FIRST RIDE: 2017 INDIAN CHIEFTAIN LIMITED/ELITE
Pair of premium Chieftains
Indian Motorcycles is on the proverbial warpath of late, rolling out a handful of new models in the aftermath of Polaris Industries’ plans to “wind down” its Victory Motorcycles products. First came the Roadmaster Classic, followed with the Chieftain platform getting a pair of upscale additions.
Joining the base model Chieftain Dark Horse ($21,999) and Chieftain ($23,999), the Chieftain Limited ($24,499) fronts a fresh look with an “open” front fender in place of the latter’s iconic valance unit. The flare-tail fender provides added exposure and emphasis of an attractive new 19-inch-diameter 10-spoke contrastcut cast alloy wheel (replacing the original’s 16-inch hoop) and clean view of the dual 300mm floating brake rotors.
A color-matched headlight bezel and two-piece leather saddle (sans studs and conchos) complete the more sleek, aggressive new look. The Chieftain Elite ($31,499) lends a factory custom treatment with Fireglow Red Candy finish that appears oceans in depth. The hand-painted marble accents and black pinstriping add custom detail unique to each and every machine. Color-matched accents applied to the tank console, horn, airbox, primary cover, and cam cover along with billet rider and passenger floorboards attract the eye like moths to a flame too.
Sharing a chassis and Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin powertrain in common with the Roadmaster models results in crisp ride-by-wire engine response and a mountain of torque doled out in ultra-linear fashion from off idle to the 5,000-rpm rev ceiling. The trio of bikes I rode had minimal break-in miles, two of which needed minor clutch play adjustment (tools required) to eliminate notchy shift action and difficulty finding neutral at stops. Aside from that easily solved nit, both bikes earn feathers in the cap with a host of standard touring amenities, including the 7-inch touchscreen Ride Command info/audio/ navigation system, keyless ignition and remote-locking side bags, motorized windscreen, and superb cruise control operation. Overall comfort is tops with relaxed ergos, supportive dished saddle, and plush yet controlled ride quality. Rake and trail dimensions remain unchanged despite the change of front wheel, offering a sweet blend of light, neutral steering feel, and exceptional stability whether flipping a tight U-turn or storming the superslab.
Indian is on fire with a promise of even more new road- and racing-related projects in the future. From what I’ve seen and ridden thus far, the caretakers of one of America’s most stoic brands appears to be on the right path.
INDIAN CHIEFTAIN ELITE INDIAN CHIEFTAIN LIMITED