Indian Chief Classic
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.