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  #1  
Old 07-10-2020, 04:14 PM
Johnny Ritz Johnny Ritz is offline
John
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Mendota Heights, MN
Posts: 4,106
Indian Challenger Review

I was able to get a little saddle time on the Indian Challenger recently. I had multiple rides on the same short route that included some slight curves, bumps/potholes, city driving and short run on the interstate. I was also able to run this exact same course on a comparably equipped 2020 HD Roadglide 114. The weather was 89 degrees with high humidity.

Indian Challenger
Brakes: Awesome stopping power and feel. Can get the front to skid with 2 fingers and a nice pinch. Loved them. The ABS system is alright, with the front better than the rear. The rear ABS is kinda “stabby.”

Engine: Impressive!, Great power/tq from 2500 all the way to red line. Really begs to be ridden and rev’ed out. Will easily spin the rear tire in first gear with a simple crack of the throttle. Feels much more like a Victory than a Thunderstroke-Indian. With a Cam, extended Rev, better breathing; the Challenger will be an animal! (This engine had to be detuned significantly to meet the new Euro emissions, had it been released (..ahem…as a Victory in 2018); the engine would have been grandfathered in! HUGE SADFACE ☹ )
There is MUCH less heat off the liquid cooled engine; and the ones I rode never got over 215 degrees and then the fan would kick in and pull the heat down. I am still adapting to ride by wire systems and hate the delay compared to a cable driven system – “sport” mode definitely helped with the delay.
I wish 6th gear would be taller. At interstate speeds – it did not feel like an “Over Drive” gear…more so, the next linear gear after 5th with no downshifting required to pass.
Overall – very impressed!

Ride – Very stable. Suspension setup is outstanding – I tried to hit the rough spots and the machine soaked them up. Very easy to maneuver once under weigh, would drop and hold a corner easily…I wish we would have had some long bumpy sweepers to really hammer it. As hard as I tried to push it, it felt planted and great.
I rode no handed for a while to understand where pull back bars would need to go, and it was dead-steady.

The “Smart Lean” 6-Axis Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit traction control system worked great! When pounding a high torque left/right turn and punching the throttle (really trying to engage the system) it would allow the rear to take smooth half step and kept as much power as the tire would take. It always felt very much in control and accelerated hard. (NOT SO with the HD-114 Road Glide) Red line came quick on the Challenger – again wishing for a higher rev limiter!

Compare to HD 114 Road Glide:
Front Brakes were great – loved them as well! – on par with the Challenger, the ABS is also similar.
Rear Brakes not as good of feel as the Challenger and just as “Stabby” with ABS enabled.

Engine – At first I noticed the 114 had an impressive punch – but its reach isn’t long. It could pull with the Challenger from 2750 to 3500, but then the Challenger mightily pulled away. The Challenger had more below 2750 and WAY more above 3500…WAY more. The 114 falls flat at about 4300 and then the rev limiter kills the engine a short time later…at least that’s what it really felt like. Engine gets hot – and you feel it. It shakes a lot – especially at idle. The engine’s got a great sweet spot, it’s just a quite small sweet spot.
6th gear was a true overdrive gear which I really liked.

Ride – like a cattle wagon compare to the Challenger. Suspension is nowhere near as refined. Riding the same exact lines as the Challenger, it once bottomed out completely, and had a couple “spine tickler’s” on other bumps.

Cornering – it did dip into corner alright, but was not as nearly as stable and would step out of line in encountering bumps in corners.


Some comparisons to my 2010 Vision (w/ ABS):
My Vision has a Trunk, Lowers (obviously), skid plate, tools and gear, etc…the Challenger has none of these, thus gives up about 150 lbs to my Vision. I also have some engine mods that give my Vision a little more parity – cams and such; measured at the wheel is 120 HP/115 tq. The cams on my Vision really come on at about 4200, and then carry well all the way to its extended redline with little to no drop in HP.

The Challenger felt much lighter – because it is, which also made it feel much more spirited.
In a foot race, the Challenger’s additional torque at a lower rev range give it an advantage. If the Challenger can get a big jump during the low rpm, it would be close. If it does not get a big jump early, I think my Vision would out run it in the Challenger’s stock form. Add a trunk, lowers, skidplate, tools/gear to the Challenger, even more so.

But, once better cams/breathing/fuel and a good tune (making the engine efficient) the Challenger will be and absolute beast reckoned with!

Overall, I am really impressed with the Indian Challenger and think it is an outstanding replacement for my Vision. I do need to see the touring package though! I was worried I might have to switch to a BMW to get performance touring bike, but the Indian Challenger calmed those fears.
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2020, 07:03 PM
JoeGopher JoeGopher is offline
Joe
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Burnsville, MN
Posts: 4,240
I agree with everything you said John. My only additions:

Comparing it to my little 'ol XC, I can safely say that the engine pulls in a much more linear fashion compared to my 135HP/TQ Victory. It never stopped pulling and in Sport mode, it was instant TQ as well. Very impressive.

