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Thread: Late Model Chief vs Knuck

  1. Late Model Chief vs Knuck

    In 2000 I bought a 52 chief from an estate in Minn. It had 15,000 actual miles and original paint and had not run in 8 years. We worked for 3 days getting it road worthy and I road it to the Steamboat Springs, CO road run. During that trip I put 2500 miles on that bike and it performed perfectly, the 80 inch motor started to ping when pulling a grade, but I would just retard the spark a little and it would behave and gain a little power as well. To alot of you Indian riders this would be a dream bike, but to me it was a slug and when I got home I promptly sold it. Unlike some of my other bikes I have had in the past I never regreted this decision and will stick to the Milwaukee brand from here on out. It was a 1952 sold in 1953, so it was titled as a 1953, but I represented it as a 1952 because that was the honest thing to do.
    Carl

  2. #2
    I know how you feel, Carl. That's why I have the '93 BMW Airhead for horizon chasing.

    Nonetheless, I enjoy my '53. The stock 80 inch motor was built for an era when "going like 60" meant something.

    A few years back, I rode my Indian from Oregon to Montana and back in the company of a friend who rode a late-model Road King--a beautiful and competent bike. On the return trip, we went west on Hwy 12 from Missoula towards Lewiston, Idaho. Great road, by the way. Once over the state line and Lolo Pass, riders are treated to over 77 miles of twisties.

    The poor fellow on the Road King couldn't keep up with the old flathead .

    MORAL OF THE STORY: The new HD's (V-Rods not included) are not so advanced as to where an old stock Indian Chief with grippy tires (I run Avons) can give them a run for the money.

    And this is why I ride a BMW, allbeit a 15 year old one. Performance, handling, ease of maintenence, range, comfort are excellent on this Airhead.

  3. Howdy Carl,

    I was on that ride with you (red Vincent - click link in my signature below - and a black/yellow 48 Chief with solid wheel covers) and drooled over your machine. Yours was one of several late model Chiefs wheezing up those high mountain passes on that run...like McCoy's that almost siezed - think there was a connection there though. The bigger and more strapping the lad aboard, the more wheezing by the straining powerplant.

    Two things: Years ago, I bought CS6906 and rather than engage in endless debate over its provenance, took the entire contents of that motor...along with many of my own hotrod pieces like pistons I custom machined and built it into that matching number 48. All the good things of an 80incher, lotsa torgue, compensator sprocket, separate primary/trans oil, etc.. and none of the less desirable, primitive telescopic forks, altered right height geometry and sad signs of economizing by a manufacturer hang'n on the ropes for the final 8 count.

    You're right, 51-53's do seem a little slower. Whereas the 50's and some 51's got bonneville cams and followers, once those stocks ran out, the remainder got standard 74ci cams which, which though torquey at low rpm, run out of breath at higher rev's.

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