“2017 Indian Roadmaster”
A Powerful Classic Heavy Bagger
Indian’s parent company, Polaris, having discontinued the production of their Victory motorcycle line, is now concentrating their focus on the new and significantly improved tribe of Indian motorcycles. There are now several Indian models from which to choose: the Indian Scout Sixty; the Indian Scout; the Indian Chief; the Indian Chief Dark Horse; the Indian Chieftain; the Indian Chief Classic; the Indian Vintage Chief; the Indian Springfield; the Indian Roadmaster; and the Indian Roadmaster Classic, which features soft saddle bags and fringed trim elements.
Too date I’ve already reviewed the Scout Sixty, the Scout, and the Vintage Chief and here I’ll review the Indian Roadmaster – a Beast of a Bike, tipping the scales at nearly 1,000 pounds (944 lbs to be precise). The price tag is also on the hefty side, ringing up at $30,699. – keep in mind that Dealer handling and prep can vary. It would be proper to compare the Roadmaster with a classic luxury sedan that you sit on rather than in, and that’s loaded with comfort and convenience features. It’s possible to download new software on one’s personal; computer or on the motorcycle itself, through the USB cable located in the storage area above the display screen.
Those features are accessible through Indian Ride Command™, which provides controls for: various rider screens; the audio system; Bluetooth Smartphone Pairing; and Navigation. Controls are found on the console screen and both grips. Completely mastering all of the features available initially seems like a formidable task, but repeated use of the applications promotes familiarity and confidence. It’s best to research everything available on the Roadmaster when it’s stationary to avoid distractions while riding. Studying the 253-page owner’s manual is also recommended.
Power for the Indian Roadmaster comes from an 1811cc (111 cu. in) Thunder Stroke® OHV, pushrod air-cooled V-Twin motor with electronic 54 mm bore closed loop fuel injection. The exhaust is a split dual arrangement with crossover. The Thunder Stroke® makes 76.4 horses at 4,510 rpm, while also developing 110.2 pound feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. Motive force is metered through a six-speed sequential manual gearbox and primary gear drive and wet multiplate clutch. Fire it up and relish the thunderous rumble of the exhaust, which rivals if not exceeds the pleasing note of other big V-Twin models, delivering an ideal blend of sound and power that moves this iron horse effortlessly down the road with ease. Fifth gear makes for a satisfying freeway speed in the 3,000 rpm range, and there’s still sixth gear and additional unused amount of throttle to go.
At first glance, the Roadmaster’s massive size is somewhat intimidating as it is humongous. Add fluids, a rider, passenger and extra gear to the 944 pound dry weight, and you’re piloting a cruiser that’s well over 1,000 pounds gross weight (the limit is north of 1300 lbs.) But despite its mass, once off its side stand and moving, the big Indian rolls down the road nicely balanced and maneuvers easily. Slow speed maneuvering, on the other hand, is another story, and requires the rider’s full attention – trust me, you don’t want to lay this comely beast down unless you have help on hand to right it. A reverse gear would be a giant plus for vertically challenged riders because backing up a bike the size of the Roadmaster is a real challenge especially if you have to tiptoe. The Roadmaster would also benefit from– a heel/toe rocker shift lever (optionally available, but not standard).
The Indian Roadmaster is a fully loaded Bagger with features to enhance its riding comfort and convenience. It’s desirability for many may well rank above Honda’s Goldwing and the Ultra Limited from Harley-Davidson. Standard fare includes: ABS; cast aluminum frame with integrated air-box; cruise control; a gear indicator; self-canceling turn signals; highway bars; keyless ignition with proximity fob; horizon power shield (electric adjustable windscreen); Desert Tan genuine leather seats; remote locking hard saddle bags; remote locking trunk; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; 200 Watt Stereo with AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weatherband; heated rider & passenger seats; heated grips; and adjustable passenger floorboards.
Gauges are clustered in the fairing and include: an analog speedometer and tachometer, fuel gauge, range, odometer and current gear. 15 LED telltale indicators; cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, low tire pressure, battery status, low fuel warning, security system, low engine oil pressure and MPH or Km/H unit designation.
A 7″ Touchscreen displays a real time clock; ambient air temperature; heading; audio information display; vehicle trouble code readout; Vehicle Status (tire pressure, voltage, engine hours, oil change); Vehicle Info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position); Dual Trip Meters (fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy time, average speed); Ride Data (heading, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change); Bluetooth connectivity for phone and headset; Map/Navigation.
