In­dian Chief Clas­sic

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT -

I was deeply sad­dened to miss the chance to ride the all-new In­dian Chief last year, be­ing away over­seas at the time, and I’ve been wait­ing pa­tiently ever since.

But In­dian is in the for­tu­nate po­si­tion of be­ing un­able to sat­isfy de­mand for the new 111-cu­bic inch twins, so I just had to keep calm un­til I got the call. That came in early May, and I wasted now time in hot­foot­ing it to Vic­tory/In­dian HQ in Syd­ney to col­lect the gleam­ing new Chief Clas­sic. Gleam­ing? Maybe glit­ter­ing, shim­mer­ing, blaz­ing…daz­zling even. There’s acres of chrome on this bike, and it looks an inch thick (note the use of im­pe­rial mea­sure­ments). Perched in the cock­pit, with the cur­va­ceous, chromed han­dle­bars folded back to­wards you, there’s noth­ing but chrome ahead, beau­ti­fully sculp­tured too. And the paint – sen­su­ous, deep, lus­cious red, like Gina Lol­lo­b­rigida’s lips. Enough slather­ing, what’s it like to ride? In a word, cool. Or per­haps two words, cool, com­fort­able. You sink into the Chief Clas­sic – the seat wel­comes you like a ch­ester­field in the golf club lounge. And those antler-like han­dle­bars are sud­denly in ex­actly the right place – not too high, not to wide. En­gage first gear (clonk!) and one hun­dred and eleven cu­bic inches of throb­bing vee twin whisks you away as your feet find pur­chase on the foot boards, which are also in ex­actly the right place. The en­gine is a pos­i­tive de­light, al­though a few more deci­bels wouldn’t go astray as I am sure it would be sheer mu­sic. With such a mass of crankshaft weight rolling around, it wasn’t sur­pris­ing that gear changes could be a bit rough un­til you get the tim­ing right – the se­cret is slow and steady – rushed changes are a no-no. The big brakes do an ad­mirable job of ar­rest­ing progress. What re­ally im­pressed me is how nim­ble the Chief is, which must have a lot to do with the very low cen­tre of grav­ity. In traf­fic the bike just trick­les along hap­pily, but I found it han­dled twists and turns bet­ter than just about any other ‘cruiser’ I have rid­den. Even the rear sus­pen­sion – the uni­ver­sal sore point in this type of mo­tor­cy­cle – works OK. It’s an amaz­ingly well be­haved mo­tor­cy­cle – cruiser or not. And for sheer stoppeo­ple-in-their-tracks value, the In­dian has few equals.

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