Two exciting new Chieftain models are now being offered as part of Indian Motorcycles’ lineup, the Chieftain Elite and the Chieftain Limited. These custom-from-the-factory motorcycles rolled into dealerships in recent weeks, however two months ago I had the opportunity to test ride them for this review. It was my first time on the Chieftain platform and I believe this motorcycle could likely end up in Women Riders Nows top 5 list of touring motorcycles women are ridingin the future.
As is the case at most motorcycle press launches (where a new motorcycle is unveiled to magazine writers) there was only one female journalist present, and that was me this time, when I attended this Indian Motorcycle press ride in San Diego, California, on behalf of Women Riders Now. Editor Genevieve Schmitt tapped me to be her stand-in at this press event because I’m an ambassador for Indian Motorcycle after having ridden the Indian Roadmaster for six weeks coast to coast on the Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride last summer.
Because these new Chieftains would not be for sale until April, there was much secrecy surrounding the event when I test rode them in February. I did not know what bike I’d be riding until I got there.
Upon arriving in San Diego, I was instructed to meet in the lobby of the U.S. Grant luxury hotel in downtown San Diego, along with the other journalists, to be shuttled by van to the BRICK, an event venue 5 miles away.
For riders with full or three-quarter helmets, an equalizer allows the rider to adjust bass and treble for a crisper sound. A nice feature is the automatic volume control that adjusts lower when reducing speed.
Another thoughtful feature is the automatic shut-off. I was sitting in the parking lot listening to music with the motorcycle turned off when suddenly the music stopped. I thought I drained the battery. I was relieved when the Indian Motorcycle representative told me the Chieftain will power off if the engine is not running for five minutes. There is a way to override this feature that is explained in the owners manual.
One of my favorite features on the Chieftain Limited and Elite is my choice to view a full screen or split screen display to monitor oil levels, tire pressure, battery voltage, miles, gears, average speed, average miles per gallon and fuel range while also viewing a road map. Three dots at the center bottom of the screen allow the rider to see different dual screens in any order. Screens can be changed easily while riding by simply touching the screen or a button on the left switch housing.
Oil change reminder is measured in engine hours or miles. I really like this feature because it’s convenient for me to monitor performance while spending long hours in the saddle.
Key-less ignition makes a motorcycle riders life easy with a remote fob nearby or by entering a personal security code to start the motorcycle and ride. I can stand a few feet away from the motorcycle with the key fob inside my jacket to start it and allow the engine time to warm up before I ride off. This works perfectly for me so I don’t have to worry about fumbling around in my purse or pockets for a key.
Specs At A Glance: 2017 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited and Chieftain Elite
Engine Size: 111ci (1811cc)
Seat Height: 26 inches
Weight: 817 pounds / 831 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gallons
Colors: Limited, Thunder black, $24,499; Elite, Fireglow Red Candy with Marble Accents, $31,499
WRN Recommendation: In spite of the Chieftain Elite and Limiteds large overall size, with the seat height an extremely low 26 inches, many women will find the ergonomics accommodating. By comparison, the Harley-Davidson Street Glides seat height is 26.1 inches, making itthe number one touring motorcycle women ride. The low center of gravity and balance of the Elite and Limited inspire confidence for riders trading up to a bagger for the first time. Sure these two models are pricey, but for riders who appreciate a custom look and ride right from the factory, these two offerings from Indian are worth looking at. But be quick about it. The Elite may be sold out before you know it.