When I got off the bike, the first thing I said to Kyle was "Gee, I had forgotten what good brakes were since Vic did away with the Brembo's.

For those that are in the "Indian is too cramped for me" camp, the Challenger has a little more room than the standard 111s. Not Vic room, but more.

Can't really put my finger on it, but my XC and the Challenger weigh about the same (my trunk isn't on right now) and the Challenger seemed a bit more nimble. It follows direction really well and I never thought I was going to get in to trouble if I took a corner too hot or accelerated too much. Was on the highway and did a pass in the right lane to catch the group, and never had to change gears. Smooth as silk the whole way.

I will be looking at getting one if they don't terribly eff up the styling on the Tour version.
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  #3  
Old 07-15-2020, 04:05 PM
kingpinrider kingpinrider is offline
Jeff
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Chippewa Falls, WI
Posts: 281
The Vision replacement itch. My 2008 is up to 28,000 miles. Was looking for better heat management. Sitting over that air cooled twin gets warm, especially behind that full fairing. I did buy a 13" tall windshield and just gave that a ride. Nice to have some airflow thru the helmet and hitting the tops of my shoulders. I figure I can raise the windshield up to the standard stock height if rain hits, but I ride in hot temps more often than rain. I strongly recommend a shorter windshield. The view over the top is nicer also.

Since $10K is about my limit for alternate rides, I hadn't even begun to look closely at the Indian line. Thanks for the heads up review on the Challenger. I had rode the Wisconsin twisties with some sport touring riders and got the bug to ride one. Latched on to a 2016 Yamaha FJR1300. Let's just say that mid-range RPM in 4th has you going 80mph. You begin to wonder why there is a 5th and 6th gear. The liquid cooled engine throws much less heat and you can drop the windshield to get a facefull of fresh air. They come standard with sidebags and mine has the touring trunk option. I do like a place to throw my helmet, gloves, and glasses. The handling is remarkable, especially in corners.

I now have the option to invite my sons to come ride with me. When they do, they ride the FJR and I ride the Vision. Had one son take me up on the offer already.
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  #4  
Old 07-15-2020, 09:30 PM
Johnny Ritz Johnny Ritz is offline
John
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Mendota Heights, MN
Posts: 4,106
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingpinrider View Post
The Vision replacement itch. My 2008 is up to 28,000 miles. Was looking for better heat management. Sitting over that air cooled twin gets warm, especially behind that full fairing. I did buy a 13" tall windshield and just gave that a ride. Nice to have some airflow thru the helmet and hitting the tops of my shoulders. I figure I can raise the windshield up to the standard stock height if rain hits, but I ride in hot temps more often than rain. I strongly recommend a shorter windshield. The view over the top is nicer also.

Since $10K is about my limit for alternate rides, I hadn't even begun to look closely at the Indian line. Thanks for the heads up review on the Challenger. I had rode the Wisconsin twisties with some sport touring riders and got the bug to ride one. Latched on to a 2016 Yamaha FJR1300. Let's just say that mid-range RPM in 4th has you going 80mph. You begin to wonder why there is a 5th and 6th gear. The liquid cooled engine throws much less heat and you can drop the windshield to get a facefull of fresh air. They come standard with sidebags and mine has the touring trunk option. I do like a place to throw my helmet, gloves, and glasses. The handling is remarkable, especially in corners.

I now have the option to invite my sons to come ride with me. When they do, they ride the FJR and I ride the Vision. Had one son take me up on the offer already.
Do you have the lower wind deflectors on your Vision? They do help a lot - once moving!
In the rain, I ride with the windshield lowered - the wind helps keep my helmet shield clear.

Nice FJR - there have been a few here that have had those as well - great sport touring bike!
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"Get Busy Livin', or Get Busy Dying'"

Johnny Ritz & #434
VMC #59

John Ritter, the one still living.
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  #5  
Old 07-16-2020, 10:45 AM
kingpinrider kingpinrider is offline
Jeff
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Chippewa Falls, WI
Posts: 281
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Ritz View Post
Do you have the lower wind deflectors on your Vision? They do help a lot - once moving!
In the rain, I ride with the windshield lowered - the wind helps keep my helmet shield clear.

Nice FJR - there have been a few here that have had those as well - great sport touring bike!
Hello Johnny! Yes, I added the lower wind deflectors about three years ago. They do help block the wind for cold mornings and funnel a little extra when it's hot out.

Thanks on the FJR. Yamaha has been making them since about 2003.
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