Indian Chief from 1946 and Indian Chief Vintage 2014

Indian Chief from 1946 and Indian Chief Vintage 2014 compared

Winnetou and Old Shatterhand

Indian is back! A dedicated development team quoted the ancestors of the oldest US motorcycle brand and brought them stylishly and carefully into the modern motorcycle era. This shows the encounter between a 1946 Indian Chief and a Chief Vintage from 2014.

Many fans have been looking forward to this moment longer than 30 years ago when "Winnetou" and "Old Shatterhand" were broadcast with Pierre Brice and Lex Barker: I.ndian is back! One of the most illustrious names in motorcycle history. A myth fueled by many images in the head. “Quite a few, and by no means only American motorcycle enthusiasts, consider the classic Indians (and that includes practically every Scout or Chief series) to be the most beautiful motorcycles that have ever been built.” This is how Indian expert Jerry Hatfield says in the preface of his out of print book "Indian im Bild".

Indian Chief from 1946 and Indian Chief Vintage 2014 compared

Winnetou and Old Shatterhand

A driving machine with an honest patina

Perhaps the very early death contributed to the myth. In addition, there are Indian’s characteristic, style-defining fenders – mudguards is too mundane a word for that. It was not until 1940 (together with the straight travel suspension on the rear wheel) that the huge, aesthetically defining wheel covers appeared in Art Deco style. Inspired by the streamlined shape of the US automobiles of the time. This design has burned itself under the top of the skull.

Motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world have kept the legend alive for 60 years. People like Werner Zull from Kall in the Eifel. The 53-year-old kindly slow us his Chief from 1946. Thanks for that! Werner has a lot of motorcycles, such as beautiful Ducatis. He “always felt a love for Indian”, bought the original operating instructions from a Chief when he was 18. Cult or intuition? This post-war red skin only found him in 2006, freshly imported from America. A driving machine with an honest patina, not just an exhibit. The Eifeler saddles his chief when he drives to meetings of the Indian Motocycle Club ( with its 450 members: “The condition is that you travel on your own.

Chopper / cruiser

Indian Chief and Indian Chieftain in the driving report

The new chiefs among the cruisers?

read more

Chief Vintage almost identical to the original

In the next year there is guaranteed to be a lot to talk about around the campfire. Will they add the new 1800s to their tribe? Do they still have the spirit of the original Indians? Do they breathe the same old spirit? Are the completely newly constructed Indians also venerable iron horses? Do flesh and blood feel different, sorry: steel and iron feel different? “So far we have seen many new Indians come and go,” says Werner. But already as well-made as this Chief Vintage with leather panniers and glass?

Well, of all the attempts at resuscitation over the past six decades, this is certainly the most serious. The specially assigned development team of the motorcycle manufacturer Victory manages a balancing act. To combine modern technology with a feeling for the right shapes and the right proportions. It starts with the wonderfully curved front fender. Curved railings on the sides and the anchor-shaped application at the top seem to be congruent with the historical model. Nearly. Because the new metal mudguards are wider. Today’s Indians live on big feet, on 130 and 180 moccasins. 16-inch spoked wheels were just as much a part of good form then as they are today.

Wider, longer and above all 110 kilograms heavier

Beautiful: the illuminated Indian head on the front fender, a sign of the past and future. The next parallel sits one floor higher: one main headlight each, flanked by two switchable additional lights. Viewed from the side, the tanks appear triangular with a straight bottom edge. Today’s fuel drum is more bulky than the entire motorcycle. It also holds a generous 20.8 liters of fire water. The oldtimer has three tanks: the main tank is on the left, the oil tank for the dry sump lubrication at the front right and the reserve tank at the rear right.

The new one has two lids on the fuel tank, the left one is a dummy. Then as now, the instruments sit on top as fat dashboards. Once with an ammeter, today with a fuel gauge and LCD on-board computer. Basis and basic shapes for leather panniers with rivet fittings, climbing and pardon: crash bars and fringed saddles were donated by the ancestor. Only the high vantage point from back then gave way to a deep, wide cowboy saddle made of the finest buffalo leather. There is also more storage space today. A rolling bow to the past signifies the reinterpretation. Even if on a scale of 1.2: 1. Because it is wider, longer and, above all, 110 kilograms heavier. Soberly one would have to say: 390 kilograms are simply too much of a good thing for an air-cooled V2 cruiser.


Lively: The huge Indian puts you in a great mood. It is intuitive to use: the throttle grip on the right, conventional hand clutch on the left.

The historic Chief, a real big bike in 1946, pushes and maneuvers around worlds easier. Uff. With which the steel souls of the machines bring their hearts into focus. The 1200 V2 with cast iron cylinders and liners looks downright graceful next to the 1800. Its basic design dates from 1920, revised in 1937. The valves on the right-hand side widen the cylinders, giving the characteristic floor plan. The elbows plunge down from the heads practically vertically. There are many fine cooling fins on the cast light metal cylinder covers. Tall and narrow, they give the engine its unmistakable, irokesen-like look. The new V2 even follows these iconic shapes. Just bigger, wider, more powerful. Traditionally air-cooled, its chrome-plated valve covers are clumsier, with cooling fins as thick as a finger.