Lighting includes: Pathfinder LED Lights – headlight, fog lights, turn signals, trunk tail light, fender tail light, trunk interior light, and headdress fender light.
The Roadmaster is a two-wheeled dream machine for long hauls, with plenty of storage – the rear top trunk will easily accommodate two full face helmets and more, and the hard saddle bags provide ample space for even more travel gear totaling 37.6 gallons of room. The tribal leader rides on twin 46 mm telescopic non-adjustable front forks with 4.7-inches of travel. Aft is a Twin Sided swing arm with air adjustable shocks and spring preload and 4.5 inches of travel. Rolling stock is a Dunlop Elite 3 – 130/90B-16×3.5” 73H-tire up front, and a Dunlop Elite- 3- Multi-Compound 180/60-R16x5” 80H tire in the rear. Wheels are 10 short-spoke cast alloys. Slowing and bringing the big Indian bagger to a halt are 300 mm Dual hydraulic discs in front with a floating rotor and 4-piston caliper. Aft is a single hydraulic disc.
My test 2017 Indian Roadmaster wore a beautiful two tone paint scheme – Willow Green over Ivory Cream with Gold Striping, which set off the bike’s iconic valanced fenders and the front fender’s classic crystal-like Indian face with chrome feathered war bonnet light. The seats and tank split cover were done in diamond-quilted and embossed light Tan Premium leather. The base sticker read $28,999., while the as tested price tag came to an estimated $30,699. *Dealer handling and prep may vary. It’s possible to spend more green by adding extra custom bling touches, but that would border on overkill – beside, the existing chrome can be blinding in bright sunlight.
SUMMARY: Riding the 2017 Indian Roadmaster is a delight once you get past the size intimidation factor. It serves up a most comfortable riding position and keeps the rider warm and dry with the batwing front fairing, power windshield, lower fairings (which are removable) with manual damper doors. Passenger floorboards are adjustable to accommodate various sized two-up riding partners.
Power and acceleration are both smooth and plentiful and balance and control at speed are not an issue. For that matter, neither is tight parking lot maneuvering with practice and familiarity. The twin fuel filler caps’ positioning necessitates paying attention and taking care to avoid spillage when refueling. The left cap is only ornamental and is not to be removed, while the functional cap is non-locking.
Ride and handling characteristics are easily managed and pleasing – the Roadmaster is not a sport bike, but it’s not a slug either – just don’t plan on scraping the boards. Also, expect a warm thighs from the big V-Twin’s rear cylinder if stuck in traffic – removing the lower fairings will help to alleviate this problem, or just split lanes and go faster if you feel “brave” or like a chief who’s Master of the Road (hence Roadmaster).
In the final take, the Indian Roadmaster is a stellar, nostalgically styled heavy cruiser with the benefit of modern technology and features and one can’t help but revel in it’s highly crafted fit and finish. It’s not inexpensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. Indian Motorcycles are made in Spirit Lake, Iowa and the company is finally back on the right track in America’s heartland. It’s a knockout visually, even if you’re not a fan and it attracts admiring glances on the road or parked.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Indian Roadmaster
Base Price: $28,999.
Price as Tested: $30,699. *Dealer handling and prep may vary
Engine Type and Size: 1811cc – 111cu.in Thunder Stroke® OHV, pushrod air-cooled V Twin with electronic closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore. Split dual exhaust with crossover.
Horsepower (bhp): 76.4 @ 4,510 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 119.2 @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed sequential manual.
Drive Train: Primary gear drive – wet multiplate clutch
Suspension: Front – 46 mm Telescopic forks non adjustable with 4.7-inches of travel.
Rear – Twin Sided swing arm with rear air adjustable shock and spring preload and 4.5 inches of travel.
Brakes: Front – 300 mm Dual hydraulic discs, floating rotor and 4-piston caliper.
Rear – Single hydraulic disc.
Tires: Dunlop Elite 3 – 130/90B-16×3.5” 73H-front / Dunlop Elite- 3- Multi-Compound180/60-R16x5” 80H-rear mounted on 10 short painted spoke cast alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 65.7 inches
Length Overall: 104.6 inches
Width: 39.4 inches
Height: 61.9 inches
Rake: 25 degrees
Trail: 5.9 inches
Curb Weight dry: 944 lbs.
Ground clearance 5.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gallons – avg. mpg=36.0 mpg
Seat height: 26.5 inches
0 – 60 mph: 4.7 seconds – 110 mph top speed.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.