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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just bought the black Challenger Dark Horse a week ago. Did the 500-mile break in, got first service, added Stage 1, mid-rise bars, heated grips, both highway bars front and rear, sissy bar and pad. I've got about 800 miles on it now, and have been riding in 35-45 deg F weather, with heavy rain all week (record rainfall for Seattle).

Traded in my beloved 2019 Road King Special that was highly customized and had a little over 18,500 miles on her after about a year of ownership.

My only vehicle is my motorcycle. I ride every day in every condition unless it is below 30 deg F (freezing). I've become familiar with the Indian over the last week, broke it in properly and have had some fun, as well as just commuting and riding around town.

Overall, I love the bike. It has some things I'm not thrilled with, some areas it could be improved, but overall it is a much better bike than the HD M8 touring series (I've owned both a road glide and road King with the M8). There are some areas I don't like as much as the Harley's but I'll go into more detail later, and don't feel those things add up in favor of the Harley. This bike is just a fantastic touring v-twin, as comfortable for Urban commuting as it is for long highway runs and I've been doing a lot of both to confirm that.

I'll give a brief rundown of some things I really like, and things I don't. If anyone has any questions, just ask.

Favorite features:

Endless torque: The PowerPlus 108 is a gutsy fun engine. From a dead stop, below 2k RPM, it feels a bit less torquey than my Stage 2 M8 114ci did. But once you hit 2k, it feels noticeably more powerful with a very enjoyable torque curve all the way out to about 6200RPM. Where the Harley M8's torque falls off a cliff around 4500RPM, the Indian is just getting started, and teases you to keep pulling that throttle HARD all the way to 6500 and... It is awesome!! 60mph in 4th gear puts you around 3500RPM, and this girl is ready to pass anything on the road with ease. It's a great feeling when you need to get by that semi. The gearing on this bike feels fairly tall, but it works well with the high revving motor and extra torque to just give you a monstrously fun jaunt that never gets boring. I am loving this motor.

Sound: Got the Reinhart slip-ons that come with the factory stage 1 kit. It sounds good / acceptable. The Indian with slip-ons sounds a bit deeper than the HD, but not quite as nutty good as a twin cam with pipes, of course. But it's bossy enough, nobody will confuse you with a Honda or BMW. The start-up "roar" is kind of anemic compared to the Harley, when you first fire the bike on, but twist the throttle just a little and it gets loud, with a deep rumbling bass note, that opens up to a loud nasty growl around 3500RPM. It most reminds me of a Harley M8 with a 2-into-1 exhaust at speed. I personally like that sound (and performance), so I've been quite happy with it. While we're talking about stage 1 - yes, the intake does make a noticeable difference. Nothing too crazy, I'd estimate maybe 5-8% gain in real world power, but it feels good. And it should be that way from the factory.

Suspension: light years better than the Road Glide, it's closer to the new Softails with inverted front forks and rear monoshock. The bike stays planted over just about anything, railroad tracks at 30-50mph are no big deal, and I've hit a couple bad potholes with a passenger who says she didn't even feel them. It's really good with the additional travel over a Harley touring bike. Rode from Portland to Seattle, getting up to 125mph at a few points, and passenger said it was far more comfortable on the bike. I'm 5'9" tall with a 30" inseam, and can comfortably straddle the bike with both feet firmly planted, and find it easy to push backwards up a slight incline. My girlfriend has no trouble mounting and dismounting, and said if I buy another road glide, she's going to take the Indian because she so prefers it's ride.

Windshield/Fairing: the ride is comfortable at any speed thanks to the awesome fairing and shield. I love the power windshield. Put it all the way up and your passenger isn't getting blasted by wind. Drop it down in the city and you still get chest protection with some nice buffeting-free airflow at the helmet, with the vents opened or closed. I drove a 150-mile stretch in 35-degree weather, in a downpour, and was very comfortable with very little spray on my visor. It's so nice I find myself leaving my helmet visor open, even in rain, so I can enjoy the stereo while driving around town.

