10 Reasons Indian Motorcycles Cost So Much (Explained)

Indian motorcycles are some of the most advanced machines in the American Heritage category.

Indian production is currently led by the steller engineering department at Polaris industries, focusing on integrating innovative motorcycle technology with the heritage and legacy of the oldest motorcycle brand in the states.

This article lists why Indian motorcycles are so expensive, presenting the facts and letting the reader decide for themselves if Polaris-made Indian bikes are indeed worth the price.

1. World-Class Engineering Team

The engineering team behind the modern Polaris Indian motorcycle stable includes many of the key designers behind Polaris’s first motorcycle line, Victory.

The team had already proven itself capable of competing with the highest performer in the industry before Polaris procured the Indian brand.

Once Polaris resurrected Indian, they put together an even richer team of engineers, artists, riders, and mechanics to conceptualize what a modern take on an Indian motorcycle should be.

One reason Indian motorcycles are expensive is due to the costly process of designing, developing, and testing the Indian motorcycle machinery.

]Part of the motorcycle’s high price tag contributes to the salaries of these critical designers and their research and development process.

  •  The first step is to determine the needs of Indian consumers by analyzing the holes in the American Cruiser market, which is now an international phenom.
  • The design team then has to manifest their ideas into models, taking care to achieve the Polaris Indian mission statement of integrating modern technological innovation while respecting the heritage aesthetic of the Indian brand.
  • Design, engineering, testing, and production of the performance-oriented Indian motos require a network of labs, computers, and design and communication software.

The process required to achieve the unique style and high-performance cruisers Indian produces drives up the price of their motorcycles. However, they are still more affordable than other, less spec-oriented bikes in the muscle cruiser scene.  

2. Class-Leading Audio Systems

The cost of Indian motorcycles often includes the price of the stock sound system many of their recent models employ.

Indian motorcycles not only equip full-range speakers and amps as loud as anything else on the stock moto market, but they also include digital Equalizers for both on-demand audio customization and preset EQs.

  • All Indian fairings come stock with inlaid, rider-facing speakers.
  • Other models equip speakers in the lids of their hard-cased saddle bags.
  • Finally, many of the Indian motorcycle models include a 7-inch touchscreen that corresponds to the audio system for the customization mentioned earlier.

3. Liability and Safety Features

It’s no secret that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, as the rider is painting balance on a two-wheeled vehicle while riding at high speeds. Furthermore, they’re exposed to the elements without the steel car cage’s protection.

Due to the risks inherent in motorcycle riding, Indian motorcycles must meet strict quality control standards, employed first and foremost internally at Polaris and enforced by government safety institutions worldwide.

The cost of rigorous re-development and product testing is factored into the cost of every Indian motorcycle model.

Furthermore, many modern Indians include expected safety features like Anti-Lock  Braking Systems, Fly-by-wire electronic throttle systems, ECU regulation and monitoring sensors, lean angle sensors, traction control, slip assist clutches, etc.

While the safety features employed on Polaris Indian motorcycles significantly improve the quality of the ride and the rider’s security, it also raises the price.

Make sure to also find out whether Indian Motorcycles are good for beginners.

4. Lower Manufacturing Numbers

A quick Google search will tell you that out of more than 300 million registered vehicles in the U.S., only 8.5 million are motorcycles.

Since motorcycles are manufactured in much smaller quantities than cars, trucks, and SUVs, the production cost of motorcycles is actually more expensive than the cost of manufacturing a car. 

Furthermore, cars often use hardware and electric parts sourced from specialty manufacturers overseas that make the same parts for many of their large-scale auto manufacturers.

This mass production drives the cost of cars down for the whole market.

Still, there are some overseas specialty manufacturers employed by Polaris to get some of the smaller parts like nuts, bolts, and wires in bulk to cut down on costs.

But they make much of their stuff in their own factories, and the overseas parts aren’t produced on the scale ca details are, making them that much more expensive to assemble.

5. Manufacturing Small Parts Is Costly

Indian motorcycle engines and transmissions may be smaller than cars, but that doesn’t make them cheaper to produce. In fact, sometimes smaller parts can be more expensive to manufacture, test, and install. 

