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An Adventure Bike from Indian Motorcycles Coming?

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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 Motorcycles, 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 RallyThe 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 PanamericaHarley 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. 

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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.

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