• Tag Archives Indian Chieftain
  • 1000kms on an Indian- Part 2

    Posted on by Paul

    Just for a change we were up early the next morning and were downstairs having breakfast as soon as they opened for service. An excellent spread saw us utilising the waffle maker and eating our fill, before readying ourselves for an unexpectedly early start to the days ride. Whilst eating I had asked a couple of ladies which was the route to take to get to Salmo, explaining that I wanted to get to Balfour to the ferry, but they couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go via Nelson. It took a while and showing them the map before they understood I wanted to go the scenic route across to Creston, before running up the side of Kootenay Lake to Kootenay Bay, where I wanted to catch the ferry over to Balfour.

    When I told them we were going to be passing through Nakusp to Faquier, they warned of a bad left hand bend which had caught many a rider out. I was amazed that a bend on a road some 350kms away was so well known, but rode that bend later on in the day at 120kph whilst still accelerating, so I don’t know what the problem people had with it? Eventually with the correct route sorted we were off, and it’s only 07.20!

    We stopped almost immediately for petrol, where a quick calculation showed that the bike was averaging 47.8mpg, which I thought was pretty good!

    Once on the bike I’m full of the joys of spring, the early morning sun is warming but it is a bit chilly when it gets hidden behind the trees. Bizarrely I’m whooping and hollering like a big kid, I’m enjoying the ride, the experience, and the bike so much more than I ever expected to, life’s good!

    Looking back in the mirror I spot this fantastic view and have to stop to take a picture.

    With a full days riding behind me I’m now riding the Chieftain with confidence. The engine is most comfortable below 130kph, which is good as the limit is 100kph!. It starts to take off with a lovely intake gurgle from just over 3000rpm and at 3500 it’s starting to motor, but north of 130kph things start to get a bit shuddery and you quickly realise this isn’t where it’s going to spend much of its time. Braking is best accomplished using the rear brake in tandem with the front, something I’ve not done on a road bike since I last rode a Goldwing many years ago, but using both pulls you up more than adequately. The horn is loud, the seats comfortable, well for me more than Sue, and the handling is surprisingly good. It turns into bends quickly and holds a line well in fast sweepers. Importantly the sidestand is long and gives plenty of support. No centre stand for this 385kg behemoth, but it doesn’t feel 100kg heavier than my old GT, the weight being very well distributed when moving. The footboards offer a choice of positions and are perfectly placed for my 5’11 frame. The only small niggle was the occasional slight pain in my coccyx where the seat support sometimes rubbed, but overall I’d have to give it a massive thumbs up on pretty much every aspect.

    When you’re not having issues with your bike the time and miles sail by, as you’re concentrating on nothing else but the road, and enjoying yourself. The roads this morning are fantastic, and continue to be throughout the whole day to come. Salmo to Creston saw us crossing the highest point of the tour over the Kootenay Pass at 1774m, where the uneven surface and lack of crash barriers made me a little uneasy as we neared the summit. There was snow at the top, but we were soon over it and onto The Crowsnest Highway, descending towards Creston and passing over this girder bridge.

    As you can tell from the picture below the USA border was close by, I think the next sign said only 21kms.

    From Creston it’s North on the 3A and more fun and games with lovely long sweepers and superb vistas.

    Here’s Sue enjoying the view.

    Here’s what she was looking at

    Bike parked outside impressive wooden entry to viewing platform

    More filming on this stretch, but the suction mount on the Contour camera I was using decided to lose suction 3 times and the camera fell off. Luckily I had it tethered so didn’t lose it. Annoyingly I’ve not yet been able to locate the chipmunk that ran across in front of us, or the caribou in the undergrowth, that I know are on this film.

    Later on in the ride, the road to Kootenay Bay becomes super twisty with very few straights on it, and is restricted to 60kph in many places, but wasn’t the PITA you’d expect riding a big cruiser. The Chieftain took it all in its stride and we made it to the ferry on time, albeit the large time margin we’d built in so that we didn’t have to rush to get on the hourly crossing, had dropped to a mere 10 minutes.

    The ferry across to Balfour is the longest ferry crossing in Canada and takes 35 minutes. Iniitally we weren’t sure if there was going to be enough space on board as we were pretty close to the back of the queue, but like the tardis, the ship swallowed all the waiting vehicles.

    Underway and admiring the beautiful scenery behind us.

