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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

Several people have asked me to keep them updated after I got my new bike so I've decided to create this thread. I will post updates from time-to-time to share my experiences and random thoughts regarding my new bike.

I have now ridden 10 different x ThunderStroke 111 powered Indians (of which, I have owned two) so I have come to understand the characteristics of Indian Chiefs reasonably well and what appears to me to be ‘normal’, ‘abnormal’ or ‘indifferent’.

Please indulge me as I ramble.


BACKGROUND:

I've purchased a 2015 Indian Chief Vintage (Black & Red) in April 2015. I found out later that it was built in July 2014 (9 months old when I bought it). Presumably it was a very early build of 2015 model year bikes.

It never broke down but it did have several issues. It started 'clacking'* from about 3,000 miles (5,000 kms). As a remedy, I’ve added Rush Warhorse slip-ons with 3.0” baffles (louder than Stage 1 exhaust pipes), which suppressed the clacking reasonably well.

However, there where other issues. The following were the 'deal breakers' for me:

  • Intermittently, my exhaust sound would go flat or tame and loses the throaty V-Twin sound we all love so much. There is a long thread dedicated to that here: (Having Issues: Thunder Stroke 111 - Exhaust Sound Becoming Quiet/Flat/Tame)
  • The top end on our bikes are not exactly quiet but that's pretty normal for TS111. What is abnormal is, my engine would become hesitant to rev past 2,500rpm and sounded like I was abusing the engine. On other days, it sounded great and revved happily past 3,000 rpm. After I traded-in, I found out that my 2015 Vintage was down on power.
Naturally, I've tried everything I can to get all these fixed.

After I managed to record a video on fluke demonstrating my exhaust sound taming, I had Indian Head Office (HQ) Warranty Manager come out to the dealership and 'looked' at my bike. He authorised exhaust gasket to be changed. No surprise, that didn’t fix anything. When I followed up, they said 'We will do no more to investigate. Come back if something else happens.'

I was particularly disappointed as they didn't even check the engine. No compression test, no testing spark plugs or leads or anything. They looked for error codes on VCM. It had O2 sensor error but that went untouched as well.

After spending 5 months (on-and-off) trying to get things fixed, I’ve had enough! The engine had to blow up or something really obvious had to happen. I just got the standard reply we all dread, 'That's normal on these bikes.' :(

Meanwhile, joy of riding my bike diminished to a point where I would not ride the bike even on a beautiful day with nothing better to do. But I need a touring bike as my wife and I go away together frequently. I will admit that I looked around. But nothing came close to Indian Chief Vintage in appearance or performance (for a comfy cruiser).



TRADING-IN 2015 VINTAGE FOR 2016 VINTAGE

The negotiation process took a while. In the end, we reached a figure I could live with and traded-in my 2015 Vintage for a 2016 Vintage. About a week before we struck a deal, Springfield came out but I'm not a fan of hard bags so I was happy to get back on a Vintage. This time, I made sure it was a ‘fresh’ bike. Instead of a bike that has been sitting in the warehouse for 6 months or more. My new Vintage was built in January 2016, Compliance plated in March and I bought it in April.

It might be worth noting that Indian motorcycles, like other mass produced products improves over time. Components gets revised, redesigned, etc., So, if you are thinking of buying a new bike, I would encourage you to ask the dealer, ‘When was that bike built?’ Remember, Indian HQ and the dealer wants to sell old bikes first.

Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Cruiser Fuel tank



FIRST IMPRESSION

Wow! My new bike sounds GREAT! I thought my old bike sounded nice on its 'good days', but my new bike is simply awesome! I had Rush Warhorse slip-on pipes transplanted from my old Vintage so the exhaust note should have sounded identical but they are distinctly different (another indication that my old TS111 was not the 'best' example of Indian engineering).

Aside from the visible weld marks on the fuel tank (Unfinished Weld Marks on 2016 Indian Gas Tanks) and a more prominent whining sound from camshafts (Does your bike have this Engine Whining Sound?), my 2016 Vintage is considerably better than my old. I am glad I took a big hit in my wallet and 'upgraded'. There really is no better bike out there that meets all my touring requirements.

