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ADV NewsAn Adventure Bike from Indian Motorcycle Coming?

An Adventure Bike from Indian Motorcycle Coming?

Harley-Davidson may not be the only ‘American’ adventure bike on the way.

Published on 12.13.2019

Ever wonder if there’s any truth to the idiom “Too much of a good thing?” Well, if you think 2020’s adventure bike market is whirling with enough choices to make a buyer’s head spin, wait until this time next year when we unpack 2021.

So far we know for sure Harley-Davidson’s Pan America will hit the trails next season and now, according to recent reports, it appears America’s other purveyor of V-twin heavyweight cruisers, Indian Motorcycle, will also throw a hat into the lucrative ADV bike ring. 


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Yup. But wait, this isn’t as corny as it sounds. Somehow, every other outlet reporting on this future machine failed to consider that Indian’s parent company since 2003, Polaris Industries, is a world leader in off-road performance vehicles. Not only is it dominant in the snowmobile market, it’s also famous for its performance ATV/UTVs and side-by-sides. Who are you sharing the sand dunes and slick rock with? A bunch of Yahoos in Polaris RZRs. 

This is a company that gets it. That understands the dynamics of off-road adventure. 

Leaked document of Indian motorcycles future projects.
Leaked Indian motorcycles planning document showing an adventure bike, under project name ‘Apollo’, is in the works for MY21.

So, at the very least, let’s give Indian the benefit of the doubt as we await its ADV entry. All we know so far, based on a leaked planning document, is that it will be a cornerstone of the FTR1200 flat track-inspired platform, which so far includes a standard, Sport and new-for-2020 Rally edition with knobbies and wire-spoked wheels. As with its siblings, the reported ADV model will feature a 1203cc V-twin engine, which pumps out a claimed 120 Horsepower and 85 ft-lbs of low-end torque. 

According to the leaked document, Indian’s adventure bike will launch as a 2021 model. Most likely, an ADV version will require a completely different chassis and performance systems that compete crank to crank with nemesis Harley-Davidson’s Pan America, and at least approach the capabilities and amenities of steadfast Big Twin ADV class leader, the venerable BMW R1250GS. 

Indian Motorcycles FTR Rally
The newly released FTR Rally moves the lineup one step closer towards the planned adventure model.

So far, we’ve been impressed by the machine seen ripping around in Harley’s Pan America teaser videos, and being able to walk around the bike at the recent IMS kick-off in Long Beach, California, albeit a glass-encased prototype, went a long way to further the excitement. 

We’ve heard from many riders who would welcome an ‘American’ ADV-alternative, a corner of the market Harley-Davidson would own outright if not for its #1 rival bringing an alternative to the game. 

However, both American brands have more to worry about than how many buyers each can hook with an adventure bike fishing expedition. With overall sales figures spiraling by double digits each quarter, both iconic national brands, weighed down by their heavy cruiser heritage, will have to fight using every available resource. 

Harley Davidson Panamerica
Harley Davidson’s Panamerica is set to hit dealers next year. With overall sales figures spiraling down, both iconic national brands, weighed down by their heavy cruiser heritage, will have to fight using every available resource. 

Luckily for Indian, a brand roughed up in the 90s and early 2000s by failed resurrections, parent company Polaris has the means to keep it in new rubber as it rumbles down some untried avenues in search of prosperity.

And unlike Harley, Indian also stands to gain from the high-performance off-road expertise of its benefactor. No matter what it brings to the ring, this is sure to be an interesting match. 

If 2020 is any indication, 2021 will reveal an even richer range of adventure bike choices. Too much of a good thing? What an awesome problem to have. 

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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27 thoughts on “An Adventure Bike from Indian Motorcycle Coming?

