2022 Indian Pursuit first ride review

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Indian took its Challenger bagger, added a quick-release trunk and some new tech, and introduced the resulting heavyweight tourer as the Pursuit earlier this year. To my knowledge, it’s the most modern domestic dresser on the market.

The Pursuit lineup offers different finishes, features, and tech packages. Photo by Kevin Wing.


As Indian’s touring flagship and grandest model, the Pursuit is mostly aimed at Harley-Davidson’s Road Glide Limited. The two competitors may look similar, and they’re both meant for premium two-up touring customers, but the Indian can afford to split from Harley’s classic approach in several major ways because the air-cooled Roadmaster and Chieftain lines already serve the traditional crowd. The Pursuit begins Indian’s “next-generation touring” ambitions. 

Indian Pursuit
At a glance, the Pursuit could pass for a traditional tourer. A closer look tells the full story. Photo by Kevin Wing.


Unfortunately, my first ride review won’t be the best evaluation of the Indian Pursuit for its intended customers. I was able to ride the Pursuit for just over 100 miles, but a motorcycle like this will do 200 miles before breakfast. I rode the bike solo, as did almost every member of the motorcycle press at the launch, but a motorcycle like this is built to carry a passenger. My only cargo in the cavernous hard bags was a hat, a base layer, and a water bottle. Like a tandem kayak, the Pursuit isn’t exactly meant for short rides by yourself.


That said, my day with this Indian gave me plenty to think about, from the bike’s tech and performance to its place in the touring market. What exactly is Indian pursuing here? 


New power, new features


The liquid-cooled, 108 ci PowerPlus V-twin defied tradition when it broke cover in 2019 to power the Challenger bagger. After decades of air-cooled and air/oil-cooled engines, Indian became the first U.S. motorcycle manufacturer to offer a 21st century V-twin in a big tourer. (We’ll leave H-D’s Twin-Cooled engines and their partial liquid cooling out of this.) Indian’s oversquare design for this engine (4.251 inches of bore by 3.799 inches of stroke) with a compression ratio of 11:1 also smacks of modernity. The PowerPlus makes a claimed 122 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 128 foot-pounds of torque at 3,800 rpm. And with redline at 6,500 rpm, the Pursuit is plenty potent for its class, and it rolls on proven running gear that is practically identical to the Challenger’s.

Indian PowerPlus engine
The big PowerPlus makes a lot more horsepower than a stock Milwaukee-Eight, and about the same amount of torque. Photo by Kevin Wing.


The Pursuit doesn’t just get Indian’s most powerful production V-twin. In an effort to attract motorcyclists seeking modern, made-in-USA performance from their touring rigs, the bike is loaded with tech and safety features. Most of the bike’s information and settings are accessed through a seven-inch touchscreen on the dash. (Two smaller LCD sections under the analog speedometer and tacho show other essentials like gear position, trip meter reading, and fuel level/range.) The Ride Command system allows riders to check and adjust all kinds of parameters, like ride modes, navigation, audio source, and rider aids. The Pursuit packs other features you’d expect on a top-dollar tourer: cruise control, keyless ignition, TPMS, remote-lockable storage, powerful LED headlights, Apple Carplay, and an accessory catalog full of upgrades and add-ons.

Indian Pursuit Ride Command dash
The Ride Command dash is clear and easy to use. The LCD segments on the gauges aren’t nearly as nice. Photo by Kevin Wing.


The Premium Package brings a few significant upgrades over the base Pursuit and Challenger, the biggest being electronically adjustable rear suspension preload. Riders can adapt rear preload for varying rider, passenger, and cargo weights through a touchscreen menu. The Premium Package also adds Smart Lean Technology (Indian’s lean-sensitive ABS and traction control system), plus LED driving lights in the lower fairing and a heated touring seat.


This model’s lineup includes lots of trim levels and options. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each designation means. 


  • Pursuit Dark Horse — Blacked-out finishes, available with optional Premium Package ($3,000)

  • Pursuit Limited — Bright chrome/polished finishes, available with optional Premium Package ($3,000)

  • Pursuit Dark Horse/Limited Icons — Special paint work, only available with Premium Package


The Pursuit is a properly heavyweight motorcycle at a claimed 912 pounds full of fuel. It’s nearly eight and a half feet long, carries nearly 36 gallons of cargo, and produces more power than you’ll find in some small cars. What’s it like to ride?

Indian Pursuit
The headlight is LED, of course, with distinctive DRLs that we first saw on the Challenger. The optional Pathfinder adaptive headlight adds lean-sensitive lighting. Photo by Kevin Wing.


