US giant Indian Motorcycles arrives in India with three new bikes

Feb 02, 2014, 10:40 IST | Amit Chhangani

Embodying the essence of American motorcycling heritage, Indian Motorcycles — the oldest American motorcycle company, rumbles into India with its super exclusive product trio

Just the way the Native Indians reflect and represent the original, pre-colonisation history and heritage of America, Indian Motorcycles, named after the natives, is the most primal piece of America’s motorcycling heritage.

The largest motorcycle maker in the world at the very beginning of the 20th century, Indian Motorcycles went on to create a great legacy for itself by winning some really tough motorcycle racing championships, including the 2011 Isle of Man TT.

The two World Wars, however, took a toll on Indian Motorcycles’ business, forcing it to stop production in 1953. The company changed hands thereafter, with the brand fighting a long battle of survival before Polaris Industries, a global leader in off-road vehicles acquired it in 2011. Polaris developed the Thunder Stroke 111 engine to power the Indian Motorcycles into a new era. The 1811cc V-twin engine boasts peak torque rated at 139 Nm, and is mated to a six speed constant mesh helical gearbox.

The Indian Motorcycles range today comprises of three models – Indian Chief Classic, Indian Chief Vintage and Indian Chieftain. All three models come equipped with modern, technology driven features such as ABS, Cruise Control and ride on an advanced cast aluminium frame. Let’s take a quick look at the three models on offer, and their respective individualities.

Indian Chief Classic
Price: Rs 26.5 lakh, ex-Delhi
The entry-level model in the Indian Motorcycles range, the Indian Chief Classic, carries forward the legendary styling cues from its forebears in the most authentic fashion possible. The iconic War bonnet, bearing the ‘Indian face’, Valenced, flowy fenders — another signature Indian detail, and loads and loads of chrome — the essence of the 1940s vintage has not been allowed to dissolve on this modern iteration. The tank-mounted instrument console has a large analog speedometer complemented by a digital display delivering a lot of useful data. The Indian Chief Classic doesn’t feature a wind deflector like the other two models in the line-up. Keyless go and other modern tech is very much there though. In true traditional style the Indian Chief Classic rides on spoke wheels, with 40 high-quality spokes shouldering its weight on each rim.

Indian Chief Vintage
Price: Rs 29.5 lakh, ex-Delhi
The Indian Chief Vintage is essentially an Indian Chief Classic with some functional and cosmetic enhancements. The Indian Chief Vintage is distinguished primarily by its big windscreen and the massive leather saddlebags. Those leather bags, just like the leather seat are still hand stitched by the original suppliers for Indian Motorcycles from the 1930s. The high quality tan leather is claimed to get even better as it ages, and is meant to last a lifetime.
The protective windshield on the Vintage model features what’s termed as ‘Quick Release Technology’, so the screen could be installed or removed with minimum effort and quickly.

Indian Chieftain
Price: Rs 33 lakh, ex-Delhi
The Indian Chieftain sits at the very top of the Indian Motorcycles model hierarchy. It’s what’s termed as hard-bagger, or a motorcycle which features hard bags, unlike the soft saddles on the Vintage. The motorcycle has a twin pod instrument console, which is different from the ones on the other two models. The headlight is flanked by two driving lights and is integrated into the huge fairing. The windshield on the Chieftain is electric-powered and controlled by a button. You can raise or drop the height of the windshield by as much as four inches.
In addition, the Chieftain also features a high output stereo entertainment system with support for Bluetooth. You also have dedicated buttons on the handlebars for sending/receiving calls, controlling volume etc. Now, that’s quite some gear for a motorcycle — isn’t it?

Fresh new metal

Maruti Suzuki Celerio
Maruti Suzuki is gearing up to field yet another gladiator in the gory small car arena. Based on the Suzuki A: Wind concept (in picture), the Celerio small car will make its public debut at the 2014 Auto Expo. We have seen the production version of the Celerio in some spy pictures, and we can vouch for its good looks, at least for the segment. But good looks are not all this small car is going to boast of — the Celerio will also feature a one-of-its-kind automated manual transmission. The transmission, touted EZ-Drive is different from a fully automatic transmission or a CVT. In essence it’s a manual transmission with a proper clutch, which gets actuated with the help of electronics, and of course some help from the hardware. The cost for this type of transmission is incredibly low, bringing the convenience of an auto transmission within the reach of the price-conscious buyer. The fuel efficiency is expected to be as good as manual too. Seems like Maruti has another winner at hand.

Skoda Superb Facelift
The supreme ruler of the D segment has been given a facelift by Skoda. The utterly spacious, comfortable and feature packed car in its new version gets updated with cosmetic changes and some feature additions too. The car has got a sharper front fascia and much of it can be attributed to the new headlamps and the new butterfly-shaped radiator grill. The headlamps also get updated with bi-xenon lamps with washers, and daytime running lights in the top-spec Elegance variant. This version also boasts new design alloy wheels. On the inside, the biggest visible difference is the new steering wheel, and the inclusion of paddle shifters. The petrol engine will be offered with two transmission options — a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG Auto, while the 2.0 TDI diesel is available only with the 6-speed DSG Auto. The new Superb will most likely be launched at the 2014 Auto Expo in February.

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