    Returning from the upper deck and sightseeing, I looked under the bike and saw two small puddles of oil. I checked the bike over and the oil seemed to be emanating from the dipstick housing, running down onto the crankcase, then being blown back onto the exhaust and pannier. Worried there may be something amiss on the uber machine I pondered what to do next, but as we were in the middle of nowwhere and any dealer would be half a day away, we decided to ride on gently and see if the problem got worse.

    Once off the ferry we joined Highway 31 to Kaslo. Here we overtook a couple of extremely slow Harley riders, demonstrating how we Euro riders do it, before stopping a few miles up the road to check the oil again. I wiped all the surfaces clean and resolved to check it again later. During this time the Harley guys came past,  but less than 10kms later I’d caught and passed them again. Stitch that HD dudes, should have bought an Indian!!!!

    Canada has plentiful trees and wild animals who live amongst them. On the Kaslo to New Denver leg of the ride we had this run-in with some local wildlife.

    In the first picture you can just about make out a deer at the side of the road which has just been spooked by the noise of an 1800cc twin thundering his way.

    Just in case you hadn’t spotted it, look directly above the letter D

    In this picture he’s decided it’s time to get away from the noise

    At this stage I’m braking hard and wondering whether it will carry on in front of me or turn back the way it came

    Still looking like we’re going to collide, until at the last second it turned and ran the other way!!

    In New Denver we’re only an hour and a half or so away from tonights stopover, so we took the time to refuel and have an ice cream to cool down. After a good run down to Nakusp and Arrow Lake, we arrived at our destination several hours earlier than planned, thanks to our 3 hours earlier than expected morning start. So with another 5 hours plus of superb riding under our belts, an ever increasing appreciation of the bike, and the 375 kms daily total matching my projected distance exactly, I decided to call Jack at McScoots and discuss the oil problem.

    I had been concerned that if the oil leakage became too bad it might cause some damage. I voiced this concern to Jack, who asked if I would be able to get it to a dealer somewhere, but as Kelowna was the nearest big city and less than 3 hours away, I suggested that it might be better for both of us if I returned the bike there first thing the next morning, knowing that he had it rented out to another customer the following day. It would be a shame to have to cut short our tour, but we would still have had a decent ride to return it, and I wouldn’t have wanted Jack to lose his coming rental in case the problem was bigger than a dipstick leak. Agreeing to have it with him before 11.00 the following morning, I ended the day by taking multiple photos of a bike I had come to like immensely.

    Brake reservoir cap


    Pannier hinge

    Frame stamping

    1800cc twin

    Clutch cover

    Just to let you know how big the motor is

    Not pictured, countless other logos on bar ends, dials, footboards and pegs, mirrors, backrest…… I gave up counting after 24!

    And leaving the coolest part on the bike til last, the Indian war bonnet head illuminates!



    Day 3- Returning the Chieftain

    We were up early again to catch the 06.30 ferry, which began its service in Faquier back in 1922, and is cable operated. I spent 5 minutes talking to some good old boy with a fantastic downward coiled moustache about the bike and his hot rod.

    He told me the workers onboard today were heading up to 6000ft to plant trees. He also told me that there were moose up near some marshlands on the road ahead, so never having seen one, we resolved to have a good look out.

    We should have realised that it would be cold that early in the morning and through the shaded wooded areas, and nearing Cherryville we almost decided to have another breakfast, but carried on to try and stay warm. Unfortunately we didn’t see any moose which was disappointing, but the roads were much more enjoyable on the bike than they had been in the Jeep 3 days earlier. One thing I did notice during this ride  that had started to raise itself as an issue the day before, was that the handgrips seem quite large. I have relatively small hands so don’t know whether it was the grip size or engine vibration which was causing my left hand to go a bit numb, but it started to become an issue every now and then, although not so for the right hand, which I think this must be because the throttle hand is always moving.

    Annoyingly I manged to somehow miss the turning for Kelowna as we passed through Vernon, which meant a 15 minute or so detour and retracing our steps, but we soon got back on track and were at  McScoots before the promised time. Jack was obviously concerned about the leak and had appreciated my detecting it and agreeing to bring it back early. He had already booked it in to be checked over by the dealer but was mystified as to why there had been a problem, as it had literally only come back from a service the day before I collected it. Using the Indian supplied dipstick spanner which he had omitted to supply (but will for future rentals), Jack undid the dipstick and quckly discovered what we believed to be the root of the problem. The oil seal was split, which would have allowed oil to get past, and which could only have occured by being overtightened after the oil change.

