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Indian Reveals All-New PowerPlus Engine

Liquid-cooled V-twin will power forthcoming Challenger touring machine... and probably a lot more

It’s the engine, stupid. That seems to be the thinking behind Indian Motorcycle’s decision this week to reveal not the much anticipated (and poorly secreted) Challenger model but its powerplant: a 1769cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine that claims an impressive 121 horsepower (90.1 kW) at 5,500 rpm.

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That’s markedly more power than we’ve seen before from a production American big twin (save the final generation of Harley-Davidson‘s V-Rod, which claimed 123 hp) but what really impresses me is the engine’s claimed torque figure. There’s something appropriate about the PowerPlus’ 1769cc displacement because it was in the year 1769 that James Watt received his first patent for the steam engine. With a face-punching 131.3 pound-feet (178 Nm) of torque at 3,800 rpm the PowerPlus is sure to draw comparisons with trains, cargo ships, moons and other large things with pulling power.

The new PowerPlus engine – I’m digging the sound

The new engine’s name is a nod to the PowerPlus motorcycle that Indian produced from 1916 to 1924. It’s a good bet the PowerPlus will be showing up in a handful of models (I’m betting it shows up in future iterations of the Roadmaster), but its first home will be the aforementioned Challenger, which is set to be officially revealed on 29 October – finally. 

In fairness, this is standard operating procedure for Indian. Under Polaris’ guidance it has always chosen to highlight new powerplants before showing off the bikes that will house them. The trend started back in 2014 with the Thunder Stroke V-twin. Indian did the same with the Scout platform‘s liquid-cooled V-twin and again with the powerplant that gives the FTR 1200 its punch.

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“You simply cannot deliver the ultimate bagger without an engine that stands head and shoulders above anything else in its class, said Indian Motorcycle Vice President of Engineering John Callahan. “That was the motivation behind the PowerPlus. We developed the most sophisticated V-twin powerplant in the industry*, and then we spent month after month, hour upon hour, putting it through the most intense paces to ensure it could take whatever we threw at it. The end result is something truly special.”

Indian says the PowerPlus “was tested, refined and proven by one of the industry’s most rigorous development and testing programs,” accumulating over 1 million miles of simulated testing, including state-of-the-art dyno testing, and more than 250,000 on-road miles.

Indian Motorcycle’s PowerPlus V-twin

“Countless hours were spent in design, development and testing to ensure this is the best liquid-cooled V-twin ever developed, and I could not be prouder of our team and this incredible motor,” said Indian Motorcycle President Steve Menneto. “We challenge our engineers with the notion that anything less than best-in-class design and performance will simply not get it done. And it’s clear with this new engine that they have delivered on that high standard.”

I’m looking forward to experiencing the thing firsthand. Meanwhile, we’ll know more about the Challenger next week.

* I’m a big fan of Indian but I feel that claim is one that can be challenged. Keep in mind that KTM uses V-twins, for example.