Review: Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 Motor

UPDATE2: Hi Friends…I just turned over 41,000 miles on my 2014 Indian Chieftain…planning to add another 7,000 miles or so in 2019. Engine is running flawless. I will keep you updated. — Motorcycle Marc.  05/22/2019

UPDATE1: THUNDER STROKE 116ci Stage 3 Big Bore Kit available for 2017 and later Indian Thunder Stroke motors. Selling for $1,999,99. 

This takes your current Thunder Stroke 111ci to a whopping 116ci (1901cc).

The powerplant pros at Indian Motorcycles say the new kit will deliver 20% more horsepower and 15% more torque…all without sacrificing engine reliability. Of course, dealer installation cost is required and for an extra mandatory $1,500 or so depending on your dealer, you’ll need to upgrade to a Stage 1 Exhaust, Air Cleaner and Exhaust Tips. Total estimated cost for your extra 20% horsepower = $3.499.99. 

116ci = 1901cc…this brings to life big time power! PhotoCredit: Indian Motorcycles

Special Note: This big bore kit will not work on pre-2017 Indian Thunder Stroke engines or with Stock Exhaust or Stock Intake . It also will not work with Stage 2 Cam motors. Installation does not void warranty according to Indian Motorcycles. This Stage 3 Kit meets EPA and CARB emission limits but “Non-competition street use may violate federal noise limits” so double check your options with your Indian dealer. Click TS116 for more information. See “Comments” section at the end of this post for fan feedback.

Below is my original post on the TS111 published in August of 2016.

INDIAN’S THUNDER STROKE MOTOR – The Thunder Stroke 111 has been on the market since 2014 so I figured it’s time to take a closer look at this VTwin engine.

The TS111 resembles the Indian Chief motor look of the 40s and early 50s. It’s a nice piece of modern mechanical engineering. It’s about as far advanced as one can take the traditional air-cooled, internal combustion V-Twin engine.

At 111 cubic inches, this 49-degree V-Twin motor (1811cc) puts out an estimated 78 hp @ 4510 rpm and pushes out a whopping 119.2 ft-lbs of torque according to data from the Indian Motor Company. For those of you not familiar with these types of gearhead stats, you can use the term “torque monster” with confidence to describe it.

Old-style classic inspiration

Looking at the early Indian Chief motors, it is easy to see the retro-look resemblance. I personally like the big slanted fins, the fat pushrod tubes, tapered cylinders and downtube exhaust pipes design of that 1940s era.

720x480 - OldIndianChief - S88A8563
EARLY INDIAN CHIEF ENGINE. Circa. 1940s, early 1950s.

Let’s look inside…

I was able to take some nice cut-away photos of the Thunder Stroke 111 while visiting the Indian Motor Company booth in Sturgis this past August 2015. Additionally, the good folks at Indian Motorcycles sent me some of their CAD design images so that I could share an insiders view of the engine with all my blog fans and followers.

TS111 - Full-LefttSide-View-591x480-

Cool CAD designs. I’ve added some tech notes for reference.

0-CAD TS111 -A - 401X398

It’s not often you get to see what the engineers saw on their computer screens when they were designing this motor.

Imagine their excitement when asked to take a clean sheet of paper/screen and come up with a modern air-cooled V-Twin for new Indian motorcycles back in 2011. Oh, and it’s got to ready for testing and production in 24 months.

The Thunder Stroke is a fuel-injected 4-stroke 49 degree V-Twin engine with serious displacement at 111 cubic inches (1811cc).

The engine has a forged single-pin transverse crankshaft that transfers power from the big pistons (3.89 in./101 mm) during their their big 4.45 in/113 mm stroke.

Note the 2-valves per cylinder shown in the diagrams here and the three camshafts driving the parallel pushrods which in turn, bring the hydraulic lifters to life. We’re talking a really cramped mechanical design around them three camshafts.

The 111 is the most innovative interpretation of a V-Twin motor I seen in years.

0-cad clear pic 425x397

As you can see in this post, the motor design of Indian’s Thunder Stroke is modern and innovative.

Big kudos to the engineers at Polaris’s Indian brand for bringing this new V-Twin to market I say.


Durability and Reliability…tested for over 1,000,000 miles according to the factory.

As indicated earlier in this post, the Thunder Stroke’s monster displacement of 111 cubic inches (1811 cc) is said to deliver 119 ft-lb of torque. The engine tops out at 5500 rpm, and delivers its power through a six-speed overdrive transmission. Compression ratio is high for your basic air and oil cooled engine at 9.5:1.

