2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic Review: First Ride
2017 Indian Roadmaster ClassicEditor Score: 80.75%
Engine 15.0/20 Suspension/Handling 12.75/15 Transmission/Clutch 7.5/10 Brakes 8.25/10 Instruments/Controls 4.5/5 Ergonomics/Comfort 9.25/10 Appearance/Quality 9.0/10 Desirability 8.5/10 Value 6.0/10 Overall Score 80.75/100
First introduced by Indian in 2015, the Roadmaster built on the Chieftain platform, adding additional touring and luxury features. Now, the company is releasing a Roadmaster variant, the 2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic. If the Roadmaster was a Chieftain with a trunk, the Classic is a Roadmaster for fans of leather.
Full-grain American leather is what the Classic is all about. The Roadmaster’s seat already had it as a defining attribute, but the Classic has new hard bags that are covered with the fade-resistant skin. Adding to the vintage look, the saddlebags also feature fringe on their lower, outboard seams. The closures, though they look like traditional metal buckles, feature easy-to-unhook plastic buckles hidden underneath the leather straps. This serves two purposes. First, the straps are easy to undo and make opening the three on each saddlebag much less fiddly. Also, since the metal buckles never get unclasped, the exterior finish on the straps will age much more gracefully. The stiff, plastic inner lining of the bags helps them to maintain their shape regardless of the amount of cargo contained within them.
The trunk interior is large enough to hold two full-face helmets. The trunk’s lid also has a zip-open compartment that allows for smaller items to be stored in a more easy-to-reach location. Finally, the forward-facing side of the trunk has a built-in backrest for the passenger. All-in-all, it is a tidy setup that totals 32 gallons of storage.
However, we need to pause for a moment and consider the elephant in the garage: These leather-covered saddlebags and trunk offer neither locks nor weather protection. This characteristic limits the Roadmaster Classic’s functionality as a touring bike. While Indian (or an aftermarket vendor) could manufacture some weatherproof saddlebag liners that would keep the rider’s and passenger’s clothing dry, it would do nothing to prevent even the most inept criminal from unhooking a few clips and disappearing with the bag contents.
The simplicity of the trunk, however, makes it possible to remove it from the bike with minimal effort in those times the rider doesn’t need the extra carrying capacity. No wiring harness needs to be disconnected. (So, there is no 12V port on the interior of the trunk as on the Roadmaster.) Shorn of its trunk, the Roadmaster Classic looks every bit the vintage-inspired bagger as the Chief Vintage but with the Chieftain/Roadmaster’s batwing fairing and stereo.
Contained within this batwing fairing, the new for 2017 Ride Command touchscreen stereo system will be included in all Chieftains and Roadmasters this model year. The 7-inch screen features a 800 x 480 pixel resolution, which Indian claims is the highest in the industry. The screen is bright enough to easily be read in daylight, and it is ready to operate just ten seconds after the ignition is turned on. Pairing to a smartphone can be done in a matter of seconds, allowing call information and media to be played directly from the phone.
Normally, I’m not one to listen to much music from fairing-mounted speakers, preferring to use Bluetooth headphones instead. Since I wanted to test the Ride Command’s 100W stereo, however, I eschewed the headphones for the external speakers. The Roadmaster’s wind protection is good enough to provide a relatively large envelope of turbulence-free air. Consequently, the music has less wind noise to combat at speed. The volume and clarity of the Ride Command system ranks with the best of the stereos on other bikes I’ve tested (the most recent being in our Baggers Brawl).
The feature I like the most about the Ride Command system is the customizability of the data screens. I could to select the contents the split screens to suit my taste – not those imposed by an engineer. Also, as the ride progressed, I found that I liked to be able to switch what was displayed alongside the GPS’ map. Sometimes I wanted to see the Trip 1 readout: fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy, time, average speed. Others times, I chose the Ride Data: heading, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change. The display is a very tidy setup. The screen is responsive even with gloves on, and though I didn’t have to program the GPS destinations (Indian reps had done that prior to the ride), the unit was easy to understand even from the first time using it.
The Roadmaster is a good handling motorcycle, and the Classic is no different – which should come as no surprise since they are essentially the same motorcycles only with less weight on the back, thanks to the lighter bags. Once underway, the Classic’s roughly 900 lbs melt away, giving a balanced ride. However, without a direct comparison, I could not point out any handling differences between the Roadmaster and the Classic. As with the Chieftain and the Roadmaster, the Roadmaster Classic’s chassis dimensions feature a 25-degree rake with 5.9 in. trail. Having those numbers pair with a 65.7 in. wheelbase means the Classic is quite stable at speed. Still, when asked, it’ll hustle through a series of corners, provided you give the wide bar enough input.
2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic + Highs
- Impressive Ride Command infotainment system
- Torque and then more torque
- Easily removable trunk
- Bags and trunk are not weatherproof
- Bags and trunk don’t lock
- Fringe not removable like on the Chief Vintage
The Thunder Stroke 111 49-degree V-Twin’s is a torque machine. Past tests of the engine have revealed a torque peak of 102.8 ft-lb at 3100 rpm with an impressive 75 percent of that available at 1000 rpm. The slow revving engine won’t blow your socks off with peak power of only 74.5 hp, though. Still, it just cranks out the torque when you twist the throttle. The fuel metering provided by the drive-by-wire connection is first rate.
So, if what the Roadmaster offered in previous years really appealed to you but you held off because you wanted a touring bike that looked more like the Chief Vintage, 2017 will be your year. The Indian Roadmaster Classic has everything the Roadmaster has – only with more of that sexy Indian leather. Yes, you’ll have to give up locks and weatherproofness in exchange, but if you’ve got this look in mind, you already knew that.
The 2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic will be available in Thunder Black for $26,999. Choosing either Willow Green over Ivory Cream or Indian Motorcycle Red over Ivory Cream adds $1,000 to the MSRP. The Roadmaster Classic will be available this spring at your local Indian dealer.
2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic Specifications Engine Type Thunder Stroke 111,air-cooled 49-degree V-Twin Engine Capacity 1811 cc Bore x Stroke 101 mm x 113 mm Compression 9.5 : 1 Fuel System Closed loop fuel injection, 54 mm throttle body Transmission 6-speed Final Drive Belt Front Suspension 46 mm telescopic fork, 4.7 in. travel Rear Suspension Single shock with air-adjustable preload, 4.5 in. travel Front Brakes Dual floating 300mm discs, four-piston calipers, ABS Rear Brakes Single floating 300mm disc, two-piston caliper, ABS Front Tire Dunlop Elite 3, 130/90B16 73H Rear Tire Dunlop Elite 3, 180/60R16 80H Seat Height 26.5” Curb Weight 900 lbs. (calculated) Wheelbase 68.1” Fuel Capacity 5.5 gal. Storage Capacity 32 gal. total Colors Thunder Black, Willow Green / Ivory Cream, Indian Motorcycle Red / Ivory Cream Warranty Five years coverage that includes both a one year limited warranty and an extended service contract. Unlimited miles. MSRP $26,999 Black, $27,999 Willow Green/Cream or Red/Cream