What a cathedral of a V2 engine, this 1800s! Indian did not take over any screw for the new “Thunder Stroke 111 engine”. Truly a clap of thunder. Its 111 cubic inches corresponds to a full metric 1811 cm3. That is 50 percent more than the 1207 cm3 (74 cubic inches) of the ancestor. Skilful manifold guidance visually emphasizes the modern oven bumpers better. They are parallel per cylinder. The middle of the three camshafts below actuates the individual intake valves of each cylinder. The ancestor had two camshafts below. Precision mechanics once: only one cam actuates both roller rocker arms for the valve train. Easy to care for today: maintenance-free hydraulic valve lifters. Once the cylinders were spread by 42 degrees, today by 49. Large 54-millimeter throttle valves take up more space than the 31.8-mm Linkert carburettor on the Y-shaped intake manifold from 1946. More bore also takes up space – a thick 101 -Holes instead of not slim 82.5 millimeters. There is a remarkable consensus about the hub: it has to be long. 113 millimeters today, 112.7 mm ounce. For a lot of feeling and steam from the bottom.

Just don’t stall now!

Bringing the oldie to life is an art, the start-up procedure a ritual in itself. The right twist grip regulates the ignition timing, gas is on the left handlebar end! The shift lever of the three-speed transmission, today there are twice as many gears, rises up on the right of the tank. So how was that again? Fuel tap open? Choke on the throttle valve carburetor all the way down? Now step through the kick starter three times without ignition current, gently get the V2 going. The kickstarter’s engagement mechanism sounds like a ratchet. Then place the choke in the middle of the five notches. Switch on battery ignition, ignition timing and gas at half opening. Fortunately, the handles keep the chosen position. Now it’s time to kick your left leg from the right side. With taste! Umpf. Nothing. Phew, it’s difficult, despite the low compression ratio of 5.5: 1. How does Werner Zull do it? Then a blow, an explosion. The 1.2-liter V2 runs, the legend trembles. The pencil-thin two-in-one exhaust crackles like machine gun barrels. The chief is on the warpath. He takes it literally. With smoke signals, blue clouds of oil. Just don’t stall now. Around the red skin again, board the high saddle, pull in the short side stand. Let’s go.

Wait a moment. The left foot kicks the clutch rocker forward. Engaging first gear means pushing the stick of the long shift linkage forward. At this moment you cannot activate either of the two toothless “quarter-hub drum brakes”. Let the clutch come on like in a car, not easy to dose, and – oops! – she drives! A great feeling. You have your hands full. Shifting up to second takes full concentration. The engine picks up momentum. Even the third one follows. Movement as an awesome phenomenon! What a challenge. Every turn or U-turn overwhelmed; Decades of classic conditioning are gone. Instead of turning off the gas, you turn the ignition to "late", instead of shifting down, you clutch it. Left gas, stalled, great! Kick again, despair. At some point it will work. You watch the parallelogram fork at work, two coil springs plus oil pressure shock absorbers. You respond surprisingly fine. This fork was the identification mark of the 1946 Chief, taken over from the military machine 841. That fork had an atypically longitudinally installed V2 with cardan. In the 46 Chief, a chain drives the rear wheel and a belt drives the external alternator. But it is weakly tensioned, the ignition voltage drops. Brrrrtt, brrtt, brt. Off. That’s it. Just a few kilometers. But not to be surpassed in terms of experience density.

And the new one?

And the new one? It works much better in a purely rational way. The XXL-V2 hums gently from the thick exhausts laid on both sides, pushes well. Lots of little gimmicks help you drive: gasoline injection with automatic cold start enrichment, ABS, cruise control, easy-care toothed belts, smooth, hydraulically operated clutch. The land of the Apaches does not pass through the panoramic window, but the splendidly colored autumn leaves do. There’s an Indian summer behind the higher, wider handlebars! In addition, there is no draft behind the huge, easily removable pane. Only turning maneuvers require full concentration with a combat weight of 390 kilos and a turning circle of seven instead of five meters. At the price that the white man charges for his steel horses, you should first smoke a peace pipe: around 25,000 euros. Lots of wood. But good news: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand are back!

Technical data Indian Chief from 1946


Air-cooled 42 degree V2 four-stroke engine.

Air-cooled 42-degree V2 four-stroke engine, 1207 cm³, bore x stroke 82.5 x 112.7 mm, compression approx. 5.5: 1, approx. 23.5 kW (32 HP) at 3000 rpm, approx 80 Nm at 2400 rpm, single carburetor, two underlying camshafts, two stationary valves per cylinder, four bumpers, rocker arms, dry sump lubrication, kick starter, three-speed gearbox, mechanical foot clutch, tubular steel frame, parallelogram fork, two spring struts (straight-way suspension), 5.00 x tires 16, wheelbase 1549 mm, half-hub drum brakes front and rear, Ø 200 mm each, seat height 800 mm, tank capacity approx . 12 liters, weight 276 kilograms, length 2.45 meters, handlebar width / height 92/98 cm, turning circle 5.0 Meters, price approx. 25,000 euros.

Technical data Indian Chief Vintage


Air-cooled 49-degree V2 four-stroke engine.

Air-cooled 49-degree V2 four-stroke engine, 1811 cm³, bore x stroke 101 x 113 mm, compression 9.5: 1, 55 kW (75 PS) at 5075 / min, 139 Nm at 2600 / min, injection, three underlying camshafts, two hanging valves per cylinder, hydraulic valve lifters, bumpers, rocker arms, dry sump lubrication, electric starter, six-speed gearbox, hydr. Clutch, toothed belt, aluminum backbone frame, telescopic fork, Ø 46 mm, central spring strut with deflection, tires 130/90 B 16 and 180/65 B 16, wheelbase 1730 mm, double disc brake with four-piston fixed calipers at the front, disc brake. with two-piston fixed caliper at the rear, Ø 300 mm each, ABS, seat height 725 mm, 20.8 liter tank, weight 390 kg, length 2.62 meters, handlebar width / height 95/109 cm, turning circle 6.94 meters, Price 25 299 euros.

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