The new design, which has undergone over one million miles of testing, has a forged single-pin transverse crankshaft to transfer power from the 3.89-in diameter pistons during their 4.45-in stroke.

Full RightSide View 542x480
NOTE THE HELICAL TEETH GEARS ON LEFT SIDE. The right side lower casting area houses the primary drive and 3-camshafts.

The TS111 is an overhead valve engine, with two valves per cylinder controlled by a triple camshaft driving parallel pushrods which activate hydraulic lifters. Yes, you read correctly…this motor has three cams that drive four pushrods that open and close two intake and exhaust valves per head.

As you can see, the design is rather cramped near the crankshaft. The motor has big cylinder outlines and multi-directional cooling fins to optimize engine cooling.


The engine is connected to a six-speed overdrive constant-mesh transmission. Sixth gear turns 3.37 times faster than first gear, leading to an easily controllable transmission that will allow a rider to remain within the power band of the engine under most riding conditions. The clutch is a multiple-plate wet design to provide smooth clutch action without undue slippage.

See the following interesting YouTube videos for additional perspective.

Indian’s introduction video…check out this video

Here’s a factory look from the team at MotoGraphic.

Rider feedback.

My recent social media call for riders with 50,000+ miles on the Thunder Stroke 111 did not uncover such a riding pro but I did find one happy owner with just over 37,000 miles. Here is his quote:

“I have put 37,209 miles on Chieftain #873 since January of ’14 and it has been utterly reliable. I just returned from a month-long ramble across the country of over 4,000 miles, in all kinds of weather and extreme temperatures; I never once had any concern about making it home. I’ve had no clacking, no belt problems, no oil leaks, no rough running. I have put two front and three rear tires on it. Problems, such as they have been, are mostly little electronic glitches in the bike’s sophisticated electronics suite. I’ve replaced three headlight bulbs (commonly available H-4s). It has been the best bike, of many, that I have ever owned. That has been my experience with Chieftain #873.” — Randall… Source: Indian Motorcycle Forum –

The Bottom Line.

There’s no doubt this is one powerful, sweet motorcycle engine…a real good looker. It even looks good in a naked Indian Chief frame as shown in my Sturgis Rally photo below.

TS111 IN FRAME MJB PIC dots protect innocents Sturgis
THE 111 FITS REAL TIGHT INSIDE THE INDIAN CHIEF FRAME. FYI: Black dots in image to protect the innocent Sturgis Rally partiers visiting the Indian Motorcycle booth.

The Thunder Stroke is a modern version of a truly classic motor. Only time and hundreds of thousands of road miles will tell if this motor has true reliability and staying power. My motorbike experience tells me that the odds of having a superior, long-lasting motor here with the TS111 are very good. Only time and millions of riding miles will tell.

Best I can tell, the Thunder Stroke 111 engine is the new standard for V-Twin motors on the market today.

Motorcycle Marc

HOOVER DAM PIC Victory 314x183
Ride Safe Out There. — Motorcycle Marc

Note to Indian Motorcycle Co. 

I gotta ask the creative minds at Indian Motorcycles.

Could an innovative, water-cooled crankshaft in-line four be coming in the future?

Stay tuned folks. My bet is that more innovation and excitement will be coming from the Polaris motorcycle companies in the future.

Note: Engine photos taken during my 2015 visit to the Indian Motorcycles display in Sturgis, South Dakota. CAD images and Classic Indian Chief images from Indian Motorcycles’ PR Pros. Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. See footer of this blog/website for more information. Ride Safe Out There.


  1. Deadra Slatton says:

    “Great writing, thanks_for the information, cheers!”

  2. Sammy B. says:

    Hi! I simply would like to give you a huge thumbs up for the excellent information you have here on this post. I bought an Indian Chief because of your review. Thanks.

  3. Glenn H. says:

    This site is absolutely fabulous! Great job man.

  4. Elena G. says:

    This is really interesting, you’re an exceptionally effective blogger. I’ve enrolled with your feed and also, look ahead to reading your wonderful write-ups. What’s more, we have shared your internet site inside our social networks.

