King of the Baggers Indian Challenger Experience Assessment
The hardest half about using Indian’s King of the Baggers Challenger goes sluggish. Tucked in behind a photograph automotive it feels agitated and anxious. The bike lunges and hesitates in an uncomfortable sequence, subtly reminding you that Indian Motorbike Racing didn’t construct this bike for pageantry. It is a racebike and it was made to go quick—as a racebike ought to.
Indian isn’t any stranger to constructing race-winning machines. The corporate was based by racers who developed America’s first motorized bicycles and it’s been racing for 122 years—though not constantly. Indian swept the Isle of Man TT in 1911 with somewhat luck and a few reasonably forward-thinking (for the time) improvements; Burt Munro set land velocity data; and the unique Indian Wrecking Crew (Ernie Beckman, Invoice Tuman, and Bobby Hill) tallied 14 AMA nationwide wins between 1950 and 1953. Seventy years later and Indian Motorbike Racing has added one other feather to its cap by profitable championships throughout three extensively various lessons, together with King of the Baggers (KotB), Tremendous Hooligan Nationwide Championship (SHNC), and American Flat Observe SuperTwins.
Asking Indian to decide on a favourite amongst these titles is like asking a mother or father to select a favourite little one. They’ll lie and say there aren’t any favorites, however there may be all the time one. Sorry, child. Within the case of those championships, it’s onerous to think about Indian not feeling greater than sentimental in regards to the King of the Baggers crown that it’s pried from Harley-Davidson’s palms. Rivalries—particularly those who have lasted greater than a century—have that impact.
Associated: Why King of the Baggers Racing Is So In style
To win on this class is to showcase the capabilities of the bikes individuals are shopping for. “The highest-selling bikes in America are baggers, and that’s what we’re racing,” says Gary Grey, vice chairman – racing, expertise, and repair for Indian Motorbike. “If you happen to go to a race, like with Laguna Seca the place all people parks down within the bowl, 10 or 15 years in the past it was sportbikes, however that’s not what folks trip anymore. They trip baggers. So it’s actually cool to get this heavy iron on the market and present folks what it’ll do.”
The bikes that Indian is rolling out, along with S&S Cycle, are a far cry from what anybody anticipated to see when the primary King of the Baggers exhibition race was introduced for 2020 and the package deal has solely developed since then. Look carefully and also you’ll discover the bones of a manufacturing bike, however that picture is rapidly blurred by a throng of race elements and production-based (so Indian says) items which can be so closely modified they’re virtually unrecognizable.
Throughout a current preseason check at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, we had the prospect to speak to the Indian Motorbike Racing crew in regards to the undertaking earlier than throwing a leg over Tyler O’Hara’s 2022 championship-winning Challenger. Maybe one of the best reminder of how particular this bike is: The fairings wore signatures from Tyler and the crew. Nerve-wracking? Sure.
Fears of binning Indian Motorbike Racing’s pleasure and pleasure vanish rolling out of scorching pit, although it takes a minute to really feel really snug behind the large OEM-ish fairing that serves as a visible reminder of the bike’s dimension. Indian is utilizing the passenger footpeg mounting holes because the mounting level for the S&S foot controls, and whereas it admits to wanting to maneuver the rider ahead on the ‘23 racebike, these ergos work properly for the unacquainted. Think about them a center floor between racy and roomy; pure and on the identical time, not. Satirically, it solely takes a couple of corners to neglect the luggage are there.
Associated: Indian Motorbike Racing Declares 2023 Race Groups
Almost each second on the Challenger is like weaving out and in of two vastly completely different worlds. Using the bike looks like a balancing act; push in some locations, ease off in others.
There’s so much much less easing off while you’re Tyler O’Hara, and to Indian’s credit score, it’s constructed an unbelievable package deal across the inventory body, modified just for further cornering clearance. Propped up on an Öhlins TTX 36 shock, modified FG 8603 fork from a Ducati Multistrada (!), and closely braced OEM swingarm, the bike transitions back and forth with an surprising sense of urgency. Of all of the issues we anticipated to be startled by on this check day, handing over too early was not one in all them. And but that was the case as we rolled by the tight left-right transitions at Chuckwalla on our first flying lap. It’s surprising how nimble and sporty the Challenger feels at velocity.
The bike has a barely completely different persona when banked over in lengthy, sweeping corners with the throttle partially cracked or off, and it takes time to turn out to be snug with how a lot the bike wallows whereas on its aspect—a refined reminder that this chassis was not constructed for racing. Somebody like O’Hara rides proper by that, whereas our greatest answer was to ease up and let the bike transfer because it needed. We’re in no hurry right here. Necessary to say is that we examined the bike on Dunlop This autumn rubber, however slicks are spooned on for racing duties. That additional grip would possibly improve total composure, although Indian riders admit that there’s all the time been a little bit of chassis flex.
Effectively-developed Öhlins suspension and a stout braking package deal that includes race-spec Brembo calipers are well-integrated into the platform and a sign of the wonderful work Indian has accomplished to show this Challenger right into a racebike. The suspension doesn’t really feel harsh like a superbike would possibly, however gives nice help when hammering on the brakes or driving off a nook. The bike weighs 620 kilos, per MotoAmerica guidelines, and when you’d anticipate that mass to overpower any elements you throw at it, that undoubtedly isn’t the case with these bits.
