the pillion and vintage saddlebags with fringes. You'll also get a tinted quick release windshield and have paint combos that aren't available on the other models, but it's still going to cost an extra $900. The base price for the decked-out Vintage is $34,499, and comes with a two-year warranty, as do all the models.
The 2009 Indian Chief has plenty of the styling cues that we've grown to know and love from the American manufacturer, but some of those, like the deeply valanced fenders, will cost you extra.
While there is no definitive date set for the release of Indian's 2009 models, its website states that they will be out in time to make a select few very happy come Christmas time. If an invite to the press launch comes our way, we'll be the first to let you know how they ride. Until then, we can only hope that Indian has done its research and doesn't slip into the quagmire that doomed its last owner. But after our discussion with Mr. Julius, we anticipate that the company's resurrection is nigh.
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