Harley-Davidson has long been the dominant player in the North American motorcycle market, but in recent years, Indian Motorcycle has emerged as a strong competitor. The Indian vs Harley rivalry has heated up, with Indian slowly but steadily capturing a larger share of the cruiser market.
And while both companies boast an incredibly long and rich history, Harley and Indian are experiencing something of a major shift in branding and identity. Changing public perception by introducing an increasing number of new models. Simultaneously revising their respective lines of cruisers and buggers.
Admittedly, it was already quite difficult to fully understand the subtleties of these two iconic American brands and how they differ from each other. Although the ongoing rebranding has somewhat complicated this issue.
In order to delve into the history, identity, and offers of two-wheeled cars of these two manufacturers, how they differ, and what characterizes and defines Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle, this article has been prepared.
Also Read: Harley Davidson Sportster vs Softail: Which One to Choose
Harley Davidson History
Harley-Davidson produces perhaps the most famous and coveted motorcycles in the world. But do you know where the legendary American company began?
Where Did It All Start?
This story began at the very beginning of the twentieth century. In Milwaukee (Wisconsin), there lived an unknown young man. He was an apprentice draftsman in one of the local companies, and before that, he managed to work at a bicycle factory. The guy had no education, but he had certain talents and a love of technology. In 1901, the self-taught man developed his own engine design for installation on a bicycle. The engine had a volume of 115 cubic centimeters. It took two years to bring the project to life.
The young inventor assembled a bicycle with a motor together with his childhood friend and his brother. It is noteworthy that this friend was inspired to build a miracle of technology by a hobby: he loved to fish in remote and remote places, and he wanted to create a bicycle that would allow him to get there without tedious pedaling. The work was carried out in a garage and in someone else’s. None of my friends had their own. The draftsman’s apprentice was named William Harley, and his angler friend was Arthur Davidson.
So, in 1903, a bicycle with a Harley and Davidson motor was born, and it was a real … no, not a success, but a failure. The motor actually turned out to be very weak, and the whole structure could not even climb a not-very-steep hill. Or rather, she could get up, but only with the help of pedals. But to go there on your own – no. But the friends didn’t stop there. Moreover, it was decided to find his own company and start creating real full-fledged motorcycles.
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Harley Davidson Logo History
The Harley-Davidson logo is one of the most iconic and recognized logos in the world. The company has a long and storied history, and the logo has been a part of that history from the beginning. The original logo was designed by co-founder William S. Harley in 1901. It featured a simple, hand-drawn script that said “Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” The logo has undergone a few changes over the years, but the basic design has remained the same.
Harley Davidson Engine History
The first Harley-Davidson had a 405 cc engine. Despite the “shed” production, it was distinguished by a tubular frame of the advanced design at that time.
The company has completed the new Eagle Milwaukee Eight 131 Crate engine. The unit is now the most powerful V-twin in the brand’s history. The 2147 cc engine reportedly produces 123 hp and 178 Nm of torque.
Also Read: Hardtail vs Softail: Which Motorcycle is Right for You?
The First “Harley”
The first sample of the motorcycle was ready on September 8, 1904. On the same day, he took part in a small local motorcycle race. At the beginning of 1905, Harley-Davidson engines appeared on sale. And in April, ready-made motorcycles began to be sold.
The following year the friends built a new motorcycle factory. It was a wooden building measuring 18 by 12 meters. Anyway, in 1906, fifty motorcycles were already made there. By the way, the company’s headquarters is located there now.
It began a stable and steady development. The number of motorcycles sold grew. In 1907, the first V-Twin engine with two cylinders appeared. The police started buying Harleys the same year. And already in 1914, the company Harley-Davidson became the leading manufacturer of motorcycles in the United States and, after another six years – in the world.
Needless to say, Harley-Davidson has long been a cult company. Since its foundation, it has produced many legendary motorcycle models. In addition, other products addressed to its connoisseurs are also produced under this brand – from clothing to furniture. For someone, the Harley has become a dream, for someone – a way of life, and for someone – the personification of freedom. And it all started in the barn.
