Indian Motorcycle vs. Harley-Davidson: Comparing Two Iconic Motorcycle Brands


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Indian Motorcycle Vs Harley Davidson

Are you a fan of two-wheeled travel? If so, you’ve likely heard of the iconic brands Indian and Harley-Davidson, who have been rivals in the motorcycle industry for decades. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast the specs, features, and values of these two legendary manufacturers, to help you decide which is right for you. So, let’s dive in and explore which of these two iconic brands is the best choice for your next bike. Let’s get started!

When comparing two iconic motorcycle brands, Indian Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson, the main differences are the smoother ride and advanced technology offered by Indian Motorcycles, and the classic style and customization options that Harley-Davidson is known for.


For as long as the concept of motorcycles have existed, there are two American companies that have been involved in a silent battle that can only be truly heard when the V-twins that power up these motorcycles fire up. Both of these brands began manufacturing their motorcycles in 1903. They also happened to be the only two major American motorcycle manufacturers that managed to survive two World Wars, the Great Depression, and possibly every economic crisis that the United States has experienced. The two brands in the spotlight here are Indian and Harley-Davidson.

The two brands are fierce rivals in the automotive industry, and their riders are just as passionate. They are also among the first few brands that pop into mind when looking to buy a new motorcycle. With that in mind, here is how the two brands fare in the Indian Motorcycles vs. Harley-Davidson discussion.

History of Indian Motorcycles

Indian Motorcycle is one of the oldest and most reputed motorcycle brands, and it has become quite iconic in the motorcycle industry. Starting in the early 1900s, Indian Motorcycle has a rich, colorful history that spans over a century, from its early beginnings as a bicycle manufacturer to its status as one of the most respected motorcycle brands in the decades gone by.

Origin and early years

Indian Motorcycle was founded back in 1901 by two bicycle manufacturers, Carl Oscar Hedstrom and George Hendee. The first Indian Motorcycle was a single-cylinder, belt-driven machine capable of reaching a top speed of 35 mph. The brand’s incredible success was built on its racing prowess, and it quickly became a dominant force in the motorcycle racing scene.

In 1911, Indian introduced its V-twin engine, and it was a significant improvement over the brand’s earlier models. The V-twin ended up becoming the backbone of Indian Motorcycle’s lineup, and the company’s racing success continued growing.

Development and expansion

During World War I, Indian Motorcycle supplied the US Military with motorcycles for use. These motorcycles were used for reconnaissance, courier duty, and as ambulances. The company’s ties with the US military ad success helped establish Indian Motorcycle as one of the most respected motorcycle manufacturers around the world.

After the war, Indian continued innovating and introduced new models with improved styling and performance. During World War II, the company again supplied bikes to the US military, and they were used in all theaters of the war.

Decline after the massive popularity and success

After WWII, Indian Motorcycle faced increasing competition from other manufacturers, especially Harley-Davidson. Indian struggled to keep up with the innovations of its rivals, and the brand’s sales started to decline.

In fact, in 1953, Indian Motorcycle was forced to file for bankruptcy and the brand’s assets were sold to a series of owners over the following decades. During this time, the company’s reputation as a high-quality motorcycle manufacturer started to fade.

Resurrection and current status

In 1999, a new company was formed, and it had the goal to resurrect the Indian Motorcycle brand. The new owners had the ambition to invest heavily in the research and development of motorcycles. In 2013, Indian unveiled its new Chief Classic model, which was designed for capturing the spirit of the original Indian Motorcycle.

Since then, the company has continued to innovate, introduced new models, and improved its existing lineups. Today, Indian Motorcycle is one of the most popular and respected motorcycle manufacturers in the world. The company has developed a reputation for quality, style, and terrific performance.

History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson is another iconic motorcycle brand that has been at the top of the game for over a century. The brand has a rich history full of ups and downs as it began in a small 10Ă—15 wooden shed in Milwaukee and ultimately become the face of the American motorcycle industry. Harley-Davidson was started by William Harley and Arthur Davidson, before William Davidson and Walter Davidson also joined the party.

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Origin and early years

Harley-Davidson was founded back in 1903 by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The first Harley-Davidson bike was a single-cylinder, belt-driven machine designed to be a reliable and affordable means of transportation. Eventually, Walter Davidson and William Davidson, brothers of Arthur, also joined the group. The company was incorporated in 1907 with each one of them getting important roles.

In 1909, the company introduced its first V-Twin engine, which was a major improvement over the company’s earlier models. The V-twin ended up becoming the backbone of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle lineup, and the success of the company continued to grow.

Development and success during the World War years

During WWI, Harley-Davidson was one of the brands to supply the US military with motorcycles to be used in the war effort. Harley’s military bikes were used for courier duty, reconnaissance, and ambulances. The company’s continued support of the military and the military’s success helped establish Harley-Davidson as one of the biggest and most respected names in the motorcycle industry. After the war, Harley-Davidson continued to innovate and came out with new engines and new motorcycles with improved features.

