West Coast Cruiser Bike Battle: 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S vs. Indian Sport Chief


Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Indian Sport Chief
Should you’re searching for a club-style efficiency cruiser motorbike, this duo is on the pinnacle. Harley-Davidson’s Low Rider S is the OG, and it’s now joined by a worthy adversary within the type of Indian’s new Sport Chief. (Photographs by Kevin Wing)

The straightforward system for going quick has been in play for the reason that daybreak of motor automobiles: Stuff the biggest and most‑highly effective engine right into a sporty chassis that may deal with it. With regards to absolutely air-cooled motors made in America, none are greater than these within the cruiser motorbike comparo you see right here. They’ve received a mixed 233 cubic inches on faucet for our visceral and aural pleasure – 117 cubes on the Harley-Davidson Low Rider S and 116 on the Indian Sport Chief.

Energy has a attraction all its personal, however nothing places butts in seats like engaging designs. Right here we’ve received variations on West Coast club-style, with sporty windscreens main their approach to tall-but-forward club-style handlebars and mid-mount foot controls. These are elemental however imposing bikes, graced by delicate flash and loads of sprint.  

Low Rider Cruiser Bike Legacy 

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S

The Low Rider S follows a lineage of Low Riders that started in 1977 with Willie G.’s Shovelhead-powered FXS after which the belt-driven FXSB. The mannequin transitioned to the Dyna platform in 1995 and remained in manufacturing till 2009.


The nameplate was too potent to put dormant, so Harley delivered a brand new Low Rider for 2014-17, together with the debut of the Low Rider S moniker in 2016. In 2018, it transitioned once more – a bit controversially – to the Softail platform and the Milwaukee-Eight powertrain. Upon its debut, H-D referenced previous fashions and inspirations from California.

Associated: 2016 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S | First Ride Review

“We’ve utilized that coastal model and performance-first angle to the Softail chassis to create a Low Rider S that’s extra highly effective and agile than ever,” mentioned Brad Richards, H-D vp of design. And the system has confirmed to achieve success, additionally spawning the fascinating FXRT-inspired Low Rider ST in 2022.

Indian: Me Too! 

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Indian Sport Chief

Indian gave the Chief a radical overhaul for the 2022 mannequin 12 months, introducing a steel-tube body with twin-shock rear suspension. Mockingly, its format is nearer to Harley’s former Dyna than the Softail-based Low Rider S.

And now we have now the Sport Chief, which provides a bullet-nose fairing sized halfway between the Low Rider S’s windscreen and the Low Rider ST’s extra expansive fairing. Imitation is the sincerest type of flattery.  

Associated: 2023 Indian Sport Chief | First Ride Review

Miss America

A cursory have a look at this duo reveals many similarities, all framed round narrow-angle V-Twins. Most surfaces are black, however polished cylinder finning provides a little bit of brightwork. Harley’s M-8 is slightly brighter with its chromed pushrod tubes. The Indian’s black wheels characteristic machined spoke edges for a flash of glitz, whereas the Radiate wheels of the Low Rider are completed in darkish bronze.

Probably the most visually apparent distinction is of their snouts, with the Indian’s fairing rather more distinguished than the diminutive wind deflector on the H-D. Each bikes have dual-disc brakes on their inverted forks, and each have black shotgun-style mufflers. Neither accommodates a passenger in inventory kind, however equipment can be found to make sure your vital different doesn’t have to remain residence.

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Indian Sport Chief

Each bikes characteristic cruise management and self-canceling turnsignals as customary tools, however the cockpits differ by way of know-how. The Low Rider makes use of a well-known 4-inch analog tach with a small digital part that features readouts for pace, gear choice, gasoline stage, clock, tripmeter, and gasoline vary. Its location is ready increased than the Chief’s, making it simpler to scan rapidly.

That’s sufficient instrumentation for many, however Indian one-ups its Milwaukee rival with a colour TFT touchscreen that provides Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, and audio inputs, in addition to readouts for air temperature and altitude, a visit pc, and ride-mode choice. It additionally offers a USB cost port and a 12V outlet.

The Harley’s triple clamp, handlebar clamp, and tank console are completed in a Rhino Lining-like Wrinkle Black, which seems tuff if not fairly. On the opposite bar, the Sport Chief’s higher triple clamp options machined accents that add a high-end contact, together with a bar clamp capped by a sexy scripted Indian “I” in silver.  

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S
The Low Rider’s cockpit is sort of primary, with an instrument format that appears spartan for a $20K motorbike.
Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Indian Sport Chief
The Sport Chief has a shiny TFT gauge pod that features many options not obtainable on its rival.

West Coast Cruiser Bike Price Evaluation 

Parking both of those bikes in your storage will set you again about $20K, however their costs add up otherwise.

