The Indian Roadmaster road test
As we all know Hot Bike is considered the “catch-all” of custom motorcycles and we don’t really do all that much with brand new bikes unless it is tearing them down and cutting them up. This is mainly due to our readers, fans, and followers are more into hacking up what they already have than buying something new. Though more and more of us are thinking about hitting the road on something comfy and being more worried about the scenery around us and less about gas stops and kidney belts like we are with our current stable of peanut-tanked choppers and customs back-breaking bikes. With that said we were lucky enough to be sent out to Indian’s HQ where we threw a leg over the new Roadmaster and racked up a few hundred miles. If you know it or not Indian is intent on being the number one American-made motorcycles and have planned on going toe-to-toe with Harley. Seeing that the Ultra Glide is a very good seller and the flagship of the H-D line its no surprise that the folks at Indian would try and replicate the features that made the Ultra Classic famous. Well, they did that and then some with the Roadmaster.
First off the Indian’s 111 (1811cc) Thunderstroke Engine is a perfect mix of beauty and the beast. With horsepower at just under 74 @ 4,500 RPM and a Max torque of right around 100lb-ft it gets up and moves this 889-pound bike with ease. In the chassis department the Roadmaster is treated to 4.7 inches of travel up front via 46mm telescopic forks and 4.5-inch out back using a single, yet adjustable air shock. I am amazed at just how comfortable this behemoth of a bike was both at parking lot speeds as well as highway speeds into the triple digits. The bike floated over most road expansions and joints well and took big potholes and other tarmac inconsistencies with a great mix of both compression and rebound damping. How Indian can engineer such a rear end to work so well with a just single shock is quite amazing. Good stuff indeed.
Yes, these big touring bikes are all packed with features, and the Roadmaster seems to have taken the best from the rest and have left out most of the stupid stuff even the cushiest of these two-wheeled Caddies possess. The new Horizon power adjustable windshield, aerodynamically-designed fully heat and cool adjustable lowers, dual-zone real leather seat, and LED lighting were the sheer standouts of this (not so) little Indian. There are a few other standard items that make the Roadmaster a top touring bike, such as the 37.6 gallons of remote locking storage, triple power ports for electronic gadgets, adjustable passenger floorboards, full infotainment system with Bluetooth and an accessory input, tire pressure monitoring, cruise control, and the handiest item of them all (pun intended): heated grips.
All the aforementioned luxury items are all well and good, but what about the Style? Well, the Roadmaster has that in spades (for a touring bike) with than now unmistakable Art deco “Indian” look gone futuristic and ton more standard chrome than the competition. The Roadmaster is available with three retro-esque paint schemes Indian Red, Thunder Black, and my personal favorite; the two-tone Indian Red/Ivory Cream.
When riding the Roadmaster it felt much lighter than the fully outfitted Harley, Honda, or Victory in it’s category. The ergonomics of this particular model Indian fit my 5-foot 10-inch frame well, but I would still swap out the bars for something a tad taller. The height adjustable windshield was a godsend when the raindrops fell and the ease of adjusting the vents on the lowers was a great thing during the downpour as well.
Though a point of contention with the other Indian models, I found the seat to be comfortable for all day riding and the heater was an added bonus.
Yes, this bike is a bit out of the norm for the Hot Bike editors and readers alike, but I found the Indian Roadmaster to be a stellar example of an American V-Twin touring machine and one that I would highly suggest you test ride if you are looking into bikes such as an Ultra Classic, Goldwing, or Victory’s Vision or Cross Country Tour. And I think that you just may find this bike the best one of the bunch.