Electronics: so far, I'm really digging the stereo, it sounds good enough for me, even at highway speeds. The heated grips are fantastic - at half-power, I could feel them through my winter gloves and they kept my hands cozy on that 35-degree run. The electric locking saddlebags are one of my favorite features - my girl feels safe leaving her purse in the bags and I carry my concealed firearm in there, knowing the bags lock and are safe. One of the unexpected awesome features on this bike is the puddle light. Unlock the bags and the puddle light illuminates the ground around you. No more pulling a bike off the stand while standing in a puddle of oil (my old Road Glide once fell victim to this awful scenario).

Things that could be improved:

Lighting: The headlight on this thing is less than useless. Maybe I'm just used to the aftermarket LED I was running on my Harley, but even the halogen that came stock on the road King seems to do a vastly better job of lighting the road ahead. The Indian stock headlight is so dim, with such a poor side to side throw, that I find myself frequently outriding it and having to ride under the speed limit, especially in fog or rain. On dark country roads, this thing is terrifying, you are basically driving blind. Corners, you can't see jack. On any unlit road, the light struggles to give you visibility any more than 3 car lengths ahead. It's scary bad. I find myself riding under the speed limit and cars tailgating me when I'm on a dark road because it is very insufficient for posted speed limits. There is a defined horizontal bar of light and anything above or below that is just darkness. To put it in perspective, the crappy stock 5" halogen headlight on a Harley Sportster does about twice as well lighting up a dark road or penetrating clouds and fog. I threw an LED headlamp rated at 400 lumens on my helmet, and it did a better job of lighting the road ahead. That is unacceptable for a bike in this price range geared at touring. Shame on Indian for shipping such a dangerously useless headlight. Did anyone even test this thing? How did it get past QA? Temporary fix: I use high beams in the dark and am looking for an aftermarket light. The stock headlight is a safety risk. It can't be this bad by design.

Brakes: The brakes on this bike are useless garbage. Another factor that has me scared to ride highway speeds. The dealer said the pads might not have seated properly and promised to check them during the 500 mile service. I left the shop and tested them in the rain, and god have mercy on my soul if someone ever pulls out in front of me. They have about 30% of the stopping power of my Harley road glide and road King brakes. I tested a hard brake from 40mph and it took about 200-300 yards to slide to a gradual stop. My old 1970's Honda 550 had better brakes and they were drum brakes. I think the dealer skipped my brake check and they were never seated properly. No way stock brakes could be this bad from the factory. These are dangerous garbage, totally useless in the rain, and I'm afraid to ride with them.

