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Indian Roadmaster: Classic Heavy Bagger

By Arv Voss, July 22nd, 2017

Indian's parent company, Polaris -- having discontinued the production of its Victory motorcycle line -- is now focusing on the new and significantly improved tribe of Indian motorcycles.

Several Indian models are available. My tester is the Indian Roadmaster -- a beast of a bike, tipping the scales at nearly 944 pounds. The price tag is also on the hefty side, ringing up at $30,699. 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.

Power for the Indian Roadmaster comes from an 1811cc Thunder Stroke OHV, pushrod air-cooled V-Twin motor with electronic 54mm 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 lb.-ft. 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. But despite its mass, once off its side stand and moving, the big Indian rolls down the road nicely balanced and maneuvers easily. On the other hand, slow-speed maneuvering 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 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. Gauges are clustered in the fairing and a 7-inch touchscreen displays operational information.

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 stowage.

The tribal leader rides on twin 46mm telescopic non-adjustable front forks with 4.7 inches of travel. Aft is a twin-sided swing arm with spring-preloaded air-adjustable shocks and 4.5 inches of travel.

Rolling stock is a Dunlop Elite 3 130/90B-16x3.5-inch 73H tire up front, and a Dunlop Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60-R16x5-inch 80H tire in the rear. Slowing and bringing the big Indian bagger to a halt are 300mm dual hydraulic discs in front with a floating rotor and four-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 The seats and split tank cover were done in diamond-quilted and embossed light tan premium leather.

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, and removable lower fairings 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 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).

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 its highly crafted fit and finish. It's not inexpensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. It's a knockout visually, even if you're not a fan and it attracts admiring glances on the road or parked.

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