Why Indian Motorcycles are so Expensive (7 Important Reasons)

Indian is the first American Motorcycle company, and to this day, they are still one of the most captivating. It’s easy to see one ripping past on the street and want one all of your own, but have you seen the price tags on those things? A brand new Indian costs anywhere between $11,000 and $38,999, but why are Indian Motorcycles so Expensive?

Indian motorcycles are expensive because of their cutting edge performance-based technology, their high-caliber team of engineers, mechanics, and designers.

Read on to learn more about what makes Indians tick and why it costs so much money.

1. Ride Command System

The Indian motorcycle brand has been path-carvers since day one, and not much has changed. Since Polaris acquired the brand back in 2014, their world-class engineers have introduced the Ride Command System, an interactive touch-screen system that now comes on all of their bagger and touring models.

Indian’s Ride Command is what we call an infotainment system, and the rider interfaces with it via a rich, full-color, seven-inch screen that you can operate with your standard riding gloves on.

A screen like that can’t be cheap.

The versatile Ride Command System includes maps and navigation, clock, temperature, vehicle information, trip information, AM/FM radio, and audio via Bluetooth,  wire hook-up, or flash drive.

Not to mention, this little computer-crusher allows seamless Bluetooth headset and phone pairing.

Are there less expensive versions of this kind of technology available? Sure. But none of them compare to what Polaris accomplished here.

This is one of the most intuitive infotainments I’ve used on ANY vehicle.

The display is customizable and displays two screens at once. Display options include:

  • Music
  • Moving time
  • Stop time
  • Map
  • Voltage
  • Engine hours
  • Oil change mileage
  • Compass
  • Altitude and Altitude Change
  • Tire pressures
  • And Way More

Its most basic functions can be prompted by buttons located off the screen, and everything else is just a swipe away.

This is all starting to add up.

2. Sound System

Indian’s Bagger and Touring Models also all come standard with state of the art Audio Speaker Systems, manipulated through the ride command.

And last year, all those speakers and amps got an upgrade… $$$

Indian Bike’s stock sound systems push out crystal clear treble and thumping bass, even on the highway, blowing away the competition’s stock system no problem.

The Speakers are installed into the fairing, on either side of that seven-inch screen.

Not only do the speakers sound great, but you can control the audio with your touch screen, EQing digital faders to effect fade, balance, bass, and more in a full band digital EQ.

3. Thunderstroke 111

Polaris debuted Indian with their beautiful, vintage Indian inspired, Thunderstroke Motor, and this is when the price tag starts to make sense.

The Thunderstroke is a 111ci beast (that’s 1811cc, crucial). It’s a V-twin, 4-stroke with fuel-injection.

This groundbreaking design crushes the competitors with 119-foot-pounds of torque before any upgrades and has the head-room of about 5500 RPMs before it tops out.

For an air-cooled engine, this puppy boats a pretty high compression ratio.

This unique design features an overhead valve engine, two valves in each cylinder, and a triple camshaft pushing four parallel pushrods drives it, true to the Indian Engineering of old, but with a high-performance modern twist.

Indian motors utilize groundbreaking technology, and these parts aren’t cheap. 

Another charming and expensive mention is how seamlessly the Thunderstroke integrates into the bike’s six-speed overdrive constant-mesh transmission.

Unlike competitors who still use a chain in their primary, this is a gear-driven set-up.

The clutch is wet, with multiple plates, and believe me, it’s so smooth, and it rarely slips. Expensive, but you get what you pay for.

You may also be interested in our article: Where are Harley Davidson’s made

4. Power Plus

In 2020, Indian revealed what it’d been working on for a few years, a new motor called the Power Plus.

The first of it’s kind, the Power Plus is a liquid-cooled 108 Cubic Inch moto-monster that drives their newest model, the Indian Challenger, with 122 Horsepower and 128 foot-pounds of torque.

The Power Plus is only available on the Challenger, an all-new, fixed-fairing bagger touring bike worth mentioning while addressing what makes these bikes so expensive, as it’s class-leading technology makes it the highest-performing American V-twin ever made.

