Indian Motorcycles

10 Best Motorcycles Indian Ever Made

10 Best Motorcycles Indian Ever Made

Founded in 1901 by George Hendee, Indian Motorcycles is one of the greatest American motorcycle brands. From the beginning, Indian Motorcycles was dedicated to building bikes for speed, performance, and comfort. Since George Hendee was a racing legend himself, his company managed to rule the racing tracks for decades. Due to the remarkable success of Indian motorcycles on the race tracks, the company became the premiere American motorcycle manufacturer in no time. Over the years, the brand managed to produce many collectible cruisers despite having tough competition with Harley Davidson. However, after World War II, the company faced many challenges, including ownership transfers and bankruptcy.

 In 2011, Indian Motorcycles made a strong comeback into the mainstream market after Polaris Industries purchased its manufacturing rights. Under Polaris, the design, engineering, and technology of Indian motorcycles have evolved significantly. Today, Indian Motorcycles is best known for its power cruisers and luxury touring motorcycles. In this article, Viking Bags has compiled a list of the ten best motorcycles India ever made.

Also Read: The Remarkable History of Indian Motorcycle - Viking Bags

1. The Story of Indian Motorcycles

In 1897, George M. Hendee founded Hendee Manufacturing Company to build bicycles. Initially, these bicycles featured Silver King and Silver Queen badges, but the name was eventually changed to Indian from 1898. Hendee adopted the name Indian because it provided quick acceptance and better recognition in foreign markets. In 1900, Oscar Hedstrom, a self-taught engineer, joined the company. Since both were racing enthusiasts, they devoted their efforts to produce a single cylinder motorcycle after creating three prototypes. The motorcycle could produce a 1.75 bhp and became an instant success. Over the next decade, the sales of the bike increased exponentially.

1.1 The Indian Single

In 1901, the first Indian motorcycle prototype of diamond framed Indian Single was successfully designed by Hedstrom. This motorcycle was displayed at the 1901 Stanley Bicycle Show in London. The motorcycle was equipped with a 13 cubic inch single cylinder engine that could generate 1.5 hp of horsepower. In addition, the motorcycle featured streamlined styling, mechanical exhaust valve, atmospheric intake, Hedstrom concentric spray type carburetor with throttle control, and a chain drive. The motorcycle was sold to the public in 1902.

Until 1906, Aurora Firm built the Indian Single engines. Afterwards, Indian Motorcycles began manufacturing its own engines.

1.2 Entering the World of Racing

In 1906, Indian Motorcycles developed its first V-twin racer that helped the company establish itself on the racing tracks and make several speed records.

After the success of the factory racer, the company launched a V-twin roadster with twisted grip linkages in 1907. With the launch of the 1907 Indian roadster model, the revolutionary 633 cc 42-degree V-twin motor became the first American production engine.

1.3 Indian Single Model A

The Indian Single Model A was introduced in 1910 and immediately became a popular motorcycle thanks to its simple design, reliability, and power. Lying at the heart of the Indian Single Model A was a single-cylinder side valve 500 cc engine that could generate 7-8 hp of horsepower. The bike weighed up to 300 lbs and had a top speed of 45-55 mph. In ideal conditions, a top speed of 80 mph could also be achieved. Since the motorcycle had adequate power outputs, riders used it not just for commuting but also for leisurely city rides and short highway rides. The versatility of this bike made it a huge success at that time.

1.4 Indian 101 Scout

Known as the best motorcycle ever made by the brand, the Indian Scout 101 was introduced in 1928 and remained in production until 1931. Much like other Scout models, the 101 Scout was introduced as a lightweight and smaller model of the Indian Chief lineup.

Designed by Charles B. Franklin, the Indian Scout 101 had a low-slung seat and a longer wheelbase than other members of the Scout lineup. In addition, the bike boasted a three speed transmission and hand-shifter/foot-operated clutch. The impressive 50/50 weight distribution, a top speed of 80 mph, and agile handling made it one of the fastest cruisers of its time. Moreover, the bike was powered by a side-valved 740 cc V-twin engine. In addition, the bike’s teardrop fuel tank, vivid paint scheme, solo seat, and distinctive fenders helped it stand apart from other motorcycles of the era. The Scout 101 was the motorcycle that helped Indian Motorcycles become popular not just in the United States but also in foreign markets. Due to its timeless styling and historical significance, the Indian Scout 101 has become one of the most coveted vintage bikes of all time.

1.5 Indian 741 - The WWII Model

Much like Harley Davidson, the production of Indian Motorcycles was focused on war efforts during World War II. During this time, Indian Motorcycles designed bikes in accordance with the requirements of the War Department and even exported their bikes to allies. The contract winning model was called the Indian 741, a model inspired by civilian Indian Scout motorcycles but effectively modified for war efforts.

