What moves you? It is different for everyone. For me, I am inspired by a combination of close friends, motorcycles, travel, and music. These things move me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I love many kinds of motorcycles and many genres of music, especially live music. The pandemic kept me from my friends, live music, and much of my travel adventures. When my great friend Emil, and fellow lover of music and motorcycles, suggested a motorcycle blues tour through the Mississippi Delta as the pandemic started to subside, I was all in.
Almost immediately, a Californian friend, Alex, another riding companion and music lover, asked to join the trip, and the planning began. He was new to motorcycling and had never done a multi-day trip like this. He also had never really experienced Louisiana and the Deep South. Emil was born and bred in the Bayou Country of Louisiana, and I have been visiting him and New Orleans annually for decades. So, we wanted to show Alex this amazing part of the country.
About a month before the trip, I attended the launch of the new 2022 Indian Chief motorcycle lineup—a heavyweight American cruiser bike. Historically, I have not really been a cruiser rider. While I loved the beauty of the bikes, they just didn’t tug at my heart.
The Chief, though, opened my eyes with its big V-twin purring through big, sweeping turns out in the Arizona desert. The innovation, feel, sound, and comfort of the Super Chief model were impressive. As I effortlessly powered the Chief through jaw-dropping terrain and tight mountain rounds surrounding Sedona, I was struck with a fantastic idea—a celebration and tour of American delta blues music had to be done on a classic American heavyweight V-twin. To that end, a 2022 Indian Super Chief Limited was procured for the trip.
The 10-day trip started in Lafayette (my Cajun friend’s hometown), wound up through the Mississippi Delta, across northern Mississippi, along the fabled Natchez Trace Parkway to Nashville. We returned through the heart of Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico, and over to New Orleans for two days of “recovery” before one last night in Lafayette. Spoiler alert: It was as epic as it sounds!
We had a few important objectives for the trip—experience great live music (preferably blues), reacquaint ourselves with the camaraderie of motorcycle touring, and show Alex why we love touring and the South so much. Emil is a retro motorcycle guy, and he rode a Triumph Bonneville T120 for the trip. He also had a sweet BMW R NineT /5 Anniversary model for Alex to ride. Three twin-cylinder engine configurations, made in three countries—all gorgeous and exuding cool.
Once we had set the dates, we started to plan out the details of the route. As fate would have it, we realized that the Juke Joint Festival was being held in Clarksdale, Miss., on the first few days of our trip. Held in the northwest corner of the state, the annual music event pays homage to the tiny out-of-the-way shacks of the early 20th century where the Delta blues was born. Clarksdale is the home of “The Crossroads” in the Robert Johnson classic, where US Highways 61 and 49 once intersected.
We realized that we would not only be experiencing great music, but we would be tracing the origins of modern-day rock and roll. We would celebrate the immense contribution American blues has made to the rock, soul, country, and jazz music enjoyed around the world today. In the face of so many negative recent events, it felt good to focus on something so positive, uplifting, and unifying.
We rolled into Clarkdale after a long rainy ride along Highway 61 (aka The Mississippi Blues Trail and Blues Highway). Not a great way to start a trip, but an excellent opportunity to see how the Indian would do in foul weather. Driving a 740-pound cruiser loaded down with gear in the rain normally would have instilled a healthy dose of nerves, but the Super Chief Limited was very stable and confidence-inspiring. The 120 ft-lbs of torque available from the Thunderstroke 116 engine was to be respected on the slippery surface. I kept the bike out of Sport mode, which has a too-abrupt throttle response for wet or in-town conditions.
We were hoping to start our trip out with a bang, and by 3 a.m. it seemed as if we had succeeded! After a full night in Clarksdale listening to great bands, I found myself miles from town, in a field surrounded by farmland, standing by a bonfire. The field contained seven small shacks (very weathered wooden one-bedroom homes). On the porch of one of the shacks, a two-man band is belting out rock and blues as a handful of locals and random out-of-towners listened. Somehow, we landed in a location not unlike where the original Juke Joints existed, enjoying great music, talking to everyone, wondering how we will get back to the hotel. Mr. Roosevelt Noah, the only cab driver in town, was sleeping soundly at home ignoring our calls.