Dealer support: The dealer I bought it from wouldn't let me test ride until I bought it. I rode 200 miles, from Seattle to Portland, to test ride this bike, 3 hours on the road, and you tell me I can't ride it when I finally get there? WTF?? That is shady as hell. I also don't believe they did any inspection or prep on the bike, due to the issues mentioned above. So I took my bike to a different Indian dealership for the first service, a dealership close to me that is the largest Indian dealer in the Seattle area. I'll give them credit for doing my service and adding the handlebars and stage 1 in a single day (10 hours in service). But I left with brakes that are useless and dangerous. They left the trim off my windshield and broke my volume controller for the stereo. When I called the dealership to tell them there were some issues, the service guy literally sighed and acted as if this was some huge problem and said, "ok, bring it back in and we'll try to get someone to look at it." Hey dude, I just paid you $3400 to work on my Indian, you are an Indian dealership, and you treat me like that? I would NEVER get that kind of treatment at a Harley dealership around here. I bought 4 bikes at my Harley dealer, and they were freaking awesome to deal with. Some of those guys are personal friends now, some of them ride with my club, and every time I go there, they CARE and they are engaging and friendly. I don't get that feeling at the Indian dealers, who are selling boats, rzrs, and slingshots too, and give you the impression that motorcycles are kind of an afterthought. It was like dealing with a low-end used car dealership. Eager to take your money, don't give a crap if they sell you something that might kill you or not. Just night and day, and totally unacceptable, compared to what you experience with Harley. There is zero customer engagement from Polaris. When you buy a Harley, they treat you like family, and you automatically get a hog membership, guys at the dealership know your name, they have barbeques, clubs hang out down there, etc. The Polaris/Indian dealership reminds me of a car dealership. They're there to sell you a product and that's it. Nobody really seems to care about you or if you like the bike, there is zero customer engagement after the purchase, zero club involvement, zero outreach to the owner community, etc. It's really bad and it makes me miss my Harley. Heck, my Harley dealer is so cool, they told me to bring down the Indian after I bought it (and told them I wouldn't be buying the road glide ultra) and came out to check it out, talked to me about the bike, praised it's technical qualities, and were just great as usual. When I mentioned the brake problems, they told me they could take a look and reseat the pads or swap them if needed, and they offered to do it for free. Just cuz they know I buy bikes and I'm part of the community and they want to sell me my next bike. The Indian dealer acts like it's a huge pain. Not cool at all. Again, it makes me second guess my purchase, and I'm not sure I'll buy another Polaris/Indian product if this is how it goes. I paid $32k for this bike and another $5k in parts and services. I expect to be treated the way I would if I paid that same money at a Harley dealership, but it isn't even close. Not even remotely close. It makes me depressed just thinking about it, like Polaris just flipped me off once they got my money. Like they don't really care if the brakes kill me. They got their money and I got the bike they were willing to sell me. Again, VERY uncool. But I'm gonna head back up and give em another shot. I'm hoping it was an anomaly.

Minor quibbles:

The gauges are inset in inverted pods that collect up to a few inches of water in rainy weather. They also inhibit visibility. I have no idea why they would be designed like this. Again, did anyone actually ride this bike in touring conditions? The speakers are the same. They are pointed upwards and collect rain water like mini buckets. I hope they continue to work. I plan to modify them eventually.

Engine vibration over 4k RPM is noticeable. The engine is solid mounted so whatever. But it doesn't feel quite as solid as the Harley M8, it is a little cheaper-feeling and more "rattly" due to the vibration. Of course, the fun to be had here is the trade off. I find it generally worth it.

The Challenger Dark Horse is sold without highway bars. WTF? Who would ever drive a 30k bike off the lot without crash bars? It feels like a cash grab. But whatever. I got a lot of functionality and features that don't even exist in the Harley lineup so I bought the crash bars and installed them in the dealership before leaving. No big I guess. Thank God they had them.

Accessories are non existent at most dealers. Order your bike the way you want it. Most dealers don't have any parts for them. I was told the stereo upgrade was a few months out, the stage 1 kit takes a few weeks to order, and the mid rise bars were on backorder until February. WTF?? Luckily the bigger dealer had pre-ordered the mid rise bars and was able to install it at my 500-mile service. If you're thinking about buying one, check with the dealer to make sure they have the parts you want. It seems like most of them are going the cheap route and forcing customers to order that stuff and wait for it to come off backorder.

Battery: the starter on the Challenger seems too big for the battery. They use a YTX20 AGM battery and it struggles to fire the bike up. I've ordered a lithium ion battery from Amazon to fix this - the antigravity ATX20-HD, and will see if that improves things. It is rated at 900CCA vs the laughably timid 270CCA of the stock battery. Not sure why Polaris would use such a small battery, it makes them look bad. Maybe weight savings? Even worse, the dealer told me the stock charging system can't handle all the electronics on the Challenger so it doesn't recharge the battery well under operation in cold weather and suggested I keep it on a tender, even when daily riding. Ugh. Seriously? No thanks. I'm gonna try the lithium and see if it helps.

