Indian aggressively steps into the battle of the baggers with two new offerings: The 2017 Indian Chieftain Elite and Indian Chieftain Limited. For those of us looking to travel the distance in style, baggers offer a hot classic look, and functional space design. The best baggers offer comfort, speed, great space for packing, and an eye catching design. We were invited to take a sneak peek at Indian’s newest models on a sunny day and some incredible highways and canyon roads in San Diego, California. Let’s see how these new Chieftains make their mark.
From the first moment your eyes make contact with the new 2017 Chieftain Elite ($31,499), you know you’re in for something special. There are only 350 of these sold globally and there are quite a few reasons why you’ll want your own. First, the custom paint is gorgeous. Each bike is hand painted with an ultra premium Fireglow Red Candy paint, which features a large flake base and layers of deep candy paint. The hand painted marble accents give each bike it’s own “fingerprint”, ensuring that no two bikes are alike. It’s like riding a piece of rolling art, right off the showroom floor.
The 2017 Chieftain Limited ($24,499) is gorgeous in it’s own right. We got a glimpse of the Thunder Black color, complete with enough chrome to brighten your day. The black color lets you appreciate the new lines of the 2017 model. Both the Chieftain Elite and the Chieftain Limited feature a color matched headlight bezel, and tinted power window screen help to streamline the fairing. The new open cut front fender and 10 spoke contrast 19” front rim also add to it’s sporty, street look. The design of the new Chieftain keeps the soul of the classic Indian, while moving the style needle forward.
Both bikes come with great stock features, including the Ride Command system with a seven-inch display. With on-board GPS navigation, vehicle information and status, and the premium audio system can be set up into custom split screens to get twice the info on one screen. You’ll get tire pressure, battery info, and other info at the touch of a screen. Screens are easily accessible by touch and swipe, and even works well with your gloves on. The premium 200-watt audio system includes 100-watt premium dual high output speakers for great sound while you’re on the move. On both models, you can hear the speakers clearly at half volume and highway speed! Extra points are given for ease of use to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth connectivity or compatible USB. Once you’re synced, you’re good to go. The system automatically picks up your phone, whenever you’re ready to ride. The Indian Chieftain Elite features added 100-watt speakers in the saddlebags for enhanced sound. You’ve also got keyless starting, power locks for the saddle bags, a power window screen, and cruise control. You’ve got everything you need for a great long distance ride.
Let’s talk comfort. At 5’ 5”, the Chieftain Elite and Chieftain Limited are perfect for my height. I can easily rest my feet flat on the ground, at a full stop. The stock handle bars are set up in a comfortable position. I don’t have to over reach for them, or lean too far forward. My hands are small, and these grips are a great fit. They aren’t too big, making it feel uncomfortable to grab on tight, or too small, putting more pressure on my wrists. The clutch also isn’t too tight. It’s easily pulled, without too much strain. I did enjoy the accessorized Chieftain Limited, with the added mid-rise handlebar kit, which took the strain off of my forearms and elbows. The floor boards are in great position, and the seat is super! The longer we rode, the more I could feel the comfort of the seat and suspension.
As I get more miles, I’m learning to realize that the ride is everything. After an 800 mile day, it’s less about the look and more about the handling. Each new Chieftain offers a very smooth and comfortable ride. First off, I noticed the throttle response of the Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin engine. When merging on to a highway or getting around big trucks and cars, it’s important to be able to get up to speed with minimal effort and fast. The throttle on the new Cheiftain is closer to the response you might get from a sport bike or sport touring bike. To have this feature on a cruiser is a huge plus. For more power, the accessorized model featured the Stage 1 Exhaust, Thunder Stroke High Flow Air Cleaner and Stage 2 Performance Cams.
At 817 lbs for the Chieftain Limited and 831 lbs for the Chieftain Elite, the weight of the bikes was never an issue. We were asked to maneuver the bikes through figure eight turns, and they both handled very nicely. Through turns, both were very easy to lean. Shifting through the gears, I found most of the power in third and fourth gears. Both bikes also feature dual 300 mm floating roars with 4 piston calipers for the front breaks. The breaking power works perfectly. When stopping, you always feel in control of the bike.
If you’re looking for a great cruiser at a good price, you’ll definitely want to take a test ride on these new Chieftains. You’ll find comfort and style, just in time to go explore the open road. The new Chieftain Limited is now available in a few hot new colors: Silver Smoke, White Smoke, Wildfire Red, Star Silver, and Thunder Black. Visit indianmotorcycle.com for more info.