We spent two wonderful days at the festival, meeting, and dancing with fantastic people from all walks of life. We all bonded over our love of the blues and motorcycles. At one point during the fest, we ran into members of an all-black biker club, looking all badass in their leather vests with their club logo. They were a little standoffish, until we started talking bikes. Motorcycling is a little like an invisible parallel universe that transcends age, sex, occupation, economics, culture, and race. It struck me deeply that shared passions, like motorcycles and music, created an instant connection.
Certainly, one thing that always stirred interest was the 2022 Indian Super Chief Limited. It drew admirers everywhere we went. Standing outside Meraki Roasting Company after a delicious coffee on the morning of our departure, we talked with two guys from a notorious Southern motorcycle gang. These two are not people you want to meet in a dark alley, but they were moved by the Limited. The Indian is just plain sexy, and these two tough bikers were smitten like love-struck teens! Literally everywhere I parked it, someone would comment on how beautiful the motorcycle was.
The next few days included stops in Oxford and Tupelo in Mississippi, and onto Nashville. The weather was terrific, with no rain and nice temperatures.
On the way to Oxford, we found a stretch of empty highway for an impromptu, unscientific acceleration test of iconic American muscle (the Super Chief Limited) versus an iconic British equivalent (the Triumph Bonneville). The Bonnie gives up a lot of horsepower and torque to the 116-cubic-inch Indian, but the Triumph is also more than 100 pounds lighter. Unfortunately for the Bonnie, its svelteness was unable to overcome the huge power difference. The Indian pulled away easily through 90 mph, without even having to shift to Sport mode. I don’t think the results would have been the same if I took on the storied German boxer twin.
As we rode to Oxford, I was scouring Google Maps for twisty roads. I found what looked like a great one through the Holly Springs National Forest. The road was interesting, curvy, a little narrow, and eventually surprised us by abruptly turning into gravel. Ugh! With my adventure bike, I don’t worry much about gravel roads, but a fully loaded touring cruiser is something else entirely. To my relief, the Super Chief’s low center of gravity and wide tires handled it just fine, albeit at slower speeds.
Crisis averted, we rolled into Oxford later that afternoon just in time to get sucked into the partying going on at The Library Sports Bar—a cleverly named college bar for when Ole Miss students are asked by their parents about their whereabouts. What was supposed to be a rest day turned into a messy night. Note to visitors, the bathrooms are not well marked! Both Alex and I, separately, wandered into the women’s room by accident. I’m sure the Fireball shots had nothing to do with this.
The next morning, we left for Nashville with a stop in Tupelo to see Elvis’s birthplace. It sounded sort of hokey, but it was pretty cool, I must admit. There was great information about how The King first learned blues music and then blended it with gospel, pop, and country to what some say is the birth of rock and roll.
After the stop, we jumped on the Natchez Trace Parkway, a spectacular 444-mile stretch of continuous road connecting Natchez with Nashville. Cruising along the perfect tree-lined National Park Service road, the Indian was in its element. The 2022 Indian Super Chief Limited’s engine hummed buttery smooth through sweeping turns and rolling hills. The Trace has no commercial enterprises or semi-trucks, no stoplights or interruptions, and virtually no traffic.
Instead, The Trace is made up of beautiful rivers, lakes, and lots of flowers in spring bloom. The striking and bright yellows, reds, and purples along with the spring forest leaves and dogwoods, were all set off beautifully against a crisp blue sky. The Trace ride was capped off with 10 miles of fantastic curves and hills as we neared Nashville. The road begged me to wind up the Thunderstroke motor, scrape a floorboard or two, and ignore the 50-mph speed limit.
Nashville was a one-night stop to attend Whiskey Jam, a weekly music and whiskey event featuring new and up-and-coming bands. It was a blast, and the country and rock music followed our Clarksdale experience perfectly.
The following day, we headed south on our return trek to Louisiana along backcountry roads such as Tennessee State Route 242—a real gem winding through hilly country and along beautiful streams. We had one last important music stop on the agenda—FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals. I was not sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed going into the main studio where so many famous songs were recorded.
