Indian Challenger Review

Finally the wait is over. The long awaited and much anticipated Indian Challenger has finally hit the UK shores and I had the privilege of being invited to ride and review the first and only Challenger available in the UK.

Indian Challenger has finally hit the UK shores

Why is this bike so exciting I hear you ask? Simple really, it's part of the Indian Motorcycle evolution. Indian have pulled out all the stops with this bike. It is a complete new bike and Indian have piled on the technology to create a very exciting bike. There are so many new elements to this bike that if I had to start talking about all of them it will simply get boring with an extensive list. Instead I would like to focus on 4 of them.

1. The appearance & styling Now I've heard it all before now. Awesome, ugly, harley lookalike, not my kind of bike. You name it, I've heard it. I will admit, the first time I saw the bike I wasn't sure. The bike certainly has presence when you see it and has a pleasing modern styling but because its something completely new one cannot help but compare the bike to others in the line. Having now spent the day on the bike I can tell you this. It is a gorgeous bike that continues to grow on you. I do think that colour is all important in the look here, possibly more so than on other bikes so you should choose carefully. For me there is only one colour. Black. It so happened the bike was black and I grew more and more attached to it. The fairing adds to this distinctive styling. It's sleek, functional and spacious. The dash has been laid out around the rider and creates a great immersive experience throughout. Even the speakers are aimed straight towards you so you can spare the neighbourhood the blasting stereo to try hear the music.

2. Engine The bike features the all-new PowerPlus liquid-cooled 108 cu inch V-Twin engine and sports a whopping 122 BHP. Don't worry, I'm not gonna start throwing the book at you but it is important to know this from the outset because the smooth, composed yet responsive power delivery of this beast needs to be seen to be believed. I know there is all sorts of talk of it being limited etc but I can only talk for myself. If you are not careful you WILL get yourself into trouble. The rider modes makes a very big impact. You have rain, standard & sport (lunatic).The rain mode dials the engine mode down and gives it a smooth power delivery under power to control the bike and it gives confidence on wet and slippery roads. The standard mode is a bit misleading because this bike is anything but standard. If you watch the video below you will see that it's an absolute beast. Lastly you have the lunatic (sport) mode that sharpens up the gear ratio and delivers a dramatic sharpening in the responsiveness and power delivery. Awesome for the bends and play however I would avoid this in traffic. Amongst some of the other new features is an all-new powertrain that I believe is a great feature and contributes to the smooth comfortable ride the bike offers. This is probably the most exciting and unexpected bike I've ridden for a while. Its very quick but still remains smooth & composed. My recommendation is, before you decide what you think, make sure you ride it first.

3. Ride Command System As you would expect the ride command system has taken a big leap forward. For me the best feature is that Indian have finally included a full post code search on the sat nav. Something it was sorely missing before. This feature, whilst perhaps a small part of the entire bike, is significant because of the added flexibility the bike now has to change destinations etc on the move. It has the normal good sound system and electrical feeds etc. It also has some convenient storage up front. Interestingly enough the bike also includes weather monitoring systems which gives you updates on rain etc. I haven't played with the feature so I add too much more.

The bike certainly has presence

4. Tyres and brakes The bike also features race-spec, radially mounted Brembo brakes that provide superior stopping power. The purpose made performance Metzeler Cruisetec tyres offer amazing traction. You really feel the difference immediately. Whilst riding this bike I never once felt uncomfortable or out of place.

The Indian Challenger Sports state of the art smart lean technology it calls lean assist. The system is a 6-axis Bosh Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which measures vehicle acceleration in all directions to determine lean angle and pitch. This is used to tune traction control and ABS intervention.

The verdict: What an amazing bike. Part of me wanted to hate it. Not because I'm a negative kind of guy but because I didn't really want to have to find the extra money to buy yet another bike but unfortunately I didn't get my way.

Indian have really pulled out all the stops here. They built a new bike in its own class from the ground up. Very importantly it hasn't lost the most important part of what an Indian Motorcycle means, represents or feels like. It has the Indian DNA flowing throughout. Indian have taken a motorcycle with an unsurpassed heritage, reliability and x-factor and only gone and made it much better.

