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Special edition heralds new dawn
Factory custom specials have long been the preserve of HarleyDavidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) department, but this is new territory for Indian. Yes, there have been specials (the two Jack Daniels models spring to mind), but this garish Elite heralds a new chapter in resurgent Indian’s modern history.
Identical in almost every respect to the Chieftain Limited (see left), the new Elite doesn’t boast a very long list of changes to satisfy the £5200 increase on the price tag, but the quality and value of the items on the list is, at least, beyond reproach.
The lion’s share of the hike is thanks to the paintjob. No two will be identical, because every single Elite will be hand-painted by Indian’s Spearfish paintshop in South Dakota – and the quality is jaw-dropping. If you paid for a paintjob of this standard separately it would easily swallow the price difference all on its own. The only downside is that you have Henry Ford myth levels of colour choice. You either take the Elite in this ‘Fireglow Red Candy with Marble Accents’ – or you don’t have an Elite. And that’s a shame for everyone with an allergy to candy red bikes. The detailing is superb, and continues through the unique tank console, horn, airbox, primary and cam covers with colour matched pinstripes.
The other differences over a stock Limited include pannier-mounted speakers to bolster the blast from the binnacle-mounted ones; what Indian call their ‘Flare’ screen – which isn’t much taller than stock, but is flared wider; billet footboards for both rider and pillion, and LED ‘Pathfinder’ lighting. This smattering of specialness adds 6kg to the Elite’s mass, which sounds like a lot, but it’s inconsequential on what was already a 371kg bike.
On the road you certainly feel that bit more special, and while the ride is identical to the Limited, I did find the footboards somewhat annoying. The exposed billet centres offer no grip, and when wet they’re glassy in the extreme. But that’s the only obvious difference in terms of feel. That Flare screen, although a tad wider, actually made no tangible difference to airflow for my wide 5ft11in frame, while the LED Pathfinder lighting is certainly brighter, whiter, and cleaner looking.
‘Every Elite will be hand-painted by Indian’s Spearfish paintshop’
You can have any colour so long as it’s candy red
Don’t scrape those boards now…
Billet boards look good but are a pain
Extra speakers in the panniers