    • A LOT! And frankly just like their 4WD SUV counterparts most of em will never do more than a few miles of manicured smooth dirt surfaces their entire existence. I shepherded 2 big adv twins down a fire road a few days ago and I know by how fricken slow they both were they were about crap their panties…They WANT to do it but wanting and doing is two different things…pretty similar how are sport bike is ENTIRELY capable of scraping the pegs right off the showroom floor but very very very few people are actually going to pay their dues and learn how ….same goes for dual sports totally capable of all kinds of stuff like slides and endless wheelies ….but likely won’t ever happen….people…well afluent westerners buy a fantasy….it’s just satisfying owning an AR15 rifle and reading novels and watching movies where the heros are using such….it was the same with the now dying fad of the Harley “Biker” image…ALL in the HEADS of 99% of the market….they wanted to PRETEND in fantasy that they were a REAL bad ass biker when in reality they work in cubicals and are up to their eyeballs in debt….just saying the Adventture thing is simply the delayed version of the the SUV fad finally coming on full force in motorcycling….Pretty cool however for the actual folks that REALLY ride off-road adventures regularly! More choices and competition makes the choices better by the year!

    • Obviously more than you realize, KTM has be successfully selling large bore VT adventure bikes for years, they outsell Harley in total motorcycles. Adventure riding is one of the fastest growing segments of motorcycling where as most of the other segments are shrinking. Indian makes a badass VT motor, I’d like to see it in an Adv platform.

    • Same question asked not so very long about ago regarding the emergence of SUVs….and the answer might just be along the same lines….something perhaps like “Oh you just have NO IDEA!” It’s probably similar to when Harley finally took off….when CRUISERS finally went ballistic! It was like “WTF?? Who saw THAT coming??

    • The UNICORN Holy Grail GRAND SLAM record selling all time cult favored Motorcycle I predict will take the market by storm the moment it emerges ….it will be a twin cylinder that runs like a sewing machine and makes 70ish hp…which I know SOUNDS boring..but the next KEY spec is ULTRA Light weight….I’m talking bonafide for reals 350 pounds all gassed up in adv trim and even lighter in a sportbike and even lighter than that in a naked…. It would have a reasonable seat height/ground clearance and good suspension. 6 speed transmission and at least optional quick shifter/slipper assist clutch fuel injected naturally (duhh) …get all the ratios and dimensions right? This engine/platform I just KNOW would outsell EVERY OTHER motorcycle made (well in the West …idk about the tiny commuter bikes in 3rd world countries)…..I see an ADV version of this just taking that entire segment by storm! I see a faired version being the basis of entire road racing series and I see cult like MC clubs of young people who want nothing else….not to mention a naked universal version that literally can’t be kept on a showroom floor because they are presold for months ahead…..If this sounds pie in the sky? Trust me it is NOT….NO ONE has built this bike yet even though it is TOTALLY DOABLE!….And I would say it would be Uber expensive EXCEPT I think the volume potential could easily bring the price down The trick is getting that level of HP to that weight without compromising reliability or making it prohibitively expensive ….this bike would be a complete TOTAL HOOT to ride!….Personally I would pay $14k no problem if quality and not somehow crippled by some idiots in whatever corporation might execute on this…I KNOW KTM COULD do it …the problem they would have is shooting themselves in the foot ….a lot of other models would instantly plunge in sales…same with other manufacturers…I think they actually have to WITHOHOLD this unicorn for their own good….which leaves a GRAND OPENING for Harley or Indian if you ask me….OR dare I even suggest a company out of India or China or Vietnam or somewhere…..but the quality involved that could not happen ….those types just can’t think that far out of the box….has to be a company new to anything remotely near the segment…..I can SEE it! Damn I WANT IT so badly!! It is SO time! SO doable! And BTW any half assed effort that weighs 400+ and makes around 50hp? Yeah that will likely sell well but it will just be another new model NOT the grand slam bike of the century ….no boner….What I speak of seriously DOES require some exotic sh*t….350llbs fully fueled for 200 mile ride ADV bike ….70ish Hp FOR REALS ….a superb 6 speed transmission/clutch fuel injection/perfect mapping…..all the boxes checked for handling and suspension…..The motorcycling world WOULD instantly KNOW this engine/platform the MOMENT it arrives….Id bet everything I have on it…I’d buy two, one to ride and one I would leave in the crate as an investment…

  1. I understand their eagerness to get in on the act, but as stated by many, “LIGHTNESS” must somehow creep into this all-to-simple equation. Too easy to dump a huge V-twin into the game. Why not the other way and go with a lightweight single or vertical twin and realistic off road suspension?

