If you want to be happy for a lifetime, ride a motorcycleThat's why more and more people are turning their attention towards adventure or touring bikes. Because if you plan on going cross-country, you're going to need all the comfort you can get. And let's not forget about storage space, as your average sports bike can only carry a t-shirt and some documents at best.
Here's where the "baggers" come in. A bagger is defined as a big bike that has improved wind-deflection capabilities plus saddlebags or compartments that provide plenty of room for anything that you fancy carrying around.
With less wind to worry about and a big engine to work with, these bikes are ideal for long rides even if you've got a passenger in the back seat. Looking at Indian Motorcycles, you've got a solid line-up of motorcycles to choose from. But for some people, the Indian Challenger reigns supreme.
Blow by blow a giant is knocked downAnyone that is even remotely into motorsports will tell you that weight plays an important role in the whole thing, so obviously, the baggers went through a serious transformation for the job at hand. Even so, they'll never be as light as a MotoGP prototype for instance, but that's not going to stop the riders from going all out.
Tyler O'Hara rode the Indian Challenger to victory during the inaugural race of the series back in 2020. And that's not to be taken lightly, considering the David versus Goliath nature of his fight against Harley-Davidson.
To understand why the King of the Baggers is such an exciting endeavor, you need only watch a few videos or photos from past races. But we wanted to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, and Tyler was kind enough to talk to us just before the last race of the season.
It's time to rideI first got on a motorcycle when I was four years old, and started racing on my fifth birthday." Flat track racing has been a big part of his riding career, but he has experienced motocross, supermoto, and road racing in several classes as well.
Working his way up through the ranks, Tyler succeeded in achieving his childhood dream of being involved in professional road racing. "It's been a long road, but now I'm super fortunate and grateful for the opportunity of representing Indian Motorcycles.
In my opinion, they're the world's most innovative motorcycle manufacturer at the moment." All in all, you could say that Tyler is no stranger to living life at speeds of over 180 mph (290 kph). After racing the Indian XR1200 for several years, he was invited to join the King of the Baggers project.
Don't dream of winning, train for itAnd we've continued to develop the chassis up to the point where we're just four or five seconds behind a superbike on a 625 lbs (283 kg) motorcycle. It's kind of mindblowing if you think about it." Given the nature of the bike, we were curious to learn about the way it handles itself on track when compared to a sports bike.
"Riding a V-twin, liquid-cooled Indian Challenger the rev limit is the first thing you'll notice. We're only going up to 6,500-7,000 rpm, as opposed to maybe 16,000 rpm with a superbike. But we do get a lot more torque given the size of the engine. I've never ridden a motorcycle with this much torque in my life. It's very linear and very smooth but you need to carry momentum through the corners.
Riding it is a very physically-intense experience, you have to be a bit more deliberate with the way you move on it and shift through gears. You don't realize the weight of the motorcycle until you come in a little too hot and you miss the apex. Going from DOT tires to slicks means that we're carrying more lean angle and our braking zones are smaller and tighter, but in terms of riding technique it's not that far off from a sports bike."
Respect every opponent, but fear noneEven so, winning races is harder than ever before with more riders joining the series and more money being poured into the development of rival bikes. You could probably talk to Tyler for days in a row about how it feels to race the Challenger, but some more technical aspects would only make sense if you've been on track before too.
So we asked to summarize the riding experience by talking about the trickiest aspect of it all: "The trickiest part about riding a bagger is about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It's unique, any time there's any on-track elevation like at Laguna Seca, you're going over the hill in fifth gear, spinning the tire and the bike is wheeling. You have to cowboy up and ride it loose, it's a handful." While we were under the impression that these baggers never go over 120 mph (193 kph), Tyler revealed that he went up to over 170 mph (273 kph) in Daytona.
For 2022, there have been six races so far: two at Daytona, one at Atlanta, one at Road America, one at Monterey, and one at Brainerd. Tyler won the first one, took P2 at the next race, and scored two more P3s so far. That means he's got a total of 103 points, which is just three points away from Travis Wyman who is competing on a Harley-Davidson.
Some 20 riders will be going to New Jersey Motorsports Park this upcoming weekend for the last race of the season, and we can't wait to see the action unfold. Talking to Tyler for about an hour has only increased our interest in the King of the Baggers, a concept that draws in more and more fans each year. We've selected a few videos of Tyler going all-out on the Indian Challenger to keep you busy until the main event on Sunday. And we'll be sure to report back with the result of this David versus Goliath battle on two wheels.