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Old 08-31-2013, 02:12 PM
orbit orbit is offline
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Indian Chieftain test ride.

The Indian Demo Tour truck is in Madison, WI this weekend so I took a drive up there this morning to test ride the new Chieftain.

I got there about an hour before the first rides of the day, so I had some time to really examine the bike.

Understand, these were pre-production units and had recently been in Sturgis for the unveil.

I do have some pics of some of the details of the bike, and I'll post those up eventually.

That being said, these are high quality, finely constructed motorcycles. Attention to detail is top shelf. The only plastic parts I could find on it were the fairing, the side covers, and the saddlebags. The rest of the bike's body was made from heavy gauge steel.

The handlebars are internally wired, which gives the cockpit area a nice, clean look. The switches are intuitively placed and are easy to use.

The handlebar switch holders are made of chromed pot metal and have some heft to them. The horn cover and air cleaner cover were heavy stamped chromed steel. Leather on the seat was top notch.

The paint was absolutely perfect. My test bike was black, naturally! Latches on the saddlebags are solid and work well.

I noticed a few things on the bike that I didn't care much for while sitting on it, static-like. First, the bars are wide. Maybe Road King wide. And they felt a little low or flat. Definitely different than what I'm used to on the EG.

Secondly, you sit low. Real low. Flat footing this bike is absolutely no problem. Again, a totally different seating position than I'm used to.

Soon it was time to fire 'em up and go for a ride. The bike has an 'activation' button on the tank console. No key, fob was in the saddlebags. So, you press the activation button, the instrument panel then lites up, then you hit the starter button.

The motor fires up easily and settles into a nice loping idle. There's a slight whine from the primary, as that drive is all gear. The bike is very pleasant sounding at idle.

The clutch feels very light and engages smoothly. However, the trans felt a bit clunky. You also have to really put some 'throw' into shifting this thing. It's hard to explain, it's almost like the shift lever is too long. And there was no heel shifter on my test bike, either. It wasn't bad, but it did take a bit to get used to.

I had a hard time finding neutral, too. There's no little green light on the dash to tell you when you're there. You have to rely on the readout in the center of the dash. And that responded slower than I cared for. I got lost for a wee bit in gear land as a result.

Seating position while moving is good. There's plenty of room to stretch out on. Riding position is not at all cramped. Ride quality is excellent.

The fairing is very effective at blocking the wind. I got a chance to play with the power adjustable windshield, too. It's a neat feature, but the windshield did rattle if you hit a sharp bump. Again, this bike is an abused pre-production model, but that rattle bugged me. I found, eventually, that the rattle would go away if the shield was retracted a bit past half way down. In this position, it was easy to see over the top, and wind protection was more than adequate.

The motor has plenty of down-low grunt. Roll ons from like 1500 rpm and up were effortless. The bike steps out nicely from a stop and cruises well at highway speed.

However, it's a buzzy mill. On my bike, the buzz started around 2500 rpm and became worse at around 2750. You didn't feel it in the bars, you felt it in the seat and footboards. It was so buzzy it made my lips tingle. Weird, to say the least.

On this bike, 50 mph or so in 5th gear was right in the buzz zone. The buzz became less pronounced above 2800 rpm, but was still present.

The bike handles extremely well. Steering is effortless and there's absolutely no wallowing while riding in twisties. Brakes are more than adequate.

I did, however, manage to drag something on the left side while in a turnabout. Don't know if it was the kickstand or footboard, but something dragged. And I ain't a sport rider. Maybe this thing handles so well that I actually got some decent lean angle on it. Dunno.

I didn't really play much with the info system or the radio. There's buttons on the lever side of either switch holder that allow you to toggle through the info center's menu. The bike's info system gives you a lot to ponder: tire pressure, engine oil life, mpg, stuff like that. And the radio sounds pretty good. '5' on the indicator was plenty loud to hear through a full face helmet with a slightly open visor.

As with all test rides, this one was way too short. I got about 25 minutes of seat time, and we were led on a varied route, so one was able to get a decent taste of what this new bike is about.

Overall, it's a pretty impressive motorcycle, especially for one that's completely new from the ground up. Fit and finish are top notch. There's a lot of fancy doo-dads on it, too. Handling is excellent, as are the brakes. Ride quality is excellent as well.

Although the motor is plenty powerful, I didn't care much for the buzz it produced. The 95 in my '06 feels smoother in the Indian's major buzz range. And my obsolete Harley's five speed transmission is easier to work with as well.

Also, that rattly windshield would drive me nuts. The adjuster is a neat feature, don't get me wrong. But something's gotta be done to tighten that thing up a bit.

So, was I impressed enough to seriously consider buying the Indian? The answer would be 'no'.

I'm sure there's stuff I've neglected to include in this tale, so feel free to ask questions. I'll try to answer those to the best of my ability.



Oh, there's this.......


Last edited by orbit; 08-31-2013 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:22 PM
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Great review!

I like the idea of a very low seat... For she that just got one that is costing me to get low enough...
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:57 PM
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Lucky bastard.

Nice words, professor.
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Old 08-31-2013, 03:12 PM
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Great write up, Tingle Lips ...
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Old 08-31-2013, 04:04 PM
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You shouldn't be riding with your visor slightly up. They're not designed for that, MrSurly said so and he seemed to have it on pretty good authority.

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Old 08-31-2013, 04:04 PM
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Oh yea nice write up by the way!

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Old 08-31-2013, 05:04 PM
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Chieftain pics....

...as promised.



Fish tail exhaust is one of their Stage I options.





Standard exhaust.









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Old 08-31-2013, 05:10 PM
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Great write-up. Would you say the "tingle" is similar to a Softail's? It's a solid-mounted motor, so that's what I'd assume. The Vic CCT has a similar buzz.


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Old 08-31-2013, 05:10 PM
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Nice review Ken. It's a really nice looking motorcycle.
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Old 08-31-2013, 05:15 PM
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DaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milkDaSkip stays crunchy even in milk
What was the MSRP on the one you rode?

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Old 08-31-2013, 05:18 PM
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great write up and pics, thanks.
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Old 08-31-2013, 05:20 PM
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Thanks for the thorough writeup. May have to find one and tool it around the ville.

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Old 08-31-2013, 05:25 PM
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I'd have to get that big hunk of chrome on the fairing powder coated black, but otherwise, that's a beautiful bike.


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Old 08-31-2013, 05:56 PM
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dynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milkdynageno stays crunchy even in milk
I like the way they made the engine look like a flathead. Nice review-thanx
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Old 08-31-2013, 05:57 PM
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The fairing looks like someone smacked into a wall with it...

Too flat on the profile.

Overall not a bad looking bike though
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