By David Schuyler
Indian Motorcycle unveiled Tuesday its most-powerful engine to date and has begun the countdown to the introduction of an all-new motorcycle model to join its lineup of names like Scout, Chief, Springfield, Chieftain and Roadmaster.
Polaris Inc. made the reveal of the new engine called the PowerPlus, a 1,769cc (108 inch), liquid-cooled V-twin engine pushing 122hp and 128 ft-lb of torque, in a press release Tuesday. The engine, to be manufactured in Wisconsin at a plant in Osceola, will drive the new Indian Challenger to be rolled out Oct. 29, according to an emailed media release Tuesday.
Indian is the vintage motorcycle brand that its parent, Medina, Minnesota-based Polaris (NYSE: PII), has positioned as a competitor to the big bikes from Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG). Both two companies reported third-quarter results Tuesday that showed — despite domestic declines in sales for motorcycle brands — that Indian nabbed a little more market share from Harley’s dominant position during the quarter. (For its part, Harley-Davidson said Tuesday its U.S. market share in the over 600cc motorcycle industry was still an untouchable 49.8%.)
With the PowerPlus engine — and Indian Challenger, by extension — Indian will mark a deeper penetration into Harley-Davidson’s heavyweight market arena, where its biggest bikes run on engines with displacement of 114 to 117 inches, compared with PowerPlus’ 108-inch displacement. To be sure, Indian offers larger displacement engines — the Thunder Stroke 111 and new Thunder Stroke 116 — but both of those are air-cooled engines that typically run less efficiently than a liquid-cooled, high-performance engine like the PowerPlus.
The new engine takes its name from Indian’s old PowerPlus motorcycle produced from 1916 to 1924.
“We challenge our engineers with the notion that anything less than best-in-class design and performance will simply not get it done, and it’s clear with this new engine that they have delivered on that high standard,” Steve Menneto, Indian Motorcycle president, said in a press release. “Countless hours were spent in design, development and testing to ensure this is the best liquid-cooled V-twin ever developed, and I could not be prouder of our team and this incredible motor.”
Word on Indian’s new Challenger model hit the streets earlier this year, with the motorsports sites like RideApart.com speculating on the meaning behind the name: will the motorcycle be something akin to a muscle car (emulating the Dodge Challenger) or something different altogether? Perhaps the fact that it’s driven by an engine of comparable size to those that drive Harley’s biggest motorbikes is a clue. In the past, Polaris has made no compunction about making Indian the clear challenger to the iconic Milwaukee motorcycle brand.
Indian is making big promises for its new model. Challenger is described by Indian as “an all-new, fixed-fairing bagger that utilizes Indian Motorcycle’s state-of-the-art technology to become the highest-performing American V-twin ever developed.”