The brand intends to improve the quality of its bikes further and is actively investing in the development of new ones. Harley-Davidson actively balances the preservation of tradition with the inclusion of innovation in its motorcycles.
Indian Motorcycle History
Not everyone knows, but Indian is the first motorcycle manufacturing company in the USA, and it is she who is the founder of traditions and the main competitor of Harley-Davidson.
It is not difficult to make a portrait of the owner of an Indian motorcycle: freedom-loving, bright, bold, and open to everything new, able to appreciate the classics. And the proud profile of a native Indian on a shiny body is like the final touch and, at the same time, a sign of strength. But let’s take it in order.
Pioneers of Motorcycle Building
Without a bright dream and a person devoted to it, the world of Indian motorcycles would not have. The fact is that George Handy, one of the founders of the company, was a famous cyclist and his bicycle manufacturing business was not just a job but rather the whole meaning of life.
He invested his strength, talent, and dreams in the development of bicycles of the future. Around the same time, resourceful engineer Oscar Hedstrom also invested heavily in a motorcycle of his own design, and George Hendy became interested in his drawings. In 1901, in a friendly partnership of two enthusiasts in the city of Springfield (USA), the first Indian Single appeared.
Then the Indian motorcycles became a real breakthrough: firstly, they were the first American motorcycles (Harley-Davidson would appear two years later), and secondly, they had an original design – a chain transmission from the engine and onto the wheel.
Indian Motorcycle Logo History
The Indian Motorcycle logo has a long and storied history dating back to the early days of the company. The original logo was designed by founder George M. Hendee in 1901 and featured a simple yet elegant, Native American chief in profile. This logo would go on to become one of the most recognized and iconic logos in the history of American motorcycling.
Over the years, the Indian Motorcycle logo would undergo several changes, but the Native American chief motif would remain a constant. In the 1950s, the company logo was modernized and streamlined but still retained the chief in profile. In the early 21st century, the Indian Motorcycle logo would be given a more three-dimensional look, but the chief in profile remained.
Today, the Indian Motorcycle logo symbolizes one of America’s most historic and iconic motorcycle brands. It’s a logo that has undergone many changes over the years but has always retained its original meaning and purpose.
Indian Motorcycle Engine History
Of course, the first Indian at first was very similar to bicycles, but at the same time, they already had a single-cylinder engine with a volume of 260 cm3 and a power of 1.75 hp.
The founders of the company tried to bring something new all the time, and in 1904, Indian motorcycles began to come off the assembly line exclusively in red, which became the highlight of the brand.
Sales are constantly growing, designers continue to refine models, and soon there will be a new racing version of motorcycles with a V-shaped engine with two cylinders and a one-liter volume, and two years later, a “civilian” series will already appear – with a clutch handle and a more modest engine capacity – 633 cm3.
Indian Motorcycles vs. Harley Davidson: Model Comparison
History is important, but history is written by motorcycle models. I suggest comparing the latest current motorcycle models. For objectivity, all models are compared within their categories.
Best Cruiser Starter Bikes: Harley-Davidson Iron 883 vs Indian Scout Bobber Sixty
The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is a motorcycle that was introduced in 2009. It is a stripped-down version of the Harley-Davidson Sportster. The Iron 883 is powered by an 883 cc V-twin engine.
The Iron 883 has a blacked-out look, with a black powder-coated engine and blacked-out chrome exhaust. The motorcycle has a solo seat, and the passenger seat has been replaced by a strap. The Iron 883 also has a smaller fuel tank than other Sportster models.
The Iron 883 was introduced as a lower-priced alternative to the other Sportster models. The base price of the 2022 motorcycle is $11 249.
The Iron 883 has been well-received by the motorcycle press. Cycle World magazine named the Iron 883 one of its “Ten Best Bikes” for 2009. The magazine praised the motorcycle for its “low and mean” look, and for its “agile handling.”
