New Bikes

High tech updates for 2019 Indian range

Selective cylinder de-activation on big twins, plus new audio systems and riding modes.

INDIAN OFTEN seems to be the more high-tech of the big two US cruiser firms. And it's brought some unique engineering to its new big twin range for 2019. The new Chief, Springfield and Roadmaster cruisers all feature a new cylinder de-activation system, that turns off the rear cylinder when at a standstill in warm conditions. The idea is to keep heat away from the rider in summer, and the Thunder Stroke motor turns the cylinder back on again as soon as you open the throttle, for smooth takeoffs.

We think this is a first on a bike, although it's been rumoured before. It's quite a common setup on modern cars, where V6 or V8 engines turn off some cylinders at cruise speeds to reduce fuel consumption. They generally achieve this by using the variable valve system to stop opening the inlet and exhaust valves, turning the cylinder into a big gas spring. That means there's no massive drag from the stopped cylinder - the compressed air returns most of the energy used to compress it when the piston moves down. There's no sign that the Indians will do this on the move to save gas - it's purely to reduce heat they say - but it could have a small efffect on consumption, and is an interesting pointer to future developments.

Apart from the cylinder switching tech, the new bikes also get 'tour' 'standard' and 'sport' rider power modes - fair enough (although we're unsure that the Sport mode will really provide "head-snapping acceleration" as claimed in the PR) - and an updated audio system with improved speakers.

The big Indians look great too - especially in the Wild West. How they'd look on the proverbial soaked A5 on a Monday morning commute in November is another matter. Best keep the Burgman 650 for all that stuff.

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