  5. Jack M. says:

    Your blog truly sounds like a well orchestrated sales pitch for Indian. Blogs seem suspicious. Are you working in any way as a representative or independent/and or marketing group for Polaris or Indian?
    Hello Jack…other than owning and riding a 2014 Indian Chieftain I have no connection to Polaris Inc. or to the Indian Motorcycle Company. Thank you for reading my blog. MJB

  6. Jan Z. says:

    Hello ,

    I saw your tweets and thought I will check your website. Have to say it looks very good!
    I’m also interested in this topic and have recently started my journey as young entrepreneur.
    I’m also looking for the ways on how to promote my website. I have tried AdSense and Facebok Ads, however it is getting very expensive.
    Can you recommend something what works best for you?
    Would appreciate, if you can have a quick look at my website and give me an advice.
    Jan Z
    Hello Jan…here’s my 2-cents. The key to great, popular blogging is to blog weekly and promote your blog/website via your Social Media accounts. Consistency is key to connecting with your audience. All the best to ya and thanks for checking in. – MJB

  7. Dale L. says:

    I own 2017 Springfield and yes, my bike too sounds like a POS going down the road with this rattling whatever sound. Factory states this is normal and dealership is not much help either. I am not going to screw around and looking for legal action.
    Thank you for reading my blog Dale…
    Your mentioned engine sound is clearly not normal. There should never be a “rattling” sound out of the Thunderstroke 111…Can you give more detail? For example, are you using stock pipes and is the engine all stock? Any modifications at all on this 2017 motor? Where specifically is the “rattling” sound coming from? Let me know more. Me and my blog fans will try to help you out here.—MotorcycleMarc

  8. Johny J. says:

    The 116 is a great add to the Thunderstroke. Is it kicking out as much horsepower as the 117ci Milwaukee Eight I wonder?
    Keep up the excellent works guys your blog rocks!

  9. William says:

    Hello, you have a very interesting blog.
    Went to my local Indian dealer yesterday. 116 kit not yet available they said until February.
    Keep up the good work on your blog.

  10. Gaur V says:

    Great blog you have here. I saw you also tweet about travel and I thought I’d checkout your website. Keep up the good work.

  11. Rob P says:

    Cost of the 116ci upgrade is ridiculous…not enough power and torque increase value for the hard-earned, after-tax money…WTF!

  12. Yacon R. says:

    Excellent write up on this Indian motor. Thanks. It’s an interesting article.

  13. Stan S. says:

    Impressed with ride bit slow bottom end but gets better soon after takeoff… – Stan

  14. Carl F. says:

    Hello Marc, I liked reading your comments on Thunder stroke motor, your style of writing and am looking forward to reading more of your writings. ?…Carl in western Pa.

    Nice to hear from you Carl. Thank you for reading my blog. Ride Safe Out There.

  15. Angus B. says:

    My 2016 Indian Springfield sounds like a rattle can going down the road. What a POS. Polaris keeps telling people that it is normal. They are full of it and lying. My dealership, not helpful either. Can you help?

    Hello Angus,

    Most of the emails I have been getting on the TS111 seem to focus or a rattling noise…some call it a “clacking” noise. If your Springfield is clacking, join the crowd…Seems that is the most popular clacking noise generator based on my audience feedback. I’m wondering now it there wasn’t some issue overlooked during the initial manufacturing run of the Springfield engines. No matter, you can mitigate the noise and depending on its cause, you should get an easy 50,000+ miles on your motor.

    There are three possible causes, in my humble gearhead opinion.

    1. Top end noise caused by new piston slapping inside the big cylinders. This should go away after about 3,000 miles as all the piston related components get seated properly in their confines.
    2. Loose parts around the cams or the cams themselves may not be perfectly machined to the casing. Get them double-checked…switch to the latest OEM cams available from Indian Motor Company if you can as I’m hearing that has helped.
    3. Engine not broken in properly, overly stressed at high speeds and excessive heat before the first 1,000 miles. This can be true if one buys a used Indian from one of the Motorcycle Rental companies. Not all renters are nice to their rentals. Those first 500 miles of engine breakin are critical…but so are the next 500 miles.

    Some Indian Riders are living with the noise by installing even louder exhaust to make a beautiful, life-saving roar…that they can live with. I hear from dealers that most so afflicted Indian riders are changing the cams and installing the 2016 or later cams into the 2014 and 2015 TS111 motors. This seems to be working on noise control but will set you back a thousand bucks or so. Also consider switching to high quality synthetic oil. These tend to flow better in the TS111.

    All the best to ya and Ride Safe Out There. — Motorcycle Marc

  16. Ludie B says:

    “Great Blogpost! Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m definitely enjoying_ your blog and look forward to new posts.”

