Cool Bike Rides

Grand Opening - Indian Motorcycle of Springfield

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What a long Winter it's been! I'd normally qualify that as not including our friends in the South but from what I've seen, that's been just as true for you as it has been for us.

Well yesterday I saw the first real sign of Spring. I don't mean the start of Spring according to the Calendar, that's already come and gone, I'm talking about motorcycles! For you more casual fans of Indian Motorcycles who may be unaware, Polaris purchased Indian Motorcycle in 2011 and has poured some of their apt financial resources behind the brand. More recently, we had an Indian Motorcycle dealership open up in our area, Indian Motorcycle of Springfield, and yesterday was their big grand opening event. Now don't let the name fool you, they are located on in Westfield, MA, but since the company's roots were firmly planted in Springfield, MA in 1901, I think that's close enough!

There were tons of the beautiful new Indian Motorcycles on display both in the parking lot, as well as inside. In addition, there are some fantastic older Indian’s owned by the family who owns Indian Motorcycle of Springfield. For the most part, the weather cooperated so there was quite a crowd when I arrived.

Now just seeing some cool motorcycles at a local dealership is fine, but the real sign of Spring was the fact that Indian Motorcycle of Springfield was letting folks ride them. They had multiple demo bikes available and were letting licensed riders take them out for a little spin. Talk to a salesman, sign your waiver, and off you go! OK, maybe it wasn't quite that easy...

I met with salesman Tim Aloisio, known to many of you as Travelin' Tim, the motorcycle columnist for the Springfield Republican. Tim fell in love with the brand and has dedicated his weekends to matching folks up to their dream bike!

I was tempted to jump on the Chief Vintage and take it for a ride. It's a traditional, open to the wind cruiser, with amazing styling and a totally classic look. Tim, who rides a bagger himself, encouraged me to hop on the Chieftain instead, and to 'stretch my legs out' a little. Though I normally prefer to have the full effect of the wind in my face, I decided to give it a go.

I filled out my waiver form and was greeted out at the bike by Tim. He spent a few minutes giving me an overview of the bike and its controls, to ensure I knew where all of the important things were and so I would be safe along the ride. One key difference a Harley owner will notice is that there is one switch for the blinker, on the left side, much like my Yamaha V-Star Custom has. It's bi-directional and self-canceling. Otherwise, the controls will be pretty familiar to anyone who's ridden a modern cruiser. The bike also has anti-lock brakes so I was instructed to “brake through it” if I had to really brake hard and the anti-lock brakes kicked in.

When I mounted the bike for the first time, I noticed it is a little taller than my own. Being only 5'8” tall with a 29” inseam, it was noticeable; in fact I couldn't quite stand flat footed on the bike. I took off and soon forgot all about the height difference as this is a well balanced bike. Even when I had to stop and stand at lights, I hardly noticed the height difference…

The seat on this bike is probably the most comfortable stock seat I've ridden on. I ride with a very nice aftermarket seat, because the stock seat on my bike was horrible. This seat was quite comfortable and I could see myself logging many miles without taking a break on it.

When I fired it up for the first time, it rumbled to life. Its exhaust is just “throaty” enough to let you know it's there but not so loud that you're going to irritate your neighbors. The dash has a very readable, visible, digital display providing you with information like speed, mileage, estimated miles left on the tank, air temp and more. It offers a keyless start and I believe the stereo is stock as well though I didn't think to ask.

I took off and headed on up the road, a two lane road with nice curves and a few longer straightaways. The first thing I noticed was how well balanced it was. I mentioned that earlier upon standing it up, but in spite of the fact that it outweighs my bike by roughly 200 pounds, stands a couple of inches higher and is 6” longer, the Cheiftain handled like a dream. It handled at least as well if not better than my own bike which is truly a compliment for a cruiser of its size!

Unfortunately, between high winds and traffic, I wasn't able to open it up as much as I would've liked, though I was hell-bent on getting it into sixth gear to see how she felt. As I headed up hill into a straightaway, I hopped on it and ran her up to 65 miles per hour, then dropped it into sixth. It absolutely purred up the hill and had tons of room for more. Unfortunately, I had to back it off again when I get into the open and started getting blown around.

When I arrived back at the dealership, I met again with Tim and talked a bit more about the bike. I was hoping to get the MRSP on the bike but based on experiences with some other dealerships for other brands in the area, I didn't expect much. To my surprise, I learned that Indian Motorcycles have a “sticker price” and that is what you pay out the door less sales tax and registration. Other than custom extras, paint is the only thing that changes the cost. You can get them in their standard Indian Motorcycle Red at no extra charge, or in Springfield Blue and Thunder Black for a little more. Further, that's what you will pay here at the Indian Motorcycle of Springfield, Boston, or San Diego. It doesn't matter, the price is what it is taking the games out of buying a bike. The one discount they do offer is to active and former veterans. Come on in with proof at the time of the purchase, and Indian Motorcycle will mail you a check for $1,000.00 later. How's that for a little thank you for our vets?

So it sounds like I'm doing an ad for Indian Motorcycles right? Wrong, this is my honest experience from this weekend. As of this moment, I have no affiliation with Indian Motorcycles or any Indian Motorcycle dealership.

So what did I see as drawbacks? For me personally, price is where it starts. The Chieftain starts at $22,999.00, the Chief Vintage starts at $20,999.00 and the Chief Classic comes in at $18,999. As an example, the Chieftain is slightly higher than the Harley Street Glide's MSRP. The NO BS price structure leaves little room for games which is certainly an advantage. The only other drawback I can give you, on the Chieftain anyway, is I didn't care for the design of the faring. It's very functional and rides just fine, it's just the one thing I think takes away from its classic lines. I'm nitpicking here because it is a beautiful bike.

So bottom line, if I were in the market for a bike and had the budget to do so would I be willing to buy one of these? I have to say yes. I really loved the ride it gave, the comfort and I love how Indian has captured the classic looks and lines of the vintage bikes, other than that faring of course.

As Indian Motorcycle has been promoting these last several months, there is a real choice in American made motorcycles once again. With the financial backing Polaris brings to the table, I suspect Indian is back and here to stay.

As always, ride safe!