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A clean-sheet V-Twin engine for the new 2014 Indian Motorcycles line


March 23, 2013

Indian Motorcycles Thunder Stroke 111 engine

Indian Motorcycles Thunder Stroke 111 engine

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Indian Motorcycles has once again risen from the dustbin of history. Purchased by Polaris Industries in 2011, the 2014 model year involves a complete redesign of the Indian motorcycle line. The most notable new feature is the new Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin engine. A fresh design from the ground up, the design goals included keeping the classic Indian engine look while implementing a 49 degree V-Twin geometry with modern technology.

The first Indian Motorcycle was sold in 1902, which, as Indian enthusiasts enjoy pointing out, was a year before Harley-Davidson was founded. The company was bought by DuPont Motors in 1930, which then stopped making cars and concentrated its resources on Indian. The brand met with considerable success, to the point that in 1940 it sold nearly as many bikes as did H-D. In 1945 the company was taken over by the Rogers Group, which proceeded to run it into the ground with a series of poorly designed and built-light motorcycles. The original company went bankrupt in 1953.

Since that time, the brand has been owned or claimed by no fewer than nine separate companies, which have sold a variety of small imported cycles and Harley clones. Stephen Julius and Steve Heese, who had previously revived the Chris-Craft and Reva luxury boat brands, bought the Indian brand in 2004. In 2008, they began selling their Indian Chief motorcycle in various levels of accouterments.

Regarded as a huge step backward (that's a good thing!), the Kings Mountain Indian Chief is a refined bike which has been called the Bentley of motorcycles, the product of levels of manufacture and quality control that remind one of the Indian's heyday. Production was limited to small runs, though, perhaps to justify higher prices partly through scarcity. That didn't work terribly well as a business model, regardless of the sophistication of the motorcycle itself. In 2011, Polaris Industries bought the company, and transferred operations and manufacturing to Spirit Lake, Iowa.

The 2013 Indian Chief models are the last of the Kings Mountain motorcycles that will be manufactured. Polaris decided to develop a completely redesigned bike to carry on the Indian name. Due out in the latter part of this year, the as-yet unnamed 2014 Indian Motorcycle line will be equipped with the Indian Thunder Stroke 111 (TS111), newly developed beginning with a clean sheet of paper.

The Thunder Stroke 111 is a fue-injected four-stroke 49-degree V-Twin engine having a displacement of 111 cubic inches (1811 cc), that is claimed to deliver 118 ft-lb (160 Nm) of torque, which is about normal for such designs. The engine tops out at 5500 rpm, and delivers its power to the rear wheel through a six-speed overdrive transmission and a carbon fiber-reinforced belt.

The new design, which has undergone over one million miles of testing, has a forged single-pin transverse crankshaft to transfer power from the 3.89-in (101-mm) diameter pistons during their 4.45-in (113-mm) stroke. The TS111 is an overhead valve engine, with two valves per cylinder controlled by a triple camshaft driving parallel pushrods which activate hydraulic lifters. As a 49-degree V-Twin design is rather cramped near the crankshaft, the engine has mushroom cylinder outlines and multi-directional cooling fins to optimize the balance between cooling and real estate.

The engine is connected to a six-speed overdrive constant-mesh transmission. Sixth gear turns 3.37 times faster than first gear, leading to an easily controllable transmission that will allow a rider to remain within the power band of the engine under most riding conditions. The clutch is a multiple-plate wet design to provide smooth clutch action without undue slippage.

The TS111 is equipped with a valve to trigger compression release, allowing a motorcycle driven by this engine to use engine braking. The compression ratio of the engine is a rather conservative 9.5:1. Fuel is provided to the engine by an electronic sequential port fuel injection system, while air passes through an electronically controlled 2.13-in (51-mm) throttle. As the TS111 also has a helical gear balancer to offset vibration from the unbalanced 49-degree cylinders, the result should be an engine that combines power and smoothness.

The new engine is a modern incarnation of most of the positive aspects and quirks of design so characteristic of classic Indian design. We can only hope that the 2014 Indian Motorcycle follows the same path. OK – it could be less expensive as well – the CEO has said it will be "more affordable." This is one development target I don't want to see slip – I haven't owned a motorcycle in quite a while, but the new Indian might push me back over the line!

