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Wow! I really like the direction Indian is going!


Indian Motorcycle Just Unveiled The Big Chief Custom. First Factory Custom Indian Chief Showcasing New Accessories.

Published by Cyril Huze December 13th, 2013 in Builders, Customs, Editorial and Events.
At the Indian Motorcycle display inside the International Motorcycle Show (IMS) at the Javits Center in New York City, Indian Motorcycle®, America’s first motorcycle company, today revealed a fully customized, Indian Chief Classic conceptualized and designed by Indian Motorcycle’s Industrial Design team. The “Big Chief Custom” is the first custom Indian Chief created around the 2014 models introduced with great fanfare at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this past August.
Spearheaded by the head of Polaris Industries’ Industrial Design team Greg Brew, a small and dedicated team undertook the task of customizing a stock 2014 Indian Chief Classic. It features an array of Genuine Indian Motorcycle aftermarket accessories along with a custom paint scheme and billet girder front fork. This Big Chief Custom was designed to spark owners imagination on how to customize, enhance and personalize the 2014 Indian Chiefs.
One special highlight of the custom build is the billet aluminum girder front end that recalls the early Indian models. Designed, machined and built in-house, the girder fork features fully machined uprights and sand-blasted billet cross members with a custom 23-inch front wheel. The custom front valance fender maintains the classic look of the Indian Chief. A custom shock and headlight complete the front end package. Custom paint was applied in-house by team member Steve Leszinski with a multicolored theme from prior generations of Indian Motorcycles. Another nod to the long history of Indian Motorcycle is the springer style seat, though updated through a cantilevered design. Combined with the standard single rear shock, the Big Chief Custom promises to be a smooth ride.
The “Pinnacle Series” of Indian Motorcycle accessories on the Big Chief Custom includes the Cam Cover, Primary Cover, Chrome Grips and Beach Bars. The robust sounding Stage 1 exhaust sports Fish Tail Tips. Other custom accessories include War Bonnet Floorboard Pads, a Heel Shifter and chrome Rear Fender Bumper.
The “Big Chief Custom” will be on display in the Indian Motorcycle exhibit as part of the 2014 International Motorcycle Shows tour. Remaining tour stops include Novi, Michigan; Washington, DC; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; and Seattle, Washington. The Display features the 2014 line of Indian Chief motorcycles including the Chief Classic, Chief Vintage and the Chieftain — Indians’ first-ever bagger. The display also includes the Spirit of Munro, a custom tribute to the legendary Burt Munro, and a display of vintage Indian motorcycles dubbed “Springfield Row” that will change from show to show. Additional features include an accessory and apparel display, a cut-away Thunder Stroke 111 engine and a rolling chassis that showcases the advanced technology underpinning all Indian Motorcycle models.
 

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Wow! I really like the direction Indian is going!
The springer er uh escuse me, "billet girder front fork," looks kinda interesting. Be fun to see if their version is better than others which I've read are not incredibly effective or maintenance friendly.
 

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I think the choice to go with a girder is better than a springer simply because the brakes will work better with the girder. It also achieves the old style look. The springers and girders just needed a shot of grease in a few spots every 2500 miles or so along with the usual neck bearing tension. Not a LOT of maintenance but certainly more than standard forks. Some people feel the 15k oil change of the Victory forks are a bit troublesome so you may be right in that some people will not like doing maintenance.

The way I read this article though; is the girder is a one off to show what can be done. I would not be surprised to hear lots of Indian owners wanting this very set up at some point though. Remember, in the custom world, looks are primary and rideability is secondary; as long as it can be ridden safe enough while having fun.
 

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The springers and girders just needed a shot of grease in a few spots every 2500 miles or so along with the usual neck bearing tension. Not a LOT of maintenance but certainly more than standard forks.
Looks like there are at least 8 pivots that need greasing. Be nice if the hid a little standard nipple for such chores somewhere. Unclear how much disassembly would be required. If it's no more than pulling a bolt, I suppose that would actually be less work than the telescopic forks.

(Make that 10 with the shock pivots)

What are the differences between a springer and this girder? I thought it was just a fancy new name.

BMW makes a similar front end called a Telelever and while some complain about it, I find those front ends fantastic. You can race up to a corner and slam on the brakes and the front end only dives just enough to plant the front end going into the corner. I get that isn't a big priority for the custom riders, but given the competence of Polaris engineering, I'd enjoy hearing that their system also worked so well.
 

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Well, the girder is solid all the way up with no moving parts at the wheel other than the wheel itself so the brake caliper can be mounted without worrying about over stressing the front of the two part springer. Maybe these two pics will help you picture it in your mind.



One possibility to make the springer strong enough to match the girder is to simply beef up the springer legs to the level on the single girder forks.

