2020 Indian Chieftain

2020 Chieftain

Red Bull.

2020 Indian Chieftain now with more power.

You may recall that Brum christened our Long-term Indian Chieftain test bike the ‘Running Bull’ back in 2014 and the Bull theme has run through our Indian stories since.

This 2020 Edition has to be ‘Red Bull’ for the very nicely executed matte/satin finish on the ‘Ruby Smoke’ paintwork. The quality of the paint is one of a number of improvements that Indian has been making steadily since the initial launch. It’s now really good.

It was also an interesting finish in the way it colour-shifted when photographed, depending on the ambient light. It’s a polarising finish in more ways than one. Some people loved it – others were not so sure. Overall, I find the new Chieftain shape and styling slightly more attractive than the ‘Freight Train’ of the previous models - but it’s a close-run thing.

The ‘Dark Horse’ black engine finish and the contrast cut wheels worked really well with the new shape. It had a definite show bike feel as I rode it out of the Fortitude Valley Parking Lot and over the bridge to Redcliffe for some photos. I do see some Victory motorcycle in its lines and bodywork – but it still has a big nod to the Indian Heritage look.

It’s not just a good-looking engine either. It now has an oversquare bore and stroke of 103mm x 113mm for a capacity of 116 cubes or 1890cc. The throttle body size has been increased to 54mm, it has the bigger pistons, heavy-duty valve springs and heavy-duty clutch - all standard.

The guys at Indian told me that the new stock Factory 116 would be familiar to me as I had previously tested a few of their Stage III builds - also taken out to 116cu.i.

As you would expect, the 2020 stock tune and exhaust gives more low-down torque and power than the Stage III kitted version but the top end isn’t as ‘long’.

Red Bull is fitted with a Stage 1 Kit: Air Cleaner, Indian’s new Oval Pipes and a tune, and it went really nicely.

It’s a smooth, strong motor and it gets all 375kg (in running order) up to speed very pleasingly. The gearbox is solid and sure-shifting and the clutch is light. On board it feels like the modern tourer/cruiser that it now looks like.

Process this

High on the list of modernisations for 2020 according to Indian is that the “Ride Command System has been redesigned and now has twice the (computer) processing power of previous models”.

What this translates to for the rider is that the amount of data that can be displayed on the dash-mounted TFT screen has significantly increased, so too has the number of ways the data can be presented.

The whole system has become ‘widgetised’. It’s a matter of going to a set-up screen and selecting which widget combination you want displayed on one of the multiple screen layouts you can swipe through.

Maps, tyre pressures, ambient temperature, GPS data, elevation, detailed Engine data, Weather overlay, Service Data and many more are all configurable from a drag and drop interface on the touch screen. It’s something you set up before setting out on the ride. Then just enjoy the show as you go.

What works well on the fly is the interface for changing riding modes. It’s the easiest I’ve used. It has three modes available with the press of an on-screen button – that naturally work with gloved fingers.

Tour, Standard or Sport Modes are available, and they do make a difference to the throttle response, output and fuel economy of the engine. It’s also easy to switch the rear cylinder decompression system on and off - to reduce engine heat in stop-start conditions.

If you are one who likes to analyse a ride ‘by the numbers’, then the bike’s trip computer, GPS and much other data can be downloaded to an app for serious crunching and for tracking info, like time to service and more.

The ‘tainment’ component of the system benefits from the extra processing power as well. The Stereo belts out 100 Watts of I-remember-the-Magnum-style Power and there are graphic equaliser and other audio control enhancements available on the screen. The Screen’s touch controls are so reliable now I hardly use the joysticks on the switch blocks to navigate.

Bright Lights

All the lighting on the bike is now LED, including the headlight. It’s another aspect to the bike’s more-modern look. The fairing is still large enough to accommodate Indian’s powered windscreen. This remains one of my favourite features of the Chieftain … on any bagger! The ability to adjust for the conditions is great, although taller guys will probably need to install a taller screen than the standard shorty buffet-wise. There are also extended (and reduced) reach saddles available to make the bike a good fit for a long and short range of riders.

The 2020 Model year is more of an evolution of the Chieftain’s 2019 Model Year design shakeup.

It’s still running cartridge forks with dual rate springs and air-adjustable rear. It’s still got the nice 300mm full floating 4-piston brakes up front and all the other niceties that add to how well it works as a cruiser or a tourer. It’s pretty nice to throw around on a country back road too. It’s a very accomplished machine. The remote locking luggage, keyless starting and security system all remain.

I really enjoyed my time with the bike. The Red Bull proved quite energising.

Engine Type: Thunder Stroke™ 116
Displacement: 1890 cc (116 cu in)
Bore x Stroke: 103mm x 113mm
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel Injection / 54mm bore
Peak Torque RPM: 2800 rpm
Peak Torque (95/1/EC Nm): 168 Nm

Primary Drive Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Clutch Wet, Multi-Plate

Suspension: Front - Type/Travel Telescopic Fork/119 mm - 46mm cartridge forks with dual rate springs
Suspension: Rear - Type/Travel Single Shock w/ Air Adjust / 114 mm / 63 mm ride in
Brakes/Front Dual 300mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers
Brakes/Rear Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Tires/Front Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Tires/Rear Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Wheels 19" x 3.5" & 16" x 5" - Cast
Exhaust System Split dual exhaust w/ cross-over

Length 2506 mm
Width (INT) 1000 mm
Height (INT) 1385 mm
Weight (Empty tank / full of fuel) 361 kg / 375 kg
GVWR 628 kgs
Seat height 650 mm
Lean angle 31°
Wheelbase 1668 mm
Ground clearance 130 mm
Rake 25°
Trail 150.0 mm
Fuel Capacity 20.8 liters