Indian Motorcycle has always been diplomatic about their rivalry with Harley-Davidson, but a brazen new video showing their new Challenger and a Road Glide Special towing a taco van has sparked an online bitter feud.
The YouTube video shows both frame-mounted-fairing baggers having a go at towing the taco van to prove that the new Challenger can “smoke” the Road Glide Special.
The Challenger is powered by a new 1770cc Powerplus liquid-cooled engine with 122hp (91kW) and 173Nm (128lb-ft) of torque at the crank.
By comparison Harley’s Road Glide Milwaukee Eight 114 (1868cc) has 80.71hp (60kW) and 153Nm (113.63lb-ft) of torque.
Challenger pulls taco van while Road Glide Special looks on
Harley hasn’t readily identified Indian as a threat even though it has been taking minuscule chunks out of the cruiser, bagger and tourer market since its modern revival in 2013.
However, they still sell substantially more than Indian.
Indian doesn’t say how many motorcycles they sell worldwide, but Australian figures show Indian sold 803 bikes last year (down 3.9%) compared with Harley’s 6462 (down 7.9%).
If this is an indication of global sales proportions then Indian probably sold about 26,000 bikes globally while Harley sold some 218.273 last year.
That’s about 12%, which isn’t a lot, but it’s obviously starting to get under Harley’s skin.
Their marketing department has bitten back over the YouTube video with this very clever ad with a not-too-subtle dig at the brand’s Polaris ownership.
If you can’t read the small print it states:
We’ve been building riders (not gimmicks) for over 115 years. With 700+ US dealer partners and category defining motorcycles, there’s never been a better time to join the tribe. Tow challenge accepted – we’ve been carrying your weight for a long time.
That’s what you get when you poke the sleeping bear.
So now that the gloves are off, we can expect to see more direct comparison in this rivalry and a lot of fun and interesting videos and ads!
Speaking of which, Harley-Davidson will release an abundance of unusual products in 2020, including the Bronx Streetfighter range, electric bicycles and motorcycles, and their first big-bore adventure bike, the Pan America.
While our articles on all these bikes scored highly with our readers, the macho Streetfighter won this title bout.
Indian Challenger Dark Horse – $39,595 Indian Challenger Limited – $39,995
Indian claim to have redefined the bagger with their new Indian Challenger platform.
Powered by the recently revealed Indian PowerPlus engine, Indian’s first liquid-cooled large displacement motor (1769 cc/108 cubic-inch, 60-degree, four-valve, overhead-cam V-twin) packs a best-in-class 122 horsepower and 178 Nm of torque at 3800 rpm.
The new powertrain also features a six-speed transmission with true overdrive and an assist clutch to reduce clutch effort. Hydraulic valve lash adjusters and camshaft chain tensioners lower maintenance costs.
The Challenger features all the premium touring amenities riders expect from Indian Motorcycle, including electronic cruise control, full LED lighting, a long-haul seat, ABS, keyless ignition, and weatherproof saddlebags with over 68 litres of storage space.
In addition, a modern and aggressively styled chassis-mounted fairing sits over the Challenger’s inverted front suspension.
A cast aluminium frame and hydraulically adjustable Fox rear shock give the rear end a reasonable 114 mm of travel.
High-spec radially-mounted Brembo brakes provide the stopping power to haul up the Challenger which in Dark Horse form weighs in at 361 kg dry, while the Limited registers 365 kg on the scales.
Challenger’s chassis-mounted fairing features an adjustable windscreen with nearly three inches of travel and adjustable air vents – delivering unprecedented rider protection from all elements.
LED running lights, a central headlamp, and a redesigned and modernised Indian Motorcycle head-dress adorn its front fender.
Reid Wilson – Vice President of Indian Motorcycle
“The Indian Challenger delivers a new level of performance for riders who understand that the seemingly small details make a huge difference. Our mindset was to leave no stone unturned and deliver a bagger that exceeds the standards in categories like power, handling, comfort, and technology.”
Challenger Limited and Challenger Dark Horse are equipped with a Bosch IMU to add cornering pre-control to the dynamic traction control and ABS, as well as Drag Torque Control.
These models also feature Indian RideCommand, the largest touch-screen info-tainment system on two wheels.
The Challenger’s seven-inch Ride Command system features weather and traffic overlays, key vehicle information, Bluetooth and USB mobile pairing, and an all-new quad-core processor for faster response. In standard form the system boasts 100 watts of power.
Riders can customise the bike’s throttle mapping by selecting one of three ride modes, including Rain, Standard and Sport – resulting in one motorcycle with three distinct performance personalities.
Each ride mode has been engineered with its own distinct traction control setting to align with each mode’s specific throttle mapping.
The 2020 Indian Challenger Dark Horse is available in Thunder Black Smoke, Sandstone Smoke, and White Smoke. The Indian Challenger Limited is available in Thunder Black Pearl, Deepwater Metallic, and Ruby Metallic.