Details of the TS111 can be seen in the video below.

Source: Indian Motorcycles, Inc

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer. All articles by Brian Dodson

Just ANOTHER fat cruiser, Indian has an oppertunity to build on the fantastic heritage forged by Burt Munro. If only they could build a high powered V twin crossed with a Hayabusa it would sure get my interest.

John Findlay

I love the sound this bike makes at the end of the video, it makes me wanna ride! and I don't even own a bike!

Derek Howe

Maybe this will be my next ride.

Michael Young

Polaris is also the parent company of Victory motorcycles. If I'm reading the smoke signals right I would expect them to be priced below the $35k/bike they are at now but still comfortably more expensive than HD.

HD isn't in the business of making budget bikes any more than Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana are about making budget clothing/accessories.

You can dress out a Honda Shadow for about $8k or buy a used one with a couple summers on it for $4k. Victory is an American motorcycle company that makes good bikes for the price but I don't see Victory stickers in the backs of peoples truck windows in the winter.

I ride dirt bikes and sport bikes so I don't own a HD and looking at reviews and spec sheets it took me a long time to understand what the appeal was. I think it may have been Mike Hanlon's article that called them a clothing company where it clicked. It's a mans version of an expensive Gucci handbag.

In that light, Indian makes a lot of sense for Polaris but unless the are committed to keeping the brand more expensive than Harley they are wasting their time. Numerous companies have attempted to make cheaper cruisers and succeeded but failed to woo HD customers in the process. If they play this right it could be the most interesting attempt so far.


Internal combustion engines are not new technology, neither are they emerging technology. They are dinosaur relics of an almost redundant technology. Either change the description of your mag to technology nostalgia or stop wasting space on this old rubbish. BTW, even in terms of ICE machines, neither Indians nor Harleys are efficient enough or handle well enough to be described as real motorbikes. More accurately they are fashion accesories, like handbags, noisy inefficient ones at that.


Have long admired the Indian, if only they could find a dual-clutch 6 speed auto for the new model, it would be my dream bike! Who needs to mentally coincide clutch and throttle hands in the modern age? Add anti-collision radar to the brakes, perfect! You need all, or much more, of your concentration nowadays to keep looking for stupidly driven cars coming from all directions.

The Skud

@The Skud. I assume you don't drive a motorcycle? I only ask because I don't know a single person who drives them who believes shifting distracts them from seeing other drivers. If you are looking at getting a first motorcycle and don't want to pick up learning manual Honda makes NC700X and CTX700N that are automatic. I can appreciate not wanting to start on a manual but once you learn one you are probably less rather than more distracted from driving as a result. There isn't much demand from existing motorcyclists for auto transmissions because once most people master manuals they tend to prefer them.


Mmmmm. Yet another grand reincarnation of the great Indian brand.

Pretty slick video. Valves are parallel and crank has side x side rods, but then they probably aren't looking for max performance/revs and some vibes are acceptable. I cannot help think that an Indian is well, a 1940's design with lovely valanced guards and real style. Anything other than that is a new motorcycle with a famous badge, with nothing to offer other than , the name....

Christine Gray

I'm just not feeling this. I can't understand why the American Motorcycle industry keeps insisting we all want either RETRO, or otherwise worn out styled motorcycles using technology that's from the 1980'S! Even the sound at the end of the video reminds me of the 1980's song GIRLS-GIRLS-GIRLS by Motely Crue. This is just another overpriced piece of retro heavyweight overpriced.....status something? I would love to own a piece of American Iron, BUT until somebody steps up the plate and designs one with contemporay preforming engine and crankshaft...as well as a reasonble curb weight, and price...FORGET IT!

Heavy motorcycles are inherently unsafe. The power of the new Indian is sufficient and it looks great. But to survive on the streets a large heavy bike is not the way to go. If you ride log enough there comes a day when you will need things like the ability to take an excessive lean angle to avoid a crash or at the very least you will need to do a very sudden stop. Even a three hundred pound bike is a bit cumbersome under those conditions but this trend to eight hundred pound bikes has to be taking lives. Imagine a long slide on asphalt with your leg squished under an eight hundred pound bike. If you live there won't be enough left of the leg to save it. Jim Sadler

It looks like a modified S&S Cycle X-Wedge engine, so it should be a great engine.