I don't want to end this on a negative. Overall, I'm loving this bike. I mean, I really really love it. Stock, it's better than any Harley. It's fun, fast, handles great, has some awesome features, and has really done well putting on almost 1000 miles this week in terrible weather. It is sure footed with great handling, very comfortable, sounds good after stage 1 upgrades, it's very peppy and fun with gobs of torque, and just overall a great bike. I'm hoping the issues I've had were due to poor setup by the dealer and will be resolved. But overall, it's just a very enjoyable, sporty bike with great features and I would recommend it.
 

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Thank you for the review! As for the dealership not being like the Harley dealership, that is definitely a case by case basis. The Indian dealership I go to is constantly doing stuff for its IMRG members. We also get a free year in the IMRG when buying a new bike. Us members are always hanging out there, doesn't hurt that our President is a service writer there. Have you looked into a JW Speaker headlight? I love mine on my CDH. I however, would not buy one again personally. I had an issue with my passing lights, and they were just giving me the run around. Please keep us posted on the battery! When I pick up a Challenger, I plan on upgrading the stereo, including possibly making my own speaker lids, and adding a trunk with speakers and an amp. So the "weak charging system" could be a little concerning. Of all my friends and group members that have test rode the Challenger, none of them mentioned an issue with the brakes. However, lets face it, most of us who want to ride the Challenger are probably more excited to test the "GO" more than the "WHOA" so people may not be paying as much attention. I take it you have not had the issue with the bike shutting off that I have heard a few mentions of? I have not really looked into this deeply, just recall seeing it mentioned a few times is all.
 

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Have you tried adjusting your headlight aim? If it is acceptable with the high beam on, try adjusting up so the low beam hits closer to where the high beam does now.
Just a thought, federal law does allow motorcycles to ride with high beams in all the time. Keep them on until you find a replacement light that will work.

Seems that most motorcycle manufacturers don't think we ride in the dark. Every stock headlight I've had has been abysmal. The rm is really good, but could be better.
 

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As for the braking....at least the front brakes.....has anyone REALLY looked close at the front brake hardware???! WTF Polaris? You install top of line Bembro break pads and calipers but then give us a $0.89 NON floating ROTOR!!!??!? AYFK?!?! That's why there is "poor" braking capabilities up front....IMHO. Even the rear rotor is floating......but WHY not the front? I would have paid another $100.00 or even $200.00 MORE for the bike had they installed floating rotors up front. That makes ALL the difference in the world when maximizing pad contact. Again, another VISUAL and PERFORMANCE example of PI going cheap....when they really should not.....not out of the box. When (not if!) I buy my Challenger, that's the first accessory I'm upgrading.....floating rotors....and that my fellow ****** should address the braking concern. I agree also with the OP and some others about the front lights......THEY DO SUCK.....on ALL bikes. It's just dollars and cents.......let's face it. When you're buying tens of thousands of them like Harvey Donaldson, well the bean counters step in and say, "get something cheaper". But with Indian, how many freaking Challengers are they going to produce this year; maybe 3000+/-? How much more can a REAL set of headlights cost? Again, add to the base price....I'll pay more. Some of these manufacturers just don't get it. They think they can pull a fast one on a few people....but NOT everyone. Again, I know what IMPORTANT safety mods I am making on my Chally when I pick up in the spring. Wheels down!!!
 

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Something is up with your bike then. The challenger I rode, the brakes felt as good as they do on my ftr.

Could be a the pads didn’t bed correctly or there is air in the system.

But when I got a fistful off front brake it felt like you could do a stoppy


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What is with your bike going 125 mph? ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT? Mine has a speed limiter that starts to kick in at 108 and stops the big from going over 110. I have 1400 miles on mine, but don't have the stage 1 upgrade yet. I'd like to get some clarity on that.
 