It was truly incredible to stand in the same spots where great artists like Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, Etta James, The Rolling Stones, and Otis Redding recorded some of their most iconic songs. I had heard many famous artists say that Muscle Shoals and this studio had something incredible to it—a soul of its own. We all definitely felt it standing in the studio. What a special experience and way to complete the music tour.
When we woke up the following morning, we were greeted by a cold front and a low 40s start (really cold!). Again, we opted for small highways like US Highway 43
Despite a bit of buffeting, the 2022 Indian Super Chief Limited’s large windscreen was very welcome. I was a bit envious of the heated grips on my buddies’ bikes—an optional Indian accessory on the Limited—but survived just fine.
The next two days in Alabama included a stop in the small town of Marion. There, we enjoyed excellent fried catfish and beer at The Shack with locals, a stay at a nice, old plantation Airbnb, a drive through Selma that included some very friendly locals. We finished with a great ride along the Gulf Coast on US Highway 90 from Biloxi into New Orleans.
The two days spent in New Orleans were a blur, as is often the case with trips to NOLA! Highlights included prime front door motorcycle parking at the Cambria Hotel New Orleans Downtown Warehouse District, Sazerac cocktails at Napoleon House and colorful characters at Touché Bar in the French Quarter, an amazing dinner at Pêche (oysters, whole red snapper and 22-ounce steak!), delicious brunch at Willa Jean, and a late night at an Irish bar in mid-city (friendly locals and no tourists!).
New Orleans is an amazing melting pot of French, Creole, Spanish, American, African American, and Caribbean cultures, food, and spirit. It has an energy and vibe that can’t really be described but is truly incredible, whether you are whooping it up in the Quarter or enjoying a more low-key experience in other parts of the city. The fabric and culture of the city are rich, deep, and beautiful, and can often be missed if you stick to Bourbon Street.
The final day was a ride back to Lafayette and a bonus night of music at the Festival International de Louisiane. That evening, after jumping in with the band to play the washboard, I looked over to see Lefty, the nickname we gave our very left-leaning Californian friend Alex. He was smiling ear to ear as the Zydeco band belted out great music in the back of The Blue Moon Saloon & Guesthouse, a rustic old, converted home.
It was the last night of his first multi-day motorcycle tour and his first tour of the Deep South. His parents had watched Easy Rider too many times and were convinced he would never make it out of the South alive. They weren’t far off. I see him lean over to our host Emil and proclaim that he was moving to Louisiana.
What moves you? What fills you up? It is different and unique for each of us, but there are so many experiences and common interests that connect us. Sharing time with my good friends, riding beautiful motorcycles through even more beautiful countryside, and connecting with strangers and friends over a shared love of music and bikes are some of those things for me. We are all different, but the things we have in common and the passions we share transcend race, ethnicity, politics, religion, and socioeconomic backgrounds—so many of the things that can divide us. It is the shared passions and common ground that truly enriches us.
Photography by Alex Cobb, Emil Regard, and Freeman Wood
2022 Indian Super Chief Limited Specs
- Engine type: Thunderstroke 116 49-degree V-twin )
- Bore x stroke 4.063 x 4.449”
- Displacement: Limited: 116 ci
- Peak torque: 120 ft-lbs @ 2900 rpm
- Fueling: Closed-loop w/ 54mm throttle body
- Exhaust: Dual exhaust w/ crossover
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multiplate
- Final drive: Belt
- Frame: Steel tube w/ cast aluminum rear subframe
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable fork; 5.2 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Spring-preload adjustable shocks; 3.0 inches
- Wheels: Black Wire
- Front wheel: 16 x 3
- Rear wheel: 16 x 5
- Tires: Pirelli Night Dragon
- Front: 130/90 x 16
- Rear: 180/65 x 16
- Front: 300mm semi-floating disc w/ 4-piston caliper
- Rear: 300mm floating disc w/ 2-piston caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 64 inches
- Rake: 29 degrees
- Trail: 5.2 inches
- Seat height: 26.2 inches
- Fuel capacity: 4 gallons
- Curb weight: 739 pounds
2022 INDIAN SUPER CHIEF LIMITED COLORS and PRICES
- Black Metallic: $20,999 MSRP
- Maroon Metallic: $21,499
- Blue Slate Metallic : $21,499