Fresh from two significant new model launches, Nineteen01.co.uk caught up with Grant Bester, VP of International for Indian Motorcycle, to get his perspective on the latest models. He’s a busy man, so we made the five minutes count...
Editor: Grant, tell us what you do for Indian Motorcycle and what a normal day looks like for you?
GB: Sure, well in effect it’s my job to work with and assist the markets outside of the USA. I’m based in Geneva, Switzerland, but my responsibilities stretch across Europe, Middle East, Africa, the Asia Pacific regions and well, basically anything outside of the home market. Every day is different, but I’m involved in virtually every element of the business, from new models to dealer appointments, aftersales, you mention it, it’s in my job description.
Editor: Great, so you’re well positioned to tell us about the new models just released?
GB: These are both important new models for Indian Motorcycle and both have had extensive development with key consideration paid to all riders. These are truly global motorcycles.
Firstly, the Indian Chief Dark Horse is a hugely significant model for us. It’s a style of motorcycle that hasn’t existed on the modern market for some time now and we’ve been super keen to bring a bike back to the market like this.
It bridges the gap between the Indian Scout models and our larger Thunderstroke models, but crucially it fills a void in this segment that’s been missing for some time - a bike that offers real, raw mechanical design. And of course, because as it’s the 100th anniversary of the first Indian Chief, it was the perfect time to re-imagine the iconic model for today’s rider. The Indian Chief is a clean-lined, mechanically designed cruiser that puts the engine centre-stage. If you look closely at this bike, you can see how tightly the frame is wrapped around the engine to literally ‘frame’ the Thunderstroke as the centre of attention.
Then you notice the details, how the wiring is hidden, how you can see through the bike in places, which you don’t often see on a large modern motorcycle. It’s a timeless style but with modern technology hidden in plain sight, you could say.
But the Chief has also been designed for the customiser, when you remove the tank and the fenders, there is no complicated wiring or ugly bracketry to deal with, the frame has no pressings for the same reason - it's a beautiful steel-tubed frame that looks great fully exposed - and it makes the Chief a perfect canvas for customisers.
Editor: That’s great Grant, we’re super excited to see it for real and more so to ride it. So tell us about the other new model released?
GB: Yes, the new FTR is our true street-focused tracker. This is very much aimed at the tarmac and as such we believe this will really appeal to UK and European riders.
We’ve already had great feedback on the FTR 1200, but now with the new FTR joining the lineup, we’ve got a bike that delivers world-class handling with that incredibly torquey V-Twin that press and customers raved about when we launched the FTR 1200 in 2019.
The new FTR features so many differences from the FTR 1200 that optimise it for sporty street riding. The chassis geometry has been sharpened for quicker turn in and more precise cornering, fully-adjustable suspension is available across the entire lineup, which has been tuned and optimised for harder riding. The flagship FTR R Carbon even features Öhlins front and rear. But beyond that, the engine calibration has also been enhanced so that you can fully take advantage of all these changes. A smoother throttle response makes for a quicker corner exit, riding the wave of torque to the exit and down the next straight.
We truly believe that FTR now takes the fight to the established naked street bike rivals but offers a truly unique approach that we believe riders will find refreshing.
Editor: So when can we all get a go? And have you ridden them yet?
GB: Both bikes aren’t far away now. We’re hoping to have the first bikes in dealers in early April. Pricing is all confirmed and dealers are taking orders now. I’d urge anyone who is interested and wants to get on one this summer, to have a chat with their dealer soon.
And yes, I’ve ridden both and I can tell you that they really are great. Of course you’d expect me to say that, but I truly believe that these are great additions to the range and without question are true Indian Motorcycle’s in every way.
The new FTR just delivers like never before on the tarmac. Of course it’s slightly lower in seat height too, but for carving up an Alpine pass, there’s no other bike I’d rather be on.
The Chief somehow mixes its rawness with a feeling of utter completeness. It rides in a timeless manner. The engineers have somehow pulled off a riding dynamic that makes it tough to know if you’re on a classic or modern bike. It just works so well, lots of character, but everything is easy to use - you just concentrate on the journey - I love it.
Editor: Sounds great. We look forward to experiencing this ourselves. For now, thanks for your time!