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What is with your bike going 125 mph? ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT? Mine has a speed limiter that starts to kick in at 108 and stops the big from going over 110. I have 1400 miles on mine, but don't have the stage 1 upgrade yet. I'd like to get some clarity on that.
And if it does go 125mph with the stage 1 kit, why would one ride at that speed with a passenger while saying "The brakes on this bike are useless garbage. Another factor that has me scared to ride highway speeds"..............."These are dangerous garbage...I'm afraid to ride with them"??
 

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Was the dealer that wanked out yer bike Lynnwood Motoplex, by any chance?

(left the trim off windshield and broke volume controller)
 

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Sorry, but this post review sounds fishy. I agree with VolinGa, no one in their right mind would take a brand spanking new bike up to 125 mph with a passenger on the back and no brakes. Seriously? Maybe a kid on a sport bike, but not someone who just dropped $35K on the bike. I'll check with Polaris tomorrow to find out if the speed limiter has been removed with the stage 1 flash. If not someone is blowing smoke. BTW, my front brake works fine. I agree that they should have been on floating rotors, like my Springfield Dark Horse has. I got cooperation from another one of the guys about the speed limiter.
 

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I’ve read tests concerning the Brembo brakes on the Challenger and all the test reports showed a marked improvement over the stopping distance so I was surprised when I saw the post concerning the brakes. The problem the person is having has to be unique to his bike, something new that has come up, or it’s not real. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt by thinking maybe he’s having a unique issue?


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Brakes were very solid and worked great on my 20 minute Challenger demo. The entire front end was confidence inspiring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sorry, but this post review sounds fishy. I agree with VolinGa, no one in their right mind would take a brand spanking new bike up to 125 mph with a passenger on the back and no brakes. Seriously? Maybe a kid on a sport bike, but not someone who just dropped $35K on the bike. I'll check with Polaris tomorrow to find out if the speed limiter has been removed with the stage 1 flash. If not someone is blowing smoke. BTW, my front brake works fine. I agree that they should have been on floating rotors, like my Springfield Dark Horse has. I got cooperation from another one of the guys about the speed limiter.
Thanks for calling me a liar or a troll. That's really cool and very adult. Perhaps something less nefarious happened, like I'm relying on my passenger who was watching the Speedo while I was breaking it in (in 6th). I saw us hit 110ish but had my eyes on the road and felt no governor and we continued to accelerate. I had no idea there were brake issues because I hadn't fully tested them and assumed they would work. I was also on an empty highway with no other cars around with over 25 years of riding experience. But you know what they say about assumptions.

FWIW, what possible reason would I have to lie about anything? I just said I really like the bike but I don't think the lighting or brakes are anywhere near sufficient for the 35-37k I've put into this bike. I'm hoping the brakes are poor setup by the initial dealer, and going by other things on this bike, I'd say that is likely. They are awful.

Anyone who feels like posting accusations, do me a favor and keep it to yourself. My word is important to me, I don't lie and have no reason to. You can believe me or not but spare me the internet detective nonsense, especially when your "facts" that you "confirmed" don't really match up with my actual experience as an owner. Either the dealer ripped me off or you are wrong. Either way, it's not a great feeling. Did you spend 35k on one yet? Do you think you'll want to hear that you're lying when you go to the ONE forum with a few owners on it to talk about issues you're having, looking for legitimate feedback and people start calling you a liar? Your feedback was pointless and useless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It sure looks like it's been ridden in Seattle the last few days (y)

(last photo)
900 miles in 5 days, in the worst weather Seattle has seen in a long time. That's how much I like it.

As to your question about service, I'm going to give them a chance before I say anything. They were helpful and polite, and went out of their way to do my 500-mile service, handlebar and heated grip install, and Stage 1 install in a single day. They stayed open late to help me and were trying to get it out that day, kept the service department open an extra hour to do it, so I understand they were rushed and just missed a few items to get me out the door same day. I appreciated that and do not want to bad mouth the dealership. I'll be using them for service and would like to maintain a good relationship. My frustration slipped out a bit and I should probably edit my post to reflect that.
 
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