    With a hopefully cheap solution to the problem, Jack then offered to only invoice me for two days not three, as I’d brought the bike back so early in the day. I’d expected to have been billed for at least half a day, but he told me he’d rather have a satisifed customer than be rich. I have to say that his attitude and generosity in making that offer were both unexpected and much appreciated. He thanked me for looking out for a machine that was his livelihood, and in taking that action, I have to say he deserves to do tremendously well in business. Someone who values their customer (and he has an oilman who rents from him every month), will go far, and many others could learn a lesson from that gesture.

    UPDATE- The problem was found to be due to an overtightened dipstick and its broken oil seal



    In the end we rode 1050kms, the bike was outstanding and drew comments everywhere. The experience was unlike any other biking one I’ve had before, and the combination of the bike, the roads, the scenery, and just being back on two wheels again, made it a tour we’ll always remember.

    I’d like to thank Jack at McScoots who was a pleasure to deal with when booking, and an absolute star when it came to dealing with an issue totally out of his control. I would unhesitatingly recommend his company to anyone looking to make a similar tour. His bikes are immaculate, his business ethics beyond reproach, and he’s a nice guy to boot. Me, I’m wondering what to ride next, it’s just a shame that the Chieftain wouldn’t really cut it for the type of riding and roads we have here in Europe, but over there, it was SUPERB!


  • 1000kms on an Indian- Part 1

    All good things come to an end, and earlier this year I called time on 7 years of GT ownership. With 90,000kms on the clock, a valve service and tyres due, and a concern that the electronic suspension and shaft drive may require expensive replacement within the next year, I decided to cut my losses and sell it. On 17th March it was ridden away by its new owner leaving me without a road bike in the garage for the first time in 21 years, although I still have the R1 for trackdays.

    Initially I have to say that I didn’t miss it and consoled myself that I’d put some money in the bank, but as time passed, I started to think that in the absence of any planned early year track days, it might be a long time before I’d be back riding again. Then I had an idea. Why not hire a bike during my annual trip to Canada, after all, British Columbia has some of the finest roads in Canada? I did some surfing on the net, and my research pointed me in the direction of McScoots rental bikes in Kelowna, a few hours away from where I’d be staying.

    I’d always wondered what the attraction of riding a Harley was, and of course I’d never ride one after a dealer in Switzerland once asked me for some matches to set fire to my VFR800, but McScoots wasn’t renting out Harleys, he had Indians!

    Everyone I’m sure, knows the iconic American Indian brand, and even if you’re not a biker you may be famiiar with the name from the film “The Worlds Fastest Indian” featuring Anthony Hopkins?  The website showed two options available, the Vintage and Chieftain, the former apparently being a more comfortable option with a screen and leather bags, whilst the latter looked much more up my street with a handlebar fairing and hard luggage. McScoots owner Jack was super helpful when I called. Naturally when you rent out this type of expensive machine you need to know the person hiring it hasn’t just passed his test, but after running through my riding CV, we soon had the details agreed for a 3 day rental including 1000 kms, which should allow us plenty of scope for exploring some roads, on what would be a totally new experience for me, touring on a cruiser.

    I’d arranged with Jack that we’d collect the bike at around 9.30, although he isn’t normally open until 10.00. My usual modus operandi when on tour is to have breakfast and be away by 10.00, which is what I hoped we could do today. With Kelowna being around 2 1/2 hours away, we got up at stupid o’clock and set off at 05.10am to catch the 05.30 ferry at Faquier. Despite the early hour we’re only fourth in the queue, behind three truckloads of workers in their orange jump suits. Most have less fat on them than a chip, obviously hard manual work keeping them all fit

    It’s light and blue skies are present even at 05.30 in the morning. British Columbia cares for it’s environment and many places have switch off your engine signs when stopped

    Once over the crossing the road soon passes into woodland and there are warning signs that animals are around, in fact the day we arrived in Canada we’d seen a bear after getting off another ferry. After a few miles I complained to Sue that we hadn’t seen sight nor sound of anything, only for her to exclaim less than a minute later that we’d just passed a deer looking out at us from the woods!