    Thanks for reading my blog Ludie…my twitter handle is approaching 10,000 followers…Thank you for following my Tweets too @motorcyclemarc …MJB

  17. Medina R says:

    Excellent article on the Thunderstroke motor. How many miles do you think this Indian engine is good for?

  18. Corbin E says:

    Hi Marc. This article is very informative. Thanks.

  19. Jimmy D. says:

    Hi Marc…just bought a pre-owned Indian Chief. Never been happier. Thank you for your article. I used the info at the dealership and so sounded like I knew what the hell I was talking about. Thanks again.

  20. Emelio C says:

    Thank you for the detail on this Thunderstroke engine. Looks like a really good motor. By the way, you should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

    Thanks Emilio. Glad to see you like my blog site. I have 40,000 miles on my 2014 Indian Chieftain…runs smooth, runs strong. – MJB

  21. George G. says:

    Great article! I like the look of this motor. I’m gonna git me a new Indian!!

  22. Joanne M. says:

    Your personal writing style is indeed unique as compared to other people I’ve read motorcycle stuff from. Thank you for posting. Love your blog.

    Thank you Joanne…So happy that you enjoy my blog…Motorcycle Marc

  23. Henry C. says:

    I really like your website. Great layout, easy to read and follow. I’m attempting to find things to improve my web site! I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

    Hi Henry…thank you for the kind words. I am using Webpress as the platform. Feel free to share my content but do keep in mind that photos/images are copyrighted and/or used with permission. You’ll want to double check with me via email should you wish to use one of the images/photos found in my blog. Ride Safe Out There…MJB

  24. Grant (Grizz) S. says:

    I have the 1st Chieftain Dark horse released to be sold. They came out 16th of May and I rode home May 19th.
    When I got home I immediately grabbed my wife and said let’s go…..haven’t looked back. Way more power, much more comfortable and 100x smoother than any Harley-Davidson I have ever ridden. Just did my 15,000 mile service last week.

    Five months of pure pleasure and dreadding the Iowa winter that is baring down. Do you own a Harley? Go ride a Indian you won’t own that HD for long. Great article with a great lay out. Thank you Marc.

    Hey Grizz…glad you “love” your Chieftain. I love mine too. 2014 model…40,000 miles. – MJB

  25. Collette H. says:

    Hello Motorcycle Marc. Wound up on your blog searching for the Indian Chief. Good information. Thank you for this information on the Indian Motor…I am using it to help me decide on which motorbike to buy. They are sure expensive in England though.

    Thank you for reading my blog Collette. Good luck with your new bike purchase. – MJB

  26. Alice C. says:

    Hi Motorcycle Marc. I am regular reader, great blog you have. This article is really good. One of the best I’ve read on the Thunderstroke 111 motor. Thanks.

    Thanks for the kind words Alice. Ride Safe Out There. – MJB

  27. Lauran H. says:

    Hello there! I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your articles.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Thanks!

    Hi Lauran…thank you for reading my blog. Glad you like my content. As for other similar blogs, I’m a big fan of Cyril Huse’s Blog Posts. You can find his blog at Check him out. – MJB

  28. Elroy K. says:

    An impressive blog! I’ve just forwarded this article to a coworker who was doing a little homework
    on this for preparation on buying an Indian Motorcycle. He actually bought me breakfast simply because I stumbled upon your article for him. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for
    the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this matter here on your internet site.

    Thank you for the kind words and reading my blog Elroy. – MJB

  29. Katherine S. says:

    I just bought an Indian Chief after riding a Sporster for years. I cannot believe how smooth this motor is. Great article Marc. Thanks.

  30. Despee C. says:

    Can I simply say what a relief it is to uncover an individual who actually knows what they are talking about. Thank you for this info. I’ve been thinking about buying an Indian Chief motorcycle. This article has helped me decide. I’m going to my dealership tomorrow. Thanks again.

  31. Myles G. A. says:

    Your website is very useful. Good job on this engine review. I am sharing on my social media steam.

  32. Frank A. says:

    I want to subscribe to your RSS feed in order to get access to your excellent product reviews. Great review of the Thunderstroke motor. I could not find out how to sign up. Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

    Hi Frank…best way to keep up with my blog posts is to follow me on Social Media…Twitter: @MotorcycleMarc and Facebook at . I stopped accepting email sign ups at 100,000 emails…Too many unidentifiable emails and spam emails. I no longer accept public email sign ups. Thanks for reading my blog…MJB

  33. Jerry AV says:

    Amazing motor, I have a much better feel for this Indian motor after reading your blog. Thanks.