Associated: First Observe Check Of Indian Motorbike’s Race Bagger
Talking of weight, Indian has minimize a lot meat off the bike that it truly must run 10 to fifteen kilos of ballast on the bike to fulfill minimal weight necessities. “We’ve moved it in all places, however more often than not we’re racing with it down within the bellypan,” says S&S’s chief engineer Jeff Bailey, a essential participant within the undertaking.
Indian is regularly engaged on the design of the adjustable billet triple clamps and fine-tuning the geometry, as a result of in racing you’re by no means really glad. Even nonetheless, the setup we rode provided an unbelievable quantity of confidence at nook entry. One way or the other, dropping anchor after which trail-braking right into a nook doesn’t really feel misplaced. You’re by no means struggling to get the bike towards the apex, or really feel prefer it’s in cost. A generously sized thumb brake helps the bike steer even tighter in response to O’Hara, whereas additionally stabilizing the chassis and minimizing the aforementioned flex.
Nook exits are proof of the strong work Indian has accomplished with the engine, which is making one thing like 160-plus horsepower. There’s ambiguity in that assertion as a result of it is a racebike, and race groups don’t usually need anybody realizing precisely what they’re working with. What we do know is that Indian is utilizing 110mm big-bore pistons and cylinders, CNC-ported cylinder heads, and camshafts with greater raise and extra period. Crankcase most important bearings are locked in place and billet guide lash adjustment rocker arms (machined from a strong chunk of metal) are used for sturdiness. The compression ratio is 13.0:1.
It wasn’t all the time simple to make that 160 hp, and it wasn’t till earlier than Daytona final yr that the crew “discovered a couple of issues.” Huge modifications embrace a transfer away from the dual oval throttle our bodies and inventory airbox, which is definitely a part of the Challenger’s body. A big, 78mm throttle physique from automotive aftermarket firm BBK was the answer, and the outcomes communicate for themselves. The consumption on the bike we rode was partially tucked beneath a barely modified tank, whereas a new-for-’23 setup makes use of a less complicated design with an extended runner positioned simply exterior the tank. An added good thing about the brand new system is that it helps make energy within the rpm vary the Challenger will now be racing in; MotoAmerica has lowered the rev restrict to 7,700 rpm for the 2023 season. “We have been a couple of hundred rpm over that earlier than,” Bailey says. “We stored extending the rev limiter for sure corners at sure tracks to avoid wasting a shift every now and then, however peak energy is round 7,700 rpm.”
Powering out of a nook on the Challenger feels akin to being strapped to a Boeing 747 at takeoff. You may really feel the burden earlier than momentum picks up and out of the blue you’re consuming up tarmac in such fast trend you possibly can’t assist however be impressed. An abundance of torque makes the bike really feel virtually simple to trip, and but all the facility Indian discovered means the bike retains pulling proper as much as the rev limiter. Tapping stated limiter whereas leaving pit lane served as a clue to all the time be watching the shift lights on the high of the AiM TFT sprint show. The sequence of inexperienced, yellow, and pink lights come rapidly.
Huge torque and really massive, single throttle physique could make for a difficult-to-control motorbike, particularly at something lower than 50 % throttle opening, thus a variety of time was devoted to tuning the throttle map. The addition of a MaxxECU enabled Indian to take the subsequent step in tuning. In its present state, the throttle feels sharp, however not overly aggressive. You need to have as a lot really feel as doable when cracking the throttle on a 620-pound racebike with an astronomical quantity of torque, and on this newest system Indian appears to have completed that—one more testomony to the effort and time this crew has put into creating this bike. Even whether it is onerous to trip at photograph speeds…
One other attention-grabbing a part of the powertrain is the transmission—it’s inventory. And it really works exceptionally properly. Humorous sufficient, this is likely one of the issues we got here into the check most involved about. Touring bikes aren’t identified for having essentially the most seamless transmissions, and stories coming from media checks on Harley-Davidson’s Screamin’ Eagle Highway Glide racebike—together with Cycle World’s personal Michael Gilbert—instructed that the transmission was a giant weak level for H-D. Fortuitously for Indian, that isn’t the case. Including to the expertise is a bidirectional quickshifter that’s tuned to absolute perfection.
Glowing as all of those feedback may be, it’s vital to say that that is nonetheless a really tough motorbike to hustle round a racetrack. Not due to any efficiency limitations, however due to how really distinctive it’s and the mindset you have to be in to push it to its most. We didn’t come anyplace close to that restrict in our quick time with the bike, however on the tempo we rode, it was a genuinely enjoyable expertise. What Tyler O’Hara, Jeremy McWilliams, and everybody else on the King of the Baggers grid is ready to do on these bikes is astonishing.
Credit score additionally goes to the Indian Motorbike Racing crew for persevering with to push the bounds looking for sooner lap occasions. Their dedication to the undertaking exhibits by in each half that was engineered, raced, and reengineered. How far this undertaking goes is but to be seen, however even in its present state, it’s clear that Indian’s constructed a real racebike. A really quick and really succesful racebike.
All in favour of experiencing the bike for your self and have a reasonably huge chunk of change sitting round? Following our check, Indian introduced that will probably be promoting the Challenger RR, a race duplicate Challenger with almost similar construct sheet to Indian’s racebike. All yours for “simply” $92,229…
Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
Race go well with: Rev’It Apex
Gloves: Rev’It Apex
Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R