The intention was good and simple: to drop by Indian’s UK headquarters and pick up the Chief Vintage that we will be putting big miles on in 2020, a quick turn-around and back in time for tea …
The roads were filthy, it was drizzling, the early rush-hour of ‘poets-day’ was building up nicely and I was on a tight schedule … and a promise.
The first chance to ride the new Powerplus motor in a chassis using familiar technology but bigger, with a fixed fairing and upside down forks, or stick to the schedule?
I’m only human and I’d already hit one deadline that month: hell yes!!
With my Android phone and Sena Savage paired to it, and playing sweeper on an impromptu ride-out – once the service had been completed – we went in search of some decent roads.
First impressions? Very good.
Quick, lively, comfortable, taut and more aggressive than the Chieftain range that occupy a very similar space in the food chain. Its short-stroke liquid-cooled OHC 108-inch (1768cc) is mechanically busier-sounding than the air-cooled OHV 111 and 116-inch Thunder Strokes, but it pulls well from low down and the big surprise is that it feels as though it is cammed for torque rather than horsepower. Indeed, it has a redline on the 6,000rpm tacho only marginally higher than that of the traditional long-stroke slugger.
It has an excellent riding position with plenty of space and the flexibility offered by an electric screen make it at least equal to the Chieftains, but with lighter steering thanks to the frame-mounted fairing, this should be an excellent mile-eater while still threading through traffic surprisingly well. And while the buttons have moved for the central locking panniers – joined on the Challenger by a locking filler cap – it’s got all the toys of the Chieftain and a tidier arrangement for the cockpit, with the 7-inch Ride Command screen beneath better spaced analogue clocks.
And that’s your lot for now. The weather, time and traffic prevented us from getting too carried away with ourselves, but when the Chief Vintage goes in for its first service …
You can’t help thinking that this is the bike that Polaris would have run alongside Indian if the Victory brand had continued, but then you know what hindsight is, don’t you?