What is necessary to tell us that it has "overhead valves"? I'm almost disappointed, I really wanted to run 50 octane gas in this.

Joseph Manske

My 05 Goldwing (built in the USA) has Indian and HD beat in every in every aspect! The outdated pushrod V twin engine is a dinosaur .indian would have better luck if they brought out a new version of their straight 4 cyl engine! The v twin Indians will be overpriced and the engine will end up in the victory bike line .and Indian will go under for the 10th time!

Robert Veit

@John Findlay Thanks for mentioning Burt Munro. Remember the American Pickers episode where they found one of Munro's old Indian racing jerseys and there was a photo of him?

Mike Wolf looks like a clone of Burt Munro! Imagine a TV advert for the new Indian with Mike Wolf dressed in 1930's racing garb...

Gregg Eshelman

@apprenticeearthwiz: You will never get it, so I should probably not waste my time explaining, but the sound, bottom-line thrust, and general feel of a classic V-twin engine is like no other. I don't own a H-D or Victory, and I probably won't own an Indian (I have a Honda Shadow), but if I had the money, I would like to spend it on American steel and muscle rather than Japanese. Props to Polaris for updating and continuing a tradition.

Jay Lloyd

@Jay Lloyd

Of course I understand it, I'm 66 and been on 2 wheels for most of my life. I grew up on this old, noisy, crappy handling and profoundly unsafe stuff. None of it would handle as well or as efficiently as your Shadow. If what you want is the noise and the look that's a clear victory for style over substance. The point I was making is, whilst there is obviously a market for these retro fashion accesories, Gizmag is supposedly about emerging rather than dinosaur technologies.


I was told by a credible source that the bike would be released at Sturgis this year and the price would be from $18,000 to $22,000. I cant wait!

Robert Rupp
I own a 2003 chief, I work for the largest north american heavy dirt mover dealership, I have been pushing my chief to the max... loud and proud, with the technology and knowledge of which I own and have gained from time I have not been able to break the factory (counterweights crank assembly pistons valve train or casts this machine has been rock solid throughout my testing. HOWEVER. Gilroys fault is the hardware and torque specs, Those were of junk!!! Interests motivates towards the new ideas behind the new indian secrets. Nigel Kotke

Why would Polaris develop a v twin inferior out of the box than what the already have in the Victory? Robert Velt up above called it. The Thunder stroke will be an option in the Victory line.

Bill Cutting

I don't think "retro" styling will ever completely fade away, but someone is missing an obvious bet here by not introducing an 1800-2000cc watercooled pushrod OHV "wedge" V8 specifically for large motorcycles.

Especially since it looks like the V8 car is disappearing fast.

William Lanteigne

I'm amazed by those of you that think this should be along the line of a 'busa, or whatever. You want a bike of that style, get one. There is, in fact, a big V-twin bonzo bike, "The Confederate". Google it. As for myself, depending on the price, this new TS111 is making me drool, and the projected style is exactly my style. This is exciting in it's own way. To me.

Christopher Blake

I think it is neat the Indian Motorcycle is still being made, having a come back.

I wonder if anyone will be bring back the Henderson?

I like the Cam Am Spyder since it has a semi-manual transmission similar to what I have in my Smart Fortwo. :)


Love the stile of the Indian Motorcycle. Love history of the Indian.

Thomas Smith

Important Questions of 2 stroke and 4 stroke engine cycle

Soubarna Biswas

Wow! A modern, 'clean sheet' engine design! - With pushrods.... LOL! But hey - at least it has a chromed dipstick!! That should impress the dinosaurs at biker rallies, eh? My 13-year-old bike has multipoint EFI, gear driven overhead cams with 4 valves per cylinder, and 105hp from a modest 781cc displacement. But sadly, it has no chromed dipstick, which surely is a blight on my manliness....

Ian Cameron
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