    We’re driving on Highway 6 over the 1189m Monashee Pass this morning, and the tight and twisty bends through the Echo Lake Provincial Park are challenging in parts for the rented Jeep Grand Cherokee we’re driving (a pleasant upgrade from the mid size car we’d actually booked). Arriving in Cherryville and with time in hand, we decided to stop for breakfast. If you’re used to European continental breakfasts, you’re in for a shock, breakfasts in Canada are BIG! I treated myself to one aptly named the “Motherlode”, whilst Sue treated herself to pancakes with butter and blueberries. Yum! The waitress, hearing our accents asked where we were from. I told her we’re English but live in France, and have hired an Indian to take a tour, which seems to confuse her greatly until I explain that it’s an Indian motorcycle not a First Nations tribesman.

    After Cherryville the roads open up onto wider and more flowing bends, much more suited to the giant size Jeep. I had to take this picture exiting Lumby as we have a badger in our garden back home!

    Normally I plan everything to the nth degree, but this morning as we got closer to Kelowna, I realised that I didn’t actually have the address of McScoots, dummy! Stopping at a petrol station and asking drew a blank look from the cashier, but checking a phone directory gave me what I needed, so with an address now input into the GPS we should still be on track to get there on time, except even with the address we couldn’t find the place! Kelowna is basically one massive central main street with shopping malls, garages, and businesses on either side. As we passed a Yamaha dealer Sue shouted that she’d seen a truck with McScoots written on the side, but I discounted it, thinking it was just his van parked at the dealer. I wished I’d listened to her, as it was at least another 15 minutes before we’d retraced our steps to that Yamaha dealer having failed to find the address. I asked a guy outside the Yamaha shop if he knew of McScoots, and was surprised when he told me it was behind me, in a container!

    We had eventually arrived closer to 10.30 than 09.30, and after apologising to Jack for not having been on time we quickly got down to paperwork so that we could get off exploring. I’d been expecting a shop, so was a little shocked to see the business was run from a container, but you entered through double glass doors, and inside it was kitted out with table, chairs, and hanging rails of riding gear, whilst the rental fleet was parked up outside glinting in the sun.

    First sight of the massively imposing Indian Chieftain


    The Chieftain looked as if it had just come out of a showroom, it was spotless! Jack takes huge pride in his fleet, this bike costing over 31,000 CAD. When a rental comes back he immediately cleans it, and it really was in such good condition I thought it was new! This particular bike was a 2016 model and didn’t have the GPS that the 2017 model does. I toyed with the idea of taking the GPS from the car, but as it’s not a bike system and may not withstand water if it were to rain, decided against it, besides, with so few roads criss crossing the state, it should be simple to locate the ones we wanted using a map, old school style.

    Jack gave a thorough run through of the controls, showing me the tyre pressure monitor and pressures, something I always want to know are correct, although to my shame I was never able to find the screen again, only finding out how to access it when the bike was returned. Suggesting a brief ride round the car park, I quickly found the low seat height made putting both feet down simple, although I did find the left foot gear change odd as the lever is raised compared to “normal” bikes, but the footboards seemed to allow comfortable foot placement.

    Finally after the paperwork had been completed and we’d got togged up in our vented summer jackets and riding gear, we were ready for the off. Jack had given us directions how to get onto Highway 33, although it seemed as if he was sending us North instead of South, still, he knew best! Heading back up the road we’d come into Kelowna on, I soon wondered if I was going the right way, and quickly bemoaned the lack of a GPS which would have seen us on the right road immediately. What followed was about 30 minutes of driving up and down Kelownas main street. At a garage a trucker told us to head back the way we’d just come and to take a left at Costco, except we never saw CostCo and ended up actually crossing a bridge and leaving Kelowna,which was obviously not right!. Thankfully the dual carriageway we’d ended up on had an off ramp, so back we turned and back along the main drag. At each set of traffic lights I felt my legs getting warmed by the big 1800cc engine beneath me, and I wasn’t enjoying the way the front end waggled as I slowed to stop, the heavy front fairing seemingly creating an imbalance as I tried to gently ease to a halt.

    Eventually we found the turning for Highway 33 (having already passed it twice!), and once out of town the bike started to feel more natural and I began to explore the performance of the 1800cc engine.