The Iron 883 has also been popular with customers. Harley-Davidson reports that the Iron 883 was the best-selling Sportster model in 2009 and 2010.
- Engine – Air-cooled 883cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 53.8 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 564 lbs.
The Scout Bobber Sixty is a new model from Indian that pays homage to the brand’s iconic Scout. The bike is a more stripped-down and minimal version of the Scout, and it’s been given a blacked-out treatment that gives it a more aggressive look. The bike is available in two colors: Thunder Black and Fire Red.
The Scout Bobber Sixty is powered by a 999cc V-twin engine that produces 100 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque. The bike has a great transmission. The Scout Bobber Sixty has a shorter wheelbase than the Scout, and it’s also been given a lower seat height.
This bike is a great option for riders who want a smaller and more nimble bike that still has the power and performance of the larger Scout. The blacked-out treatment gives the bike a more aggressive look, and the shorter wheelbase makes it easier to maneuver. Its cost is $10 749.
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 999cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 72 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 549 lbs.
Best Cruisers: Harley-Davidson Low Rider S vs Indian Vintage
Harley-Davidson’s Low Ride S is a stripped-down, minimalist cruiser that’s built for those who want a no-nonsense motorcycle. It’s powered by a 1,202cc V-twin engine that produces plenty of torque, and it’s equipped with a 6-speed transmission.
The Low Ride S has a comfortable seat and a low, 26-inch seat height, making it easy to get your feet on the ground. The bike also has a small windscreen, mid-mount controls, and a 2-into-1 exhaust. All of these features combine to give the Low Ride S a unique look and feel that’s sure to turn heads. The 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Ride S is priced at $17 530.
- Engine – Air-cooled 1,202cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 110 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 661 lbs.
The Indian Vintage is a variety of Indian Chief a popular motorcycle produced from 1922 to 1953. The Indian Chief was the company’s flagship model and was one of the largest and most powerful motorcycles of its time. It was named after the Native American tribes that the company’s founders had fought against in the Indian Wars.
The Indian Chief was available in both solo and sidecar configurations. It was powered by a large displacement V-twin engine and was capable of reaching speeds of over 100 mph. The Indian Chief was a popular choice for police departments and was used by the US military in World War II. It was also ridden by some of the most famous motorcycle racers of the era, including Steve McQueen.
The Indian Chief was discontinued in 1953 due to the company’s financial problems. However, it was revived in the early 2000s and is once again being produced by the Indian Motorcycle Company.
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 1,811cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 119 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 836 lbs.
Best Baggers: Indian Challenger vs. Harley Road Glide
The Indian Challenger is a cruiser motorcycle that was introduced in 2020. It is produced by Indian Motorcycle, a subsidiary of Polaris Industries. The Challenger is available in three trim levels: the base, the Dark Horse, and the Limited. It is powered by a 1,811cc (110 cu in) V-twin engine and has a six-speed gearbox. The Challenger has a starting price of $24 499.
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 1,811cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 128 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 831 lbs.
The Harley-Davidson Road Glide is a touring motorcycle that was introduced in 1998. It is notable for its shark-nose fairing, which houses the headlamp and windshield. The Road Glide was discontinued in 2013 but was reintroduced in 2017. It is powered by a Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine and features a blacked-out look. The base model of the Harley Road Glide costs $21 430.
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 17,53cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 111 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 855 lbs.
Best Touring Models: Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic vs. Indian Roadmaster
The new Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic combines modern features with a nostalgic look that hearkens back to the company’s roots. The bike has a classic, old-school look with its exposed engine and dual exhaust. But it also comes with plenty of modern amenities, like LED lighting, a USB port, and a six-speed transmission.
The motorcycle is powered by a 1,690cc Twin Cam engine that produces 94 horsepower and 111 pound-feet of torque. That’s plenty of power to get this heavyweight moving. The Heritage Classic has a dry weight of 773 pounds, and it can carry a rider and passenger with a combined weight of up to 450 pounds.