The bottom Low Rider S retails for $18,199, whereas the Sport Chief begins at $18,999. Selecting a colour aside from black provides $525 to the Harley and $500 to the Indian. The Indian comes customary with ABS, nevertheless it’s a $950 choice on the LR-S. Traction management can also be customary on the Sport Chief, however H-D’s Rider Security Enhancements package deal (with traction management) prices an additional $200. As examined, the Harley is priced at $19,874 and the Indian at $19,499. Each firms tack on extra surcharges and charges, a few of that are on the seller’s discretion. 

Fired Up 

Each bikes come to life through an digital key fob, which is a large comfort for a lot of and a PITA for some old-school brothers. Whereas many recognize the tactile mechanicalness of an precise key, there’s no denying the handiness of a fob.

Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight engine convulses at idle, including some drama to the expertise, accompanied by ticking lifter noise. Indian’s Thunderstroke feels smoother, prefer it’s bathed in oil. Each rumble with pleasing baritone exhaust notes – loud sufficient to sound imply however not imply sufficient to be obnoxious. They’re a good compromise inside EPA necessities.

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S
The Low Rider S shares the same driving place with the Sport Chief, with a ahead attain to the bars and mid-mount footpegs below riders’ knees.


Our fondness for Harley’s M-8 powertrain is raised to a extra supreme stage with the 117ci variations we’ve examined. It spits out hearty low-end grunt starting under 2,000 rpm and continues surging with a robust pull on the best way to its 5,500-rpm redline.

Indian’s 116ci Thunderstroke is a pleasant match, simply 1ci shy of H-D’s M-8. Can you actually really feel the additional inch? How about 33cc? A bit, however the bikes really feel equally highly effective typically use. Indian says its mill cranks out 120 lb-ft of torque at 2,900 rpm, whereas Harley claims 125 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm.

It’s on the higher finish of the rev ranges the place the MoCo motor stretches its 4-valve-per-cylinder legs, making it really feel virtually prefer it has twin personalities – it’s torquey but revvy – and cranks out about 95 hp at 4,700 rpm on a rear-wheel dyno. That’s greater than 10 ponies up on the Indian motor, a big benefit. Nevertheless, when driving them on the road, we by no means would’ve guessed the hole was so giant, as these engines are all about browsing their prodigious midrange torque.

The Harley’s motor additionally earns an edge within the direct responses from its twistgrip. No trip modes right here, simply an unbroken reference to the throttle. Compared, the Thunderstroke looks like a pc is dictating its responses. 

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Indian Sport Chief
The Sport Chief’s quarter-fairing provides a cohesive styling aspect to the Chief platform that’s proving to be a robust draw for shoppers. A neighborhood seller rep says he can’t hold them in inventory and has a ready record almost 100 deep.


Indian’s Sport mode delivers unnecessarily jumpy throttle responses, however switching to Customary mode calms issues significantly and makes for a a lot smoother trip. However whenever you leap on the Harley and really feel the instant responses cued from its proper grip, the Chief feels docile as compared. I ended up preferring the liveliness of Sport mode and adjusted to its snatchiness.

The Sport Chief could lose floor in outright energy, nevertheless it makes a few of that again with a gearbox nearly as good as a big-inch cruiser will get, even permitting seamless upshifts with out utilizing the clutch. The slip/help clutch requires much less lever effort and permits for sloppy downshifts, however its engagement zone isn’t as broad because the Harley’s. Six-speed transmissions feed belt drives on each.

Cruiser Bike Battle Story of the Tape 

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Indian Sport Chief
The Low Rider S’s flyscreen is mounted increased than the Sport Chief’s, offering extra wind safety than anticipated. The Indian’s quarter-fairing is mounted decrease however is topped by a windscreen that provides larger shelter from the weather. The Sport Chief’s headlight additionally has superior illumination.

Once more, we have now a detailed match in a number of areas, however there are just a few key distinctions. Weights with full gasoline tanks are almost similar, with the Low Rider simply 6 lb lighter than the 685-lb Sport Chief. The precise weights of the machines are probably 12 lb aside because of the 5-gallon Harley tank holding 1 gallon greater than the Indian’s.

Ergonomically, there are few distinctions. Straight handlebars are mounted on risers for tall hand positions. The Low Rider’s 4-inch bar risers place the handlebar slightly nearer to the rider. Footpeg areas are just about similar, mid-mounted to ship a place that locations ft under knees. They yield a a lot tighter knee bend than with ahead controls, so longer-legged riders may really feel cramped.  

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Indian Sport Chief

The Sport Chief enjoys a decrease seat peak, at 27 inches, however that’s definitely not an issue in case you have an inseam of at the very least 28 inches, which is the place the Low Rider’s seat is positioned. The Harley’s saddle is barely extra scooped out than the Indian’s, however each really feel equally comfy, with supportive bolsters holding riders securely in place.

