Head-to-Head: Harley Heritage Classic vs. Indian Chief Vintage

Head to Head Harley Heritage Classic vs. Indian Chief Vintage

If you love American motorcycles, then you know there’s been an age-old rivalry between Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle. 

Indian Motorcycle is known for being America’s first motorcycle manufacturing company. Their debut motorcycle was released in 1901. 

Harley-Davidson’s first bike came out just two years later in 1903. And, now they’re known as the most popular motorcycle brand in America

It’s likely that you have a favorite of the two companies. But, today, we’re putting favoritism aside to compare two of their popular models in a head to head battle: The Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic and the Indian Motorcycle Chief Vintage

These two bikes both have names that reflect inspiration from early the 1900s. However, despite this similarity, there may be notable differences between them. 

Which one is better? We’ll let you be the judge!

For a detailed comparison of the Heritage Classic and the Chief Vintage, continue reading below! 


Aesthetic is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a motorcycle. One single attribute can be a dealbreaker or a dealmaker. 

Let’s compare the design of each model to see which one best suits your personal style. 

Harley Heritage Classic

This motorcycle has a modern look with a touch of old-school swag. It has leather saddlebags, a full front fender and a full rear fender with a slight flare, which all contribute to its classic design. 

The Heritage also has a rake (angle of the steering head of the frame) of 30 degrees. This is the typical angle for a cruiser. 

The angle of the rake has a direct relationship with the angle of the front forks. The larger the rake angle, the more horizontal the forks are to the ground and the farther the front wheel sits from the body of the bike. The smaller the rake angle, the more vertical the forks are and the closer the front wheel is to the body of the bike. 

Furthermore, this model comes in two designs/engine options: the Milwaukee-Eight 107 with chrome finishings and the Milwaukee-Eight 114 with a blacked-out finishings and touches of chrome. 

Indian Chief Vintage

On the contrary, the Chief Vintage stays true to its old-school roots. This model features a fringed saddle, fringed leather saddlebags, whitewall tires and stretched, heavily flared front and rear fenders that cover about half of each tire. 

The Chief Vintage has a rake of 25 degrees. This is slightly more steep than that of the typical cruiser. 

To put things in perspective, the typical chopper-style motorcycle has a rake of approximately 45 degrees. This angle reflects the extreme lean in the front forks that give choppers their signature look. 

In Conclusion

Both models have chrome finishings, flared fender(s), wire wheels, a passenger seat and a removable windshield. 

And, both were inspired by motorcycles of the early to mid-1900s, hence the names “Heritage” and “Vintage.” However, there’s no doubt that there are major style differences between the two.

Overall, if you’re searching for a modern-looking motorcycle with subtle 50s inspiration, the Harley Heritage Classic is the one for you. But, if you’re looking for a motorcycle that will literally send you on a blast to the past, the Indian Chief Vintage is the perfect option. 

Available Colors 

Now that we’ve talked about style, let’s see which model has the better factory paint job. 

Harley Heritage Classic

The Heritage is available in six colors: 

  1. Vivid Black
  2. Billiard Burgundy
  3. Silver Pine/Spruce
  4. Billiard Red/Vivid Black
  5. Tahitian Teal
  6. Scorched Orange/Silver Flux. 

Both the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and the Milwaukee-Eight 114 come in the first five colors. The sixth color, Scorched Orange/Silver Flux, is only available with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. 

Indian Chief Vintage 

The Vintage is available in five colors: 

  1. Thunder Black
  2. Willow Green/Ivory Cream
  3. Coastal Green/Pearl White
  4. Burnished Metallic/Sandstone Metallic
  5. Patriot Red/Pear

Thunder Black and Willow Green/Ivory Cream are available with ABS (Automatic Braking System). 

And, Coastal Green/Pearl White, Burnished Metallic/Sandstone Metallic and Patriot Red/Pearl White are a part of the Indian ICON Series (which have limited availability because they are part of a factory custom paint program). 

In Conclusion

If you like motorcycles with deep, bold colors, the Harley Heritage Classic is the one for you. However, if you’re into bright, vibrant colors, go for the Indian Chief Vintage. 

And, if you love the simplicity and sophistication of black, either is an option. 

Both models also have two-toned paint jobs available. 


Finally, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the specs! 

Harley Heritage Classic

As mentioned earlier, with the 2020 Harley Heritage Classic you have the ability to choose your engine. The two available options are the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and the Milwaukee-Eight 114. 

These two engines have a 109 ft-lb and 119 ft-lb torque respectively. And, they both have an RPM of 3,000.

Indian Chief Vintage

This model features Indian’s Thunderstroke 111 engine. 

And, although this is the only option available, it matches the Harley Heritage Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine in terms of torque. It too has 119 ft-lbs of torque at 3,000 RPM.

In Conclusion

Simple, if you want a more powerful motorcycle, go for the Harley Heritage with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 or the Indian Vintage.


Although these bikes are both cruisers, there may be some size differences between the two. It’s important to choose a bike that fits your experience level and body type.

Continue reading below to see how both models weight in. 

Harley Heritage Classic

This bike is 95.1 inches long and weighs 728 pounds in running order.

The Heritage also has a fuel capacity of five gallons. This is considered high capacity which is perfect for cruising and touring. 

