As we mentioned in the news pages of AmV98, Indian have got a new model waiting in the wings, and our first sight of it is going to be its motor: ladies and gentlemen, the Indian PowerPlus 108.
We will never know how close this is to the Mk2 Freedom Engine that we believe was near completion when Victory was closed, but with a couple of additional years of development and restyling, it bears closer resemblance to the Scout than a Vegas, and Indian are calling it “the best liquid-cooled V-twin ever developed”.
The name PowerPlus comes from Indian’s first post-Hedstrom engine, a 1916 side-valve that owed much to the Reading Standard – where Indian’s new chief designer, Charles Gustafson Sr, had learned his craft – which ran through to 1924, albeit renamed as the Standard in 1922 when the Franklin-designed Chief replaced it as the flagship model for the Springfield-based company.
It was also the name of the Gilroy Indian’s troubled oem engine – which was largely fixed in the Stellican/Kings Mountain years – and which was at the heart the first Indian that rolled out of Polaris’ Spirit Lake factory in Victory livery … while the engineering department were putting finishing touches to their Thunder Stroke 111.
I make no apologies for alluding to its Victory heritage, and hope that the new Indian Challenger that will be based around this new engine will be true to the engineering and chassis dynamics of the Victory as well as the brand values of Indian, but someone really needs to have a word with whoever is in charge of naming conventions. The only thing that eclipses reusing the name of a stop-gap engine with a chequered past is the ambiguity of a bike model name that we can only hope was inspired by a Dodge muscle car and not a space shuttle.
Meanwhile, back at the plot …
The new motor is a 121hp/131ftlb 1769cc OHC – I’m going to say DOHC judging by the position of the spark plugs but they don’t say –60° v-twin with 4-valves with both valve lash and cam chain tension adjusted by hydraulics.
It has the now familiar semi-dry sump – and primary cover – a 6-speed overdrive gearbox with an ‘assist clutch’ – which we take to mean it’s light in action but is tenacious in operation – runs an 11:1 compression ratio, a 52mm dual-bore throttle body and spins up to 6,500rpm. This is a serious piece of kit.
“We challenged 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.”
Add to that Indian’s three ride modes, state-of-the-art dyno testing and more than quarter of a million road miles under its wheels, and you’re looking at a new generation of Indian tourer that might just reverse history: the first PowerPlus to supersede a Chief?
“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.”
We are looking forward to finding out: the timing of this announcement suggests an EICMA launch for the Challenger – and the pictures of a fully blacked-out engine as well as one with chrome covers suggests a Dark Horse version will be one option – then all we need is a delivery date.