Furthermore, whether the Indian bike you eyeballed was assembled at the dealership or transported there, the cost is reflected in the price tag.

Smaller parts mean a more tedious assembly process and more strenuous repairs and service maintenance.

Please also read our article about the cost of new Indian Motorcycles.

6. Ride Command Infotainment System

One feature that raises the price of many Indian motorcycle models is the Ride Command Infotainment system.

Ride Command includes maps, clocks, engine information, trip data, Radio and Bluetooth phone/music connectivity, and in some trims, even live weather, and traffic updates. 

India’s industry-leading Infotainment suites are operated by a full-color, interactive, riding-glove-accessive touchscreen that varies in size between 4 and 8 inches, depending on the year model and trims package.

7. Specialized Dealership Technicians

As we mentioned in a previous section, the technology employed by Indian is innovative and unique in that it takes the cutting-edge developments made by Polaris and integrates them into old-school Indian motor concepts.

Therefore, it takes a mechanic trained and experienced in Indian technology to safely and efficiently wrench on their tech.

Furthermore, Indian dealerships are franchised, and all their service technicians undergo a profound training program readying them for the assembly, installation, diagnosis, and repairs of Indian motorcycles.

Many of these training programs are conducted by the engineering and design team behind the bikes, ensuring that every dealership you go to is staffed with capable and experienced technicians.

Unfortunately, this level of mechanical familiarity comes at a price, making Indian bikes more expensive than they would be without their specialized training.

8. The Modern Throwback ThunderStroke Engine Designs

Modern Thunderstroke Indians cost more due to the high-performance engines. One is the air-cooled Thunderstroke V-Twin engine, available in both a 111 CI and 116 CI capacity.

The Thunderstroke produces 120-126 foot-pounds of torque and 120-128 Horsepower straight out of the factory without breaking from the American V-Twin legacy.

The Thunderstroke engine design incorporates a triple camshaft that pushes four parallel pushrods and two valves in each cylinder; the Thunderstroke concept is a contemporary update to a classic machine.

Here are the latest Thunderstroke enhancements, per Indian’s official website:

  • Ride Modes on all Thunder Stroke 111 models. Select between Tour, Standard or Sport mode on the fly.

  • Rear Cylinder Deactivation on all Thunder Stroke 111 models. The rear cylinder will automatically deactivate when the bike is at a standstill for more comfort in slow-moving traffic. When throttle is applied, the rear cylinder will instantly reactivate for a seamless transition to full power.

  • Roadmaster gets additional upgrades. The premium audio system now features 2-way speakers for enhanced clarity. Also, a dynamic equalizer automatically adjusts for speed so you get crystal clear audio at all times. The lowers were also redesigned to provide significantly more airflow to the rider.

  • All Dark Horse models get even darker, with blacked-out exhaust and contrasting gloss black finishes.

These extra engine features and the personnel, equipment, research, and development that go into creating and refining Indian motorcycles’ high-grade engineering bring the price up.

You may also be interested in knowing about the weight of Indian Motorcycles.

9. The Unique Mechanics of the PowerPlus Motor

The PowerPlus motor used in the Indian Challenger and Indian Pursuit lines is unlike anything that’s come before it in motorcycle history, which adds to the costs of these highly refined motorcycles.  

  • The Power Plus MoTor is a 108 CI, liquid-cooled V-Twin capable of 122 Horsepower and 128 foot-pounds of torque.
  • The engine is based on the Indian Scout’s sealed-liquid-cooled V-Twin motor, and both motors elaborate on the signature Indian overhead camshaft design.

The PowerPlus is an ultra-refined machine, producing specs no other big twin in the game can muster. But this engine’s research, development, engineering, and testing cost quite a bit, not to mention the cost of training all their technicians on its assembly, patience, and repairs. 

10. The Indian Motorcycle Brand’s Legacy

The final reason on our list has everything to do with supply and demand.

Not only is the aesthetic and heritage of the Indian motorcycle legacy a factor in the high price, but Polaris has also earned respect in the industry in its own right via decades of innovative, long-lasting, and reliable engineering.

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