Indian Roadmaster Test Ride
It was just outside Fernvale, Southwest of Brisbane and I was zoning.
Most motorcyclists know it well. That place when the joy of the machine you are riding has turned to a pure pleasure and you become like one with the machine.
The magnificent Indian Roadmaster I was astride was running as close to auto-pilot as a modern motorcycle can get – cruise control engaged, power windscreen tuned to maximum comfort, 4-way speaker system pumping a carefully selected playlist (Bluetoothed from the phone in my jacket pocket) and the rolling open road before me was being devoured by the effortless power of the 1800cc V-twin.
I’d just punted it over the summits of Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious on a typical Brisbane Friday afternoon and the bike had absolutely nailed it. Nailed. It.
That small part of my brain that wasn’t immersed in the joy of the here, now and operating the machine was ticking over how I could best describe what I was feeling for the pages of Heavy Duty magazine.
“It’s an ‘Inner Smile’, David” - and that idea’s light bulb shone momentarily brighter than the Roadmaster’s brilliant LED array.
Well maybe not, but I shite you not, the next song that appeared on the playlist immediately after this momentous realisation was, you guessed it: Texas. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Ooooh. The odds of that happening were 478:1 (I checked when I got home).
As George Smilovitci said in the 80’s “I’m so cool I dance on the inside.” I was doing my best to contain the idiot grin within. I failed.
What a stunning motorcycle.
Just alphabetically listing the Roadmaster’s standard inclusions would take up most of the space allocated for this report, but there are some real standouts.
The windscreen is amongst the best on a motorcycle. Even for a very tall rider. It’s a little shorter and flatter than that fitted our project Chieftain - Running Bull, but it’s equally effective. The ability to adjust its height via the buttons on the left hand switch block make it one of the best pieces of bodywork - ever. After you’ve adjusted and dialled it in for the prevailing conditions, and experienced how well it works, you’ll probably wonder why a similar setup isn’t fitted on every motorcycle with a windscreen.
The lower fairings also work well in isolating the rider from the elements. I rode in some pretty heavy rain showers and simply closed the vents between the upper and lower bodywork, hunkered down behind the screen and stayed quite remarkably dry.
Then it’s just a matter of opening the vents to get the air flowing around legs again. I did notice a little of the heat coming off the engine at lower speeds behind all that body – but it wasn’t excessive and it was over 30c for most of the test.
I had no call to use the included heated handgrips either, but they do have 10 settings of ‘toastiness’ available via a rocker mounted on the chrome tank cover, adjacent the luggage’s central locking switch.
Yep, central locking. Hit the button and the top box, and panniers click to the locked position, then with the security fob in your pocket simply walk away and cameras, helmets and kit are secure.
The lower fairings are easily removed and refitted, as is the large (64.4ltr) top box – essentially turning the bike into a Chieftain for shorter touring requirements.
All the other niceties you would expect in a modern, premium luxury motorcycle remain - and in some cases they have been embellished. Notably upgraded from the Chieftain are the Saddle and the Headlights.
The new saddle is ‘Desert Tan’, leather, heated, plush and very, very comfortable. The heating dial is located on the lower side of the seat but we didn’t employ it during the Brisbane summer either.
Co-pilot rated the overall comfort levels of the rear throne as “outstanding” and the passenger footboards have some height adjustability for added comfort. There are even accessory armrests available.
The headlight is now a split LED array, as are the accompanying driving lights. All are quite brilliant - figuratively and literally.
The main difference I noticed between our long-term Chieftain ‘Running Bull’ test bike and the Roadmaster was in the engine.
The 111cube Thunderstroke remains a real delight.
Like most manufacturers, with another model year under its belt, the bike has become a little more refined, tighter and in this case, smoother. The Press bike is fitted with an intake manifold restrictor that optimises the engine’s torque output - at the expense of high-end revs and the way it breathes when seriously on the gas, but it was only really evident at 8/10ths acceleration and above.
Otherwise the motor seemed slightly more tractable, smoother and a little more comfortable at lower revs than the unrestricted unit that also runs stage one exhausts. Naturally the project bike has longer legs. Indian offer an aftermarket hi-flow air filter ($720) and stage one pipes for the Roadmaster now too.
The dual 300mm floating rotors with 4 pot calipers up front and two-pots on the rear are fitted with ABS and did a good job of pulling up 600-plus kilograms of bike, rider, passengers and camera equipment. They are genuine two-finger fronts and often I didn’t need to bring the rear into play at all.
They added to the confidence and enjoyment I got from the bike.
We put around 1,000km on the machine in under a week, through a variety of conditions. Town, country and super-slab.
Around town it was the second week of re-legalised lane splitting in Queensland and it really brought home how wide the bike is. The width of the fairings and engine bars made for a few tight squeezes, but the balance of the bike at low speed is very good and general around town cruiser duty is a pleasant, head turning, crowd-pleasing affair. Like all Indians - prepare to engage the general public if you ride one.
On the open road and sports-style roads, the 16” front, 1668mm wheelbase, 25 degree rake and effortless power make for very large motorcycle with very tidy manners and handling. Cornering clearance is amongst best in the full dresser class. Side to sides and tight apexes over the Mt Glorious loop were just that – glorious.
The comfort level is also outstanding. For $38,995 ride-away, you’d expect it all to be top shelf. It is – my only minor gripe was the paint finish on the fairing and front guard. You have to look pretty closely to even notice – but they are not up to the exceptional standard of the rest of the bike.
Overall though, if you are in the market for an upmarket, celebrity motorcycle: Ride one.
But prepare to grin like an idiot – even if it is only on the inside.
GUTS & BOLTS
Bike: 2015 Indian Roadmaster
Type: Thunder Stroke® 111
Carburetion: Closed loop fuel injection / 54mm bore
Air Cleaner: Stock
Type: 6 Speed
Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Primary Drive: Gear
Rear Drive: Belt
Type: Cast Aluminum Frame with Integrated Air-Box
Seat: heated leather King/Queen with integrated top box
WHEELS & TYRES
F Rim: Cast 16 x 3.5"
R Rim: Cast16" x 5"
F Tyre: Dunlop® Elite 3 130/90B16 73H
R Tyre: Dunlop® Elite 3 180/60R16 80H
F Brake: Dual / Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper Dual Front / 300mm with Anti-Lock Brakes
R Brake: Single / Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper / 300mm with Anti-Lock Brakes
Front: Telescopic 46mm cartridge forks with dual rate springs
Rear: Single Shock with pneumatic adjustment
CONTROLS – All Indian Standard
Pathfinder LED Lights
Saddlebags 65.1 L
Trunk 64.4 L
Lower Fairing Glove Box 9.0 L
Upper Fairing Storage 13.8 L
Fuel Capacity (gallons/liters) 20.8 liters
Ground Clearance 140 mm
Overall Height (in./cm.) 1572 mm
Overall Width (in./cm.) 1012 mm
Seat Height 673 mm
Wheelbase 1668 mm
Overall Length (in./cm.) 2656 mm
Trail 150.0 mm
PAINT & FINISH