For almost as long as motorcycles themselves have existed, two American companies have waged a silent battle that we only truly hear when the V-twins that power their bikes fire up. Both companies started making their V-twin bikes in 1903, and were the only two major American manufacturers to survive two World Wars, the Great Depression, and every economic crisis the USA has weathered since. We are, of course, talking about Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles.
The two companies are fierce rivals, and their riders and fans are just as passionate. Walking into a Harley-Davidson bike meeting and mentioning “the other brand” will get you some very unpleasant looks and may even have you being asked to leave, while bringing up a Harley-Davidson at an Indian Motorcycles rally in any other terms other than “I left them in my dust” will garner you many of the same looks. We’re not saying that civil discourse is impossible, it’s just that when someone is a fan of either brand, they are really passionate about it.
There has to be some reason, some evidence out there that can objectively point to why the two American manufacturers have such steadfast enthusiasts. That is the purpose of this article: to investigate, in as balanced a way possible, what really drives the battle between the two American giants.