Popularity and success after WWII

After WWII, Harley-Davidson continued to grow in popularity and stature and had tremendous success. However, the company started facing increasing competition from other brands, especially Japanese brands like Yamaha and Honda. However, Harley-Davidson was able to maintain its dominance in the American motorcycle market as it continued innovating and releasing new motorcycles with the latest technologies.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Harley-Davidson has become synonymous with the American biker culture. Iconic designs, the latest features, and their association with movies like “The Wild One” and “Easy Rider” helped the brand become incredibly popular and successful among the masses.

The modern era and current status

In the 70s, Harley-Davidson faced numerous significant challenges, including stiff competition from Japanese motorcycle brands and a huge decline in sales because of economic factors. In fact, Harley-Davidson was on the verge of going out of business. The company was able to rebound in the 80s and 90s by focusing on innovation, quality, and smart marketing.

Today, Harley-Davidson is among the most respected motorcycle manufacturers in not just the United States, but all over the world. The brand ranks quite high when it comes to its reputation for quality, style, and performance. This has helped Harley-Davidson reclaim its place at the top of the motorcycle industry.

Key differences between Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson

Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson are two of the most popular and iconic motorcycle brands all over the world. The two brands have a rich history spanning all the way back to the early 1900s. Although both motorcycle brands are known for their distinct sounds, performance levels, and features, there are many key differences when it comes to the Indian Motorcycle vs. Harley-Davidson debates. Here are the key differences between Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson –

1. Design and appearance

Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson bikes come with distinct design and styling features that make them easily recognizable. For instance, Indian Motorcycles are known for having a classic, retro look with iconic fenders and flowing lines. Harley-Davidson bikes, on the other hand, feature a more muscular, aggressive look with a rugged stance and bold lines. Harley-Davidson bikes are quite powerful and pack a punch, whether it is the Tourist model, Cruiser model, or the Pan American.

2. Performance

Indian and Harley-Davidson bikes offer different performance characteristics. Indian Motorcycles are known for their smooth and comfortable rides, which makes them ideal for long-distance touring. Harley-Davidson bikes, on the other hand, are known for their power, acceleration, and raw power. Harley-Davidson bikes are ideal for both strolls around the city and long-distance rides on the highways. In fact, the comfort, power, and feel that you get from riding a Harley-Davidson on long roads makes it a compelling case to go for this brand.

3. Engine and features

One of the most significant differences between Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson motorcycles is their engines. Indian Motorcycle are known for having V-Twin engines, which offer an extremely smooth and powerful ride. Harley-Davidson bikes, on the other hand, come with a distinct sound and feel, thanks to the iconic Harley-Davidson V-Twin engines, which produce a deep, rumbling exhaust note. Indian Motorcycles was resurrected in the late 90s and the company has a wide assortment of amazing features that give the bikes a modern look. Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson bikes come with a wide range of exciting features like a liquid-cooled system, a 2-cylinder engine, an electronic fuel injection fuel delivery system, and more.

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4. Price and cost of ownership

Another major difference between Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson bikes is their price. Generally, Indian Motorcycle are considered to be more expensive compared to Harley-Davidson bikes. This is largely because Indian Motorcycle uses higher-end components that end up making the price way too steep for most bikers. Further, it also costs more to own and maintain an Indian Motorcycles as the accessories and cost of repair are higher. For Harley-Davidson bikes, the company uses materials that are efficient and provide high-quality performance while also keeping the cost to affordable level. Moreover, there are also many more motorcycle options available from Harley, with many of them belonging to the budget category for beginners.

5. Accessibility and availability

Harley-Davidson is one of the biggest motorcycle brands in the industry, which means the brand has dealerships and service centers all over the United States. Further, you can probably find accessories and parts for repair at every nook and corner of your city. The same cannot be said for Indian Motorcycle as the brand has a rich history, but it isn’t as big as it once used to be. Further, its market and user base are not the same as Harley-Davidson’s. Further, the aftermarket for customized parts for Harley-Davidson bikes is a lot bigger than Indian Motorcycles.

6. Brand loyalty

Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle have very different demographics and styles of users. To better understand the brand loyalty associated with these brands, you should first know their respective angles as brands. Harley-Davidson has branded itself as a brand that builds more comfortable and utilitarian bikes that are marketed to more affluent customers. Meanwhile, Indian Motorcycles are focused on speed and power. Harley-Davidson comprises users who are looking for more comfort and longer-distance rides, with the brand still being seen as a status symbol. Indian Motorcycle, on the other hand, has a much younger user base as the bikers are mostly in their 30s and 40s and looking for a fast, reliable bike.

Pros and Cons of Indian Motorcycle vs. Harley-Davidson

Pros of Indian Motorcycles

Indian Motorcycle

Indian Motorcycle has been around for more than a century, and the brand has earned a reputation as one of the biggest motorcycle brands in the United States. This brand has been a particular favorite for bikers for decades, and there are many reasons why this brand is so famed. Here are some of the pros of Indian Motorcycles –

Design and styling

One of the biggest pros of Indian Motorcycles is the unique and classic design of these bikes. Indian Motorcycles come with a retro look that can be recognized instantly, with sweeping lines, curved fenders, and an iconic logo. These bikes have a timeless appeal, which attracts riders of all ages, especially youngsters. The design and styling of this brand have been a hallmark for decades.