- Engine – Air/oil-cooled 1,690cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 111 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 773 lbs.
The 2020 Indian Roadmaster is a touring motorcycle that’s big, stylish, and packed with features. It’s comfortable for long-distance riding and can handle any type of road with ease. With a powerful engine and a host of rider-friendly features, the Roadmaster is a great choice for anyone looking for a top-of-the-line touring bike. Here’s a closer look at what this impressive motorcycle has to offer.
The 2020 Indian Roadmaster has a 111-cubic-inch V-twin engine that produces a whopping 122 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. That’s plenty of power for taking on long stretches of highway or tackling twisty back roads. The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission with a tall first gear that’s perfect for getting up to speed quickly. The Roadmaster also has a slipper clutch that helps to prevent wheel hop when shifting gears.
The suspension on the Roadmaster is adjustable, so you can tailor it to your riding style and the road conditions. The front forks have 4.7 inches of travel, and the rear shocks have 4.5 inches of travel. The Roadmaster also has a hydraulic preload adjuster that allows you to fine-tune the suspension.
The Roadmaster comes standard with ABS brakes, traction control, and cruise control. It also has a host of features that make it more comfortable and convenient for long-distance riding, including a heated seat and grips, a Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system, and an electrically adjustable windscreen.
The Indian Roadmaster is a top-of-the-line touring motorcycle that’s sure to turn heads wherever you go. With its powerful engine, comfortable rider amenities, and impressive list of features, the Roadmaster is the perfect bike for anyone who loves to hit the open road.
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 1,890cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 126 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 909 lbs.
High-Performance Models: Harley-Davidson Livewire vs. Indian FTR1200 S
In 2014, Harley-Davidson announced plans to develop an electric motorcycle. The project, known as LiveWire, was launched in 2015. The LiveWire is a battery-powered motorcycle with a range of approximately 130 miles and a top speed of 95 mph. The LiveWire is intended to appeal to a new generation of riders and represents Harley-Davidson’s commitment to developing environmentally-friendly vehicles.
LiveWire was developed in partnership with Mission Motorcycles, a startup company that specializes in electric vehicles. Mission Motorcycles was founded in 2008 by Forrest North and Mark Seeger. North and Seeger met while working at Tesla Motors, where they worked on the development of the Tesla Roadster.
The LiveWire was unveiled to the public in 2014 at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The motorcycle was then taken on a cross-country tour, making stops at Harley-Davidson dealerships and events.
- Engine – 78kW Permanent magnet electric motor;
- Torque – 86 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 549 lbs.
The FTR1200 S is an Indian motorcycle that was unveiled in 2018. It is a street version of the FTR750 race bike. The FTR1200 S has a 1,133cc (69 cu in) liquid-cooled DOHC V-twin engine with 120 hp (89 kW) and 85 lb-ft (115 N⋅m) of torque. The bike has a six-speed transmission.
The FTR1200 S has a tubular steel frame, upside-down forks, and a rear mono-shock. Braking is handled by dual 320 mm (13 in) discs up front and a single 265 mm (10 in) disc at the rear, with ABS.
The FTR1200 S has a 17-inch (430 mm) front wheel and an 18-inch (460 mm) rear wheel. The bike has a seat height of 805 mm (31.7 in) and a wet weight of 247 kg (545 lb).
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 1,133cc V-Twin;
- Torque – 85 ft-lbs;
- Weight – 518 lbs.
Dirt and Sport: Harley-Davidson XG750R vs Indian FTR750
The XG750R is Harley-Davidson’s first race-only motorcycle. It was developed to compete in the AMA Pro Racing series. The XG750R is powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 750 cubic centimeters Revolution X V-Twin engine.
The motorcycle has a 6-speed transmission. The XG750R has a dry weight of just 375 pounds. It features a chrome-moly trellis frame, adjustable Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, and Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires. The XG750R made its racing debut in the 2015 Daytona 200.
