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Then and now: Indian Chief

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Indian Motorcycle Company had always been known as the "other" American motorcycle, but from 1901 to 1953 some iconic bikes rolled off the Indian production line in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 2011 Polaris Industries purchased Indian and since 2013 three motorcycles have been produced. Thankfully the Chief is one of the three currently in production.

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The original Chief began production in 1922 as a replacement for the Powerplus model and became Indian's big-twin bike. A 61 cubic inch v-twin powered the Chief, which provided adequate power, but in 1923 Indian produced the Big Chief with a 74 cubic inch engine. It wasn't until 1940 that Indian finally added the sweeping oversize fenders to the Chief, providing inspiration for designers to include variations of the fenders on 2014 models.

The Chief saw some action in World War 2 under the name 340-B, which had open fenders and typically came equipped with a sidecar. After the war, Chiefs resumed production with different front forks. When Indian ceased production in 1953, the Chief had been powered by an 80 cubic inch engine.

The official production run for the classic Chief was 1922-1942, 1946-1948 and 1950-1953. Since then different companies have capitalized on the Indian Chief name, but production under Polaris began for the 2014 model year.

1953 Specs:

Torque: locomotive-like
Displacement: 80ci (1,300cc)
Transmission: four speed
Weight: 570 pounds

2014 Specs:

Torque: 119.2 ft-lb
Displacement: 111ci (1,818cc)
Transmission: six speed
Weight: 812 pounds

Differences in the 1953 and 2014 are a common trend for motorcycle manufactures as they continue to recreate classics. With more power, comfort and reliability the 2014 is a steal at $18,000. Original Chiefs can run upwards of $30,000. However, it is doubtful the owners of either model Indian Chief are complaining. They are truly stunning motorcycles.

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