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HomeZA BikersBike ReviewsIndian Challenger Limited – The Ultimate American Plains Animal

Indian Challenger Limited – The Ultimate American Plains Animal

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

The Native Americans refer to “spirit animals” or “totems”, which are indicative of what kinship group you are part of or best suited to. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bison or American Buffalo is the spirit animal of the Indian Challenger Limited. This is a bike for wide-open spaces. I must admit to being just a tad intimidated at the prospect of trying to negotiate Friday lunchtime Jo’ Burg traffic on a behemoth Indian touring bike, complete with substantial fairing and panniers. Especially when that bike comes with a R650,000 price tag!

You certainly get a lot of bike for that amount of loot. The test bike was finished in a deep and lustrous black metallic paint job, set off with chrome pipes and subtle adornments. It has a huge visual presence which is a comfort when you are in traffic. I got a number of approving thumbs up from motorists while waiting at traffic lights. And wait you will, as there is no way you would or could even consider filtering on the big Challenger.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

The Power Plus 1768cc V-Twin motor is an absolute peach. Indian have gone for over square bores on the Challenger which makes it surprisingly revvy for a big bore twin. Methinks the “Battle of the Baggers” race class that has been so popular in the States may just have had something to do with this engine design. Endowed with typical big bore twin torque, albeit at higher rpm (3,800), the motor pumps out a healthy 128 ft-lbs of twisting force. It feels strong right off idle.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

The bike revs out to 7,500 rpm with remarkable smoothness. Not that you ever need to rev the bike hard. Satisfying go is available at all times. The 6-speed gearbox is clunky but positive. You are just aware that there are big cogs being swapped in there! Once out on the highway, you discover the big Indian’s reason for being. It lopes along with a muted V-Twin rumble with absolutely no fuss whatsoever.

The aerodynamics of the fairing is perhaps the best I have experienced on a full-dress cruiser. It is almost eerie how quietly the Challenger cuts serenely through the air. The analogue speedo is calibrated with 0 to 120 being marked by numbers which then get progressively smaller as the speed rises to 160 and beyond. Almost as if Indian expect their riders to spend most of their time below 120.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

That would negate a whole lot of fun though. When you crack the whip the big Indian responds wonderfully. The motor revs up smoothly and punts the 381 kg bike down the road with vigour. Peel into the first sweep and you are impressed by the perfectly neutral and stable steering. This is helped by the fact that the fairing is frame-mounted, contributing to the light steering. The bike remains a handful in the traffic, but as I started telling you, this is a “plains” animal.

Get out of town and let the 122 bhp Indian off the leash and revel in the smooth and fast progress. The seat is nicely shaped and comfy for the rider and reasonably sumptuous for the passenger, although a sort of grab loop projects from the front of the passenger seat which may restrict passenger movement somewhat.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

ABS Brakes are by Brembo and are predictably superb. Twin 320 mm rotors up front, with 4 pot callipers are complemented by a 298 mm rear disc and 2 pot callipers. Powerful with a good feel, as we have come to expect from premium Brembos. The tyres are Metzeler Crusetec, with a 130/60×19 up front and a 180/60×16 rear. They give good feedback and all round grip, complimenting the 130 mm of front-end travel on the USD Forks. The rear wheel travel is controlled by an excellent Fox shock which does the job superbly. Ride quality is excellent over all surfaces. It is uncanny how good a job the suspension does to keep things tidy but not at the cost of comfort.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

As you would expect at this price point the instrumentation is comprehensive. A 7” touchscreen TFT display rides below a set of analogue gauges which look just right, mounted as they are in the fairing. A trigger on the left switchgear as well as dash-mounted switches allows you to scroll through the screens, giving a GPS function or information screen with all the typical info regarding fuel levels, odo, tacho, battery health, oil pressure, clock, ambient temperature, weather and the like. It is Apple Carplay enabled.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

Speaking of temperature, it was around 32 degrees C when I rode the Indian. It gets properly hot behind the fairing in town and at low speeds, however, as speeds rise on the freeway, things cool down to satisfactory levels. The screen adjusts up and down via a switch on the right handset. I did not spend enough time with the bike to suss out the radio, way preferring listening to the rumble from the pipes anyway. There is a neat 12V charging point conveniently located in the fairing.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

Riding back to Indian, I got to thinking how typically American the Indian Challenger Limited is. It has a real hewn-from-billet feel. It is fast, comfortable and sweet handling, but all in an American way. It will get you cross country with style and a minimum of fatigue.

It will also make a bold statement about the rider. Someone who likes his bikes big, bold and a little brash. Someone who wants a two-wheeler to keep his Rauch Mustang company. A bike where he can pack the spacious saddlebags and just disappear into the wild blue yonder, just chilling out as he chases distant horizons. Grooving to the rumble of that big soulful V-Twin. It is a unique ride for the type of well-heeled rider who wants to stand out from the crowd.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers

Indian Challenger Limited

For more information on the bike featured in this article, click on the link below…

2022

Indian Challenger Limited

Pricing From R650,000 (RRP)


Brand: Indian Motorcycle
Dave Cilliers
Dave Cilliers
My name is Dave Cilliers, from as far back as I can remember I have loved travel. Africa provides salve for the gypsy in my soul. My best trips are done travelling to unlikely places with unlikely vehicles, keeping it as simple and basic as possible.
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