By David Schuyler
Indian Motorcycle has revealed its newest model for 2020 — the Indian Challenger – and it’s likely to look very familiar to many Harley-Davidson riders.
The Indian Challenger comes in three variants, the Challenger, Challenger Dark Horse and Challenger Limited, with base prices of $21,999, $27,499 and $27,999, respectively. Indian, the vintage motorcycle brand that Medina, Minnesota-based parent company Polaris Inc. has positioned as an alternative to the heavyweights from Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG), teased the new motorcycle last week when it released details on the new PowerPlus engine that’s at the heart of the Challenger.
With its big liquid-cooled, 108-cubic-inch V-twin power plant, Indian’s newest model is perhaps the brand’s deepest incursion yet into Harley-Davidson’s market. And there’s one big reason to look at it that way,
Even before Tuesday’s official roll-out, more than one motorsports industry writer compared some earlier leaked images of the Challenger to Harley-Davidson’s Road Glide, a big touring bike that represented a sizable portion of the sales mix for Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. back in 2013, when the iconic motorcycle manufacturer put Road Glide on a hiatus that lasted all of one year.
When teasing the new Challenger model last week, Indian described at as a “fixed-fairing bagger,” a term that aptly describes the Road Glide. With the Challenger, Indian is clearly targeting one of Harley-Davidson’s biggest market spaces. Upon reintroducing an updated Road Glide for the 2015 model year, Harley’s chief financial officer John Olin said in January 2014 that Road Glide accounted for 9% of the company’s sales volume. Cutting into that chunk of the industry could hurt.
So can the Challenger slice into that market? Here’s the scoop on the Challenger:
The PowerPlus V-twin pushing 128 ft-lbs of torque is packed onto cast-aluminum frame with inverted front suspension and adjustable rear shock, Brembo brake system and large 18-gallon capacity saddlebags. Additional features include electronic cruise control, full LED lighting, anti-lock brakes and keyless ignition.
The Limited and Dark Horse models include Indian’s Smart Lean technology, which enhances braking, traction control and handling, and the Indian Ride Command infotainment system featuring weather and traffic overlays, key vehicle information, and Bluetooth and USB mobile pairing.
How does it compare with the Road Glide? The 2020 Road Glide is powered by iconic brand’s Milwaukee-Eight 107 or 114 engine with 111 to 122 ft-lbs of torque. Cruise control, ABS, LED lighting and Brembo brakes are also part of the Road Glide package. Price? Road Glide starts at $21,699 and goes up to $28,299 for the Road Glide Limited.
The Indian Challenger’s PowerPlus engines are made at a Wisconsin plant in Osceola, while assembly of the Challenger takes place at the company’s plant in Spirit Lake, Iowa.