Heritage, heritage, heritage. It hangs like a lead weight around the necks of American cruiser companies, calling back to better times, simpler times, or perhaps just times when our knees and backs worked better. When Polaris had to choose between the slick, modern designs of its Victory brand or the old-school Indian back in 2017, it went with heritage and Indian survived the cut.
But the times, they are a-changin’. The Boomers, who made Harley-Davidson, and then arguably broke it by refusing to let the company evolve until it was already a punchline, are drying up as a market. Indian seems to get it; the FTR1200 was a radical departure for the brand, and one of the most exciting bikes to come out of America this side of the electrics.
And for 2022, the company has honored a 100-year-old model in the Chief not by slavishly looking backwards, but by stripping away some of its most iconic features. When I think about the Indian cruisers of yesteryear, I think of tassles, of ornamentation and of mawkishly foofy front fenders. And that’s more or less what the Chief has delivered in recent years; all headlight shroud and loud fender.
Less bodywork, more mechanicals. That’s how we like ’em