2012 Indian Motorcycle – First Look Review

The first Indian motorcycles were built in 1901, and bikes were sold to the public in 1902, making it one of America’s oldest motorcycle brands. Indian Motorcycle was once the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, and claims many firsts: production V-twin, fully adjustable front suspension, electric starters and lights, swingarm rear suspension and twist grip hand controls. The company was bought by Polaris Industries earlier this year, and the first Indians built at Polaris’ Spirit Lake, Iowa, plant bear special 110th anniversary badges.

2012 Indian Chief Vintage
2012 Indian Chief Vintage

For 2012, three Indian Motorcycle models will be offered: Chief Vintage, Chief Classic and Chief Dark Horse. All are powered by Indian’s proprietary Powerplus 105 cubic-inch air-cooled V-twin with closed loop sequential port fuel injection, six-speed transmissions and belt final drive. All have Brembo triple-disc brakes, 5.5-gallon fuel tanks, dual 12V accessory outlets and claimed dry weights around 750 pounds.

2012 Indian Chief Dark Horse
2012 Indian Chief Dark Horse

Based on the 1948 Chief, the Indian Chief Vintage’s chrome Indian tank badge and deeply valenced front fender pay stylish homage to the bygone, postwar era. Distressed tan leather with fringe covers the solo seat and saddlebags, and the 60-spoke chrome wheels are shod with classic whitewall tires. Standard equipment includes a windscreen, detachable passenger seat, chrome grab rail and chrome tips and shields on the stainless steel two-into-one exhaust. Available in solid ($35,999) or two-tone ($36,899) color schemes with a two-year warranty.

2012 Indian Chief Classic
2012 Indian Chief Classic

The Indian Chief Dark Horse’s matte-finish Thunder Black Smoke paint and rims, blackwall tires, blacked-out engine and chassis, and solo black seat live up to this bike’s ominous name. Even the trademark Indian head on the front fender and two-into-one exhaust are black. About the only color on the Dark Horse is the classic painted Indian headdress logo on the tank. MSRP is $27,999 with a two-year warranty.

Less flashy than the Vintage and less imposing than the Dark Horse is the Indian Chief Classic, which features a chrome engine package, chrome spoked wheels and solid red or black paint. It’s also the least expensive model in Indian’s lineup, with an MSRP of $26,499 and a two-year warranty.

For more information, visit www.indianmotorcycle.com.


  1. It’s hard to figure why this unproven product can have such an astronomical price tag. I guess nostalgia, even if it only looks like the original, sells.

    • I agree with your comment concerning the price tag for the nostalgia look. Guess time will tell if these high dollar bikes will sell. Personally, I’ll purchase the quality proven Yamaha Stratoliner for around $18,000 and out perform this Indian Chief.

  2. Do we really need another over priced V-Twin? How about reviving the Indian inline 4-cylinder? IMHO a classier bike never existed!

    • The Auld Wan: My first bike was 1931 Indian four, with famous “suicide” clutch. I really loved my new freedom and the beginning of over 70 years biking. Problem with the four was that the rere cylinder overheated and it became a pushmobile….

  3. Polaris Industries will be disappointed in the overall small number of sales of these bikes. The price tag is way over the top on all three models. There will be a small group of customers willing to fork over $26,500 to $36,900 for these Indian bikes. When one compares the quality of these Indian bikes to the Japanese bikes, it’s a no brainer. One can purchase a Japanese cruiser with a proven V-Twin engine that will out perform this 105 cubic- inch engine by Indian. Also, the Jap bikes offer several models to choose from rather than just one style with different paint schemes. Nostalgia will only go so far!

    • Why would you try to compare a Japanese anything to an Indian??? Those are truly throw-away bikes after 20,000 miles.

      Honestly though, who would buy a motorcycle at these prices?

  4. Indian never had a rear swingarm! It used sliding pillar suspension,an early form of rear wheel travel also used on many old autos. One marque was the Morgan.

  5. Indian need ‘starter’ and ‘budget’ series. With 250, 750 and 950-cubic engines, vintage styled colour schemes. Not with direct rivals from Japan, of course, but with Korean partners
    Hyosung Motorcycle Co. have cruiser series, call Aquila. With good quality, good and reliable engines, Koreans is able to produce budget and starter series under American brand
    Aquila have quality, reliability, engines, but dont’ have ‘name’. Indian have ‘name’, and that’s all
    Collaboration between two brands will give Indian real breakthrought, and financial support for recovery of legend
    Actual Indian series good for ‘name’, but not for recovery. For real comeback they need strong rivals against Japanese starter and budget lines, such as VStar Classic / Custom, Honda 750 Shadow, Suzuki C50, Kawasaki Volcan 800/900. Korean-made Aquila-based starter and budget lines became worthy answer to rivals

  6. Indian did NOT invent the rear swing-arm, and they didn’t even have one till the early 50’s. Same with the electric starter.

    One word Indian……..UGHH!

  7. Love to have one, way over priced. Styling is more to my taste than the Victory Line up.

    Note to Kawasaki…. bring back the Drifter!

  8. How many restarts are these motorcycle groups going to get while embarrassing one of the most iconic names in the industry. The hedge fund in gilroy messed it up, polaris is destroying it, who else? Design a real company with modern tech and retro styling with all of Indians achievements… Such as their racing legacy. This looks like a copy of a copy of a copy again and thanks for making HD’s real king of the ring unattainable yet again! I swear I’ll take my va loan out when this bombs, but the rights and at least give it a real chance. They should be reading how triumph made their come back. Not banking on usa loyalty when half the people in Detroit i saw were driving kias! Swear by the good of capitalism then get pissed when you can’t guilt savvy consumers into fake patriotism. Ugh disgusting that they crap the bed again. And I’m so looking forward to having a respectable Indian in my collection one day. at this price i can buy and rebuild a vintage for $10k more! Good job polaris, really show how 2nd class you are.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here