Its seat height is 26.3 inches, and it has a ground clearance of 4.7 inches. This height can be considered moderate to low. It is most comparable to the height of the H-D Low Rider Special (26.5-inch seat height, 4.7-inch ground clearance).

Also, keep in mind that this measurement reflects the height of the seat when a 180-pound person is operating the motorcycle. 

If you are a bit larger/taller, the motorcycle may sit a bit lower to the ground. Likewise, if you are a bit lighter/shorter, the motorcycle may sit a bit higher. This measurement varies due to the amount of pressure/weight bearing on the bike’s suspension system, tires, etc. 

Indian Chief Vintage

This model is 101.7 inches long and has an almost identical seat height of 26 inches. It also has a ground clearance of 5.6 inches, which is about one inch higher than the Heritage.

The Chief Vintage weighs 805 pounds in running order, which is within the typical weight range for a cruiser but is a bit on the heavy side. 

And, it has a slightly larger fuel capacity of 5.5 gallons. This makes it a great option if you enjoy cruising around town or traveling beyond state lines.

In Conclusion

For Harleys, seat height is typically between 25 and 28 inches. The outlier is the Live Wire, which sits at 30 inches high. 

Although seat height only varies by a few inches, it can make a world of difference in relation to your height. 

Since both bikes sit relatively low, you’re in luck if you’re short in stature. However, the weight difference between the two motorcycles is 77 pounds. 

Therefore, if you are new to riding motorcycles, we recommend purchasing the Harley Heritage Classic. The heavier the motorcycle, the more experience it takes to handle the bike and balance its weight. 

If you are an intermediate to advanced rider or are tall/large in stature, you can choose between either model. But, it’s likely that you’ll have more legroom and, thus, feel more comfortable on the Indian Chief Vintage since it’s a larger bike. Again, it all depends on your height/inseam and weight. 


Cool gadgets and high-tech features are often key selling points for motorcycle manufacturers. Let’s see which model has the wow factor that’ll knock your socks off! 

Harley Heritage Classic

This model features standard ABS, cruise control and security features. 

It also has sealed, lockable, one-touch saddlebags. These saddlebags are unique because they look like traditional bags, but they actually open from the inside for easy access when you’re mounting the bike. 

Furthermore, the detachable windshield can be removed in seconds, which makes the Heritage great for both cruising and touring. 

This model also features high-performance rear mono-shock. This technology was created by Harley-Davidson and, the company states that it allows for “dynamic cornering capability while preserving the hardtail look.”

Indian Chief Vintage

This model features keyless ignition, ABS and cruise control.

The Chief Vintage can also be transformed from a cruiser to a tourer due to its quick-release windshield. It also has three ride modes: tour, standard and sport.

It also features rear cylinder deactivation. Indian states that this technology “automatically shuts off the rear cylinder when the bike is stopped for more comfort in slow-moving traffic.”


Last but not least, let’s chat about price. Which bike is worth your buck?

Harley Heritage Classic

The Heritage has a starting MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of $18,999. 

Indian Chief Vintage

The Vintage has a starting MSRP of $19,999. 

In Conclusion 

There’s a $1,000 dollar price difference between the Harley Heritage Classic and the Chief Vintage. 

Cruisers typically cost between $15,000 to $20,000 dollars. And, both models fit within that price range. 

It’s likely that the prices of both models fall closer toward the higher end of the spectrum because they are both marketed as transformative cruiser-tourers, due to their easily detachable windshields, suspension and large frames. 

The Verdict

Now that you know (almost) everything there is to know about the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic and the Indian Chief Vintage, what’s the verdict? 

Drum roll, please! 

What’s your top pick? Let us know in the comments below! 

Want more options? Check out this blog post to find out what type of Harley is best for you!

6 comments on “Head-to-Head: Harley Heritage Classic vs. Indian Chief Vintage”

  • I am seriously looking at Heritage because:
    A) I feel more comfortable on sitting on the bike and it is slightly les in weight
    B) The balance of the Harley seems more comfortable
    C) I do not to many short distance rides, most of my rides range from a low of 300 miles to a high of 2,400 miles so I have a great mixture.
    D) If a breakdown does happen there appears to be more Hzrley dealers than Indian dealers.
    * Harley’s repair prices are high
    * Cost of their accessories is very high and more often than not, yu go “on line” to purchasse the part you need.

  • I am currently looking at the heritage classic and the super chief limited. The selling point of the Indian is that this model comes with the 116″ thunder stroke. They are both very nice motorcycles.

  • LOVE my Vintage, 12,000 miles since April.
    My only issue is NOT the bike but Indian. Had some issues with bearings on the bike and it cost me $800 bucks because Indian would not honor the warranty.

    My next bike will be a Harley…not because I like them better but I was really screwed over on a warranty.

  • We’ve owned both; had two Chiefs (a Vintage & a Chieftain) and three Harleys (Streetglide Special, Springer Softail, & Road King). The Indians are far nicer bikes; better suspension, more comfortable. Power is similar with the nod to Indian. Aftermarket accessories are 100% Harley; neat stuff for the Indians is uncommon. I’m now looking for a new one… and it will be an Indian.

  • Taking into consideration all points mentioned in the article…. … Indian Chief Vintage.
    Also it rides and handles better. IMzpO

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