I had a 2015 demo bike (Red and Cream) Vintage for 48 hours prior to picking up my new bike. Both the demo and my new bike have more power than my old 2015 bike. Without dyno figures, I cannot quantify it but if I had to guess... at least 10 - 15% more power. My new 2016 Vintage is happy to rev out to 4,000+ rpm all day long. No hesitation in revving past 2,500rpm like my old bike. Engine sounds consistent every single day!


IT TURNS IN SHARPER!

According to everything I have read, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Vintage have the same rake angle and trail length. So, nothing should have changed but my new bike turns into corners noticeably sharper! It turns in with less effort. I wonder if they accidentally assembled my Vintage with Springfield frame with 25 degrees rake? Maybe triple tree has new bearings? I don't have an answer, just speculations, but I am 100% sure my Vintage takes corners with ease compared with my old Vintage. Good stuff!!!


SOFTER SADDLE

I can not say with any certainty but 2016 saddle appears to have different foam. It feels like they have a thin layer of softer foam on top. Compared to my old Vintage, my new saddle feels softer and therefore more comfortable.

It maybe that, foam in my old bike has been compressed over the past year and therefore the new bike feels more comfortable. I am not sure but that is my observation.


NEW TAN LEATHER, AGAIN!

So we all know about the 2014 tan leather that faded easily.

In 2015, there was a revised tan leather. Officially, there was only one style but most of us have seen two distinct styles of tan leather: (a) leather with some texture and patterns; and (b) leather that looked like vinyl and had very little texture and patterns. Indian's official line is, "Leathers are all unique and can appear different."

I've had option (a) from above on my 2015 Vintage. Sure, it didn't look as nice as 2014 tan leather but I was happy not to have to maintain it. When I first got the 2015 Vintage, I had a professional paint protection and UV leather protection applied. Interestingly, leather protection was absorbed by the leather and by the 3rd coat, all the leather appeared 40% - 50% darker until the UV protection dried the next day (then they returned to more-or-less the normal colour).

When I received my 2016 Vintage, I had the UV protection applied by the same guy (same product). Even after 3 heavy coats, my new tan leather (saddle and bags) hardly changed colour. According to my paint protection guy, when he applies UV leather protection on convertible car seats, the colour does not change either.

I don't know what this really means but I can say that 2016 tan leather absorbed considerably less liquid. From this, I will conclude that 2016 tan leather is different to 2015 tan leather… despite similarities in appearance.


NO OIL COOLER

Unlike 2015 Vintage, 2016 Vintage does not come with an oil cooler. The warmest weather I rode so far has been 80 degrees F (26 degrees C)... I also got stuck in traffic for 20 minutes with bike idling. My right thigh did get toasty but as soon as I started moving, it was not an issue. By the time I rode 220 yards (200m) and stopped at the next lights, engine/exhaust seems to have cooled down enough that it was emitting normal heat.

I am yet to go though our hot summer on this bike, but so far, I have not missed an oil cooler and most likely, I will not add one.


ANYTHING ELSE?

The paint around the tank filler on my old bike was rough. They fixed that on the new bike. Presumably after the Scout bike incident. Interestingly, the filler cap on my new bike is lighter than my old. Everything appears the same.


IN A NUTSHELL

I am very happy with the new bike. It would have been so nice if my first bike was like this but that was not to be.

Long live the Indian!!

Automotive lighting Vehicle Technology Headlamp Auto part



——————————————

* WHAT IS 'CLACKING'?

'Clacking' is a term used to describe Thunder Stroke 111 (TS111) engines with ‘unusual’ top end rattle under the following conditions:

  • Ride TS111 at constant rpm of around 1,900rpm to 2,300rpm
  • Ride on a flat road (not going up hill or down hill)
  • Ride with minimal throttle (not accelerating and not decelerating) like using cruise control
TS111 starts to rattle and you can hear clacking sound from right-hand side of the engine. Some bikes never do this. In fact, most TS111 do not appear to exhibit this characteristics. Greater number of earlier build bikes appear to suffer. Even some 2016 models appear to still have this issue.

Some 'clacking' bikes rattle or clack mildly. Some clack like you are shaking a paint spray can (with marble inside) hard and fast. The clacking sound is distinct and stands out from the normal top end rattle as it is not speed dependent nor is it ‘in rhythm’ with engine revs. It just sounds out of place. The sound will disappear as soon as you twist the throttle a little and accelerate. This was repeatable on my 2015 bike and I was able to demonstrate it to the dealership (I was told it was 'normal' and no further investigation took place). Majority of the bikes in demo fleet did not clack (except 1 other). So, it is difficult for me to accept this as ‘normal’. Out of 10 TS111 I have ridden so far, clacking was present on 3 bikes.
 

