1946 CHIEF

Classic Bike (UK) - - GOING NATIVE -

If In­dian couldn’t com­pete with Har­ley’s Knuck­le­head in the per­for­mance stakes, the 80mph Chief cer­tainly could when it came to style. The big news for 1940 was the skirted fend­ers in­tro­duced by en­gi­neer and stylist Ge­orge Briggs Weaver. Al­though not every­one was im­pressed with the look, there were oth­ers who thought the skirted fend­ers made the Chief the most beau­ti­ful bike on the planet and to­day they are iconic In­dian wear. Also new that year was a plunger-sprung frame, al­though the forks re­tained the leaf spring – that all changed in 1946, how­ever. In­dian had a new owner named Ralph Rogers; times were tough and the Chief was the only model pro­duced that year, but it came with a new dou­ble-spring girder fork with a hy­draulic shock ab­sorber, ba­si­cally a slim­mer ver­sion of the fork de­vel­oped for the mil­i­tary 841. The In­dian head and war bon­net fender light was in­tro­duced for the 1947 model year, but Rogers’ busi­ness was strug­gling – he was de­vel­op­ing a range of light­weight ver­ti­cal twins to take on the Brits and fi­nances were tight. The Chief wasn’t listed in 1949, but re­turned in 1950 with new tele­scopic forks and a ca­pac­ity hike to 1300cc. Three years later pro­duc­tion of In­dian mo­tor­cy­cles ended and the Road­mas­ter Chief was sent to the happy hunt­ing grounds. But to­day the Chief and the Scout are back – big time. And you can even buy one with skirted fend­ers and that war bon­net light...

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