Do you remember the Honda Rhune? It had an innovative front end that looks like a reverse springer to me. They were able to make the front brakes work the way they should by using this design. I think it's the best looking bike Honda ever made. Too bad the general public didn't take to it.

 

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Taken on the merits of a design exercise incorporating shelf add ons and thus a teaser, fair enough. It's got some style, not much WOW to speak of though. An Indian with a Hot Wheels tire and a cut fender under a girder and a bicycle seat. Good effort but not whatcha call edgy. Even then, couldn't they at least have done paint that didn't require a statement of heritage? It's paint. Get freaky with it. Not like the bike is being judged in original unrestored class at Davenport. Pity though since this Polaris team has the enviable condition of a bottomless well to draw from. Maybe they ain't done yet. I imagine they have a whole raft of ideas that got back burnered on this build.

I'm thinking there's a whole lot more to be wrung out of the platform. Typical that manufacturer designers get saddled with tick boxes to check off on prototypes, contract designers (the next bunch to get product to hack up) as well. A couple years in and the Polaris Indian will be rocked by side street fabbers with no constraints or factory ties.Even working on relatively shoestring budgets some hellacious stuff will be coming down the pike.

Hell, there was even a time when Cyril Huze was not part of the motorcycle industrial complex and could turn out some fairly antisocial iron.
 

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Well, the girder is solid all the way up with no moving parts at the wheel other than the wheel itself so the brake caliper can be mounted without worrying about over stressing the front of the two part springer. Maybe these two pics will help you picture it in your mind.



One possibility to make the springer strong enough to match the girder is to simply beef up the springer legs to the level on the single girder forks.

Do you remember the Honda Rhune? It had an innovative front end that looks like a reverse springer to me. They were able to make the front brakes work the way they should by using this design. I think it's the best looking bike Honda ever made. Too bad the general public didn't take to it.

Part of the problem with it's lack of sales was certainly the price.....> $25K if I recall.
 

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This article also made mention of a heel shifter. Several of us would be happy about that being offered.
 

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Taken on the merits of a design exercise incorporating shelf add ons and thus a teaser, fair enough. It's got some style, not much WOW to speak of though. An Indian with a Hot Wheels tire and a cut fender under a girder and a bicycle seat. Good effort but not whatcha call edgy. Even then, couldn't they at least have done paint that didn't require a statement of heritage? It's paint. Get freaky with it. Not like the bike is being judged in original unrestored class at Davenport. Pity though since this Polaris team has the enviable condition of a bottomless well to draw from. Maybe they ain't done yet. I imagine they have a whole raft of ideas that got back burnered on this build.

I'm thinking there's a whole lot more to be wrung out of the platform. Typical that manufacturer designers get saddled with tick boxes to check off on prototypes, contract designers (the next bunch to get product to hack up) as well. A couple years in and the Polaris Indian will be rocked by side street fabbers with no constraints or factory ties.Even working on relatively shoestring budgets some hellacious stuff will be coming down the pike.

Hell, there was even a time when Cyril Huze was not part of the motorcycle industrial complex and could turn out some fairly antisocial iron.
True. This is fairly subdued compared to what a builder could really do but this is to highlight some factory accessory parts. You are probably right about it not quite reaching the WOW factor but I like to see the progress and document it in this section of the forum as it progresses. This is merely a possible starting point. If looked at that way; I'd say it's a good start.
 

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Part of the problem with it's lack of sales was certainly the price.....> $25K if I recall.
Yeah. Even now that price is way too high for a cruiser; even one as unique as this was. Too bad really. I think they really had something here. Honda doesn't really step out all that much or often.

They had a factory chopper for a while. The Fury. Maybe still do. I saw one at a gas station a guy had ridden down to AZ from Minnesota or someplace around there and wore out the fat back tire. He didn't even know it until I pointed it out. Nice bike though. I wonder if it's doing better in other markets.

 

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You know, when the Rune ran it's course and the Japanese parent made it clear to it's American child that styling decisions belonged in the land of the rising sun you could buy a decked Rune leftover new in the crate for less than 13k. I don't think that the Rune withered on the vine. I believe it was a limited production run and was supposed to be a first step in a Honda effort to design upscale to American cruiser tastes. What has followed out of Honda has not come close IMO.

I don't regret a lot of things in this life but I regret trading a Shelby Cobra for a Volkswagen van in 1970 and I regret not snapping up a couple of Runes at Filenes Basement prices a few years back. It still is a stunner. Oh yeah, I regret trying to make magneto only motorcycle electrics workable. That was just plain stoopid.

Anyway the Rune, if nothing else, certainly was an exception to the rule that factory design teams should emphasize product integration over style.
 
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