S&S are not ones to shy away from a challenge, so they are heading to the race with the 2020 Indian Challenger with its new PowerPlus engine. The build process will accelerate R&D, so consumers should look forward to a slew of new products.

King of the Baggers Race Preview

S&S is taking the challenge very seriously, as any fabled performance company should. And that has been made even more of a challenge by using the new 2020 Indian Challenger, said S&S’s Paul Langely. 

“This is already a very capable motorcycle with the new PowerPlus engine,” he said, adding that the research and development teams in March conducted a design review to create a laundry list of incremental changes they hope to make. 

“We went over weight and power distribution, suspension, ground clearance, engine performance and a bunch of other things,” he said. “We made a bloody comprehensive list of things we have to do.” 

In many ways, taking on the challenge of using the Indian Challenger for the event has accelerated typical R&D processes for a state-of-the-art model. The company has finalized its performance exhaust system design and has finalized their investigation into the camshaft, cylinder heads and compression ratio. 

“We will be dyno testing soon, but we got a lot of work ahead for us before the race,” he added. With a new sophisticated ECM, S&S has a dedicated calibration engineer to make sure everything is optimized.

S&S is waiting to announce its rider, but money has it that it will be a big name. 

The hardest things with such big bikes, Langely said, is simply transitioning from one direction to another quickly. 

“You don’t want a wobble,” he said. “While we likely won’t have the most horsepower, or the most ground clearance, we will have everything designed as one to work together, and this is something that will also help Indian itself.” 

The guiding principle behind the S&S build is that it can be readily reproduced by the consumer. 

“When we are racing we are pushing the limits to see how the parts do, and then we scale them back for a safety factor,” Langley said. “We want to do events with this bike after Laguna Seca and manufacture better consumer products, because we believe the Challenger is a bike that should be around for a great number of years.” 

S&S’s David Zemla said the performance bagger market is really being driven by younger builders.

“They are more concerned about performance and how fast it will go compared to how it looks,” he told us. “It is no longer about the blingy stuff. But if you would have said performance baggers 15 years ago, you would’ve been laughed out of the room if you thought there would be a market.”

While a lot of updates will be coming out of S&S as they go full-bore into the build, Zemla is confident they are a team to watch. 

“A couple of years ago we got a Harley-Davidson Road Glide to do nine seconds on the drag strip,” he said. “We were asked by local drag strips to stop coming because we were beating the Hayabusa guys and they stopped showing up.” 

As we said, these guys are good. And plenty serious. 


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