Another great thing about Indian Motorcycles is the level of performance. Indian Motorcycles are known for their excellent handling and smooth ride. These bikes offer a comfortable and stable ride thanks to their advanced suspension and braking systems. This brand is also known for using powerful engines, which offer a lot of torque and acceleration. Indian bikes are a pleasure to ride whether you’re tackling winding mountain roads or cruising down the highway.

Use of advanced technology

Indian Motorcycles are known for using advanced technologies in its bike. The recent Indian Motorcycle models come with advanced electronics and features like advanced traction control, ride-by-wire throttle systems, and state-of-the-art infotainment systems. These bikes also come with advanced safety features like anti-lock brakes and multiple riding modes. They’re designed to offer a safe and enjoyable riding experience regardless of the type of terrain or weather conditions you’re riding in.

Cons of Indian Motorcycles

Even though Indian Motorcycles are one of the most popular options for bikers and come with classic styling, advanced technology, and deliver excellent performance, it isn’t perfect. Like any other brand, Indian Motorcycle also has a few drawbacks. Some of the cons of an Indian motorcycle include –

A steep price

One of the biggest drawbacks of Indian Motorcycles is the price tag. Indian Motorcycles are generally much more expensive compared to other motorcycle brands due to the use of high-end components and advanced technologies. This can be a tricky issue for bikers who are on a budget or are looking to go for an affordable option.

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Another negative aspect of Indian Motorcycles is the maintenance requirements. Indian Motorcycles need regular maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections. These maintenance tasks can be quite time-consuming and expensive, while they also require a certain level of skill and knowledge, which means they cannot be performed at home.


Indian Motorcycles aren’t as widely available as other brands. This can make it a bit challenging to find parts, accessories, and service centers in your city. Bikers in more rural or remote areas might have to travel long distances to find a dealer or service center. This only adds to the inconvenience and cost of owning an Indian motorcycle.

Pros of Harley-Davidson

Harley Davidson

Harley-Davidson ranks as one of the most reputed and recognizable motorcycle brands around the world. The brand has been producing top-tier bikes for more than a century and has earned a reputation for being highly reliable, powerful, and durable. Here are some of the pros of owning a Harley-Davidson bike – 


A major plus point of Harley-Davidson bikes is their elite level of performance. Harley-Davidson bikes are known for having powerful engines, which offer plenty of torque and acceleration. These bikes are designed for cruising while they also offer a smooth and comfortable ride. Further, these bikes are extremely versatile and deliver a powerful yet comfortable performance whether you are strolling around town or traveling long distances.


Harley-Davidson bikes are highly customizable. These bikes offer a wide range of accessories and aftermarket parts, which allows the bikers to personalize their motorcycles to their liking. This brand has become a fan-favorite among bikers who love customizing their bikes and making them unique.

An active community

Harley-Davidson has a strong community of bikers known as the Harley-Davidson Owners Group (HOG). This community offers bikers an opportunity to connect with other like-minded Harley-Davidson bikers and attend events and rallies. Further, they can also participate in group rides. This community is known for its support and camaraderie, which is an important part of the Harley-Davidson experience.

Cons of Harley-Davidson

Even though Harley-Davidson is a popular brand known for having unique and iconic designs, excellent performance, and top-notch features, the brand isn’t perfect. Like any other motorcycle brand, there are a few drawbacks to this brand. Here are some of the cons of Harley-Davidson – 


Harley-Davidson bikes are relatively heavy compared to other brands. This weight can make it more challenging for bikers, especially novice riders, to maneuver the bike. Bikers who aren’t accustomed to handling bikes will have trouble riding this bike. Moreover, it can also make these bikes difficult to park or maneuver in tight spaces.


One of the major drawbacks of Harley-Davidson bikes is their price. Harley-Davidson bikes tend to be more expensive compared to other brands, due in part to their high-end components, advanced technology, performance upgrades, and cost of servicing. The high price of owning a Harley could be a significant barrier for bikers who are on a budget or are looking for more affordable options.


Another negative aspect of owning a Harley-Davidson bike is its maintenance requirements. Harley-Davidson bikes need regular maintenance such as tire changes, oil changes, brake inspections, and more. Different maintenance tasks can be expensive and time-consuming.


What is the main difference between Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson?

The main difference between Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson is the history and design of each company. Indian Motorcycle is the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in the United States and is known for its classic styling and vintage designs. Harley-Davidson is the most well-known motorcycle brand in the world and is known for its iconic V-Twin engines and modern design.

What are the benefits of Indian Motorcycle over Harley-Davidson?

Indian Motorcycle offers classic styling and vintage designs, which may appeal to some riders. Indian Motorcycle also offers more customization options and a wide variety of models. Additionally, Indian Motorcycle models tend to be more affordable than Harley-Davidson models.

What are the benefits of Harley-Davidson over Indian Motorcycle?

Harley-Davidson is known for its iconic V-Twin engines, which provide powerful performance and a classic sound. Harley-Davidson also offers more modern designs and advanced technology, such as electronic fuel injection. Additionally, Harley-Davidson models are often more powerful and have a higher top speed than Indian Motorcycle models.

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