By way of chassis geometry, each bikes have the identical rake angle (28 levels), however the quantity of path diverges. Extra path ends in barely slower steering responses, and it’s 4.4 inches on the Indian to the Harley’s 5.7 inches. Nevertheless, the wheelbase of the Low Rider is 1 inch lower than the Chief’s 64.6 inches, gaining again some agility, as does its barely narrower entrance tire.

All these numbers add as much as remarkably related car dynamics, with neither bike having a transparent benefit. The slim bars look cool however lower leverage, yielding steering effort finest described as deliberate, not flickable.

Each are fairly sporty for bikes with greater than 5 ft between contact patches, feeling safe as much as and past the obtainable cornering clearances. Burly frames hold the bikes from getting snarled when levered laborious into corners. Harley states a 31.3-degree lean angle for the Low Rider S, which is a slender cornering benefit over the Sport Chief’s 29.5 levels.

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Indian Sport Chief
With regards to tilting horizons, this can be a pretty even match, though the Indian’s pegs drag slightly prior to the Harley’s.

Suspension efficiency is almost a wash. Inverted forks with 5.1 inches of journey on each reply equally properly with properly dialed damping. The Harley’s 4.4 inches of journey in its Softail rear suspension is barely extra (0.4 in.) than the Indian’s twin shocks supply – greater than different Softails and Chiefs – however each do an efficient job of smoothing out all however the greatest bumps.

With the ability on faucet to pile up pace on these muscle-bikes, it’s good to know they’ve stout units of brakes. Each use dual-disc setups up entrance with 4-piston calipers actuated through braided-steel strains. We’ll give the nod to the Indian’s radially mounted Brembo calipers and larger discs, which offer a bit extra energy and suggestions than the Harley’s binders.

The lighter clutch pull on the Chief makes it much less fatiguing to trip in stop-and-go site visitors, however the effort required from the Low Rider isn’t onerous. Warmth radiating from the engines is attenuated by rear-cylinder deactivation programming, however there’s no escaping the heat produced by immense air‑-cooled motors.

Hand controls are equally efficient, each with beefy, contoured levers that really feel good on fingertips. Gripes are few. Harley’s dual-button turnsignals nonetheless really feel like one button too many, whereas we want Indian’s sign change had a tactile cancel click on. Self-canceling turnsignals imply you by no means appear like an absent-minded outdated man, even if you’re one. Kudos to H-D for its indicators canceling faster. However shade will get thrown on the Low Rider S for the mediocre low-beam illumination from its headlight.  

Similar However Completely different 

The bikes in our final all-American shootout – H-D Sportster S and Indian’s Scout and FTR – couldn’t have been rather more totally different for a trio of bikes with liquid-cooled V-Twin engines. However the bikes on this comparo are remarkably related and priced that means too.

The Low Rider S stands out for the stellar responses and visceral really feel of its 117ci M-8 powertrain. It feels extra alive – and extra highly effective – than the cloudier suggestions from Indian’s Thunderstroke. On the draw back is a much less engaging cockpit. The H-D’s instrument pod seems low cost typically – particularly subsequent to the Indian’s TFT – and its wrinkle-finish triple-clamps and bar risers aren’t as elegant because the ending on the Indian.

The Sport Chief struts a formidable profile with its distinguished and visually interesting fairing and is augmented by elegant end detailing. Know-how adopters will recognize its vastly extra strong suite of electronics. Purists may bitch in regards to the dilution of suggestions from the machine relative to unadulterated responses from the MoCo’s providing.

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Indian Sport Chief
One other traditional Indian‑­versus‑­Harley battle with an excessive amount of parity. Selecting your favourite may be decided solely by their look or your model choice.

“By way of engine character, total efficiency, and dealing with, these bikes are just about neck and neck,” mentioned EIC Greg Drevenstedt, co-rider within the comparability. “If one isn’t clearly head and shoulders above the opposite by way of operate, then it comes right down to the main points. The Wrinkle Black finishes on the Harley look utilitarian, just like the mattress of a pickup truck. The Indian displays extra consideration to element and has nicer finishes, and the Sport Chief’s fairing provides the bike a extra cohesive look than the Low Rider S’s flyscreen.”

Greg and I had been on the identical web page when deciding which bike we most well-liked, judging them remarkably shut.

“Whereas I recognize the extra uncooked really feel of the Harley’s 117, neither of those bikes will keep inventory for lengthy,” mentioned Drevenstedt. “A couple of efficiency mods will make both bike even meaner. For me, it comes right down to model and stance. I really like the bronze wheels on the Low Rider S, however I’m not a fan of the White Sand Pearl paint, which seems beige. These wheels look higher on the Vivid Black model, which jogs my memory of a late ’70s ‘screamin’ hen’ Trans-Am.

