Harley Vs. Indian

2015-Street-Glide-vs-Indian

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation over the last few years about the new Indians and how they would be accepted in the market. It seems pretty evident now that the Indians are being accepted well and are here to stay, at least for a while.

This brings up an interesting point. When Indian and Victory stepped into the market they inadvertently did something amazing. They gave the American V-Twin buyer a choice! Comparing the Indian Chieftain and the HD Street Glide the question is, which bike is better for you?

There are quite a few things to consider when you are looking into buying a new ride. The cost of a new bike can be daunting these days and making the right choice is something you want to get right the first time. There are quite a few articles out there reviewing the bikes, but we wanted to give you insight from our staff. These are things we noticed that may help you make a decision that is right for you.

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Photo courtesy of Indian Motorcycles

One of the main things we noticed that was a similarity between the Indian Chieftain and the Victory is the top heavy feel. Both Victory and Indian are produced by Polaris, and both bikes have a similar feel. Compared to a Harley Davidson, the handling is quite different. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different. It can make moving the bike around a bit unsettling at first. I noticed it immediately trying to move the bike around in my garage. I noticed it more when I rode the bike. At slow speeds the bike feels a bit unstable and takes some time to get used to.

The Indian Chieftain is more “finished” than the comparable HD Street Glide. What I am referring to here is the details. The seat is very comfortable and well built, the handlebars are comfortable and the hardware holding everything together is more aesthetically pleasing than the OEM hardware that comes on the Harley. It has baffled me for years why Harley uses such ugly hardware.

Maintenance on the Chieftain is also a little more convenient. The oil filter faces forward and is easily accessible. The oil pan is directly located on the bottom instead of the side. It makes things a little easier and sometimes less messy. Changing the oil on an HD is not difficult by any means. It’s just not as easy as it is on the Indian.

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Photo courtesy of Harley Davidson

Another thing that the J&P staff brought up was the ability to customize your bike. Harley wins this one hands-down. There is a wide assortment of customization products that you can buy for any Harley which is something the Indian just doesn’t offer. We have seen some exhaust and a few other items come out, but having a large assortment of products to choose from so you can make the bike your own is something you just cannot get for the Indian….yet. As long as the people in Polaris keep the same basic style and don’t change the bike too drastically, parts manufacturers will start tooling up accessories for these bikes. It remains to be seen if Polaris will follow the same methods as HD.

In conclusion it really comes down to what you prefer. If you want something that you don’t want to customize and you are happy to ride it just as it is, the Chieftain may be a good choice. Either way it’s nice to see some American made products in the market competing against each other in the same segment. This usually means better products for the consumer. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds over the next 10 years.

2016-06-09T15:01:04+00:00 By |Uncategorized|10 Comments

About the Author:

Meet Lowell Anderson, J&P Cycles director of brands. In this position, he is responsible for the assortment, design and development of products for our private label brands. Prior to joining the J&P team, Lowell was a senior manager for KTM North America Inc., where he was responsible for designing, developing and marketing all the KTM hard parts and clothing for the KTM Hard Equipment product line.

Lowell has a passion for everything on two wheels. He still enjoys riding both street and dirt bikes. In his spare time, Lowell enjoys working on his bikes, building metric bobbers and spending time with his family and friends.

10 Comments

  1. Jet October 3, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I love the new Indians. I rented the Chieftain for a week to make sure I wanted one before spending $23000+ on one. It was just incredible. Everything was perfect. Previously I had rented a Road Glide. I wouldn’t buy one even if it was half the price. It would still be half the bike. I want comfort, not to rattle my damn shoulders out of their sockets sitting at a red light while my calves burst into flames and the damn radio isn’t even loud enough to drown my sorrows. Definitely made the right choice buying the Indian

  2. Robert July 4, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    A Harley Police bike and pleasure rider for 25 years. I took a chance and bought the 2015 Indian Vintage Classic in Willow Green and Creme color – OUTSTANDING, I really love the bike.

    It has a feel of sitting down into the cycle, very comfortable and stable. The transmission shift is clear and clean – the bike runs great!

  3. Cliff King July 4, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Ah. there are many motorcycles out there that outclass the Harley in many categories, but there is one main reason for owning a Harley. The old school feel, sound, vibration, long pull torque and heritage. I’ve been riding for over 50 years and ridden & raced dozens of bikes, and still come back to the seat of the pants connection to the road and spirit of that offbeat, pushrod, V-twin feel only an HD can provide.
    Live on OLD IRON!

  4. Keith July 2, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    If all of the reviews and videos on Indian ( and more recently the Springfield ) are any indication, Harley has to do some serious updating in the engineering dept. I have been riding for 46 years and when I bought my new Roadking in 2008, I didn’t think I would have had to do the work that has had to be done on this stock bike up to date. i.e. compensator sprocket upgrade, cam chain tensioner, etc. C’mon Harley! Design an engine and driveline that can compete with Indian or you will be left behind.

  5. John Giba July 2, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I bought a 2015 Indian scout. I compared it to a 1200 Harley. The scout won over in every category. I simply love it. The handling, the weight, the horsepower. I only wish they made more accessory’s available…

  6. Jesse Johnson July 1, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Last i heard Harley was now being manufactured in Canada & simply assembled here. Same scenario as the Japanese bikes that are shipped to the us. I’ll stick with my Victory

  7. Goose July 1, 2016 at 8:54 am

    I have been riding HDs for 25 years. It wasnt until Victory and Indian came along that they finally took notice and fixed many of their design flaws. A bagger with less than a 103ci motor was grossly under powered. You still need a stage 1 to make it run decent. I test rode the Indian; on a warm day and did not notice the heat off the motor as much as I did on the HD., Those huge finned heads on the Indian make a difference. I think the only way for HD to keep up is to have a fully liquid cooled bagger. I will not buy another HD until they do this. Its way too hot out here in AZ for their air cooled motor.

  8. Lee June 15, 2016 at 8:43 am

    It is funny how Harley leaves some raw hardware exposed considering how many Harley owners are obsessive about appearance. My Sportster for example has exposed hose clamps for the heat shields. These are standard issue cheap ugly hose clamps like you buy for a dollar at Pep Boys. The spark plugs are right on top but get rusty after the first rain. Anything I coat them with would wash off after the first washing.

  9. Mark Hutton June 12, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    I’ve owned harleys for years and find your comments concerning the new Indian’s quite bais. The new Indian out shines the Harley like night and day. More power, comfort and handling. On the issue of being top heavy, to me, and I’m 6’2″ at 250 lbs, that the Indian is easier to move around the garage, and slow speed handling is a breeze. Also the fact that at idle, there is no bouncing of the handle bars, seat, fenders, etc. The Thunderstroke 111 is so superior to the harley that it isn’t even funny. I don’t know when this article was written, but the by line says 6/09/16, but as far as customizing, there are a number of companies making parts for Indian such as Dirtybird, Azzkikrs, Ness, RJ Customs, etc.

    • Lee June 15, 2016 at 8:48 am

      Polaris started with a clean slate when designing the Thunderstroke 111. I got to demo one at the Mid-Ohio Vintage Bike Rally. If there’s anything more fun than going 90 mph in second gear, perfectly smooth and quiet, I’d like to know what it is. Harley has a tough job ahead – they used to have no American competition, now they have Victory and Indian. They used to be able to make minor updates to old engine designs but that may not work now.

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