The PowerPlus draws heavy inspiration from Indian’s own liquid-cooled 1200cc Scout engine, including their seemingly signature overhead camshaft design that pushes four valves per cylinder (just like old Thunderstroke).

That said, the PowerPlus is its own monster.

With heavy-weight written all over its piston game, you’re looking at a heavy-hitting power-house of a motor, and the parts therein aren’t cheap. 

PowerPlus connects with a

  • six-speed transmission
  • true overdrive
  • clutch assist included

This bad-boy has three ride modes, but its expensive,  state-of-the-art technology doesn’t stop there.

Hydraulic valve lash adjusters and hydraulic camshaft chain tensioners bring the price up that much more.

Apart from the parts’ actual cost, there are the costs of developing something like this.

The PowerPlus was trialed and tweaked via what may have been the most intensive programs the motorcycle-biz has ever imagined.

They simulation-tested this thing for one million miles, innovative dyno testing, and finally over 250,000 actual road miles.

Not cheap, but the results are in, but they got what they paid for with the PowerPlus Motor.

5. Design Team

Speaking of Research and Development, that brings us to our next point.

Indian Motorcycles employs a world-class team of designers, artists, and engineers who dream up, develop, and test their technology. When you buy an Indian, not only are you paying for the expensive parts, you’re paying the salaries of the genius team behind top-class motorcycles.

It takes a lot of work to bring these bikes from a vision in an artist or engineer’s head into the first modeling stage.

Once Indian determines the needs of their customers, they let their design team step in and imagine.

Not only does this mean thinking up new technology, but it means dreaming up some contemporary aesthetics and attitudes as well.

This requires lots of time in the design room, state-of-the-art computer programs, labs for research and development, and ways for all these departments to communicate with one another.

A motor is nothing more than an assembly of components. Once the engineers know what the function is supposed to be, they get to work cracking the code of what parts can work together to achieve that result.

Once they assemble the pieces, however, they need to make sure they perform the way their theories expected them to, and the first stage of tweaking begins.

All bike designs start as words on a piece of paper, then some illustrations before it’s off to a 3d-clay model etched by a robot arm. Again, this all costs money until it finally ends up in a computer CAD modeling program.

Once they’ve finally assembled the bikes, the rigorous testing begins.

The price tag on an Indian Motorcycle reflects the amount of research, development, and testing that goes into these world-class, high-performing machines.

Please also read our article: Are Harley Davidson’s worth the money?

6. Training Mechanics

As you’ve most likely gathered by now, the bikes’ parts are unlike any of the other brands.

There is a lot of innovation that goes into them, and this industry-leading technology isn’t the easiest thing to pick up a wrench and start figuring out without some kind of training.

Indian franchises their dealerships, and they take their mechanic teams very seriously.

Indian mechanics receive in-depth training that leaves them prepared to assemble, repair, and troubleshoot some of the most advanced bikes on the market.

The top-tier Indian engineers educate lead mechanics in each region, sometimes in person.

Qualifying their mechanics to wrench on such forward technology doesn’t stop at education, though.

It requires the right, unique tools for a job, unlike any other mechanic job around.

You may also be interested in our article: Are Indian Motorcycles Worth the Money?

7. Bikes to Cars- Lost in Translation

This last one’s a little tricky. Often, when reviewing the price of a motorcycle, people tend to compare it to the price of a car to gauge how reasonable it is.

The logic is that bikes should be cheaper than cars and that basically holds up, but like cars, motorcycles come in different classes.

If you’re considering a brand new, $22,000 Indian Motorcycle but hesitating because you can get a car for that money, consider this:

A $22,000 car is entry-level, while an Indian is a top-tier, luxury motorcycle.

The performance-packed technology, signature style, imaginative engineering, knowledgeable franchised dealerships, and rigorous testing of the Indian brand are more comparable to what goes into a car that costs $70,000.

Although Indian motorcycles aren’t cheap, they’re worth the money.

Their brand is historically significant, and Polaris engineering has put them at the top of the industry.


  • Michael Ta Nous

    I've been weaving words into stories since my early scribbling days, and my journey in the world of motorcycles and their communities spans almost two decades. Living with a talented motorcycle mechanic as a roommate, our garage transformed into a vibrant workshop where I absorbed the intricacies of...