Riding the Indian Pursuit


Indian brought me out to Temecula, California, for a first ride of the Pursuit. My test bike was a Pursuit Dark Horse Premium in Spirit Blue, which retails at $34,749. The seat’s lower than a snake’s belly at 26.5 inches. I swung a leg over, pulled the Pursuit off its side stand with less effort than I anticipated, powered up the bike, and poked the starter. The PowerPlus starter gave a little whine before the engine settled to a pleasant idle. Liquid cooling and a 60-degree V angle give the PowerPlus a distinct sound and feel that seems in line with the refined touring goals of this machine. It’s faster to rev than other big air-cooled bikes, including other Indian products, and there’s hardly any valvetrain noise besides the eight valves (four per cylinder) flying around. Shifting into first proved a satisfying experience. The shift lever and action feel just right under my boot. Positive shift action is balanced by a relatively light clutch pull. The pull is even more impressive considering this is a cable clutch, not a hydro setup.


Riding south out of Temecula, my first impression of the Pursuit was that it gets around pretty well for its sheer size. That’s typical of new motorcycles in this class, although the longer I rode, the more apparent it was that Indian wasn’t afraid to break the mold with this bike. The PowerPlus doesn’t mind revving out towards its upper limits. This land yacht can get out of its own way, and that’ll be a big factor in tempting performance-oriented riders away from other options.

Indian Pursuit electric windshield
Here’s another look at that electric windshield. Two of the three mounting bolts are visible along the bottom edge. Photo by Kevin Wing.


I sure like adjustable windshields, and I like electrically adjustable windshields even better, so I tried the up/down control on the right handgrip to find my perfect setting. Unfortunately, even the highest position didn’t give full coverage for my head. I’m six feet tall and kinda long in the torso, so maybe the stock windshield will be perfect for slightly shorter riders. Indian offers a bunch of shield variations and tints, so if this was my personal motorcycle, I’d get a taller ‘shield and mount it up. It only takes a few minutes because the mounting bolts are easily accessed and removed with basic tools. The mechanism itself worked flawlessly during the ride, so kudos to Indian for a thorough wind protection scheme. The large frame-mounted fairing and leg shields also cut down substantially on wind. 

Indian Pursuit riding
The Pursuit feels sharper in the corners than other motorcycles of its class. Not bad at all for nearly half a ton. Photo by Kevin Wing.


Passing Holcomb Village and approaching Warner Springs, the roads tightened up a little, providing a test of the Pursuit’s handling. Despite gobs of torque that allow the bike to cruise along with minimal shifting, rowing gears with the PowerPlus is rewarded with a tasteful exhaust note and additional zip on corner exits. The bike seems to want low-rpm trundling or a clean sweep of the tachometer past 4,000 revs up to five and a half grand, where the relatively free-revving brute smooths out to an authoritative roar. The front brake discs, each the size of a personal pan pizza and gripped by Brembo calipers, slow the barge without fuss.


Of the three ride modes, I suspect most riders will stick to Standard mode. The fueling and throttle response here are a good match for riding around town, motoring down the highway, or even gentle carving of corners. Sport mode is too abrupt for spirited rides through twisting roads, even upsetting the chassis at times with mild mid-corner inputs. Sport mode is probably for showing off at stoplights and not much else. The restrictive rain mode is exactly what it needs to be for foul weather situations, not that I encountered any on this hot SoCal ride.


The route passed Mataguay Scout Ranch and turned up towards the sweeping views (and turns) leading to Henshaw Scenic Vista up Highway 76 and S Grade Road. We stopped short of storming Palomar to take in the sprawling scenery that attracts tourers to this part of the country. The Pursuit’s wide handlebar and neutral feel made short work of the ascent for a motorcycle of this class. I can’t speak to how it’d perform with a passenger and a week’s worth of cargo on board. However, there’s plenty of power for two plus gear, and that’s where the Premium Package’s rear preload tech comes into play.

Indian Pursuit Ride Command dash
Here’s a closer look at the rear suspension adjustment menu. The only way preload control could be easier is a fully automatic system. Photo by Kevin Wing.


The electronically adjustable rear preload menu is intuitive and effective. A few taps of the dash screen pulls up an image of the bike with three weights to adjust: rider weight, passenger weight, and cargo weight. Once these presets are in, the rider can toggle the passenger and cargo weights as needed. Servo-controlled preload adjustments are made in response to these settings. The rider doesn’t need to touch a shock spanner or preload knob. Messing around with these settings revealed an effective system. I unashamedly added 10 pounds to my 170-pound preset after stopping for smoked meats and pie in Julian.

Indian Pursuit rider triangle
Plenty of legroom and seat padding on the opulent Pursuit. Photo by Kevin Wing.


The seat and riding position had been comfortable all day, as you’d hope for a motorcycle like this. I had plenty of room to stretch out between the seat and floorboards. One of the press bikes had a Stage Two kit on it (cams, slip-ons, and an intake) that bumps horsepower to a claimed 134 ponies. We’ve come a long way from the days of 60 horsepower dinosaurs, huh? The modified bike also had a mid-rise handlebar and highway pegs to test. A short stint on that ride confirmed that the Stage Two engine has a lot more mustard on it. Gulps of intake and a throatier exhaust were easily noticeable next to a stock example. My enjoyment of that kit was let down by the highway pegs, which scraped constantly and felt too far apart for even a moderately tall guy. I wasn’t feeling the mid-rise, either, but I’ve never cared much for them on any bike.