The Indian 741 was powered by a 737 cc V-twin engine tuned for better reliability and ability to run on low-quality fuel. The bike was also modified to increase the ground clearance and seat height. The motorcycle was equipped with luggage racks, simple mudguards, and a jerry can for increased fuel capacity. Though the Indian 741 was not one of the best bikes by the brand; however, its historical importance made it a valuable vintage bike.

1.6 Production Hiatus

In 1953, Indian Motorcycles ceased production of all bikes. This production hiatus lasted for about five years. Over the years, the company saw multiple ownership changes and financial crises. Luckily, Polaris Industries proved to be a savior for the dying company. From 2011 to the present, Indian Motorcycles have experienced renewed success and growth through creating outstanding motorcycles that can compete with the ever-evolving global motorcycle landscape.

2. 10 Best Indian Motorcycles of All Time

After Polaris Industries bought the Indian motorcycle marque in 2011, the motorcycle brand got a chance to regain its lost glory. The decade that followed was full of excitement, success, and resurgence for the motorcycle brand. To make up for all the lost years, Indian Motorcycles launched a range of iconic cruisers and touring bikes known for their performance and timeless style.

2.1 Indian Scout

Indian Scout

Photo Credit: @wikipedia

The Indian Scout motorcycle was first launched in 1920 and remained in production until 1949. The motorcycle competed with another popular Indian motorcycle, the Indian Chief. However, the Indian 101 Scout outperformed the Indian Chief and emerged as the best model of its time.

The second lineup of heavier Indian Scouts was launched in the 1930s. The frames of these bikes were derived from Indian Chief motorcycles. Over the years, Indian Motorcycles launched several modified Indian Scout lineups, including Scout Standard, Thirty-Fifty Scout, Sport Scout, military Scout models, 648 Sport Scout, and Gilroy Scout.

In 2014, Indian Motorcycles brought back the iconic Indian Scout model after 70 years as a 2015 model. This new Scout model was a high-end cruiser powered by a 1133 cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine and an aluminum alloy frame. The belt drive and braided brake lines made the 2014 Indian Scout a low-maintenance motorcycle.

2.2 Indian Scout Bobber

Indian Scout Bobber

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

The Indian Scout Bobber was added to the Scout lineup in 2018. This motorcycle was powered by the 1133 cc V-twin engine installed in all other Scout models. However, the bike’s aggressive styling, 5.1-inch ground clearance, and 26.5-inch made it an attractive bike. The Scout Bobber was designed to cater to the needs of individuals who prefer dark stripped-down cruisers that can generate sheer power. The Scout Bobber can generate 100 hp of horsepower. The six-speed transmission and the fuel injection system ensure smooth power delivery, impressive acceleration, and a sporty riding feel.

2.3 Indian Chief

Indian Chief

Photo Credit: @wikipedia

The Indian Chief was first introduced in 1922 and remained in production until 1953. During the brand’s post-war production, Indian Chief was the only motorcycle that the company focused on.

The brand resumed the production of these bikes in 1999 only to continue it to present day. Unlike the agile Scout lineup, the Indian Chief motorcycles were always designed as heavy-weight powerful cruisers that could easily cover long stretches of asphalt.

In 2014, the Indian Chief model was revived completely and was also equipped with a new engine. The revolutionary Indian Chief featured a Thunderstroke 111 engine that generated 108 ft-lbs of torque. The newer models feature a six-speed transmission with improved gear ratios for better power delivery and smoother gear shifts. In addition, the steel welded tube frame, black treated parts, bobbed fenders, and exposed rear suspension sums up the stripped down cruiser styling. Moreover, the bike features high-end technology, including optional ABS, keyless ignition, cruise control, and super sticky tires, for improved riding experience.

Also Read: Indian Chief Standard Specs Features, Background, Performance, and More

2.4 Indian FTR1200

Indian FTR1200

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

The Indian Motorcycles specializes in high-power cruisers and luxury touring motorcycles. However, the company is venturing into other segments to increase inclusivity and acquire a larger market share. With the launch of FTR1200, the brand officially stepped into the sports bike segment. Powered by the Indian V-twin engine, the FTR 1200 is a sporty street bike. The company produced the FTR750 for track racing in 2016. In 2019, Indian introduced the FTR1200, a street-legal production bike, that was inspired by the racing model FTR750. The bike is equipped with a 1200 cc liquid cooled engine, has a trellis frame, and an advanced suspension setup. The impressive 111 horsepower, a top speed of up to 135 mph, and nimble handling of the FTR1200 prove that Indian Motorcycles can produce high-end sports bikes that can compete with Japanese sports bikes.

