How Long Do Indian Motorcycles Last? (Solved and Explained!)

Indian is America’s oldest motorcycle brand with a history dating all the way back to 1901.

It is currently owned by its parent company Polaris Inc. and is headquartered in Medina, Minnesota.

Indian is seen as one of the big heritage American motorcycle brands that rivals the likes of Harley-Davidson.

This article answers the question: “How long do Indian Motorcycles last?”…

How Long Do Indian Motorcycles Last?

While an Indian is supposed to be tested to a million miles, it is more likely you will get between 100,000 and 200,000 miles from your Indian motorcycle if you maintain it well. The key is maintenance and repair.

If you do every service, replace broken parts, keep the bike clean and in good order, you can fully expect 100,000 miles or more from any Indian motorcycle.

How Many Miles Can You Expect?

Every rider’s experience will be somewhat different when it comes to motorcycles.

The general rule of thumb for Indian and most other motorcycle brands is that if you ride it too hard it won’t last as long.

Most motorcycles in the Indian range are for cruising, touring, or something similar.

They aren’t sportbikes like the Kawasaki Ninja.

That means they will tend to last longer.

Parent company Polaris has also invested heavily in improving their reliability, which overall means they stand a good chance of reaching up to 100,000 miles or more when properly maintained and looked after.

There’s no reason the bike couldn’t do more, as long as it stays well maintained and isn’t pushed to its absolute limits for performance.

How Reliable Are Indian Motorcycles?

Though Indian has suffered a lot of hurt to its reputation for reliability in the past, more recent years have seen the company reacquire the trust of more people, and sales of Indian Motorcycles were growing up to 2020.

The main driving force behind improving the reputation of Indian has been its parent company Polaris which acquired the brand in 2011.

Engines received new features like liquid cooling systems, overhead cams, and more.

One thing Indians are known for in reliability terms is a good easy start, thanks to the presence on many models of the exhaust cam valve lifters.

It also has been greatly improved since 2011 thanks to the greater integration of high-tech items.

If you need spare parts or replacement parts for your Indian motorcycle it can be a little harder than for some other brands.

Indian is still a relatively small brand, logistically speaking, even if it does have a large parent corporation.

Despite the many improvements made to Indian motorcycles in recent years, there have still been a number of notable recalls that have affected people’s perception of the company.

Indian Motorcycle had to issue multiple recalls for the 2014-2019 Indian Thunderstroke.

The issue was found in a fault in the gear position indicator.

The first recall was in November 2019 and the second in April 2020.

The first affected batch was more than 52,000 bikes affected.

The second recall for 2014-2019 models also affected the Chief, Chief Classic, Chief Dark Horse, Chief Vintage, Chieftain Classic, Roadmaster, and many others.

There was also a recall in 2019 over a defective circuit breaker.

The NHTSA said it affected around 5,500 bikes, which Indian had to then repair free of charge.

The problem threatened to open circuit breakers below the threshold that they would normally be supposed to open.

Another recall occurred in 2020 because of a problem with its output shaft not having sufficient lubricant when it was being assembled.

These errors were said to be emerging even at very low mileages.

Despite these recalls and some other problems, many people still acknowledge the overall quality and reliability of Indian motorcycles in the market.

How Long Do Indian Motorcycles Last Vs. Competitors?

Compared to Harley Davidson and BMW, Indian holds its own and actually boasts some unique features that set it apart in reliability.

For example, where most Harley-Davidson bikes only use two cams, Indian bikes use three, which allows Indian engines to work more to their full potential and offer more.

With all three brands, however, the ultimate key is maintenance.

Without proper maintenance, the bike’s mechanics will suffer and the result will be more breakdowns, more damage, and ultimately a bike that doesn’t work.

When properly maintained, you can expect all three brands to last more than 100,000 miles.

Indian as a brand has become far more durable and capable of delivering a longer lifespan.

At the same time, rival BMW still suffers from a 40-percent failure rate over 4 years.

That means of all the BMW motorcycles made in 2017, only 60 percent of them are likely still on the road.

The larger Indian models tend to need somewhat more maintenance than their Harley-Davidson equivalents, but still far less than the BMW counterparts.