  34. Dollie D. says:

    Hi, excellent blog post on this Indian motor and really like your blog’s design. I seeking to find design ideas to enhance my site! I suppose its ok to utilize a few of your ideas?

    Thank you for checking in and reading my blog Dollie. The Thunderstroke111 is indeed a very fine engine. One of the best VTwins on the market today. As for ideas for your own site, go for it but do note that some of the content and images are copyrighted and/or trademarked so please give attribution where you can. Happy bloggin’ to ya and Ride Safe Out There. MJB

  35. Stephen J. says:

    Nice motor. Interesting views of the motor and good information. This article is helping me decide which motorcycle to buy for next summer. Thanks.

  36. Miles C. says:

    Excellent article. That’s a cool looking Indian V-Twin. I absolutely love your web site. Very informative for me.

  37. Latonya TG says:

    This is a pretty motor. I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with all the layout
    on your blog. Is this be a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
    In either case keep up the excellent quality writing.

    Thank you Latonya. Very nice of you to notice my blog. I created the theme through WordPress using html code as needed. Ride Safe Out There. MJB

  38. Vincent C. says:

    Hello Motorcycle Marc.
    You ought to take part in a competition for having one of the very best quality websites and blogs online.
    I am going to recommend this blog!

    Thank you Vincent and, thank you for reading my blog. MJB

  39. Heath M. says:

    Hey, I shared this post on Indian’s 111 and your blog to all my associates. Excellent blog you have.
    Thank you Heath. Ride Safe Out There. MJB

  40. Kathy J. says:

    Wow. You seem to know what you are talking about Marc. Very interesting review of this motor. I ride a Yamaha Roadstar and I’m thinking of getting an Indian once I can afford it. Thanks

    Thank you for reading my blog Kathy. Save up your dollars…My favorite ride today is the Indian Chieftain and I must say, I am very pleased with the performance of the Thunderstroke 111. MJB

  41. Reno H. says:

    Hi Marc. Many thanks to you for this article on Indian’s motor. I found it really beneficial for me as I try to find out if I should buy this motor or wait for the new Harley motors. Any preference from you.


    Hi Reno. Thank you for reading my blog.

    In my world of VTwins, bigger is always better from a motor standpoint because I tend to ride long distances with heavy loads. Big horsepower, big torque and big cubic inches is always preferred especially if you will be riding 2-up or spending a lot of riding time in hilly/mountain country. This said, it also depends on your riding skill level. New riders should begin with smaller, less powerful engines and work their way up the power curve as they get riding experience and roadtrip miles under their belt.

    Ride Safe Out There — Motorcycle Marc

  42. Frank K. says:

    Hey Marc great article on the 111 Indian motor. – Frank

    Thank you Frank. As you can tell, I am very impressed with this motor.
    Clearly, a winner in the V-Twin space. Thank you for bringing it to my attention
    back in 2014 and thank you for reading my blog.

    Motorcycle Marc

  43. Marin S. says:

    Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your posts. Great blog.
    Marin S.


    Thank you Marin…I prefer riding motorcycles but when I can’t, I love to blog about motorcycles and everything related to the adventure on 2 wheels. Thank you for reading my blog Marin.

    Motorcycle Marc

  44. Roch says:

    Man, that black luggage bag shown strapped on the back sure has a lot of miles on it.
    Real nice bike too. – Rocky

    Hi Roch… I bought this motorcycle luggage back in 1999…16 years ago. Sturdy and strong. Made by Saddlemen Co. Great bag and its got real sentimental value for me…As for the Indian Chieftain that is now sits on for many of my rides, awesome motorcycle. Highly recommend this bike to anyone who is interested in a touring bagger.

    Thank you for reading my blog Roch.

    Motorcycle Marc

  45. Bobby Baum says:

    Check out Ride Stop N Go. They did an across Country ( Canada / US) test of the Indian and the Victory Magnum.
    Cheers Bobby Baum Calgary


    Thanks Bobby…I’m a fan of the #RideStopnGo Team out of Calgary. Troy & Ang are living the 2-wheeled dream. I especially enjoyed following their 2015 World’s Longest Demo Ride. Follow their adventures at

    Thank you for reading my blog Bobby.

    Motorcycle Marc