Im not just saying nice things for the sake of it. This is an entirely genuine response to riding a bike I wanted to dislike. It just took me off guard. It does everything and more that you would expect from a cruiser.

Its comfortable, The seat is amazing. I rode over 400miles (albeit for those of you who know me this may be a short hop) on the road during the day. It was a 150 miles to even get to the bike and not once did I feel uncomfortable. The seat was super comfy, the riding position was great. Perhaps a little straighter on the body position than I'm used to but what it did was support my back. The fairing was brilliant. It was a very very windy day and it protected me and I didn't feel like I needed to fight the bike at all. It just shielded me.

The Ride Command system is a giant leap forward with some great tech and is built around the rider. It really makes you feel at home from the outset, now matter your preference on style of bike.

Ride Command system is a giant leap forward

The safety gear (tyres, brakes & shocks) really really give you the confidence to ride this bike just the way you like it. For me lunatic is just the right level. For others it may be rain. No matter your preference you will love it.

And then there is the "piece de resistance". The engine. If you were impressed by the other bits you will love this. If you don't wanna take my word for it, try it for yourself. It's amazing. It's given me that extra power that I was looking for and more but it's only there when you ask for it.

I am going to officially rename the rider modes: demure, relaxed & lunatic. Sorry Indian, I know you spent a lot of time on what to call them. All of these feature culminate in an amazing piece of biking history that has to be ridden. Thank you Indian. This is awesome. I for one look forward to see some of this tech being implemented in the other bikes in the range. Brilliant.

Sadly though, I'm not quite sure how I'm going to break the news to the mrs that there will be no Birthday, Christmas presents or holidays for her in the next few years so I can buy a new bike. I suspect the news will go down like a lead balloon.

Thank you for checking out this review. Until next time, please ride safe and enjoy the ride.

For those of you into the finer details, check this out:

Colour Options: Challenger Dark Horse Thunder Black Smoke, Sandstone Smoke & White Smoke Challenger Limited Thunder Black Pearl, Ruby Metallic, Deep Water Metallic

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine Displacement: 108 cu in (1769 cc)
Power: 122 hp at 5,500 RPM
Torque: 128 ft-lbs at 3,800 RPM
Maximum Engine Speed: 6,500 RPM
Architecture: 60-degree V-twin, liquid-cooled
Timing: Overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed with true overdrive, constant mesh
Clutch: Assist clutch
Fuel Capacity 6.0 gal (22.7 L)
Ground Clearance 5.4 in (137.3 mm)
Lean Angle 31°
Overall Height 56.2 in (1428.5 mm)
Overall Length 98.5 in (2500.7 mm)
Overall Width 39 in (990.2 mm)
Rake/Trail 25° / 5.9 in (150 mm)
Seat Height 26.5 in (672 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel) 796 lb (361 kg)/831 lb (377 kg)
Wheelbase 65.7 in (1667.8 mm)
Front Brakes Brembo Dual / 320mm Semi-Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Radial Caliper
Rear Brakes Single / 298mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Tyres / Wheels:
Front Tires Metzeler Cruisetec 130/60B19 66H
Front Wheel Cast 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Tires Metzeler Cruisetec 180/60R16 80H
Rear Wheel Cast 16 in x 5 in
Color / Graphics Titanium Metallic
Factory Warranty 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Gauges Fairing-mounted instrument cluster featuring analog speedometer and tachometer with fuel gauge, range, odometer and current gear. 15 LED telltale indicators; cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, battery, low fuel, security system, low engine oil pressure and MHP or km/h unit designation.
Infotainment 7" Touchscreen Display with real-time clock; ambient air temperature; heading; audio information display; 100 Watt Audio ystem with AM/FM, Bluetooth®, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weather-band
Lights LED lighting including Pathfinder LED Headlamp
Standard Equipment Selectable Ride Modes: Locking Hard Saddlebags: Brembo brakes: 18+ Gallons of storage: ABS: Keyless Ignition: Chassis Mounted Fairing: Adjustable Fairing Air Flow Vents; Power Windshield: Adjustable Air Vents
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