Pair of pre­mium Chief­tains

Cycle World - - Front Page - By Don Canet Photo by Barry Hath­away

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.


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