Indian Bike despatched a shot throughout Harley-Davidson’s bow when it unveiled the 2023 Sport Chief. Till then, the Motor Firm loved a monopoly on the club-style cruiser market with its Low Rider S and its sport-touring cousin, the Low Rider ST. At such a drawback, Indian knew it wanted to make a splash to make headway within the performance-driven class. The Sport Chief does simply that.
The Minnesota-based OEM referred to as in reinforcements, equipping the club-style mannequin with Brembo-branded binders, Pirelli Night time Dragon tires, KYB inverted fork, and Fox piggyback shocks. That brand-name pedigree pairs completely with Indian’s ergonomic changes, together with a sculpted quarter fairing, six-inch handlebar risers, mid-mounted pegs, and a solo seat.
Harley’s Low Rider S all however birthed the manufacturing unit club-style section, and it stays the king of sophistication for a cause. Showa suspension, H-D-badged Brembo calipers, and Dunlop rubber bolster the Low Rider S to that lofty throne. Nonetheless, the Indian Sport Chief’s rebellious perspective presents a reputable menace to the Low Rider’s reign. Solely time will inform which mannequin wins within the showroom, nevertheless it’s all the way down to us to find out which club-style cruiser wins on the spec sheet.
|2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S||2023 Indian Sport Chief|
|Engine:||Air/oil-cooled, 1,923cc V-twin||Air-cooled 1,890cc V-twin|
|Bore x Stroke:||103.5mm x 127mm||103.2mm x 113mm|
|Efficiency:||125 lb-ft of torque||120 lb-ft of torque|
|Weight:||679 kilos (moist)||665 kilos (moist)|
Each Indian and Harley carry out the massive weapons when arming Sport Chief and Low Rider S, respectively. The Motor Firm turns to its largest manufacturing engine, the Milwaukee-Eight 117, for its Hog. That air/oil-cooled, 117 cubic-inch (1,923cc) V-twin lays down 125 lb-ft of torque (3,500 rpm), although H-D bypasses all horsepower claims in 2023. The identical goes for Indian, and its Thunder Stroke 116 retains tempo with 120 lb-ft of torque.
Although the Large-Twin Harley advantages from a one-cubic-inch and five-pound-feet benefit over its rival, the Milwaukee-Eight V-twin has 679 kilos of American iron to propel. The Thunder Stroke 116, alternatively, pushes the 665-pound Sport Chief with barely higher effectivity. Particularly when contemplating the Indian flaunts a Sport mode (together with Touring and Normal), we’re assured the Sport Chief nips the checkered flag in stoplight-to-stoplight drag racers.
Straight-line velocity isn’t the end-all-be-all, although, and each club-style opponents carry their dealing with A-game too. The Bar and Defend depends on a tried and true 43 mm inverted entrance finish with a triple-rate spring and a preload-adjustable coil-over monoshock. Against this, Indian calls upon a pair of Fox piggyback shocks and a 43mm USD entrance finish from KYB.
Along with the setup variations, the Sport Chief provides 4 inches of rear suspension journey whereas the Low Rider S solely yields 2.2 inches. On the fore, we now have a draw, with each fashions itemizing 5.1 inches of suspension stroke. Nonetheless, the 2 bruisers commerce blows with the Hog prioritizing agility due to its 28-degree rake, 31.3-degree lean angle, and 63.6-inch wheelbase.
All of the whereas, the Chief upholds stability with a 29-degree rake, 29.5-degree lean angle, and 64.6-inch wheelbase. For that cause, Harley narrowly nabs its first spherical on this showdown, however you want greater than energy and fleet ft to win a battle. You additionally want smarts.
Brains of the Operation
In the case of tech, the Low Rider S retains it easy. The LED headlight and taillight conform to class requirements, however the four-inch analog gauge instructions the highlight. An analog tachometer captures traditional cruiser cosmetics, however the digital speedometer brings the Softail into the now. That cluster additionally permits customers to cycle between gear, odometer, gasoline stage, clock, journey, and vary readings.
The Indian, alternatively, takes issues up a notch with its four-inch TFT touchscreen show. Not solely does the model’s RideCommand system put a number of interfaces and layouts on the rider’s fingertips nevertheless it additionally provides turn-by-turn navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. Alongside these options, the Sport Chief additionally comes normal with the aforementioned trip modes, ABS, and rear-cylinder deactivation. It’s secure to say the Indian is a transparent winner on this division.
With simply $700 separating the 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S and 2023 Indian Sport Chief, it’s practically a toss-up between the 2 performance-inspired cruisers. The Sport Chief instructions extra dough at $18,899, nevertheless it backs up that markup with premium componentry and electronics. Equally, the Low Rider S lives as much as its $18,199 MSRP with its confirmed platform and agile dealing with (for a cruiser).
The Indian could win on paper, however cruiser prospects additionally place a premium on the intangibles. From aesthetics to model loyalty, from exhaust notice to ergonomics, numerous preferences issue into the cruiser-buying expertise. Ultimately, when Harley-Davidson and Indian Bike vie for a similar slice of the market, the shopper is the last word wins.