Ahead of MotoAmerica Superbike Speedfest's "King of the Baggers" invitational, Maxim got an exclusive look at one of two Indian Challengers set to compete against a field of Harley-Davidson Road, Street and Electra Glides in the first-of-its-kind race.
Wisconsin-based V-Twin engine specialist S&S Cycle decided to sponsor and rebuild Indian's most powerful model for one simple reason. "We chose the Indian Challenger because we're gonna go racing, and we want to win," said S&S Cycle president and ex-racer Paul Langley. "This is the fastest and easiest way to do it."
Langley's confidence was vindicated with victory. The S&S Indian piloted by decorated road racing veteran Tyler O'Hara pulled out the win in eight laps at SoCal's highly technical Laguna Seca track—watch highlights from the wild race above.
The event didn't transpire without drama. After securing an early lead, O'Hara ran his 600-pound behemoth wide on a corner into sand, falling third to a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and the second Challenger in the process.
Despite the mid-race snafu, O'Hara proceed to edge out both, overtaking the Harley with a daring maneuver at the track's infamous steep-graded corkscrew section to regain the lead. O'Hara's Indian ultimately took the top podium spot, with the Harley and other Indian taking second and third, respectively.
Pointless—even hilarious—as a bagger bike race may seem, Indian's success against Harley does have some real-world relevance relevance. In 2020, the Indian Challenger debuted as a direct competitor to the class-leading Harley-Davidson Road Glide. With the goal of stealing business of H-D loyalists, the Polaris-owned brand is currently holding "Challenger Challenge" promotion inviting riders to test the bikes back-to-back at dealers.
The Challenger is already superior to the Road Glide in raw power and acceleration. But the King of the Baggers crown—while not necessarily a practical pro—certainly represents another advantage for the Indian.