Both Harley-Davidson and BMW are somewhat behind Indian when it comes to the integration of more modern technology.

Polaris has invested heavily in upgrading hardware and software that the bike uses while retaining the classic look.

Harley-Davidson and BMW are only now beginning their earnest upgrades.

These upgrades help Indian to be well placed among the competition when it comes to longevity.

Better technology typically means better protection on the bike, and that makes for easier maintenance.

The smaller Indian models will naturally last the longest of any of the three brands Indian, BMW, and Harley-Davidson, but the larger you go in Indian model, the more similar the three brands start to become in terms of longevity.

Which Are The Best And Worst Indian Models?

There are many models you can choose from, but perhaps the best one ever was the 2019 Indian Chieftain Limited.

It was redesigned in this model year and was given a 19” front wheel, full LED lighting, a new and innovative Ride Command System, a 100-watt audio system, a new gunfighter seat, and much more.

Both for looks and performance, the Indian Chieftain Limited was lauded as one of the best ever made.

It embodied the modern ethos of the company well.

After the Polaris takeover, the brand became much more focused on better technology on the inside while retaining the much-loved authentic exterior look.

The Chieftain Limited did this very well.

And on the other side, the worst model was arguably the Indian Springfield Dark Horse, which while generally receiving positive reviews on overall reliability was still heavily criticized by owners and professional outlets.

The main area for which it was criticized was built quality versus price.

Indian motorcycles are often in the higher price bracket, but on the Springfield Dark Horse, there was less evidence of money going toward better-quality components and materials.

The Springfield Dark Horse was also built like a long-distance cruiser but was found to be quite unsuited to such use.

The seat in particular was deemed very uncomfortable for long rides.

Are Indian Motorcycles Expensive To Maintain?

How Long Do The Brakes Last?

Indian Motorcycle brakes are known for being quite strong, but you’ll still need to change the pads at least every 20,000 miles.

Furthermore, the rotors should last at least 30,000 miles, but with more considered and careful riding can make it as high as 70,000 miles.

How Long Do The Tires Last?

As a motorcycle most commonly used for cruising as opposed to sports biking, Indian Motorcycle model tires will typically last into the upper lifespan of a motorcycle tire, which is 5 years.

Most experts agree that no motorcycle tire should go on being used after 5 years, regardless of mileage.

The good news, however, is that Indian motorcycle tires will commonly make it to that point, even when used regularly.

How Long Does The Gearbox Last?

The Indian brand has suffered in recent years from the embarrassment of recalls connected to the gearboxes, but overall they are built solidly and should last a long time.

There are many reports of Indian motorcycle owners who are still using their original clutch after 100,000 miles.

The standard warranty covers 2 years and unlimited miles, so you can reasonably expect 2 years trouble-free at the very least, regardless of mileage.

How Long Does The Chain Last?

Chains do naturally wear away, but you can expect the chain of your Indian motorcycle to last up to 30,000 miles when properly maintained.

Most riders will change it at around 25,000 miles just for safety.

What About The Insurance?

Indian is a prestige brand and often sells very large and powerful motorcycles.

Even the average motorcycle boasts more power and costs more than close rivals like Harley-Davidson.

Both of these factors push up the insurance costs.

The national average for motorcycle insurance is $702 per year, but you can expect to pay in the region of $1,000 or more on an Indian motorcycle.

Best Tips to Prolong The Lifespan Of Your Indian Motorcycle

First, follow the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule at all times

– and if anything unexpected happens or you sense any other bad signs like overheating, knocking/grinding sounds, difficulty starting, etc. –

then report the problems to your Indian dealership straight away.

Second, don’t ride the motorcycle too hard.

For an Indian Motorcycle bike, “riding too hard” would mean treating it more like an aggressive sports bike.

Indian motorcycles are, by and large, built for steady and enjoyable cruising speeds.

Third, keep the motorcycle thoroughly cleaned and checked.

Don’t leave it sitting idle and gathering dust for too long.

Take it out for a ride at least once or twice a week to maintain the health of the moving parts.

Finally, keep a close eye on both oil levels and coolant.

A shortage of either could lead to catastrophic engine problems.