Motorcycle Throwback - The 1945 Indian Chief
 




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Motorcycle Throwback - The 1945 Indian Chief


There was a whole lot of speculation when Polaris bought out Indian motorcycles and announced that they intended to take over the production line. No one really knew what to expect and some even questioned their ability to keep the Indian Motorcycle brand separate from Polaris' Victory Motorcycle brand. But when they released the new 2012 Indian brand, we were instantly wrenched back into the 1940's. Polaris had chosen wisely when they decided to make their Indian debut by replicating one of Indian Motorcycle's most successful and iconic rides.

In 1922, Indian came out with a new motorcycle model that they named the Chief. Originally, the bike had a 1,00cc engine but was almost immediately bumped up to a 1,200cc. But the changes didn't stop there. As the technology improved, so did the Indian Chiefs. In 1928, Indian even began installing front brakes on the new models.

But it was in 1940 that the most memorable change happened. Indian began producing the Indian Chief with fitted skirt fenders that would become the Indian trademark. Though the company had been around since 1897 (first producing bicycles), it was this iconic characteristic that Indian Motorcycles would be known for.

Polaris chose one of the most iconic and memorable Indian motorcycles for their 2012 line debut.   The unique skirted fenders were perfect for the style of the 1940
Polaris chose one of the most iconic and memorable Indian motorcycles for their 2012 line debut.   The unique skirted fenders were perfect for the style of the 1940's era.

And the bikes weren't a bad ride either. After adapting a new sprung frame along with the fenders, the bikes were comfortable as well as fast. When properly tuned, the Chief could hit anywhere from 85 to 100 mph even despite the extra weight of the metal skirted fenders.

While the Second World War was raging on, Indian continued to produce and sell their Indian Chief and it is the 1945 model that is most often thought of when pondering back at that time frame of Indian Motorcycles. Only the Indian Scout rivaled the Chief as Indian's most beloved motorcycle.

But we all know how that story ends. After the war, Indian began to suffer from financial problems and was forced to cut the quality of their motorcycles. 1950 saw the V-twin Indian Chief grow to a 1,300cc engine as well as being equipped with telescopic forks. Still, the improvements weren't enough to dig Indian out of their financial hole and they were forced to cut the Indian Chief from production three years later.

Until now, the Indian Chief has remained a classic and iconic bike from the 1920's to the early 1950's. Motorcycle Enthusiasts across the United States have collected, restored and admired them for decades. But with Polaris' new purchase and revival of the company, the Indian Chief has been given a second chance and Chief lovers can finally own one of their own with even more technological improvements. Long live the Chief!

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