“However the one that pulls me in is the Sport Chief. It’s longer, decrease, and appears extra aggressive. A muscle cruiser ought to scream ‘unhealthy ass’ even when parked on the curb, and the Indian does that.”

With a comparability this aggressive, selecting a winner may all come right down to model loyalty and the way the types of every bike hit subjective eyes. And whichever bike you decide, you gained’t be improper.

West Coast Cruiser Bike Spec Chart Shootout

Cruiser Motorcycle 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Indian Sport Chief
Listed here are the 2 greatest absolutely air‑­cooled motors provided in manufacturing bikes

Base Worth:

  • 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S: $18,199
  • 2023 Indian Sport Chief: $18,999  

Worth as Examined:

  • H-D: $19,874 (White Sand Pearl paint, ABS, Rider Security Enhancements)
  • Indian: $19,499 (Ruby Smoke paint)     


  • H-D: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
  • Indian: 2 yrs., unltd. miles

Web site:   


Engine Kind:    

  • H-D: Air‑cooled, transverse 45‑diploma V‑Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl. 
  • Indian: Air‑cooled, transverse 49‑diploma V‑Twin, OHV w/ 2 valves per cyl.


  • H-D: 117 ci (1,923 cc)
  • Indian:  116 ci (1,890 cc)

Bore x Stroke: 

  • H-D: 4.075 x 4.5 in. (103.5 x 114.3mm)
  • Indian: 4.063 x 4.449 in. (103.2 x 113.0mm)

Compression Ratio:

  • H-D: 10.2:1
  • Indian: 11.0:1

Valve Insp. Interval:

  • H-D: N/A (self‑­adjusting)
  • Indian: N/A (self‑­adjusting)

Gasoline Supply:

  • H-D: Digital Sequential Port Gasoline Injection
  • Indian: Closed loop EFI w/ 54mm throttle physique

Lubrication System:

  • H-D: Dry sump, 5.0 ­qt. cap.
  • Indian: Semi‑­dry sump, 6.0 qt. cap.


  • H-D:  6‑pace, cable-­actuated moist help clutch
  • Indian:  6­-speed, cable‑actuated moist help clutch

Remaining Drive:     



  • H-D: Tubular metal w/ rectangular‑­part spine & metal swingarm
  • Indian: Tubular metal w/ metal swingarm


  • H-D: 63.6 in.
  • Indian: 64.6 in.


  • H-D:  28.0 levels/5.7 in.
  • Indian:  28 levels/4.4 in.

Seat Peak:

  • H-D: 28.0 in.
  • Indian:  27.0 in.

Suspension, Entrance:

  • H-D: 43mm inverted fork, no adj., 5.0 in. journey
  • Indian: 43mm inverted fork, no adj., 5.1 in. journey

Suspension, Rear:

  • H-D: Single shock, adj. preload, 4.4 in. journey
  • Indian: Twin piggyback shocks, adj. preload, 4.0 in. journey

Brakes, Entrance:

  • H-D: Twin 300mm discs w/ 4­-piston calipers & ABS (as examined)
  • Indian: Twin 320mm discs w/ 4‑piston calipers & ABS

Brakes, Rear:

  • H-D: Single 292mm disc w/ 2‑piston caliper & ABS (as examined)
  • Indian: Single 300mm disc w/ 2‑piston caliper & ABS

Wheels, Entrance:

  • H-D: 19 x 2.5 in.
  • Indian: 19 x 3.5 in.

Wheels, Rear:

  • H-D: 16 x 5.0 in.
  • Indian: 16 x 5.0 in.

Tires, Entrance:

  • H-D: Tubeless, 110/90B‑19
  • Indian: Tubeless, 130/60B­-19

Tires, Rear: 

  • H-D: Tubeless, 180/70B‑16
  • Indian: Tubeless, 180/65B­-16

Moist Weight:

  • H-D:  679 lb
  • Indian:  685 lb

Load Capability:

  • H-D: 481 lb
  • Indian: 475 lb


  • H-D: 1,160 lb
  • Indian: 1,160 lb



  • H-D: 103 @ 4,750 rpm (manufacturing unit declare)
  • Indian: 96 @ 4,200 rpm (estimated)


  • H-D:  125 lb­-ft @ 3,500 rpm (manufacturing unit declare)
  • Indian:  120 lb‑ft @ 2,900 rpm (manufacturing unit declare)

Gasoline Capability:

  • H-D: 5.0 gal.
  • Indian: 4.0 gal.

Gasoline Consumption:

  • H-D: 47 mpg
  • Indian: 48 mpg

Estimated Vary:

  • H-D: 235 miles
  • Indian: 192 miles

See all of Rider‘s Harley-Davidson coverage here.

See all of Rider’s Indian coverage here.


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