First Look At Indian’s New PowerPlus V-twin

The liquid-cooled 108ci engine aims for class-leading performance.

Indian has just announced its most powerful engine to date, the liquid-cooled 108ci PowerPlus.
Indian has just announced its most powerful engine to date, the liquid-cooled 108ci PowerPlus.Courtesy Indian Motorcycle

If we thought the addition of the 116 Thunder Stroke engine was the highlight for Indian's 2020 model year, hoo boy, were we ever wrong. It just didn't seem possible that an entirely new powerplant would be rearing its head(s) in the wake of the Thunder Stroke and tech upgrades as well as two 100th anniversary models announced a month earlier, but it looks like Polaris means business. Say hello to the new PowerPlus V-twin.

As with the Scout’s engine, the new PowerPlus is also a 60-degree liquid-cooled V-twin with overhead cams and four valves per cylinder.
As with the Scout’s engine, the new PowerPlus is also a 60-degree liquid-cooled V-twin with overhead cams and four valves per cylinder.Courtesy Indian Motorcycle

Indian's latest and most powerful engine to date is this liquid-cooled, 108ci PowerPlus V-twin, which claims to put out 122 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque, making it (according to the manufacturer) the most powerful in its class—and definitely the most robust powerplant yet from the headdress brand. According to Indian, it'll slot into the modern, muscular liquid-cooled series of bikes, which includes the Scout and FTR.

Indian's also confirmed this new 1,769cc engine will serve as the heartbeat of yet another new model for 2020, the Challenger. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably already seen the spy shots and know it's a fixed-fairing bagger, but now we also know it'll be powered by Indian's new PowerPlus, positioning it to become "the highest-performing American V-twin" yet. (Looks like Triumph's new Rocket 3 has nothing to worry about yet, though.)

You might remember there was an original Indian model called the PowerPlus back in 1916, and Indian confirms it’s riffing on that iconic history with the new mill. The 1916 PowerPlus bike was endowed with Indian's first flathead engine, and the model got its name from the fact that it did actually crank out more power than the previous 61ci design. Of course, we're talking a whopping 16 hp, but back then, that was a handful.

With output numbers like 122 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque, the new PowerPlus is staking a claim to the title of “highest-performing American V-twin.”
With output numbers like 122 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque, the new PowerPlus is staking a claim to the title of “highest-performing American V-twin.”Courtesy Indian Motorcycle

In any case, Indian’s trying to repeat that scenario now, saying the new PowerPlus will outperform the bigger Thunder Stroke 116 engine (although the 116 claims a similar torque peak of 126 pound-feet). To hit those lofty performance goals, the new ’Plus borrows a few design tricks from the acclaimed 1,133cc Scout engine, primarily the overhead camshaft design that uses four valves per cylinder. It also includes hydraulic valve lash adjusters and hydraulic camshaft chain tensioners for ease of maintenance and reliability, and like the Scout’s, cylinders are splayed at 60 degrees. But make no mistake, the PowerPlus was developed with an overarching big-piston, big-torque theme to squeeze out maximum power delivery across the entire curve. If the 122 hp peak at 5,500 rpm holds true, it'll eclipse the 100-hp Scout or the 120-hp (claimed) FTR models, and doing so at much lower revs to boot.

To match the engine's wicked output, Indian has paired it to an all-new drivetrain with a six-speed transmission that also features true overdrive, an assist clutch to lighten effort, and three ride modes so riders can choose the best throttle mapping for their riding style.

We’ll see this new engine in the soon-to-be released Indian Challenger bagger. Stay tuned for a full ride report, coming soon.
We’ll see this new engine in the soon-to-be released Indian Challenger bagger. Stay tuned for a full ride report, coming soon.Courtesy Indian Motorcycle

Indian went on record to say the PowerPlus accumulated more than 1 million miles of simulated testing, including rigorous dyno testing and more than 300,000 on-road miles. John Callahan, Indian Motorcycle vice president, engineering, said, “We developed the most sophisticated V-twin powerplant in the industry, and then we spent month after month…putting it through the most intense paces to ensure it could take whatever we threw at it.”

We're going to put it through our own paces too; stay tuned for a full ride report on the new Challenger bagger next week, where we get the chance to test all those claims about the PowerPlus along the way.

2020 Indian PowerPlus Engine Specifications

Engine 108ci (1,769cc), OHC, liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin; 4 valves/cyl.
Claimed Horsepower 122 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Claimed Torque 128 lb.-ft. @ 3,800 rpm
Maximum Engine Speed 6,500 rpm
Crankcase Unit design featuring a high-capacity semi-dry-sump oil system
Fuel Delivery Electronic fuel injection, 52mm dual-bore throttle bodies
Compression Ratio 11:1
Transmission 6-speed w/ true overdrive, constant mesh
Clutch Assist clutch