It went on to win 7 of 8 races in the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track series, and its rider, Jared Mees, won the championship. In 2016, the XG750R won 5 of 8 races, and its rider, Brad Baker, won the championship. The XG750R is not street-legal and is not available for purchase. It is only available to race teams that compete in the AMA series.
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 750cc V-Twin;
- Weight – 375 lbs.
The FTR750 is an Indian race bike that was developed to compete in the American Flat Track series. The bike is powered by a 750 cubic centimeters V-twin engine and features a trellis frame, USD forks, and a Brembo braking system.
The FTR750 made its debut in the 2016 season and went on to win the championship in its inaugural year.
In 2017, Indian introduced the FTR1200, a street-legal version of the FTR750. The FTR1200 made its debut at the 2017 EICMA show in Milan, Italy.
The FTR750 and FTR1200 are both built at Indian’s facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
- Engine – Liquid-cooled 750cc V-Twin;
- Weight – Approximately 300 lbs.
Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Good
Harley Davidson is an iconic American motorcycle brand with a rich history. The company has been around for over a century and has a strong following of loyal fans. There are many reasons why Harley Davidson is a good choice for a motorcycle.
Harley Davidson bikes are known for their quality and durability. The bikes are built to last and can handle a lot of abuse. They are also known for their comfort and ease of riding. Harley Davidson motorcycles are available in a wide range of styles to suit any rider.
The company offers a wide range of accessories and clothing that are perfect for motorcycle riders. Harley Davidson also has a strong commitment to safety and offers a variety of safety features on their motorcycles.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles are a great investment. The bikes hold their value well and can be passed down through generations. Harley Davidson also offers a wide range of financing options to make buying a motorcycle more affordable.
There are many reasons to consider Harley Davidson when shopping for a motorcycle. The bikes are well-made, and comfortable, and offer a wide range of styles and sizes. The company also offers a variety of financing options.
Reasons Why Indian Motorcycle Is Good
There are many reasons to love Indian Motorcycles. If you’re in the market for a new motorcycle, you may be wondering if an Indian motorcycle is a right choice for you. Here are four reasons why an Indian motorcycle could be the perfect fit:
Indian Motorcycle reliability is the hallmark of the company. Here we are talking about the many years of quality history of the entire range of models, not any individual motorcycle.
Motorcycles offer a unique and stylish look. The company has managed to create its own individual style, which is not similar to the others. On the contrary, as time went by, other manufacturers were looking up to Indian Motorcycle’s design and technical solutions.
Wide range of models
Indian motorcycles are available in a variety of models to suit your needs. The wide range of models allows you to occupy a large part of the market and increase your fan base.
Motorcycles come with a host of features and benefits that make them a great choice for riders. Indian motorcycles are one of the leaders and those who break new ground in motorcycle construction.
Rich history with its own established traditions.
Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycle are two of the most popular motorcycle brands in the United States. Both brands have a long history, with Harley Davidson being founded in 1903 and Indian Motorcycle being founded in 1901. Both brands have a loyal following of riders, and both brands offer a wide range of motorcycles to choose from.
So, who is better? Harley vs Indian Motorcycle?
It depends on what you are looking for in a motorcycle. If you are looking for a bike that is stylish and cool, then Harley Davidson is probably the better choice. If you are looking for a motorcycle that is powerful and fast, then Indian Motorcycle is probably the better choice.
Both Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycle offer a wide range of motorcycles, so it is important to test ride both brands before making a decision. Ultimately, the best motorcycle for you is the one that fits your riding style and needs.
Bruce was born in Atlanta. He started riding motorcycles when he was 10 and has been passionate about them since. Bruce says he feels absolute freedom when he’s on two wheels. He prefers riding his bike slowly and smoothly along a country road and hardly ever enjoys wildly speedy rides. With a strong Ducati Multistrada 1200 in the current stable, Bruce enjoys his super powerful, comfortable and easy rides. Ducati Diavel is the beast he’s currently dreaming about…