Indian Pursuit
Look closely, and you can see the open leg shield vents here on the Blueberry Starship. Photo by Kevin Wing.


Swapping back to my stock Dark Horse, my legs were starting to get a bit warm behind the leg shields in the California heat. No problem! Indian builds a vent in each shield to cool shins and boots. (These bikes also have rear cylinder deactivation for heat management like other Indian models.) I managed to swing them both open with the toes of my boots, but I’m not sure that it’s a) actually easier than just opening them by hand at a stop light, or b) even possible to open them with large boots. Riders who choose to fill the empty leg shield uppers with speakers or additional storage will need to reach down to open these vents. Functionally, I thought the vents worked well, but I’d like to see a vent opening solution that feels a little more upscale.


A word about audio: This is a big deal for many tourers. Indian obliges with all kinds of speaker options, plus a dedicated audio menu and Apple CarPlay. Connecting to the bike was a cinch. Hearing Willie Nelson over windblast was a little more difficult at first. Some adjustments to the speaker balance helped clear that up, and for what it’s worth, I never had an issue hearing the audible directions from the navigation system as it led me to the end of the day’s ride. I hopped off the bike feeling about as fresh as when I climbed on. That’s a sure sign that this motorcycle and I could have ridden a lot farther together.


Reflections on the Pursuit


Had a day of riding the Indian Pursuit shown me the new horizons in big V-twin touring? The same PowerPlus that brought the Challenger to the performance bagger scene is an excellent match to touring. It’ll have a hard time convincing diehard traditionalists to give up their air cooling, and thankfully, that’s not the purpose of this motorcycle. There are plenty of other options to meet that market, some of which can be found on the showroom floor at your local Indian dealer. Instead, the Pursuit is Indian’s dream of a new era where forward-thinking riders can choose a luxurious, modern dresser that still channels the spirit of American grand touring. From its looks and massive V-twin to the scripted Indian badge on the tank, there’s no mistaking its country of origin. At the same time, Indian and Harley-Davidson are both working to overcome the longstanding stereotype that U.S. motorcycles are stuck in the past. Projects like the Scout and FTR1200 made strides at the entry level end of the lineup. Tackling that perception among large tourers, the most traditional class of all, will not be easy. The Pursuit is a strong first effort. 

Indian Pursuit
Will modern riders embrace Indian’s idea of future touring? Photo by Kevin Wing.


Indian’s customers for these motorcycles must be willing to plunk down a huge sum of money for a motorcycle that will be ridden extensively. These same customers must also want levels of performance and technology never before seen in a domestic dresser. Indian’s nemesis here may not be Harley-Davidson, but tech-laden tourers from Europe and Japan that offer even more refined long-haul experiences. Time will tell if the Pursuit’s unique position and balanced ride can overpower compelling motorcycles like the Harley-Davidson Road Glide, BMW K 1600 GTL, or even the Honda Gold Wing Tour. 


Regardless, serious touring motorcyclists who want to tour two-up on the most progressive platform built in the United States should start here. The Pursuit is in class of its own in that respect.






















2022 Indian Pursuit Dark Horse

2022 Indian Pursuit Limited

Price (MSRP)

Black Smoke, $30,999 U.S., $38,199 Canada

Silver Quartz Smoke, $31,749 U.S., $38,949 Canada

Spirit Blue Metallic, $31,749 U.S., $38,949 Canada

Ruby Metallic over Black Metallic, $32,499 U.S., $39,699 Canada

Premium Package, add $3,000 U.S., $3,600 Canada

Black Metallic, $29,999 U.S., $36,999 Canada

Deepwater Metallic, $30,749 U.S., $37,749 Canada

Maroon Metallic over Crimson Metallic, $31,499 U.S., $38,499 Canada

Premium Package, add $3,000 U.S., $3,600 Canada

Engine

1,768 cc, liquid-cooled, eight-valve, 60-degree V-twin

Transmission,

final drive

Six-speed, belt

Claimed horsepower

122

Claimed torque

128 foot-pounds @ 3,800 rpm

Frame

Cast aluminum

Front suspension

43 mm inverted fork, 5.1 inches of travel

Rear suspension

Fox preload-adjustable shock, 4.5 inches of travel

Front brake

Brembo four-piston calipers, dual 320 mm discs with ABS

Rear brake

Brembo four-piston caliper, single 298 mm disc with ABS

Rake, trail

25 degrees, 5.9 inches

Wheelbase

65.7 inches

Seat height

26.5 inches

Fuel capacity

6.0 gallons

Tires

Metzeler Cruisetec 130/60B19 front, 180/60R16 rear

Claimed weight

877 pounds

Available

Early 2022

Warranty

24 months, unlimited mileage

More info

indianmotorcycle.com

indianmotorcycle.com



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