    Our route (below) saw us heading for Osoyoos, a place whose name I managed to mispronounce every single time I spoke it. We’d been there previously back in 2010 and been impressed with the beauty of the location and it’s amazing salt lake, so we were headed back to see if it was as good as we had remembered it being.

    Highway 33 passed comfortably as I settled into a rythmn riding the big twin. It’s pretty comfortable, and riding at legal speeds and just enjoying the scenery is a real pleasure. We’d brought the GoPro and Contour cameras along to record some of the ride, and after 45 minutes and out into open countryside, we decided to try and do some filming. Pulling off into a roadside layby, I set up the camera and we decided to try some new ways of filming.

    Starting with the GoPro facing us for head on pics.

    We then stopped again, putting the camera on the tripod so we could do a ride by.

    Then Sue held the tripod and camera on the bike allowing her to film ahead and to the sides, all these angles hopefully making some interesting alternatives to the usual forward facing films I’ve made to date.

    Well they would have been interesting if the camera had been switched on and recording! It wasn’t until after I’d asked Sue to check the red recording light was flashing that we found out we hadn’t got any film at all, and that it hadn’t recorded any of the beautful countryside or lakes we’d passed, so we had to go through the whole rigmarole again. The pics above are from the second time of trying.

    Despite the farce of the non filming, the ride was going well. The bike allowing us to “bimble” along enjoying a type of riding we haven’t experienced before, and I was really starting to see why people enjoy this type of experience. In the past I have always been very disparaging of Harleys and their seeming overly loud exhausts, but I have to confess to occasionally just accelerating for the fun of hearing the big twins exhaust note, which l justify to myself isn’t as loud and anti social as a Harleys, but still makes a great noise!

    At Rock Creek we turned West onto Highway 3 towards Osoyoos and descending the steep hill towards the town are greeted with these fantastic views.



    Stopped on Anarchist Mountain overlooking the Okanagan Valley and Osoyoos below

    Descending towards the town of Osoyoos, whose fabulous location sees it surrounded by desert, vineyards and mountains, and well known for water sports on the massive lake.

    In town I managed to take the only two wrong turns I could have made in my quest to find the road out to Spotted Lake, and once more was wishing we’d got the GPS with us.

    Back in 2010 when we had first visited, this is the sight we had seen and were expecting.



    After dragging all the way out to the lake, this is what we got in 2017, no salt circles!

    As we headed back down towards town I noticed the fuel gauge flash up a low warning symbol. Strange, as last time I looked we still had plenty, and sure enough when we got down to the lower and flatter level in town, the gauge had returned to indicating around 100kms range left, still, as we were close to a petrol station we stopped to fill up.

    The Chieftain has twin filler caps but only the right hand one is used, the left side is a dummy.  After filling up we stopped at McDonalds, where a couple of locals, one of whom was from Portugal, enquired about the imposing bike parked outside. Although Harley owners they seemed impressed with the Indian.

    Leaving Osoyoos we retraced our route back up the hill stopping for these last few pictures.

    On the way in we had seen some impressive statues so tstopped and took pictures of some of them on the way back out.

    The route we were taking was now heading East, passing back through Rock Creek on Highway 3, which  turned out to be a great road through beautiful countryside, and which would take us right the way through to our overnight stop in Castlegar.

    In Greenwood we stopped for an ice cream

    Lots of red wooden buildings in BC

    Great road sign

    Onwards through Christina Lake, and as we passed through the Bonanza Pass at 1535m in Gladstone Provincial Park, it suddenly got very cold. The nice 72F temperatures we’d been enjoying at the height of the afternoon had been gradually falling, but the sudden plummet from 65F to 55F, and then 44F at 18.30, quickly meant our vented jackets weren’t providing enough warmth, and with teeth close to chattering we stopped and put on our rain jackets to try and get some heat back in our bodies. With our motel at Castlegar still around 40 minutes away, we were grateful when we eventually arrived, to check in and get warm again.

    This sign on the main road outside the motel shows we’re not far from the USA border, in fact it’s only around 40kms away.

    Later on we nipped out to the local supermarket and liquor store to get some food and drink. This impressive full size metal statue was surrounded by several smaller ones.

    Extremely large bike failing spectacularly to hide behind pillar.

    Final ride stats for the day, a thoroughly enjoyable 459kms, which was some 50kms further than I’d initially calculated, showing how much off route we’d been without GPS assistance.