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Well that's one way to fix the clacking, an expensive way though... I would consider the same, but already have a lot invested in Stage 1&2, and the whole concept of me paying out the ass to fix Indian's design flaw just doesn't sit right, but then again, I'm the one still riding a clacker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
the whole concept of me paying out the ass to fix Indian's design flaw just doesn't sit right, but then again, I'm the one still riding a clacker.
That was my struggle also. I thought, "Why should I pay to get my bike fixed?" ...after several months of this, I could have:

(a) taken legal action or get nasty
(b) accept that not everything in life is perfect and live with my issues; or
(c) pay my way out of the issue.

Let me tell you, it did leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I certainly don't have high regard for Indian Australia HQ Warranty Department. Like many others have experienced... they deny warranty and make you run around until you get sick of it. I hope, one day Indian will take 'customer satisfaction' seriously.
 

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Hey V-Twin, you are one of the most patient and cool headed people I can imagine. If that were me I would have after good attempt to rectify a problem like you had, went nuclear on their (Indian) ass. I'm not trying to second guess you here because we all have to do what we think is right.I hope you the very best service and enjoyment out of your new 16 Vintage. RED IRON
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm sure glad the new bike is working out for you V-Twin and I hope it continues to be the bike you hope it to be. I know it was a big decision to try another.
Thanks MM,

It sure was... I am hoping to just enjoy the bike now. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If that were me I would have after good attempt to rectify a problem like you had, went nuclear on their (Indian) ass.
Thanks Red Iron, I'm not sure about being 'cool headed'... I was assessing the odds of success. If my bike was blowing black smoke all the time, it would be easy to demand that Indian fix it.

As my situation was intermittent, I knew I was in the sh!t when they said, "Your bike sounds normal to me." I said, it only happens from time-to-time. They said, "If we can't reproduce, we can't fix it."

When I manage to record my exhaust sounding flat, I finally thought I had the 'proof' I needed. They watched the video and said the sound could have changed for any number of reasons... sound bouncing off near by trees, etc.,

You can see how I got no where with this?
 

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Thanks Red Iron, I'm not sure about being 'cool headed'... I was assessing the odds of success. If my bike was blowing black smoke all the time, it would be easy to demand that Indian fix it.

As my situation was intermittent, I knew I was in the sh!t when they said, "Your bike sounds normal to me." I said, it only happens from time-to-time. They said, "If we can't reproduce, we can't fix it."

When I manage to record my exhaust sounding flat, I finally thought I had the 'proof' I needed. They watched the video and said the sound could have changed for any number of reasons... sound bouncing off near by trees, etc.,

You can see how I got no where with this?
Hey V-Twin, I say again,I don't know how you kept your cool.When you have a dealer and Indian giving you all that bullshit and attitude about a problem you have with your Ride and them admitting it was a known and "normal" so get used to it thing. My hat is off to you Brother Rider. Ride Long and Hard. RED IRON
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm travelling 1,000miles crossing 3 states to get my Stage 2 Cams fitted on my bike (other dealers closer to me does not have fitting tools yet). I'm leaving in a few days. I will report back once I have them fitted.
 

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I had a similar issue with my 2012 Ultra Limited but I referred to mine as a "pinging" sound but as you described the "shakinga spray paint can". They kept telling me it was bad gas. Well I rode mine for 17000 miles before trading for a 2014 (another story) which ultimately led me to my 2015 Vintage and no problems. Anyway I spoke to a guy at the HD dealer where I traded the 2012 Ultra a few months later and found it crapped out on a test ride with a dude and they had to rebuild the engine. The cool thing to me was, it was out of warranty by this time and the dealer had to pay about 6500.00 for that POS engine that they said was a normal noisy harley. I have to admit I felt some vindication with that one.
 

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I have arrived in Brisbane tonight. I will have Stage 2 Cams fitted tomorrow. I will report back what my impression is in due course.
Hey V-Twin my Brother Rider, glad you made it safely and hope your Stage 2 works for you and looking forward to your reports on the install and performance aspects of your project. RED IRON
 
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