For its inaugural year, the Challenger lineup is accompanied by a variety of Indian Motorcycle Authentic Accessories that allow riders to upgrade their ride based on their preferences. With the Indian Challenger Rogue Collection, riders can and add premium blacked-out styling with a gloss black mid-rise handlebar, a tinted curved windshield and gloss black front highway bars.
For an added measure of comfort over longer hauls there’s the Indian Challenger Tour Collection, including a 406 mm (16-inch) windshield, quick release passenger sissy bar, passenger backrest and passenger floorboards, an extended reach seat, rider backrest pad, infinite highway pegs and pinnacle heel shifter. Riders can also upgrade the Indian Challenger’s audio experience with the PowerBand Audio Plus system, which delivers exceptional sound and clarity from high-output fairing and saddlebag speakers that are 50 per cent louder than the Challenger’s stock audio system.
Indian Challenger Introduction Promo Video
Indian Challenger Specifications
Engine Type – 60˚ V-twin
Transmission 6-speed/constant mesh/foot shift
Bore x Stroke 108 mm x 96.5 mm
Charging System 55 amp max output
Clutch Wet, multi-plate with assist
Compression Ratio 11.0 : 1
Cooling System Water
Displacement 1768 cc
Exhaust Split dual exhaust with resonator
Final Drive Belt drive, 152 tooth
Fuel Capacity 22.7 ltr
Fuel System EFI, closed loop/52 mm dual bore
Oil Capacity 4.73 ltr
Primary Drive Gear drive wet clutch
Torque 178 Nm at 3800 rpm
Horsepower 122 hp
Front Suspension Telescopic fork, 43 mm, 130 mm travel
Rear Suspension Single shock 114 mm travel, hydraulic adjustable
Dry Weight 361 kg (Challenger Limited 365 kg)
Ground Clearance 137 mm
GVWR 628 kg
Length 2501 mm
Rake/Trail 25° / 150 mm
Seat Height 672 mm
Wheelbase 1668 mm
Front Braking System Dual 320 mm floating rotor with 4-piston calipers
Rear Braking System Single 298 mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
Front Tyre Metzeler Cruisetec, 130/60B19 66H
Front Wheel Cast 19″ x 3.5″ with tyre pressure monitoring
Rear Tyre Metzeler Cruisetec, 180/60R16 80H
Rear Wheel Cast 16″ x 5.0″ with tyre pressure monitoring
However, it’s slightly more powerful with 91kW (122hp) and 178Nm of torque.
It is believed the quad-valve Powerplus was originally developed as the Victory Freedom V2 before Polaris axed the brand in 2017.
Liquid cooling should make the engines compliant with the next generation of European emissions targets.
The new liquid cooled Powerplus powered motorcycle range will be smaller than the current 111-cube Thunderstroke V-twin that powers the Chief and Roadmaster models.
Powerplus will be available in chromed and black-out versions.
It is not yet known how many models will be in the range, when they will be released and whether they will replace the Chief and Roadmaster models or be an extra line-up.
Here is the official release from Indian:
The PowerPlus will serve as the heart of the new Indian Challenger, an all-new, fixed-fairing bagger that utilises Indian Motorcycle’s state-of-the-art technology to become the highest-performing American V-twin ever developed. The new engine’s name is a nod to Indian Motorcycle’s iconic history, paying homage to the Indian PowerPlus motorcycle produced from 1916 to 1924.
“We challenge our engineers with the notion that anything less than best-in-class design and performance will simply not get it done, and it’s clear with this new engine that they have delivered on that high standard,” said Steve Menneto, Indian Motorcycle President. “Countless hours were spent in design, development and testing to ensure this is the best liquid-cooled V-twin ever developed, and I could not be prouder of our team and this incredible motor.”
The PowerPlus adopts several design and performance features from the liquid-cooled 1,133 cc Indian Scout engine, including an overhead camshaft design utilising four valves per cylinder. But comparisons end there. The PowerPlus was developed with a big-piston, big-torque mindset with an end game of maximum power delivery across the entire curve.
The all-new powertrain features a six-speed transmission with true overdrive, assist clutch to reduce clutch effort, and three ride modes that allow riders to tailor throttle mapping to their riding preferences. Advanced technology also includes hydraulic valve lash adjusters and hydraulic camshaft chain tensioners for ease of maintenance and reliability.
The PowerPlus was tested, refined and proven by one of the industry’s most rigorous development and testing programs, accumulating over one and a half million kilometres of simulated testing, including state-of-the-art dyno testing, and more than 400,000 on-road kilometres.
“You simply cannot deliver the ultimate bagger without an engine that stands head and shoulders above anything else in its class, and that was the motivation behind the PowerPlus,” said John Callahan, Indian Motorcycle Vice President, Engineering. “We developed the most sophisticated V-twin powerplant in the industry, and then we spent month after month, hour upon hour, putting it through the most intense paces to ensure it could take whatever we threw at it. The end result is something truly special.”
Indian Motorcycle PowerPlus Engine Specifications: