Harley-Davidson vs Indian Motorcycles: Two Legends Under the Spotlight

Harley-Davidson vs Indian Motorcycles: Two Legends Under the Spotlight

Written by Pierce Bryant
November 23, 2022

With their storied past, timeless designs and over a century of history, these two brands became titans of the motorcycling industry. Discover how!

Harley Davidson and Indian are definitely two of the most iconic motorcycle brands out there. Both companies are synonym with high-quality, timeless design excellence, and innovation. Those two names are both synonyms with the spirit of freedom and adventure that has long been associated with motorcycle riding. For these reasons, it is quite hard to actually make a choice between the two brands. When it really comes down to it, what would you choose?

harley davidson vs indian motorcycles

If you are a fan of motorcycles, chances are, you are familiar with the Indian brand and with what it represents. Their classic models are true cultural icons, and they are highly recognized wherever you go. It’s amazing to think that the first chain-driven offering from the company was actually prototyped as early as 1901. The bike became popular very quickly. By the 1930s, there were already several motorcycle clubs throughout the United States. One of the most notable ones was actually in South Dakota, which to this day, is still home to the Sturgis Rally. This event is one of the most popular motorcycle festivals in the whole world, attracting millions of visitors to the state, and going as far as redefining the whole economy of many towns around the festival.

Speaking of the Sturgis rally this is actually a breeding ground for Harley vs. Indian challenges, as many motorcycle owners love to test the performances of their bikes!

In the middle 1910s, the brand actually collaborated with the US Army, providing motorcycles to be used during the first World War. This move had two effects, one positive, and one negative. On one hand, it actually prevented the company from making more sales throughout the period. This happened because most of their production was focused on the war effort. On the other hand, the fact that Indian motorbikes have such an important place in history, also meant that the brand actually reached an even broader cultural status over time. What’s really special about this particular brand is definitely the fact that it combines truly timeless design, with great performance aesthetics.

indian motorcycle in world war 1

It’s close rival, Harley-Davidson, can recount an equally astounding background story. Just a few years after Indian launched its very first motorcycle, William Harley, and two brothers named Walter and Arthur Davidson decided to follow their passion. They worked the kinks out of their designs through trial and error, and eventually, they managed to sell their very first motorcycle in 1903. Things took off soon after, and the company continued to grow and expand on an exponential level. Finally, the company managed to grow into one of the most widely recognized American motorcycle brands in the post-war era, particularly at a time when they became the perfect candidates to fill in the shoes of Indian, while the latter company was busy producing motorbikes for the US army, as mentioned earlier.

MUST READ: Harley Davidson Electra Glide vs. Street Glide

The historical rivalry between Indian and Harley-Davidson, now reignited, has often been a polarizing topic for riding fans.

Because of their financial struggles, Indian actually collapses in 1954, and the company was forced to call it a day. However, Polaris Industries eventually took control of the brand and resurfaced these timeless designs back in 2011. This was definitely an exciting time for motorcycle fans, especially because Indian would finally be able to compete with Harley, who by then owned the lion share of the market with a dominance of nearly 50%.

In addition to that, the two brands usually appeal to different demographics. As they say, different strokes for different people! Harley Davidson has advertised its brand heavily as a lifestyle product throughout the years. For this reason, the company actually enjoys a much younger customer base.

Indian is often considered a brand for purveyors and motorcycle connoisseurs, so the brand appeals to a slightly different audience.

However, both companies have storied backgrounds, and a die-hard community of followers who swear by a brand or the other, much like hooligans live for their soccer teams over in Europe! For many, comparing Harley versus Indian motorbikes is more of an emotional issue rather than a technical one. Both of these companies actually perform remarkably well, and they offer some of the most excellent products available on the market.

When it comes down sheer performance value, it is really more of a matter of personal preference. The Indian Chieftain, for instance, utilizes three cams, where the Harley has a chain drive system with two cams. This means that The Chieftain is actually easier to start because the cam valve lifters of the exhaust make the process a bit easier.

As far as quality control, both companies are able to produce equally astonishing products. Indian has had a few recall episodes throughout its history, but mostly minor scuffs in the brand’s stellar reputation.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are synonym with sturdy road monsters. These beasts are reliable, and they won’t leave you hanging. It’s a bike that’s almost become linked with the idea of timeless American craftsmanship, and it is safe to say that the company still upholds to the original spirit of adventure and passion that fueled this enterprise in the very first place. Somewhere between legend and actually amazing real-life performances, Harley bikes are fantastic all-around vehicles. One of the biggest downfalls in the design of a Harley is probably its windscreen, which might not be able to provide the best highway protection when compared to other models out there. In spite of this minor nitpicking, you can rest assured that purchasing a Harley bike means to invest in a quality product.

Many people appreciate bikes such as the Indian Chief Classic due to their size and comfort. Their saddles are known as one of the best in the industry, and the ergonomically efficient design is really astonishing. Having said that, many people prefer the solid feel of a Harley, as well as its dependability and stable feel.

When it comes to pricing, there is quite a difference. On average, the Indian line-up is pricier than the average offering from Harley-Davidson. Having said that, Indian motorbikes are often also quite a lot larger when it comes to their size, especially models such as the Chieftain, the Roadmaster, and The Springfield, just to mention a few.

Well, the same goes for an Indian, really! Comparing these two motorcycles is a little bit like comparing The Beatles, to The Rolling Stones.

They’re both legendary, they both changed history, and they both have a dedicated following of people who will always endorse them for life!

The artistry, passion, technology, innovation, and history behind both of these brands are absolutely and utterly priceless. At Rhino USA, we are the gold standard in strap technology, and our biggest honor is keeping your prized bike safe and secure while traveling.

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