2.5 Indian Roadmaster

Indian Roadmaster

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

The Indian Roadmaster was introduced in 2014 and instantly became the center of attention for Indian fans as well as motorcycle touring enthusiasts. The bike was powered by the signature Thunderstroke 111 engine that generates 119 ft-lbs of torque. The 2021 onward Indian Roadmaster received a Thunderstroke 116 V-Twin engine that generates 126 ft-lbs of torque for a smooth ride at various speed ranges. The bike set the bar much higher for other touring motorcycles with its impressive 36-gallon cargo space, 7-inch touchscreen powered by Ride Command, plush seats, heated grips, audio system, front fairing, and lower fairings, and adjustable air vents, keyless ignition, and cruise control. For any adventure seeker, Indian Roadmaster proves to be the ultimate package.

Also Read: Indian Chief Roadmaster Specs, Features, Background, Performance, and More

2.6 Indian Challenger Dark Horse

Indian Challenger Dark Horse

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

The Indian Challenger Dark Horse was introduced in 2021 and was part of the Indian Challenger lineup. The motorcycle was powered by a blacked-out Power Plus liquid-cooled V-Twin engine that can generate 122 hp of horsepower and 128 ft-lbs of torque. The Challenger Dark Horse motorcycle features Smart Lean Technology, dynamic traction control, hydraulically adjustable rear suspension, and lightweight nimble frame. All these features ensure a smooth and comfortable ride. In addition, the dark-themed styling of the Indian Dark Horse Challenger made it a successful modern motorcycle.

2.7 Indian Springfield

Indian Springfield

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

The Indian Springfield was launched in 2016. This fully-dressed motorcycle is loaded with premium touring amenities for a comfortable motorcycle touring experience. Unlike the Indian Roadmaster and the Indian Challenger, the Springfield boasts classic styling highlighted by its heavy chrome finishes that demand attention. Powered by the award-winning Thunderstroke 111 motor, the Indian Springfield can generate 119 ft-lbs of torque for impressive power delivery and acceleration. The keyless ignition, key-lockable hard saddlebags, USB charging, and cruise control enhance the functionality of the bike.

Also Read: Indian Springfield Motorcycle Detailed Specs, Background, Performance and More

2.8 Indian Pursuit

Indian Pursuit

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

Over the years, Indian Motorcycles has launched several “bagger motorcycles.” In 2023, the brand launched another high-end touring bike, the Indian Pursuit. It seems that the company has perfected its touring segment with the Pursuit, as the bike features every travel accessory that one could need for a luxurious touring experience. Equipped with an 1800 cc liquid-cooled engine that generates 100 hp of horsepower and 128 ft-lbs of torque, this touring motorcycle can easily carry you to remote destinations. Though the aesthetics are inspired by vintage motorcycles, the technology used in this motorcycle makes it thoroughly modern. In addition, the bike features a touchscreen, digital controls, heated seats and grips, navigation aid, cruise control, adjustable seat height, and a state-of-the-art stereo system. When riding the Indian Pursuit, a rider can never go wrong whether he is looking for sheer power or reliable performance.

2.9 Indian Scout Sixty

Indian Scout Sixty

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

In 2016, the Indian Scout Sixty, a cost-effective version of the Indian Scout, was introduced. This model featured the same frame, suspension and braking setup. However, the engine displacement was reduced from 1133 cc to 999 cc. In addition, the Scout Sixty featured a five speed transmission and a blacked out theme.

Also Read: Indian Scout Sixty: Specs, Features, Background, Performance, & More - Viking Bags

2.10 Indian Chieftain

Indian Chieftain

Photo Credit: @indianmotorcycle

The Indian Chieftain was launched in 2014 and instantly garnered attention due to its classic styling with a touch of modernity. The bike’s features, such as the  vintage-inspired balanced front fender, frame-mounted fairing, and hard saddlebags hinted at the brand’s heritage. The motorcycle is powered by a Thunderstroke 111 air-cooled engine that can produce 119 ft-lbs of torque for smooth acceleration and power. The low seat height of the bike ensures a comfortable ride for tall, short, and average riders. The lightweight cast-aluminum frame makes this two-wheeler maneuverable on the road. The recent models are also equipped with state-of-the-art sound systems. In addition, the dynamic equalizer also adjusts the wind, engine, and road noise so you can enjoy music without compromising on safety. The power and design of the Indian Chieftain make it a timeless Indian Motorcycle that will achieve vintage status in the future. Due to the success of this model, Indian Motorcycles may introduce a 2024 model.

Also Read: Indian Chieftain Dark Horse vs. Harley Davidson Street Glide

3. Last Words

It goes without saying that Indian Motorcycles has created milestone motorcycle models, especially after Polaris Inc, purchased the ownership rights and revitalized the company in 2011. The modern motorcycles are inspired by vintage models introduced between 1901 and 1952. The only difference is that the newer models are powerful bikes equipped with high-end technology. Just like the company, the Indian motorcycles are capable of withstanding challenges. So if you are looking for a bike that can stand in the face of adversity, make sure you give Indian motorcycles a chance.

Also Read: 15 Best Motorcycles Harley Davidson Ever Made
10 Best Motorcycles Suzuki Ever Made
10 Best Motorcycles Honda Ever Made

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