  2. I currently own an FTR 1200, and if Indian plans to use this as a base, they need to address the fuel tank issue. You can’t have a viable ADV bike that runs out of gas at 100 miles!!!

  3. Stuff ADV’s. What Indian should really do is give us a true, American Sports-bike. The FTR is a nice step.. but many of us are pining for The Big Leap Forward. Unlike Harley, Indian was famous for INLINE FOURS in the past… Why not again?

  4. It’s been a while since Motorcyclist and Motorcycle Cruiser..

    My thoughts are , what could’ve been. EBR was a year away from an ADV bike. Buell’s Ulysses needed a better engine. HD cut off their nose.

    Indian’ s FTR is not the 750 flat tracker but a European designed version of a Ducati-like flat tracker. Keep designing in US.

    I don’t see motorcycling growing. Not enough to have a second American ADV bike. It’s too late they both should’ve had them here by now.

    I wish both of them well, but we don’t need another R1250GS. It will take 10 years to get almost as good. Euro 6 will push the market electric

    Yamaha is too late with the T7….KTM. has killed it.

  5. Pingback: Indian Might be Working on an Adventure Bike – Robert's Adventure

  6. Pingback: Leaked document confirms Indian FTR 1200-based ADV debut in 2020 – Harley Davidson Bike Pics

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  12. Being very closely involved with Indian Motorcycle I can see FTR being adapted to adventure version. However, there are several items that would require attention as far as hard- and software.
    Polaris has proved to be very competetive in on-road market. Indian motorcycles are made simple and well put together keeping durability and longevity in mind.

  13. ADV yes!Please consider height, weight not everyone is 6′ ft ! And 35 years old, I own and ride a 2017 Indian Chieftain with all upgrades options and ride everyday. Harley Davidson has struck a nerve I hate to say, but l’m one that must have dependable machine like the 111 !!!!! Thank you , Martin Shepard

  14. So late in the game to start basically from scratch…I just hope both companies have the stomachs to weather the learning curve …. The competition is already brutal and totally UNLIKE cruiser ‘image” motorcycles the adventure riding market GREATLY cares about stats and performance reviews….in other words you can’t fix sales blunders with paint/graphics and chrome……the bikes will literally have to measure up on spec sheets and WILL have to impress the multitudes of Internet and magazine reviews….And THEN they actually have to deliver IN PERSON when examples begin showing up in groups of riders …their owner/riders have to be beaming with satisfaction with enough em also putting the trounce on the average machine folks are riding….like I bought my KTM just as much based on how many I SEE being ridden well and how many KTMs there are in current use relative to other brands just as much as I am influenced by the reviews and specialized rider groups online…I believe the last thing any true enthusiast goes by is the advertisements ….The only thing those are good for is hooking folks on looks alone….a manufacture needs to roll out the motorhomes and toyboxes full of a new model(s) and do RIDE DAYS if they really want to convince the enthusiast without waiting on reiews and word of mouth….my 2 cents….at this stage I am merely slightly interested in an HD Pan America …I am FAR from the listing to ride much less own one…. …just saying HD is going to have to work OVERTIME to ever bring me into the fold….they have a lot of years of nothing but dissapoint to my eyes…Let’s see a damn for real SPORT Bike… An American answer to Ducati! The HD version of the new Vette Stingray on two wheels….CONVINCE US! Oh and DITTO for you Indian!

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